The Half Note recently sat down with screenwriter David Kosh, to talk about his experience with the short film, Cold Tea, at The Heart of Gold International Film Festival in Australia.
Half Note: Tell me a bit about what's at the heart of the Heart of Gold Film Festival in Australia.
David Kosh: Nourishing, uplifting, spiritual and/or funny films -- an antidote to the usual bleak stuff offered by many other festivals and the world in general.
HN: Talk a little about Cold Tea and why you felt it would work at this particular festival.
DK: COLD TEA is about perception, acceptance and true love. Toni Powell, the festival director, said for her, the film was about grace. It felt like COLD TEA and Heart of Gold were a natural fit.
HN: It was a 30-hour journey from New York to the town of Gympie. I imagine there were a few moments on the trip that stand out for you. Would you care to share some?
DK: I have to admit, it was no fun getting there. Hours 5 through 30 were exceptionally long ones, although I did see Stevie Wonder being taken to the men's room at LAX, watched a movie called ONCE that I really liked, and was quite successful at not killing myself or any large marsupials while driving on the wrong side of the road.
HN: Once you landed in Brisbane, you had to immediately drive two hours to the town of Gympie. How was it to operate a car over there? Tell me about the Roundabouts.
DK: In my land of Oz, there was no yellow brick road to guide me, hence I was lost a lot of the time, and I had cramped fingers from clutching the steering wheel so tightly. Australians thought I was nuts for driving two and a half hours after being on airplanes for more than 25 hours. As for roundabouts, we may have a fascist president in the U.S., but we don't have roundabouts. Let us count our blessings.
HN: What were your impressions of that part of the world, and more importantly, how was the coffee?
DK: Flat whites! Kind of a more masculine cappuccino without the girly foam. Much better than anything I've ever had at Starbucks, I swear. As for my impressions about Australia -- I didn't get to see much, no outback or barrier reef, nothing exotic or other-worldly enough to make me feel like I was actually 10,000 miles away from New York. The trees and plants were different, the air was different, the birds were different, the sunlight was unbelievably bright and intense, and of course the accents were different, but the actual structure of daily life was the same as ours -- shopping, eating, bad TV. It was a bit surreal, like being in a universe only slightly different than the one you're used to.
HN: How did you find the caliber of films at the festival?
DK: Actually pretty high in comparison to the other festivals I've attended.
HN: What were the audiences like for Cold Tea? Were they responsive?
DK: We had very good responses for both screenings, but holding true to the notion that each audience is its own animal, reactions varied in each group. For example, at the first screening, the audience didn't laugh at a line that usually gets a laugh, but it really responded to the ending -- the strongest response of any audience so far. At the second screening, the audience laughed at the expected places, but weren't so vocal at the ending.
HN: What were some of the comments you received from people about the film?
DK: Many, many positive comments. Hard to remember specifics, but other filmmakers really enjoyed it. A musician, the guy who did Heart of Gold's theme music, told me he couldn't get COLD TEA'S music out of his head. I got compliments on the cinematography, art direction, even the sound mix, since I told a lot of people that we had to dub every line of dialogue. The sound and visual quality of the projection was also fabulous. COLD TEA has never looked or sounded better than it did in Australia.
HN: I hear there was some controversy surrounding Cold Tea's acceptance into the festival.
DK: Toni said it was the most divisive film during the selection process. COLD TEA had the most ardent lovers and the most rabid haters than any other film. Toni loved that, thank God. Did I mention that Toni is an incredible human? And not just because she's a huge fan of our movie. She had a vision and she made it real AND successful and professional. The media coverage for a festival in only its second year was astounding.
HN: It seems that people either don't really respond to this film, or they love it and are deeply moved. Why do you think there is such an extreme split?
DK: COLD TEA has a sensibility much like the lead character, Eve. It won't do anything to make you love it like some other films that jump all over you like a desperate puppy. You, as a viewer, need to come to it, enter its world -- which is sort of slightly off center -- not realistic, but not fantasy, either. You need to appreciate what is just past the edge of "normal." Eve, in the film, has a thing for bones and brains -- a bit crazy by most ways of thinking, but I maintain we all have our "bones and brains" -- things we do, say, feel, think -- that if viewed by someone else would immediately be tagged as "fucking insane." Like Eve, COLD TEA melts for those who truly love it. To those who don't, it's just a queasy freak show.
HN: Were there any films at Heart of Gold that you loved? Tell me about those films.
DK: There were several. WE ARE TOGETHER (I think that's the title) was a documentary about South African orphans, all of them singers. It was achingly sad, but so beautiful, and it had what one would call a happy ending. VALIDATION -- a big prize winner -- was the film I wished I made -- original, funny, romantic -- it made me very jealous. I really liked the films of some of the other filmmakers I met -- always a good thing. It's a relief to tell someone "I loved your film," and actually mean it.
HN: Cold Tea won the Director's Choice Award. Please explain what that is.
DK: Toni, the festival director, as mentioned previously, chose COLD TEA as her favorite film of the festival. A close second was VALIDATION, so it was really an honor. She really championed our film. Gratitude will be eternal.
HN: What's next for Cold Tea?
DK: It's going to be a guest on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and then it's going to open for Meshugah, the Norwegian death metal band, on its world tour. But seriously...There's a possibility of a distribution deal, but until the contract is signed...
HN: Thanks David.