Thursday, 27 October 2011

Exit Hana!

My story is back to being all about Shifra. How she recovers from the abduction of her baby. How she recovers her will to live though drawing her feelings and thoughts in her extraordinary sketchbooks, just like her mother and grandmother did in different circumstances in Auschwitz. Shifra's recovery starts when she decides to accept the clairvoyants prediction that she won't find Samira in Paris, but Samira will find her in South America when she's 18.

Vanessa Paradis. Could she be Shifra?

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Universal Acts of Kindness.

As arranged, I meet my artist friend at the bar in a village called Torvizcon. It's a twenty minute drive from my own village here in southern Andalucia.

Jeanette is a textile artist. We share the same sense of awe of Nature. Her work is inspired by the landscape around here, its subtle colours, its amazing marks on rocks and hillsides.
Of all the landscape poets I've ever read, Thomas Hardy's words have stuck in my heart for decades. Of a certain landscape he says:
'The crows... like inky spots on the nut brown soil...'

Here, we don't have crows, and the soil isn't nut brown. It's parched and ochre coloured. But Jeanette and I both notice scratches, veins on rocks by the roadside. They look like prehistoric drawings of winged, beaked, creatures. Jeannette photographs them.
I feel I could have painted them, they are strangely so very familiar.
I feel anew the excitement to start painting again.
It's been too long a sabbatical.
Five years, I think.

We've planned to visit an artists studio near to a cheese farm and have a picnic, rain or shine. Jeanette's made a quiche I am bringing soup and salad. Unfortuneately the brownies I made last weekend are past it.

I arrive early in Torvizcon as I'm longing to have a cup of real fresh Spanish coffee, with hot milk, in a glass, as they serve it here.
Jeanette arrives and orders a coffee Americano.

A car outside hoots its horn.
In the street a 4x4 arrives with a trailer. The trailer has a wild boar strapped to its roof and underneath are at least 15 dogs, tired after the hunt. The driver pulls out one dog and shows it to a crowd of men ,who gather like flies to view the dead boar. The dog has been wounded. There's blood on it's neck. They put it back in the trailer.

We set off to find the artists studio. John Donald is having an open day. He divides his time between here and the Dominican Republic. I visited his studio last year, so I know the way.

The artists beautiful converted mill is well and truly off the beaten track. It's at the top of one of those mind bogglingly terrifying hairpin bend tracks. As I park my car, the baker in his blue van arrives. An elderly woman and a teenage boy are waiting for him. The baker opens the van doors with a smile, and the smell of the fresh bread leaps out to meet the lingering scents of the village.
Jeanette buys a small sweet loaf with sugar encrusted on top.

Do you know where the cheese farm is I ask the baker.
He gives us explicit instructions. And repeats them carefully. Something about a bus stop, and something about strawberries. I don't take in much else as I am so caught in the delightful 'drama' of this little scene.

Such a handsome man Jeannette comments quietly, as we wind our way up the medieval lane.

We visit the artists house and studio.

In the grounds a waterfall cascades poetically behind a shield of ash tress. Sadly they are diseased by a plague of worms we're told.

Inside the spacious house designed and built by John, we see many examples of the prolific artist work. He has oil paintings, drawings, prints, and pastels. He doesn't appear to draw on the local colors or subjects Jeanette observes. I'm reminded of German Georg Gross's work she tells me later. Very narrative. I like his drawings and etchings.

Jeanette soon asks intelligent questions and the German/American artist John responds. His voice is low ,I can only pick up about one word in 20. It's not that he has a difficult accent. It's just that he almost inaudible to my ears.
Jeanette has a coughing fit. He offers her then me a glass of wine. It's delicious and expensive.

Jeanette then asks the artist's middle aged son about his sculptures . They have a Mexican/Mayan feel to them and are placed on a slope in the garden, near the waterfall.
I have an energy drop.
I want to be far way. I've never learned the art of looking at paintings and talking about them at the same time. It's like I get magnetically drawn their world, and the only way out is away.

We head back to the car and drive off with the intention of finding a place to picnic.

It starts to drizzle.

We're following the bakers directions to the cheese farm.
Suddenly, rounding a bend, we meet a flock of goats advancing quickly towards us. I stop the car.

The goat herd arrives. He's small, slight, his face is the color of the inside of a ripe fig. His eyes are dark like raisins. He has a water bottle slung over his shoulder. He also wears a dark brown leather bag. We greet each other and I ask him how many goats he's has.
300 he says.
The Billy goat is the most magnificent specimen I have ever seen in my life, with huge horns, at last two feel on either side. He has the swagger of a king.
I ask the goatherd if we're near the cheese farm. He says about ten minutes. Up and up, he says, right up.
It's freezing cold. We see the first snows of winter on the high sierras above Trevelez, just a few miles ahead of where we are.

