Me And Me Dad: Screening and Interview with John and Katrine Boorman


Last night I attended a screening of the documentary Me And Me Dad at Queens Film Theatre, Belfast, followed by a question and answer session with the director, Katrine Boorman, and her subject, father and director John Boorman.

SYNOPSIS: The film is an intimate portrait about the iconic, award winning filmmaker John Boorman, director of Point Blank, Deliverance, Hope and Glory and many others. Shot over a number of years and including previously unseen archive footage and photos, this film offers unprecedented access to John Boorman the man, the father and the filmmaker. Directed by his daughter Katrine, we get a fascinating and deeply personal insight into the man behind these movies. It is a story about family, told through the relationship between father and daughter and set against the backdrop of a life in cinema. John Boorman veteran film director has to come to terms with his daughter, a novice, whos desire is to direct him in her debut film but ends up receiving a master class instead.The question is can he relinquish his role as director? The film is an emotional journey about family conflict, love and reconciliation. —Festival de Cannes

The focus of the film evolved from just John’s career to a more free-form family narrative, intimate and revealing, humourous and touching. “I chopped everybody out and went with the narrative of the family, which mattered to me,” Katrine said at the Cannes premiere earlier this year. “The pleasure of doing this film was being able to steal my father for myself.”

The film is mainly shot at John Boorman’s home and its extensive grounds in County Wicklow, and much humour is derived from his “meddling” with her technique. Katrine afterwards recalled acting in a small part in friend Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. They filmed every Monday at Versailles, the only day it wasn’t open to the public. Katrine asked her how she coped with the scale, to which Sofia replied “Oh, guys love all that technical stuff. I just let them (her crew) get on with it.”  To which John joked “That’s one way of making a film, get someone else to do it for you.”

Katrine and her siblings grew up in a rare and privileged position, in that they travelled the world like cineaste gypsies with John and his first wife, German born Christel. A friend described their eventful marriage as “A continuation of the second world war by other means.” She endeavoured to take the children everywhere with them, though even she was stumped by the atoll location for Boorman’s WW II two hander with Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune, Hell In The pacific. She farmed the kids out to a couple. Son Charley mock hurt says she barely knew them.

The film features a wealth of home movie clips on locations such as Excalibur and Deliverance. John recalls Deliverance author James Dickey as ” a fantasist.” He told John all the events really happened to him, and not to breath a word. So naturally John told someone else, who replied he was told the same. “As soon as I saw him capsize in a boat I knew none of it was real!”

Daughter Telsche (she Scripted Where The heart Is) is never far from the family’s thoughts, John showing Katrine a tree he planted when she died of ovarian cancer. The two visit her grave at Pere-Lachaise cemetery, and remember her in a boistorous family dinner that reunites John and Christel.

Questions were thrown open to the audience after the post film interview conducted by Finola Meredith. John was asked what input he had into the dueling banjoes of Deliverance. He recalled money being tight, so he scrapped the orchestral score and conductor expenses, instead recording banjo and guitar music for a few hours, weaving elements from this through the film.

I asked John about his involvement in the Lumiere project in 1995.  He said that as part of the Centenary Of Cinema celebrations that year, several directors were asked to make their own 1.30 minute silent film on the same camera the founders of cinema, the Lumiere Brothers, used. He said he found this tremendously exciting, akin to getting his hands on the Holy Grail of filmmaking.  He made his short on the set of Michael Collins in Dublin, presumably because its director Neil Jordan had made his film debut directing the making of Boorman’s Excalibur. The film used had to be adapted to fit the Lumiere camera, and once filming began it couldn’t stop, it couldn’t be moved – “Everything had to stay in the frame, which is exactly as it should be.”

Here is John’s Lumiere film, shot on the same set where I was one of many unpaid extras in the pre-CGI crowd days.

Afterwards I was able to tell him about this coincidence. All in all, the evening was a lovely insight to a film-makers career, and the ups and downs such a career can have on family dynamics.

Originally posted 2012-10-24 15:24:36. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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