San Diego Jewish Film Festival Begins Thursday, Closes Feb. 18 With 'Jungle'
Closing night film from Australian director Greg McLean chronicles real life story
>>> THE JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL OPENS THE EIGHTH WITH A DOCUMENTARY ON SAMMY DAVIS JUNIOR. KPBS REPORTER SPOKE WITH JUNGLE FILMMAKER GREG FROM AUSTRALIA. >> YOU HAVE A REPUTATION AS A HORROR FILMMAKER AND YOU HAVE BEEN LISTED AS PART OF THE SPLAT PACK. WERE YOU SURPRISED TO HAVE YOUR FILM SELECTED ? >> I THINK WHEN THE PRODUCERS WERE LOOKING TO TELL THE STORY, IT'S A HORROR FILM THAT SHOWS THE EXPERIENCES. IT'S ABOUT THE BEAUTY AND HORROR AT THE SAME TIME. >> EXPLAIN HOW YOU DISCOVERED THIS STORY BECAUSE IT IS A TRUE STORY. HOW DID YOU FIRST ENCOUNTER IT ? >> ABOUT 20 SOMETHING YEARS AGO. I WANTED TO EXPERIENCE THE EXTRAORDINARY WHICH IS WHY ENDED UP IN THE JUNGLE. I GOT A CALL FROM A PRODUCER WHO SENT ME THE SCRIPT AND ULTIMATELY I GOT MOVED BY HE -- HOW HE HAD THE STORY. >> YOU MENTIONED WOLF CREEK AND THAT USES THE AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK AS A CHARACTER IN THE FILM. HOW IS THE LOCATION. IT'S SET IN THE JUNGLE SO HOW IS IT WORKING WITH THESE TWO LOCATIONS THAT BECOME CHARACTERS IN SIMILAR AND IN DIFFERENT WAYS BETWEEN THESE TWO FILMS. >> IT'S CALLED ISOLATION AND IT'S A SCARY THING ITSELF. THE JUNGLE HAS ISOLATION ELEMENT AND YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY WATER AND RIVERS AND ANIMALS. IT'S ALMOST LIKE THE OPPOSITE. >> YOU SEEM ATTRACTED TO STORIES IN WHICH NATURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT PLAY A PART. IS THERE A PARTICULAR ATTRACTION TO YOU ? >> I GUESS I GREW UP IN THE COUNTRY AND I LOVE THE OUTDOORS MYSELF. I WAS ALWAYS DRAWN TO STORIES TO PEOPLE SURVIVING IN NATURE AND I GUESS I'M CURIOUS ABOUT PEOPLE BEING PROTECTED BY THINGS. I AM DRAWN BY THAT AND TALKING ABOUT LIFE BEING BEAUTY AND HORROR IN THE SAME IMAGE. LIFE IS FULL OF BEAUTY AND HORROR EVERY DAY. >> WHAT IS IT ABOUT THESE JUNGLES THAT KEEPS LORING PEOPLE IN EVEN THOUGH THEY SHOULD BE AWARE OF HOW DANGEROUS IT IS. >> IT'S A METAPHOR FOR TRANSFORMING. IT'S A METAPHOR FOR WANTING TO CHANGE. IT INFORMS YOU -- TRANSFORMS YOU IN A WAY. I FEEL LIKE THE JUNGLE IS A METAPHOR IN OUR WORLD IT CONTAINS TREASURES AND DANGERS. I THINK THE STORY IN THE BOOK AND THE FILM HE MAKES PEOPLE ENGAGE. UNTIL YOU REALLY UNDERSTAND IT BECOMES VERY REAL. >> IT SEEMS LIKE IT COULD HAVE BEEN A JOURNEY FOR YOUR ACTOR MICHAEL AS WELL. >> IT WAS A REAL JOURNEY AND I THINK EVERYBODY WAS EXCITED. WE ALL WENT FOR THE ADVENTURE AND WE HAD THE ADVENTURE TOGETHER. >> WHAT YOU THINK IT WOULD BE LIKE TO HAVE YOUR FILM SHARED IN THE CONTEXT OF THE FESTIVAL ? >> I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO IT. [ LOW VOLUME ]. >> THAT WAS A GREG SPEAKING WITH KPBS REPORTER. THE FILM WILL BE AT THE FESTIVAL AND YOU CAN HEAR MORE OF THE INTERVIEW ON THE MIDDAY PODCAST.
The San Diego Jewish Film Festival opens Feb. 8 with a documentary on Sammy Davis, Jr., "I've Gotta Be Me" and closes with Greg McLean's "Jungle," about the true story of a young Israeli man's adventure in the Bolivian jungle.
For the 28th year the San Diego Jewish Film Festival once again assembles a diverse array of features, documentaries and shorts for viewers to choose from.
One of the best things about the festival is the emphasis it places on putting films into a context and bringing people and filmmakers to screenings to provide that context.
For the festival's closing night film, "Jungle," Australian filmmaker McLean will be on hand to discuss how a horror director known as part of the "splat pack" had his new film selected for the San Diego Jewish Film Festival.
He confessed, "It's not an obvious match."
But the film is based on the true story of a young Israeli man named Yossef Ghinsberg who survived 19 days on his own in a South American jungle. "Harry Potter's" Daniel Radcliffe takes on the role and put himself through quite an ordeal to shoot the film.
McLean, as he did in his first film "Wolf Creek," turns nature and environment into a character. In "Wolf Creek" the vast emptiness of the Australia outback provides one layer of terror in the film. In "Jungle," the setting provides different challenges and is densely cluttered with all forms of life, some dangerous. The noise of the jungle at night almost drives Ghinsberg crazy.
For a full schedule of films, check out the San Diego Jewish Film Festival website.