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Modern, But Not Too Modern

Kat Coiro, the writer/director of While We Were Here, was joined at her premiere by her two male leads, Iddo Goldberg and Jamie Blackley. This homage to cinema past is set against a the backdrop of Ischia—Italy never looked more beautiful in black and white.

Following the film’s world premiere screening on Saturday, director Kat Coiro was on hand to chat with the audience along with two surprise guests: the men of While We Were Here, Iddo Goldberg and Jamie Blackley.

The crowd was interested to hear about the “genesis of this unique project,” which Kat immediately characterized as “run and gun and crazy.” After working with Bosworth on a previous film, Coiro and Kate were eager to work together again and hit the ground running with this idea. As Coiro shared with amused and self-conscious disbelief, “In April [2011] we said, ‘Let’s make a movie.’ I wrote the script in four weeks in May. The financing came in June and we shot in July. And now we’re here.” Coiro immediately added, “This immediacy and quickness was part of the process, and you feel it, I hope, in a good way,” in the film.

While We Were Here

Coiro’s choice to shoot in black and white is one of the film’s most distinctive features, and one about which the captivated audience was curious. The filmmaker admitted that her reasons were “both technical and artistic.” Technically, the bright light of Ischia impeded the (color) camera from receiving a lot of information, and Kat’s choice to use all natural light lent itself to black and white film. Still, she saw the film as a timeless story, and in homage to the French and Italian films of the 1960s—as well as MANHATTAN and CONTROL—she felt the black and white aesthetic suited the film. “It’s modern, but doesn’t feel too modern,” as she said.

The actors had only good things to say about the experience of working with Coiro, noting how, according to Goldberg, “Kat just let us go, which was a really great thing,” insofar as the performances were concerned. Blackley agreed, but not without noting how “Kat was one of the boys,” and “great at rating the girls we’d see on the island”—sparking laughs throughout the large theater.

On a more serious note, when discussing their performances, Blackley spoke to his primary motive of “line after line, trying to crack the shell” of Bosworth’s character, who enters the film extremely hardened by events that are gradually disclosed.

While We Were Here

At a certain point, the conversation shifted and sobered as the audience inquired more about the character studies in the film. Iddo admitted that his character frustrated him very much, and he “wanted to scream at him all the time.” And of course, insult only added to injury, according to Goldberg as, “It was really depressing to watch Jamie and Kate having so much fun and then have to come back to… us,” he said with a smile. When asked about what was the toughest emotional scene to shoot, Goldberg was quick to answer, noting the film’s poignant climactic scene, which shook Goldberg so hard that he “was dizzy after… which you may have noticed in the scene.”

The conversation rounded out with Coiro’s call to the scope of the film, and her desire to write a tight story but one with greater expanse. Inspired by recordings Coiro made of her own grandmother, the write-director infused the film with this story element as a way of adding dimension to the character as well as the story-at-large. Throughout the film, “Jane is listening [to her grandmother] and hearing that life is about struggle and that she needs to go out find happiness,”—a subtle, and never saccharine, message that Coiro delivers through the film.

Catch While We Were Here at two more screenings: Friday and Sunday.


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