Interview/Review by Bears Fonte
TILT cannot be called a traditional horror film, but due to the way it is shot, the tension that exists throughout, and foreboding state of mind Joe seems to be slipping deeper and deeper into, it uses that familiar language to tell a tale far more frightening. We live in a world infinitely less safe than a year ago, and Farahani exposes our safest place, our home, as the frontline. I had a chance to talk with Kasra after the film screened at Fantasia International Film Festival.
Farahani: Yeah, for sure. It is an unflinching film and that sort of was the goal. This movie was made with no money and with no resources. We really tried to elicit a discussion with the audience. I think the more money you spend on a film, the harder it becomes run a risk quite like that. If you were to follow the trend to the largest budget film, you begin to find that actually they’re not defined by how many people like them, but by how few people they antagonize.
Bears: The blockbusters almost try to be forgettably pleasing.
Farahani: With Tilt, we knew that the parameters of making this film were very unique. You know, shooting this in my own house, shooting this with a crew that varied from three people to nine people. Then shockingly fast, getting scheduled, the shooting only taking a couple of days. A film like this is only worth making if you can try to say something. Push people’s buttons and make them think about things.
Bears: Of course. Obviously you were filming this during the Donald Trump candidacy. You probably didn’t realize you’d be releasing this during a Donald Trump presidency.
Farahani: No. I had no idea.
Bears: Were you surprised by the election?
Bears: Does it change how you see your film? In retrospect?
Farahani: Absolutely. 100%. It’s a completely different contact we never anticipated. At the time we shot it, he was not the nominee. But, he became the nominee some months later, and at the time, we were editing it. Even then, the film took on another meaning – just having him be the nominee. Then, when he becomes president, it takes on a new meaning entirely. I think it actually worked against us, for him to become president, that he’s so antagonizing. He’s such a toxic figure and a source of, I don’t know, emotional turmoil, for a lot of people.
Bears: Because its hard for people to relate to Joe Burns and see his fascination with this candidate – we’ve all forgotten that none of thought it would end this way.
Farahani: The thing that was unique and really related to the character is up until recently, this marginalized white regressive male anger that had always been around, but recently, at least the past few decades, been kept at bay. These sort of hateful misogynist, racist things that people would hardly say in polite company, let alone on a national political stage. To the point where, it’s now not only these things are being said in the time we were writing this film, but they were being organized into large political demonstrations. This emergent mob of regressive, white, male entitlement was popping up in these rallies. While Trump himself is part of this big thing, it’s this movement that leans to people’s base instincts. Their reptile brain, not the more progressive, evolved part of their intellect. That’s the world that it occupies in Joe Burns.
Bears: He’s a filmmaker, so he’s not someone you would think would relate to that movement, or maybe that’s just my close-mindedness.
Bears: Well, let’s talk about fatherhood. It’s sort of this thing that looms over the film. It’s the horror of the movie. It is the thing he is most afraid of. Do you think because, for us in this day and age, as it gets harder and harder to achieve that middle class life, does that make the prospect of fatherhood that much more terrifying? How does Joe view the next twenty years of his life?
Bears: Right, it’s sort of the proof that you are now an adult and that, I guess, children are the future.
Farahani: When his wife tells him on that trip to Hawaii, when she tells him that they’re going to have a baby, it causes him to put this whole chain of events into motion. It’s this realization that he’s having a baby and that his time is up. He has to stop putting himself and his own desires ahead of everything else – all his other obligations and responsibilities in the world. He has to start accepting that maybe, he isn’t going to make the iconoclastic mark on the world that he thought he was going to make.
Farahani: Well, I don’t know a ton about the doc that he made, except it’s about a Russian and American pinball player who become friends. In some ways, there is also a geopolitical through-line in that. I think he’s a political junkie, Joe Burns. There’s some component of that he’s fixated on. But I also think that Tilt is about the control of randomness. The control of chaos. I think he’s fascinated by pinball. There’s a shot in the film where the camera zooms down past the poster for the Tilt documentary and there’s this super pretentious Nietzsche quote on the poster. I think it says like, “you must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star,” or something like that, right? It’s just so pretentious. So I think the Tilt documentary is about chaos and it’s presented in this glib, ironic, nauseating, hipster-friendly package of pinball.
TILT just screened at Fantasia International Film Festival and will continue its festival circuit run this summer.