“A door which opened the way beyond perception” – Woodwind, Fin Manjoo
Sitting in their eclectic home, chatting to the local artist, it is what I feel when I am in the presence of Fin and Ivana. A calm silence. When the conversation starts, a new door is opened to their lifestyle, their pasts, creative minds. Their life and Fins art are like water flowing, ever changing, revealing depths of colours and sounds.
Through his art, Fin finds a way to share his deepest views about life’s lessons learned. His work is mind full and evocative. The latest film, Woodwind, has been screened at The Cape Town International Film Festival, The South Africa International Film Festival in JHB and has earned a nomination for the best film of Cape Town International Film Festival and Rapid Lion 2018. Fin has been recognised as the rising star in Diorama, New Delhi and been awarded by the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission funds to make a new film.
Love and Rockets did a photoshoot and an interview with Fin about what inspires his art, film “Woodwind” and the new project “No Matter”.
1. Fin, tell us about your inspirations.
My very first inspiration started in childhood, looking out the car window. The car was like a projector, while the windows were like the frames of a film and the journey created motion pictures of the outside world. For example, a common moment that had a deep impact on me was whenever a truck was alongside my father’s car, and I’d stare into the eyes of those workers laying on the back of those vehicles, being shipped away for hard labour. Looking into their world for a few seconds at a time, inspired me to write my latest story, “No Matter” about mining in KwaZulu-Natal.
As I’ve grown into life, my greater inspiration is looking at the sky which is the most brilliant screen, admiring the paintings on this larger than IMAX life-size canvas. Then simply experiencing nature, watching the dew drops on leaves, feeling the trees breathe and listening to the streams of water along the way.
2. How did you get to this point of doing what you love as a job?
Have you seen those stairways in the Far East which seem to go on forever into the clouds? Each year I’ve made one small step, and each step was incredibly high, because compared to others in this field, I’m not from a privileged background. I wanted to study overseas but the fees there were 10 times higher, while I couldn’t even afford the fees in South Africa. So in Johannesburg I took a loan and was paying it back by working in Television and New Media at night. I was studying at the turn of the Millennium when there was great hope in South Africa for cinema, but then major players in the industry here went bankrupt, and due to the enormous costs of making a film and the limited funds available, then came the world financial crisis, so I moved on and basically redirected my focus on gaining experience in learning about art internationally.
During that time for about a decade overseas, I was developing the story for my first feature narrative fiction film, “Woodwind”. Then since the South African National Film and Video Foundation only funds local stories, and “Woodwind” was set in India, I had to save my own money for a few more years to finance it myself.
3. What advice would you give to help other young artists? Any mistakes you made or share a bit of personal growth with us.
For years I made notes from all the best films and filmmakers, but when I started to create my own stories I found that the right way was to forget about other artists and find my own way. For this I needed a few years to get in touch with my own expression, to find inspiration from within myself.
4. Love and Rockets would love to hear your philosophy on art and life.
Well, in this interview I’ve touched on the subject of art and how I believe it should be approached in film. The fastest way to communicate this is through my movie, “Woodwind” where we follow the journey of a musician who learns to tune into his own voice and reaches this artistic fulfilment. I believe in the same philosophy and created “Woodwind” in this style. However I’m open to approaching art in a different way too, depending on the objectives, I might even create a comedy one day which doesn’t need to go along the intense journey of “Woodwind”.
5. What is your own favourite art work that you have done up to date?
I have a feeling that even when I do make more movies, “Woodwind” will always be the most special experience in my life. It’s all because of the psychological barriers and extreme challenges we had to surpass taking our crew from five continents up against difficult conditions in India, toward the Himalayas. We faced the same tests as my character Bonifaz and the real life experience was an art in itself.
6. Tell us a little bit about your latest project “No Matter”
There’s so much to say about it, but for now let’s just say that I’ve spoken a lot about the approaches to art but I also value the simple but powerful force of your everyday hero, the working class hero up against the industries which attempt to grind every salt from his soul. My story is of one such gardener’s triumphant struggle working in the mines in KwaZulu-Natal.
Thank you Fin Manjoo, Ivana Neskovic and Matthew Kalil for participating in this photoshoot with Love & Rockets
Interview: Kristina Stojiljkovic and Fin Manjoo
Photography: Kristina Stojiljkovic