The below interview is a repurposed interview by permission with the filmmaking team of Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting to the revealing new documentary LAST HIJACK. Available On Demand, including Amazon Instant Video, Comcast, Google Play, iTunes, Time Warner Cable, Sony PlayStation, Vimeo On Demand, Vudu and XBOX Video. - ODW
ABOUT THE DIRECTORS Tommy Pallotta & Femke Wolting
Tommy Pallotta first connected Richard Linklater with animation when he produced the award-winning feature film WAKING LIFE. He followed up with Philip K. Dick's A SCANNER DARKLY, starring Keanu Reeves and Robert Downey Jr. He then directed the Emmy nominated "Collapsus". Femke Wolting co-founded Submarine, a multiple award-winning production company. She produced numerous projects such as Peter Greenaway's feature Rembrandt's J'Accuse and the groundbreaking documentaries like MY SECOND LIFE.
What sparked you interest in the issue of piracy in Somalia, and how did you decide to develop a feature film on this subject?
We were watching news reports and the image of these tiny boats versus the huge oil tankers fascinated us. We wondered what drove these men to take such enormous risks. As we researched further and found out about all the underlying aspects of piracy, the waste dumping in the waters around Somalia and the broader impact of piracy on Somalian society we got even more interested. Most media stories and news stories reported on Western ships being hijacked and the experiences of the passengers. That made us curious to know more about the pirates themselves.
When we started to look into it, we quickly became fascinated by how the pirates were perceived within their own communities. Until recently they were seen as heroes, as the little guys who fought the big Western ships. And many people also profited from their actions, whether directly or indirectly. But then things began to change. A whole generation of young men disappeared, were thrown in jail or simply vanished at sea. That had an enormous impact on the people who were left behind, the families and the women. People in Somalia turned their backs on the pirates. This tension interested us, and made us to decide to make a film from the perspective of the pirates and their families.
Was it clear from the start that this film would be something else than a 'classic' documentary?
We clicked with the subject because we immediately thought it would be ideal to combine animation and documentary footage. We didn't want to make an observational documentary. Because the hijacks were something you could never be part of. Once we thought of the combination opened up so many possibilities.
Through the animation we could view the world through the eyes of the pirates. We could visualize their subjective reality, their dreams, from their memories of the civil war to the hijacks they had undertaken.
Animated Scene / LAST HIJACK (Filmbuff)
Documentary, fiction, animation and interactive media have all been combined frequently throughout both of your filmmaking careers. What inspires this openness to hybrid forms? Do you think these kinds of projects will take on a larger importance in the industry in future years?
We are interested in hybrid forms because they offer so many more possibilities in terms of storytelling. In terms of non-fiction, they challenge the idea of objective reality that a documentary should capture.
So LAST HIJACKis a hybrid incorporating live action and animation, but also feature film and documentary. Feature films and documentaries have been made for more then a century, and there are still all these conventions of genres and specific ways to tell a story. We are excited about these new hybrid forms because you can experiment and search for new forms of storytelling that don't yet have rules. More and more feature films combine live action, effects and animation to create new worlds, and now that is possible in documentaries too.
Tell us about your experience working on similarly "non-traditional projects" with directors such as Richard Linklater (WAKING LIFE, A SCANNER DARKLY) and Peter Greenaway (REMBRANDT'S J'ACCUSE).
Currently we are shooting a feature film by Peter Greenaway in Mexico, called Eisenstein in Guanajuato. It's a love story about the famous Russian filmmaker Eisenstein, and how he felt in love for the first time when he was making a film in Mexico. It's a feature film but Greenaway mixes archive footage from Eisenstein and his films in the fictional narrative. Also we just started working on a new film for a Hollywood studio, a feature film that is a hybrid as well, half live action and half animated.
Somali pirates have lately been represented in several documentary and fiction films (CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, A HIJACKING, STOLEN STEAS, FISHING WITHOUT NETS). What do you think has inspired this widespread interest? Do you have an opinion on the films made as a result, and how is your film different?