We picnic on courgette and cilantro soup, cheese straws, asparagus quiche, garlic shrimps and fresh salad with a yogurt dressing. Everything tastes delicious, and every part of me is freezing.

Munching hungrily, we watch the goats grazing and walking southwards. Their bells are an orchestra of delight.

The baker has said to look out for a bus shelter and strawberries. This is where we turn onto a dirt track to get to the cheese farm.

We drive past fields of plump ripe strawberries and acres of neat little cherry tomatoes, a turquoise pool, chestnut and walnut trees, looking for the bus shelter.

Stopping to photograph the cherry tomatoes a dark haired middle aged man, wearing mud marked long short trousers, appears with a large panting dog.

I ask him if he knows where the cheese farm is. He grins and says it belongs to him ! He then tells us he's looking for his lost sheep. About twenty have gone astray. He asks us for a lift back to his farm! Your dog too I ask ? He grins again and says no, he'll find his way back himself.
When we arrive at the cheese farm fifteen minutes later, the same dog appears to be napping by the front door.

An hour later, after buying freshly made cheese, the most delicious in the area ( my opinion), the baker passes us on the road. He stops his blue van , winds down his window, and asks us if we found the farm.

It's Universal Day of Random Acts of Kindness.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Heart Knots

Hana needs to soften the heart knots.
She needs to become curious not furious.
She needs to learn how to let herself off the hook.
She needs to learn 'every decision I make is a choice between a grievance and a miracle.'
Deepak Chopra.

“True forgiveness is not an action after the fact, it is an attitude with which you enter each moment.”

-David Ridge.

This is the challenge and the quest Hana's needs to embark on.
With clarity, she will learn to see the bigger picture of her fear, her guilt, her chronic low self esteem. Then she'll be ready to walk though a new door into a new life. When this happens, she'll have experienced miracles.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Enter Joel.

Hana needs a friend. I thought it was going to be her housekeeper Hildegard. But today, finding this beauitful drawing by Jim di Bartolo, I'm feeling the need to go back to the original idea that her friend is Joel. He's the loyal, elderly family manservant.

So is Hana's back-story really believable?

Aged ten, Hana walks out of Auschwitz with her grandmothers sketchbook sewn inside of her little blue coat. She does not recover from the trauma of losing all her family in the camp, and as a result, as an adult, becomes deeply troubled and reclusive. She's an insomniac and has an obsession for locking doors. She is incapable of sexual intimacy, doesn't know how to give love to her daughter, is widowed and becomes bitter young, all of which lead her to lose self respect. She has only one friend in her life, Joel. Because of this inner chaos, Hana desperately tries to compensate by seeking approval and acclaim through her art.
At the end of the film, she will find her own inner heroine.

Despite serious odds, she will do this, and thereby complete an amazing character arc.

Friday, 14 October 2011

More ideas

More ideas for the title of the movie:

Drawing lessons.

(Drawing by William T Ayton)

Shifra's Mother.

Rough Copy.

Chalk talk.

Hymn to Hana.

Photo of Sonia Delaunay.

"Cannes must be open to new ideas, while remaining faithful to its past, of course. Diversity can only enrich it. That´s what makes the Festival de Cannes our festival.”

Thierry Frémaux

I wish !

Thursday, 13 October 2011


Today I found a possible new title for my screenplay.


By chance (?), in renaming Anabel Hana, I've been reminded of one of my guardians Hannah Margaret Stewart. An unsuccessful missionary turned atheist doctor, this clever little woman felt life had been bitterly unfair to her.

Hana in the film needs a friend, good or bad, and in remembering Hannah Margaret, I've found a motive for Hana's most evil of act's: her collusion in the abduction of her granddaughter Samira.


This is what Hannah Margaret gave me in large dollops every day of my childhood. Non acceptance. Long story! Hannah Margaret was not evil. She was damaged beyond repair. Hana,it will transpire, is not damaged beyond repair.

Hana's now seriously estranged daughter Shirfa will have preferred, in her childhood, the warm love of housekeeper Hildegarde. Must rename Hildegarde. This large, kind, loving, religious Bolivian servant unconditionally adored the young artistic Shifra.
Hana has been incapable of showing any love to her daughter due to her holocaust experiences as a child. She is emotionally paralyzed. The film starts in the 1980's. Hana is in her late 60's. Hana expresses her feelings in her art, graphically.


Through her graphic sketchbooks and paintings elderly wealthy lonely widowed French Holocaust survivor artist Hana battles with inner demons in a last attempt to find atonement for her part in the abduction of her granddaughter eighteen years previously. After the death of her beloved companion Hildegarde,though an unlikely chance meeting with a Bolivian shaman, Hana finds her gifted singer granddaughter Samira in the slums of Paris and embarks on an intrepid healing journey to Bolivia (with Samira) to find her daughter Shifra whom they discover teaching circus skills, mural painting, and dance to slum kids in La Paz.

