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6 Questions For Oscar Nominated Director Timo Von Gunten

Timo Von Gunten is the Oscar Nominated Director of Live Action Short : "La Femme et Le TGV" which features legendary actress Jane Birkin in the Lead Role of Elise Lafontaine. We find out the Director's journey and the story behind the film.

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Quick Six for Director Timo Von Gunten

Jean de Meuron, Timo Von Gunten, Giacun Caduff / Via

How did you get into working in film? Please give a little background about your career to date..

When I was 10 years old, I abducted my parents MiniDV camera and started playing around with it like crazy. Every hike, every trip, everything was documented. Soon I learnt about the impact of editing, even though it was very limited software available back then. And that’s how I got a taste for narrative storytelling. During my high school years in Switzerland I was supported by my teachers and headmaster to work on my projects. Every opportunity was used to shoot films while others were used studying for exams. After I graduated I hoped to go to film school, but I was declined everywhere I applied to. Even in my home town Zurich. I started theoretical film studies at the university then I left only 2 months later. I committed to an internship as an assistant on a low budget feature that hasn’t been publicly seen until today. But from these contacts I managed to pull off my first professional short films. In fact, with some cast and crew from that film have been part of LA FEMME ET LE TGV.

Who in the film/Movie world – past and present – are your greatest influences? Also we would love to learn more about movies that have influenced you?

It’s funny, I can’t really name a specific person who has been my greatest influence. My creative drive and passion seems to come from within and I’m not really following too many people consciously. But of course when I read a great quote from someone in the industry or see a film that I love, this inspires me immensely and gives me the energy I need to keep going. From the style of my films you can tell that “Amelie“ certainly had a huge impact on me when I was a teenager. I’ve watched this film numerous times and I still try to, when I feel depressed. Apart from the phenomenal style and story, I love the details it entails. And that’s what brings us back to TGV.

How did you come up with the idea for the film?

I read the story in the newspapers and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I contacted the lady by phone and let her know that I wanted to make a movie about her life. She agreed. Then, I teamed up with my invaluable producers Giacun Caduff and Jean de Meuron. That’s how this fairy tale began…

How did you get the wonderful and legendary Jane Birkin to be the lead in the film and how did you choose the other actors?

I wrote a fairly good screenplay and I sent it to Jane. I was lucky that she immediately understood the story and loved it.

All actors were chosen together with my amazing mentor and acting coach from London, Giles Foreman. We’ve been an exceptional team for a while now.

What would you like people to take away from the film? Is there a special message for the audience?

Solitude is one of the primary themes in LA FEMME ET LE TGV. It’s about the loss of relationships – on one hand the familial relationship with her son but also the relationship with the “lover“ that she has only imagined. Elise wishes nothing more than a connection to this world, the new world. But reaching out to a distant train driver has just been an excuse for not daring to go out into the world and commit to real people. Cause only that way will she experience real love and no longer feel outside of life. It is also about the integration of older generations who no longer feel connected and forgotten in old folks homes. New technology has brought us closer together, but in a way also further apart. This film should give hope to our elders that they belong to this world as much as the young ones, cause at the end of the day, we are dependent on each other. We’re all in this together and want to be connected in order to feel loved.

What other countries would you like to film/work in, have you done a lot of international work to date?

So far I’ve shot in the United States, France, Switzerland and Bulgaria. I hope this list will grow a lot in the coming years. I find it exciting and vital to shoot in other countries. It gives you a new perspectives by bringing people together. There is still so much to discover and learn. Can’t wait to dive into the next adventure.

( Images are Courtesy : / Jean de Meuron, Timo Von Gunten, Giacun Caduff )

The 89th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

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