This Friday, the Museum of Modern Art in NYC will launch its two-week retrospective on the great British filmmaker Kim Longinotto, whose ROUGH AUNTIES won the International Grand Jury Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
Before sitting down to talk with Longinotto at Toronto's Hot Docs Festival on Tuesday (where ROUGH AUNTIES is screening), I was pondering what questions I wanted to ask of her. Low and behold I picked up a copy of Canada's free music magazine Exclaim and found an interview with Depeche Mode's Martin Gore with questions that I suspected were not among those that were usually being fired at Longinotto, whom MOMA describes, quite appropriately, as follows:
So, herewith, we query Kim Longinotto with exactly the same questions posed to Depeche Mode's Gore. The result is an interview that will long remain one of our favorites:
What are you up to?
I’m just about to do a panel thing (here at Hot Docs) with Tabitha Jackson, who I rather like. She’s at Channel 4. I get to ask her questions.
What are your current fixations?
My current fixation is (American Idol contestant) Adam Lambert. Can I be honest? I think that the battle between him and Danny Gokey is a battle for the soul of America. I think what’s interesting is that he says that he’s been watching (the show) since he was 18 and he waited to audition until he was 27. I think he was waiting until America was ready for (a gay contestant).
Why do you live where you do?
I live near the Arsenal football grounds. I started living there because I rented with my favorite flat mate of all time, Colin. He had a place there and we shared a one bedroom flat. We’ve now graduated to a house. It’s a very nice place to live.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
The thing I saw that most affected me in the last couple of years was THE LIVES OF OTHERS and I thought a lot about why it affected me. Here is this story where a guy is spying on these people and he falls in love with them. He's looking at them through this tiny hole. And, in a way, I hope that is what documentary does. You fall in love with the people you watch and it changes the way you see the world. It was a very hopeful film about what films can do.
And also Thomas Turgoose in THIS IS ENGLAND. He was the young boy. I thought he was wonderful.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
I was at a Clash gig in Notre Dame Church in London and a guy got beaten to death. They were punching him to death. People were just standing around watching. I was shouting but I couldn’t stop it. There’s another one – they’re both terrible experiences. It was a Buju Banton gig and it was a song, an anti-gay song that was "kill gay men" and everyone was holding up their lighters. And I was with a friend and I was shouting and my friend was telling me not to shout. Both of these stories, they're terrible, are about being powerless. I liked Buju until then. Never listened to him since.
What have been your career highs and lows?
My high was being with Mildred and Tilly at Sundance, the two woman from ROUGH AUNTIES. We had a blast. They were screaming in the jacuzzi, cause they’d never been in one before.
The low was when I was making SISTERS-IN-LAW. I got a text that our first two loads of rushes had been lost in the x-ray. It was five weeks of work. I had thought that we were almost done. Then the electricity went out and I was sitting in the dark crying.
What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a screening (oringinally: gig)?
I don’t know if was the meanest thing, but I did one of those master classes in Sweden and this guy came up to me and said, oh, you’re Master Class was very disappointing because all you did was talk and you didn’t allow anyone to ask any questions. Oh, I’m blushing just thinking about it. It wasn’t actually mean, really. He was the teacher and he said that some of his students wanted to ask questions.
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
What I hate about myself is that I tend to be over the top and I don’t like that. One of my friends came to the door and I was so over the top and he looked at me (Longinotto makes a disapproving face). I remember one terrible guy said I was gushing and it hurt me to this day. No one wants to be told that they are gushing.
What do I like about myself? Oh dear. I think I can be quite nice to people. I think I’m getting nicer. The first part of my life I wasn’t nice all the time. Maybe to my boyfriends I wasn't very nice.
What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
My idea of a perfect Sunday would be to do something like have a joint, go skating with some really, really good friends, then go to a fantastic music concert and just be with my friends all the time for the whole day, two really nice friends. Maybe go for a hot steam in the evening.
What advice should you have taken, but did not?
When I was at university, the guy I was renting a room from told me not to go out with this guy named Dave. He was about ten years older than me, a lot more than ten years older, and had a motorbike. He was the campus drug dealer and I was very flattered that he wanted to go out with me.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
Wow, out of my bed… Never done that. And never sacked anyone on a film, never gotten rid of anyone. And people have done very bad things on films and I’ve never, I’ve always put up with them.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
I think of Michael Moore when he went to Canada when he was doing COLUMBINE. They’re all meant to leave their houses unlocked, you remember? And people say to me, oh Kim, you’re so naïve, of course they don’t.
What was the first LP/cassette/CD/eight track you ever bought with your own money?
I remember what it was. "Police and Thieves" by the Clash. I had heard the wonderful version by Junior Murvin that my roommate had and then the Clash had came out with one. I prefer the Junior Murvin one now, I wish I had bought that one first.
If I wasn't making films (orginally: playing music) I would be…
I’d probably be in prison. I probably would actually, because I wouldn’t have had that life line when I needed it.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
I did have one. It was Forrest Whittaker, he won’t remember it. I was at Sundance and there was this rather sad looking guy standing at the bar and no one was talking to him. And I thought, that’s kind of mean, so I went up and talked to him. We had a nice conversation. Someone told me later “that was Forrest Whittaker”. I probably wouldn’t have gone up to him had I known. I think we sometimes leave people alone, famous people, because we think that they don't want to be bothered.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
Wow, um, well, this sounds silly, but that Adam Lambert (version of) “Mad World”. I thought he did that brilliantly. You see, I’m not sure I want a funeral. I think I just might to want to be burned. Just get rid of it. People can do something at home. Because all the funerals I’ve been to haven’t been right. But probably an “up” song.