Painting by Freidl Dicker-Brandeis: Gypsy and child.

This image sums up for me Hana's inner turmoil.

The new beauitful title for this blog ( the hands) image, I found on the Internet. Apologies to the creator of this photo for not noting their name at the time. Now impossible to trace !

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Для моїх українських друзів.

Дорогі українські читачі, Є багато з вас! Так от оновлення мого screenpklay в Yoru мову, завдяки Google Translate!

Мій фільм це все про зцілення неймовірні втрати ... зцілення втрати дитини до трьох поколінь єврейських жінок: бабусі Хани, дочки Шифра, а внучка Саміра. Але Саміра зламається візерунок.

Це те, що я вирішив сьогодні. Це, як фільм буде запущений. Збільшити на студії Хана, перш ніж вона виходить для станції. Там у велику картину на її мольберт, її альбомах лежать в купі на її брудний стіл фарбою. Збільшити в живопису. Це історія про викрадення Саміра в Парижі, 18 років тому. Тепер те, що стиль буде її картина може бути? Я відразу ж думати про Шагала. Я перевіряю його. Я схвильований, щоб знайти я підозрюю, пляма на. Деякі з його картин майже сцени з фільму. Я перевіряю його більше, і знайти ми народилися в один день. 7 липня.

Єврейські Шагала відбулася непохитну віру в існування чудес і в нескінченній мудрості Творця. Його життя було описана як Ода до радості ".

Невідомий Хана, в наступному місяці, вона буде відчувати два зміни життя події: зустріч Шаман, і знайти свого давно втраченого внучка Саміра.

Але як я можу отримати її для задоволення шамана?

"Я люблю тебе, не знаючи, як і коли, і звідки. Я люблю тебе прямо, без складнощів чи гордості, так що я люблю тебе, тому що я знаю, немає іншого шляху ".

Пабло Неруда

Це, як я відчуваю про моїх персонажів екрані гри.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Ode to Joy

This is my work/play table.
I'm procrastinating again. I do it very well.

The problem with storyboarding my screenplay is there are just so many possibilities, and each possibility opens up a treasure trove of new ideas. It's very challenging to filter the ideas. The big question today is: will an audience really believe in synchronicity?
How will Hana actually get to/find the shaman? The shaman tells Hana she has to find her granddaughter. The recovery of her health depends on this.

I have many very different ideas about this, involving synchronicity, but which will be the most interesting?

I think I need a sounding block.
Am trying to weave in sounds, silence, atmosphere, character sketches, leading up to the 'inciting incident' which is when the challenge for the main character is laid out graphically for the audience.
I love the trick that the audience knows something the films characters have yet to find out.

Dear Universe. I know you are listening. Please send me a sounding block. No. Stop. You might not understand this. Please do not send me any more blocks. Please send me the best person ( or messenger) to advise me on the credibility of Hana's meeting with the shaman.

Watch this space dear readers!

And now the breakthrough!

I haven't received the messenger yet, but a breakthrough just happened.

Finally got rid of the procrastinator by sitting at my desk with the intention of designing the intro.

Zoom in on Hana's studio before she leaves for the station. There's a large painting on her easel, her sketchbooks lie in a pile on her messy paint table. Zoom into painting. It's the story of the abduction of Samira in Paris, 18 years ago. Now what style would her painting be ? I immediately think of Chagall. I check him out. I am thrilled to find my hunch is spot on. Some of his paintings are almost scenes from my film. I check him out more, and find we were born on the same day. 7th July.

Jewish Chagall 'held an unwavering belief in the existence of miracles and in the infinite wisdom of the Creator. His life has been described as an Ode to Joy.'

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Hana's story starts here...

My film is all about healing unimaginable loss... healing the loss of a child to three generations of Jewish women: to grandmother Hana, daughter Shifra, and granddaughter Samira. But Samira will break the pattern.

Riddled with osteoarthritis, Hana ( the artist grandmother) can barely hold a pencil now.
Bi-Ploar, a holocaust survivor, she's hit rock bottom.
Desperately damaged by the 'loss' of her daughter Shifra to Bolivia ( though misunderstandings, furious rows, and prolonged projections) she also carries the guilt of collusion in the abduction of her granddaughter Samira.

Unknown to Hana, in the next month, she will experience two life changing events: meeting the Shaman, and finding her long lost granddaughter Samira.

The interconnectedness of all things...

Friday, 7 October 2011

Without complexities or pride

Anabel, now re named Hana, the grandmother ( when young) in my screen play.

“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way.”

Pablo Neruda

This is how I feel about my screen play characters.