LOWENSTEIN, RICHARD: HE DIED WITH A FELAFEL IN HIS HAND
USE THE FORCE
Filmmaking is a more powerful force than
stories by the fire, Richard Lowenstein tells Andrew L. Urban,
and Australians should be using its powers to tackle bigger
Richard Lowenstein believes that the power of cinema has greater
power and potential “than sitting by the fire and telling
great yarns. Some people say we filmmakers are but simple story
tellers, but I think it’s more than that.” Because of
that, he wants to “take audiences on a cinematic journey in
visual and aural ways, also to entertain them with not only
linear but episodic ways.”
That’s what he tried to do with his latest film, He Died
With A Felafel In His Hand, starring Noah Taylor as a neurotic
obsessive would-be writer, having troubles sharing his 47th house
with others. “I hope to appeal to people tired of
conventional movies. That’s what appealed to audiences with
films like Pulp Fiction and The Usual Suspects – a
combination of things, of different ways of telling stories in
cinema. That’s where some of the film’s references come
from, also from the French New Wave….you don’t have to
signal them, they’re just understood. I’m also a great
fan of silent comedies…they show how you can tell a story
"a quickie film project
... before knuckling down to something meatier"
Originally, He Died With A Felafel In His Hand was meant to be
a quickie film project (it ended up taking five years) before
knuckling down to something meatier, by way of a political anti-conspiracy
theory movie he’s been developing for years, called Phreakz.
It is based on a true story of a female computer hacker, and
deals with the complicity of the American and Australian
intelligence services. “It’s more of a chaos theory
than conspiracy theory,” he says. Phreakz is a term for
people who acquire computer passwords by masquerading as someone
else on telephones.
Noah Taylor will again play a leading role, this time as the ex-hacker
who is tracking down the lady hacker. “It’s an amazing
female role,” he says.
"We make some
groundbreaking documentaries, but not drama features."
Lowenstein is critical of Australia’s lack of feature films
with bite. “We make some groundbreaking documentaries, but
not drama features. We tend to leave the political thrillers to
the Americans and the social realism to the British – who
also make films like The Killing Fields and Welcome to Sarajevo.
We’ve got stories like East Timor on our doorstep yet we
seem afraid of tackling that. It was the Americans who made
Missing, about the political chaos of Chili – they also
visited the stories of Vietnam. We shy away from that material
– and that’s a bit depressing. Although there are a few
exceptions, like The Year of Living Dangerously and Ground Zero.”
Together with writer John Birmingham (He Died With A Felafel In
His Hand), Lowenstein is also working on a film about East Timor,
to put his filmmaking money where his mouth is.
Published August 30, 2001
Email this article
See our MOVIE REVIEWS
Interview with NOAH TAYLOR