Local Filmmaker Heads to Cannes Film Fest
By: Chris Kazarian, May 4, 2012
Courtesy LUKAS HUFFMAN - Cinematographer Daniel Cojanu prepares a shot in the Chinatown vignette of 'Five Ways to Leave Your Lover' while director Lukas Huffman (wearing hat) observes the scene.
In the mid-70s musician Paul Simon penned the hit song “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” following his divorce from his first wife, Peggy Harper.
This past Sunday, over two dozen people witnessed five ways to do just that in a private screening of the short film “Five Ways to Leave Your Lover,” made in part by Falmouth cinematographer Daniel Cojanu.
Directed by 33 year-old Lukas Huffman of Brooklyn, New York, three of the five vignettes of the film will make their international debut in the Short Film Corner at Cannes Film Festival next month. Two of those vignettes were shot by Cojanu, a Romanian national whose filmmaking credits include “Bunraku” (Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson) and “BloodRayne” (Ben Kingsley).
Huffman, a former professional snowboarder who spent 10 years bombing down the world’s most breathtaking mountains, shot the film over the course of his studies at Columbia University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree last May.
Heartbreak: a universal experience
At Sunday’s screening, Huffman admitted that Paul Simon’s song served as the inspiration for the film, which follows a chronological course from morning to night, with characters in their teens to old age.
“The concept for the film is the couples would be, ideally, as diverse as I could get my hands on and in each vignette they get increasingly older,” Huffman said in a question-answer period following the screening.
“They allow you to have a pretty intimate look into some unique circumstances that, unless you’re gay or live in Chinatown or are Russian, you wouldn’t experience.”
Yet to keep his submission under 30 minutes for festival purposes, Huffman had to make the difficult decision to cut two of the five vignettes. He elected to take out the first two, set in Brooklyn and Bucharest, in which the lovers physically leave each other.
An international collaboration
Huffman and Cojanu first met in Romania, where Huffman was making a snowboarding film and was introduced to the cameraman, who is also an avid skier.
In their first collaboration, Huffman says Cojanu’s aesthetic is an important part of the story.
“Just the frames he sees and the colors he gravitates towards are really austere,” Huffman says. “It helped to tell the drama of the story, but not in an over-the-top way.”
Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect for Cojanu was having the ability to shoot on film, which is becoming something of a relic for independent filmmakers.
“I’m a big fan of the film look,” Huffman explained of his choice to shoot on Super 16. “It’s got a timeless quality to it. I hope in the future people who are able to watch this will think that this could have been shot today or 20 years ago.”
“Five Ways to Leave Your Lover” first screened in Huffman’s hometown of Montpelier, Vermont at the Green Mountain Film Festival in February.
Although selections to the Short Film Corner at Cannes are outside of competition, it is an opportunity for the filmmakers to promote upcoming feature projects.
Getting into the festival “is something I’m very proud of and is independent filmmaking at about its best,” says Cojanu, who will be making his second appearance at Cannes this May. In 2005 his short film, “A Fistful of Candies,” also screened at the festival.
As the days count down to Cannes, the two are now finalizing their preparations with the biggest challenge: funding their trip. Proceeds from Sunday’s private screening kicked off fundraising efforts, but it is just the start. Those wanting to donate can email email@example.com for more information.