Meet Director Oualid Mouaness: The Rifle, The Jackal, The Wolf And The Boy

This Article was originally put together exclusively for The Luxury Channel 

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As Award season kicks off, we meet Oualid Mouaness the Director of the Oscar Long Listed : Short Film : ” The Rifle, The Jackal, The Wolf And The Boy”

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The Rifle, The Jackal, The Wolf And The Boy is a curious and engaging story, from acclaimed writer, director and producer Oaulid Mouaness, who has worked globally in the United States, Europe and the Middle East in the course of his career.  The film’s setting is centred in a rural mountain village in Lebanon, and tells the tale of two brothers who use their father’s rifle without his permission, thinking they are doing the right thing by neutralising a perceived threat to their livelihood.

Essentially it is a wonderful coming-of-age tale, and the consequences of the boys’ actions, end up being are far more reaching than they ever expected.

The film has ended up in the esteemed line up of 10 Shorts choosen as the final choices on the Live Action Short List for Oscars 2017.  It was certainly delightful, indeed insightful to put some questions to the Director allowing us to learn more about the story behind it.

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  1. How did you get into working in film? Please give a little background about your career to date.

Film had been in me since I was an obsessive kid watching films on a VCR repeat when I was growing up in West Africa.

I knew I wanted to tell stories since I was very young, and then I started in Theatre in Lebanon doing my undergraduate studies, then the US for my graduate studies.

However, after I moved to Los Angeles, I realized I did not have stories I was ready to tackle as a Director (I was still young) but I wanted to work with others on their own visions. I did that and became an editor and producer.

This led to some work I am very proud to have been a part of and contributed to.  The work was enriching and inspiring.  I did documentaries, the most prominent of which was RIZE by David LaChapelle, and worked with inspiring artists, more recently, Annie Lennox, Lana Del Rey, Damien Rice, Katie Perry , Justin Timberlake and the late David Bowie to name a few.

  1. Who in the film/Movie world – past and present  – are your greatest influences?

That is a tough one, I’d say that the filmmakers that have had the visceral impact on me through some of their works were Pier Paolo Pasolini, Andrei Tarkovsky, Emir Kusturica, Peter Greenaway, Derek Jarman, and Sydney Lumet.

They seem to have authored the films that have most challenged me and are anchored in themes that speak to me.

Also we would love to learn more about movies that have influenced you?

Baghdad Cafe (Percy Adlon), Orlando (Sally Potter), Teorema (Pasolini), The Crying Game (Neal Jordan), Dog Day Afternoon (Sydney Lumet) , The Piano (Jane Campion), Talk to Her (Almodovar), The Wizard of Oz.

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  1. How did you come up with the idea for the film?

The idea for the film sprung from a very unsettled place.

It came from my need to portray this level of anxiety and subversive feeling of fear that was induced through the violent acts of Daesh in Syria and Iraq.

The parading of violence we are seeing set in the fear of the worst.

At the time the Lebanese were fighting their infiltration into the country at the border.

That said, I wanted to address this through a classic portrayal of ‘a peaceful life that can be disrupted…’.

In doing so, I went for the simplest form of storytelling, a parable (something that elicits a feeling).

A simple story that speaks to the notion of unscrupulous violence.  One could take this story at face value, and/or relate to its inherent layers.

I wrote something close to me, about a family I know, and I had to capture it in Lebanon (where I am from).

  1. How did you choose your actors?

It was a rigorous casting process – I had been working with a great casting director in Lebanon over the years, due to a longer project that I will be shooting the summer of 2017. One that involves kids.  When we did the casting, it was quite clear –

I had to cast the two brothers only to find out after the fact that they are actually brothers in real life….. and when it came to the father, it was a tough to find the right person – I almost pushed the shoot as I could not find him – until, Ali reached out to my casting director on Facebook.

I agreed to meet, and that meeting turned into a three hour rehearsal session.

  1. What would you like people to take away from the film? Is there a message for the audience? About Lebanon??

The larger inherent message is that Violence, no matter the reason for it, elicits violence – We see this every day in the revenge acts that countries commit against each other. Coming from Lebanon and Liberia, two countries that have been devastated by war, I have zero faith in the notion that violence is a solution.

The brothers in this film commit an act of violence that in their estimation is for a moral reason. However, what this act beckons complicates matters and sets off something bigger and far more violent.

This message is handled with deliberate subtlety. The film leaves the audience in an unsettled place. It makes one re-live and re-examine what they just experienced and think through the inherent meaning of the narrative.

The film portrays a real, rural, and un-sensationalized Lebanon. One that I know very well. It has a universality to it. The fact of the matter is that even in the most remote parts of Lebanon, people are educated and have connectivity to the world primarily due to media. And it is in this media and through it, that we become immune to the idea of violence. One of the key moments in the film is when Imad is playing a game on his playstation. The gunshots in the game are free, endless, and benign; but ultimately, they have the power to desensitize us. This is a problem today if one is to look at pervasive violence on TV, on the news and in our video games.

In this film I also wanted to break the media stereotype of what audiences have been trained to expect of a Lebanese film. It is important to note that in every country that faces or has faced war, there is a desire to live a normal life.

What’s in this film is a reality I know. And, that landscape is what the majority of Lebanon is like, it’s a country of mountains and valleys.

  1. Which other countries would you like to film/work in?

I currently work in the US and Lebanon, however, I will go wherever a good story will take me – the wilds of Iceland? the English countryside? the Southern Argentine coast? You never know.

For more information on The Rifle, The Jackal, The Wolf And The Boy : @RIFLEFILM

To view the Trailer please visit : https://vimeo.com/198127449

Web: http://www.tricyclelogic.com/riflefilm

 

Jayjay Epega : Hollywood London 2017

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