Babies, the latest film from Focus Features, captures the early life of four babies on four continents: Ponijao in Opuwo, Namibia; Mari in Tokyo, Japan; Bayar from Bayanchandmani, Mongolia; and Hattie from San Francisco, California.
To coincide with the release of Focus Features’ new movies Babies, FilmInFocus decided reached out to a number of independent filmmakers who themselves were new parents and asked them to contribute a short film about them and their babies to the site.
Below, we introduce the directors of our Indie Babies short films:
Caveh Zahedi, director of Dada
A Yale philosophy graduate, Caveh Zahedi attended the UCLA film school, where he met creative collaborator Greg Watkins. He co-directed with Watkins A Little Stiff (1991), an experimental narrative which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and followed that up with the cult documentary I Don’t Hate Las Vegas Anymore (1994), which won the Critics Award at the Rotterdam Film Festival. He made the video diary piece In the Bathtub of the World in 2001, and in 2005 won rave reviews and a Gotham Award for I Am A Sex Addict, his hilarious confessional hybrid documentary. As an actor, he has appeared in Alexander Payne’s Citizen Ruth (1996) and Richard Linklater’s rotoscoped Waking Life (2001), among other films. His official website is http://cavehzahedi.com.
Caveh Zahedi on Dada: "My wife was against it but I prevailed. This said, it was the longest minute of my life."
Sara St. Martin Lynne, director of The First
Sara St. Martin Lynne is an award winning screenwriter, producer and director. Sara has produced and directed numerous short films (Little Mutinies, starring Guinevere Turner, 2009), documentaries (San Francisco, Still Wild at Heart and San Francisco Drew School: Just Ask). Her directorial debut, Rock In A Hard Place (2004), a short film that was adapted from the feature length screenplay for Night Fliers, toured the international film festival circuit with wide acclaim. Her feature film debut, Night Fliers premiered to a sold out audience in San Francisco and is currently touring the international film festival circuit. Night Fliers recently earned the award for Best Narrative Feature at Reeling 2009: The 28th Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival. Her work has been broadcast nationally on LOGO and PBS. Sara St. Martin Lynne is currently in development on a feature film adaptation of Michelle Tea's widely acclaimed book, Valencia.
Sara St. Martin Lynn on The First: “I first learned about Babies last fall and have watched the beautiful and moving trailer many times. As a filmmaker and as a new parent, I have been excitedly awaiting the release of this film.
When I got the email about this particular project, I had been sitting at my computer for about ten minutes looking over all of the footage that my partner and I had shot of our daughter during the last year. Her first birthday was rapidly approaching and I wanted to make a video that documented our first year as a family of three. My video, The First, is a small tribute to the sweetest, most exhilarating, humbling, exhausting, and ultimately inspiring year of my life so far. I am honored and thrilled to have been invited to share a little piece of that very special time.”
Sara St. Martin Lynne with her partner and daughter
Jennifer Reeves, director of Untitled
Jennifer Reeves is a New York-based filmmaker who has made over 20 films works since 1990. Her subjective and personal films push the boundaries of film through optical-printing and direct-on-film techniques including hand-painting film frames. Reeves explores themes of memory, mental health and recovery, feminism, sexuality, landscape, music, and politics. Reeves’ acclaimed first feature The Time We Killed (2004) won a number of awards, including the Critics prize at the Berlin Film Festival, and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. In 2008, Reeves completed her feature 16mm double-projection film When It Was Blue, which premiered with live music by Skúli Sverrisson at the Toronto International Film Festival. She is currently writing her second narrative feature, Firelight Song, about the first uniformed female forest ranger in the United States. Reeves teaches film part-time at Cooper Union and the School of Visual Arts, and has had retrospectives of her work at the New Horizons Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland, Kino Arsenal in Berlin and the San Francisco Cinematheque.
Jennifer Reeves on Untitled: “While capturing the exuberance and wonder of our family’s ever-evolving present, I wanted to also show the recent past which feels like a beautiful dream. The film depicts Teo’s discovery and delight in the various forms of water, as he swims, kicks, splashes, and feels mist on his face. Watching Teo explore and learn about the world with all of his senses, I think of Brakhage who spoke of an eye unruled by “the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception” and how avant-garde filmmakers could strive for such a vision.”
Jennifer Reeves with her son Teo and husband William Wu
Sascha Paladino, director of Have We Met?
Sascha Paladino is a filmmaker and writer. His 2009 debut feature, Throw Down Your Heart, follows American banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck on his journey to Africa to explore the little known African roots of the banjo and record an album. Previously, Paladino directed the award-winning documentary short Obstinato: Making Music for Two about Fleck and fellow musician Edgar Meyer, and his other documentary shorts include Party For the People (2005), about a communist rockabilly band in Northern Italy, and The Subway Line (2002), about a guerilla subway artist in New York. Paladino is also an Emmy-nominated writer and producer for children’s television. He is head writer and producer of “Ni Hao, Kai-lan” on Nick Jr, and has written and head written for programs including “Wonder Pets,” “Blue’s Clues,” “ToddWorld,” and many others.
Sascha Paladino on Have We Met?: “Have We Met? explores the moment when twins first start to notice each other. My twin boys, Gianluca and Cole, shared pretty close quarters for nine months. But when they came into the world, they didn’t seem to be aware of each other, even though they slept in the same crib. Cole could be screaming his head off and Gianluca would sleep peacefully, inches away.
I like to imagine what’s going on in their heads, which I wanted to visualize in this film. Since babies don’t have much experience to draw from, I imagine their thoughts must look pretty abstract, but reflect the things they see, like faces and toys. A lot of people think twins have a sort of telepathic bond, so what if their thoughts started to merge, revealing themselves to each other in their imaginations first, and then somehow making the leap to awareness in the real world?
Now that the boys are three months old, they seem to be getting the idea that there’s someone else around. In fact, the day after we shot this film, for the first time, Gianluca turned to Cole, looked him in the eye, and smiled. Hopefully, it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”