Friday, September 30, 2011

Freedom on show

A scene from The Road to Freedom, currently at Cannes, with Joshua F Smith and Scott Maguire
Film theaters in the United States today began showing the directorial debut of Brendan Moriarty, which is the first in a series of films the remarkably young director is planning to make in and about Cambodia, a country where he lived for many years. The film is expected to be in Cambodian cinemas in December. Below, Moriarty talks to MovieMaker Magazine about his film.

Brendan Moriarty Walks The Road To Freedom - by Hugh Cunningham

The recent death of photojournalist Tim Hetherington—killed while covering political unrest in Libya—made more people aware of the danger faced by those who go into war zones to document and publicize human rights atrocities that would otherwise be far too easy for the world at large to ignore. Hetherington’s tragic death caught the world’s attention, and rightly so. Photojournalists are fully aware of the dangers they face but do not let those dangers stop them in their pursuit of the truth. So it was for photojournalist Sean Flynn, whose life and tragic death is the subject of director Brendan Moriarty’s The Road to Freedom, in theaters tomorrow.

In 1970, photojournalists Sean Flynn (son of legendary actor Errol Flynn) and Dana Stone went missing while on assignment in Cambodia, where they were documenting the Vietnam War. Though the two are believed to have been captured and executed by Khmer Rouge guerrillas, the truth about their fate remains unknown to this day. MovieMaker caught up with Moriarty to discuss his reasons for making The Road to Freedom his first project and the difficulties (and benefits) of shooting on location in Cambodia, where the events of the film took place. For more information, visit the film's website.

Hugh Cunningham (MM): The Road to Freedom takes place in the 1970s, and you filmed on location in Cambodia. It’s a more ambitious feature debut than most directors attempt. Did you always want The Road to Freedom to be your first project, or did you ever consider doing something smaller in scope?BM: The Road to Freedom was a film I have wanted to make since I was ten years old. I have been in development on films since I was fourteen, and The Road to Freedom was always a priority. I never knew it was going to be my first film! It just turned out that way.

MM: Did filming go relatively smoothly, or did you run into any difficulties shooting in Cambodia? BM: Filming went better then we could ever ask for. We started during the “rainy season,” but there was no rain during any production day until the last day! The filming also went very smoothly due to the help of my two producers, Tom Proctor and Mei Savuth. I was blessed with a great DP, David Mun, who brought the film to life with his stylish ways of filming. The film went very smoothly, and the Cambodian government is wonderful to work with. Since The Road to Freedom was filmed, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and many others have used Cambodia for production locations.

Filming in the Cambodian region had a profound effect on the cast and crew. Joshua Fredric Smith, who played Sean, said that “We’re literally filming, acting and rehearsing on the very ground where all this took place. That was overwhelming and very powerful.”

MM: What happened to Flynn and Stone after they were captured in 1970 has never been determined. Was it difficult to film a story that no one really knows the end to? BM: It was not hard to make The Road to Freedom, because the film does not focus on how they died, but on how they lived and how they risked their lives to bring news to the world. I hope to remind the world to not forget about any photojournalists who have died bringing news to the world.

MM: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects? BM: The next film on my list is the story of the Mayaguez incident in 1975, [the last official battle of the Vietnam War]. The film is currently titled The M, and the script is full of action and adventure. Casting starts this fall. I am also in development on three other films. The Kings of Angkor: Army of a Thousand Elephants an epic tale of the Angkor empire. I will produce Red Fish Blue Fish with my producing partner from The Road to Freedom, Tom Proctor. Red Fish Blue Fish is a powerful story about a man trying to save his daughter from human trafficking in Cambodia. After The M, my next film is Jehovah, which I will direct.

MM: Anything you’d like to add? BM: I would like to recognize The Road to Freedom‘s executive producer Henry Bronson, who brought the film to reality. He gave me my first chance, and for that I thank him.

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