Vincent Cassell as the charismatic Gregori
We spoke with Australian director Ariel Kleiman about his unusual film PARTISAN, which is available in limited release in Australian cinemas now. Our review is here.
Q: Vincent Cassell’s character Gregori seems like a confident man, but is he frightened by the outside world?
A: Interesting question. Maybe. The way he keeps his family separated from the world could suggest that. But in the end I think he is more a man who knows what he wants from the world.
Q: How did you hit upon the idea of making Gregori such a loving and patient father?
A: My writing partner Sarah (Cyngler) and I thought there were more interesting possibilities if Gregori was someone who was very persuasive. A narcissist who could get anyone to do what he wants. (laughs)
Q: Alexander is 11 and begins to see the flaws in his father. Did you study any child psychology to understand this stage of Alexander’s development?
A: I did read a couple of books and talked to some people. We decided this was the age where children start to see their parents differently and rebel. Alexander has to see the truth about his father.
Q: How much acting training did Jeremy have before this role?
A: None. We found him at the end of a long search in Sydney. He was in a French school.
Q: Young Alex Balagansky puts in a fantastic performance as Leo where did you find him?
A: Alex was also tough to find. He was in Sydney, too. He had to have a certain type of grit and determined-ness in his personality to play the part of Leo.
Q: Partisan is set in what you’ve called a nowhere world –– why did you decide not to tie the film to a time or a place?
A: We wanted to have the ability to take the story wherever we wanted to go. It was based on a story about child assassins in Columbia, but we needed to take it away from that kind of awful reality. So I like to think of the movie as a fable.
Q: How did you find your extraordinary locations in Georgia?
A: We went on a scouting mission. We had heard about some of these locations from friends, so we went on a working holiday looking specifically for these landscapes.
Q: Were you communicating with your Georgian crew through translators ?
A: Because of my background I am lucky enough to speak Russian, so I was able to speak to the Georgian crew, especially after a couple of vodkas (laughs).
Q: Did Jeremy and Vincent always communicate in English?
A: Florence Mezzara plays Alexander’s mother. She speaks French. So did Vincent and Jeremy so they all formed a little family unit on their own. They bonded beautifully and probably talked about me behind my back! (laughs)