March’s Online Short: Two Landscapes

Two Landscapes is the Jewish Film Institute’s Online Short of the Month for March 2016!

Dir. Neil Ira Needleman, 2015, United States, 3 min, English

About the film: A clash between the landscape the eye perceives and the one that’s remembered.

Q&A with director Neil Ira Needleman

What inspired you to make this film?

I’ve collaborated with my buddy Herb Rogoff on many (mostly Jewish-themed) video projects over the years, and I was hankering to make another video with him. I wanted to keep it simple, dramatic, Jewish, and (as usual) showcase Herb’s wonderful artistry.

What was your greatest challenge during the filmmaking process?

Dealing with Holocaust-related subject matter is extremely intense and draining—even if the finished product is only 3-minutes long. From a production viewpoint, this was an easy video to shoot: two friends in a meadow on a beautiful summer afternoon. But drawing a number tattoo on my friend’s arm so he could play a camp survivor, oy, that was emotional.

Any thoughts you’d like to share about screening this film in a Jewish context?

I feel this movie has “universal” qualities and messages, but I have no doubt that a Jewish audience will understand it on a deeper level. And I’m sure that Jews will begin to recognize the transformed drawing before many others.

What film/media has inspired you lately?

I’m more inspired by music than film. I recently read a biography of Louis Armstrong, and now I’ve been digging deep into my recordings of early jazz. Sidney Bechet is playing in the background while I type this.

What do you do when you’re not filmmaking?

I work hard for an advertising/marketing agency, create colorful sculptures and patterns, and make the best matzo ball soup you ever tasted.

Lastly, gefilte fish: delicious, or disgusting?

I have nothing specifically against gefilte fish, but I can’t stomach any kind of fish or seafood. Guess I’m a brisket and kasha kind of guy.