Tribeca 2016 Women Directors: Meet Alma Har’el – ‘LoveTrue’

nullAlma Har’el is a music video and film director, best known for her documentary "Bombay Beach," which took the top prize at Tribeca Film Festival in 2011, received a nomination for a 2011 Independent Spirit "Truer than Fiction" award. (Press materials)

"LoveTrue" will premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival on April 15.

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

AH: "LoveTrue" is about how we change our view of love as we grow older. It explores how we cast ourselves and others in mythological stories we live with that end up shaping us, and how we discover that after our heart is broken we need to find a deeper and bigger understanding of our dreams. The film shows how people’s search for love as a force of human nature isn’t always [as] romantic as we hope.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

AH: The idea that love can be haunting and equally healing.  

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?

AH: I don’t want them to think — I want them to feel something that will take them a while to explain.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

AH: Breaking my back and spending seven months in a back brace in the middle of production.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

AH: I couldn’t get any financing and ended up getting grants from Cinereach, Tribeca and Chicken and Egg. I also got some early support from a production company in Prague called Sofa.

I took all that early money to film a trailer that would show what I wanted to do. [Actor and artist] Shia LaBeouf ended up financing my film and came as an executive producer after he saw it.

W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?

AH: That I woke up like this.

W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?

AH: The worst advice was to cut my first film, "Bombay Beach," into a short film and call it "Choreography." I didn’t do it and it later won Best Feature Documentary at Tribeca Film Festival.

The best advice I’ve received is that I’m the only one that can find my voice.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

AH: You know everything you need to know to make a film. Stop taking seminars and workshops offered to you by men and institutions that try to help women. Grab a camera — or even your iPhone — and make a film.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

AH: "Streetwise," a film about homeless children in Seattle with music by Tom Waits. I saw this film on TV when I was nine years old and living in Israel and little did I know that it will inform everything I do in my films. I didn’t even know what it’s called and only discovered it five years ago when it was pointed to me that my first film, "Bombay Beach," was reminiscent of it. I remembered it almost by heart but never knew what it was.

The film actually credits a male director named Martin Bell but he is the husband of Mary Ellen Mark, an American documentary photographer. She had been following the subjects of the film and convinced her husband to make the film about them. The film carries her aesthetic and I see it as hers too.