Letter from London: Rough Aunties

Rough Aunties, which follows women working on behalf of abused and neglected children in Durban, South Africa, premiered at IDFA and will be screening in the World Documentary Competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Carol Nahra spoke with the director, Kim Longinotto, about her films, British television and working in HD.
December 22, 2008

Director Kim Longinotto (Rough Aunties) on…

Her films
In the last few years I’ve been trying to celebrate so called ordinary people, who are extraordinary and doing incredible jobs. Like the teachers in Hold Me Tight Let Me Go, and the carers. The carers really earn so little, and yet they’re heroes on a daily basis. Every day they are dealing with crisis situations – they’re putting out incredible amounts of emotional commitment and patience and strength and yet they’re not recognized.

Filming in HD
I absolutely love HD; I loved the camera – it was gorgeous. The whole thing was brilliant. Nothing broke down; everything worked. It’s all so easy now. We’d go off to film and I’d have a rucksack with tapes in it and batteries. And I could carry it all on my back, and I kept thinking, ‘No, it has got to be harder than this.’ Filming on HD I could film things speculatively – I’ve never done that before.

Working with her editor, Ollie Huddleston
I don’t do much shooting unless I’m actually filming a scene. Now I’m trying to work out so I can film scenes in one or two shots. And I know that Ollie likes that; that’s how he likes to cut it. This is the first time we’ve edited where he hasn’t told me off about something. Because normally he says, ‘Oh, you should have held that for longer’ or, ‘You haven’t given me enough.’ Which is great because that is how I learn.

British television
Everyone is always saying to me, ‘British television is terrible.’ But I absolutely adore it; I love it. I’ve seen so many good things recently. I don’t think we realize how lucky we are. I can show you two or three things I’d like to watch most nights. I watch mainly fiction. I think documentary and fiction feed each other – I don’t see them as being opposites. I don’t ever set anything up, so one is not acted and one is. But actually in terms of the way things are made they both feed each other. I learned an awful lot from watching Sopranos about how to make a story. You watch things and you learn from them.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.