FINDING THE LOCATIONS
Another challenge for the filmmakers was to find a location to film the scenes that take place in a third world country. The country, undisclosed in the film, could have been anywhere in the Middle East or North Africa. In this post 9-11 world, finding locations in that part of the world is a tall order. One of the safest countries for an American film shoot is Morocco.
"When I read the script, I knew we would end up shooting it in Morocco," says producer Steve Golin. "Two years ago, we shot Babel in Morocco, and it's a very film friendly environment. The King and Royal family are fantastically supportive of filming here."
Gavin Hood agrees, "One of the other reasons for shooting in Morocco, apart from its visceral energy, is that it has a tremendously long history of making films. So the film crews and the people that work in film are extremely knowledgeable."
The city of Marrakech in Morocco provided not only a safe filming locale, but also a distinct visual look.
"When we scouted Marrakech I was amazed, just in terms of its color palette, its energy, this ancient city with these wonderful alleys. You can plant your camera almost anywhere and get a great shot. It's just cinematically a dream," says Hood.
Morocco also has a long history of beautiful artisan work, from rugs to lamps, mosaic tiles to ceramics.
Hood explains, "I think the Moroccan lifestyle and certainly in Marrakech, is very tactile and people make things. They do metal work and wood work, so that the people who work on the film, whether it be in set construction or props, wardrobe or the A.D department, they all have an artisan's sense, they understand a beautifully visual world."
Shooting in Morocco was not without it's challenges, as executive producer Marcus Viscidi explains. "First of all, getting to Marrakech from L.A. takes about 18 hours. So if you want anything, you have to make sure you have it before you leave. Any film that involves weapons, special effects or pyrotechnics, you have to get that material in way ahead of time. It all has to be checked through customs and in this post 9/11 world getting weapons anywhere in the world is difficult, but getting them into countries in the Middle East or Africa is even more difficult. In Morocco, you have to plan months ahead and get approval from the King. You have to have a list and not vary from that list. So, if you decide at the last minute that you really need 50 guns instead of 40, you are not going to get those 10 extra guns."
Filming on location in Morocco also involved shooting with not only an American and Moroccan crew, but truly an international crew. Rendition employed crew members from countries as diverse an South Africa, Great Britain, Italy, Israel, Egypt, Algeria, Australia and Sudan.
"I think it is wonderful when you walk on the set and you have South Africans, and Moroccans, Americans and Brits," says Jake Gyllenhaal. "There is a real open heart here. I think that comes from Gavin Hood. I think every set Ive been on is defined by the director."
"Shooting in Morocco with an international cast and crew was an amazing experience," adds cast member Igal Naor. "For me, as an Israeli, to feel free, and to feel comfortable, to not be afraid of anyone or anything…I felt as if I was in London or Paris. It was great. I met so many Muslims who became good friends and after two weeks, we said to ourselves, 'How can we be together? How can we have fun?' Look how close we are. Judiaism and Islam are so much the same. And it's is something that makes me very happy. I have many Arab and Palestinian friends in Israel, too. Why can't it always be like that?"
Gavin Hood adds, "One of the fun things about this movie was the fact that we had crew made up from people all over the world working on a film that is essentially about the struggle of different cultures in this very stressful modern time. The debates among the crew members about the issues at hand were wonderful because I watched people grow and come to understand each other and enjoy being with each other. I hope this film reminds us that we are all just people with emotional issues and needs. I get so frustrated the way people want to talk about how people are different, yet we don't talk enough about the ways in which we are the same."
DIRECTOR GAVIN HOOD
Gavin Hood's Tsotsi, based on an Athol Fugard novel, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006 after winning the Audience Award at the 2005 Edinburgh International Film Festival and the People's Choice Award at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival.
After graduating with a degree in law in South Africa, Hood worked briefly as an actor before heading to the US to study screenwriting and directing at UCLA. Here, in 1993, he won a Diane Thomas Screenwriting Award for his first screenplay, "A Reasonable Man." The script was inspired by a case of ritual murder. Judges included Steven Spielberg, Michael Douglas and Kathleen Kennedy.
After completing his studies, Hood returned to South Africa where he got his first writing and directing work making educational dramas for the new Department of Health which was just beginning to feel the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. For his work in educational television, Hood won one Artes Award (a South African Emmy) and was nominated for another. In 1998 he made his 35mm film directing debut with a 22 minute short called "The Storekeeper." The film went on to win thirteen international film festival awards including the Grand Prize at the Melbourne International Film Festival in Australia, which qualified the film for Academy Award consideration in 1998.
"The Storekeeper" paved the way for Hood's low budget feature debut, A Reasonable Man, which he wrote, directed, co-produced (with Paul Raleigh) and starred in opposite Academy Award nominee Sir Nigel Hawthorne. At the All Africa Film Awards in 2001, Hood won Best Actor, Best Screenwriter and Best Director. At the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, he was named by Variety as one of their "Ten Directors To Watch."
He next directed a children's epic adventure based on the novel In Desert and Wilderness by Polish Nobel prize-winning author Henryk Sienkiewicz. Although the film was set in Africa where Hood grew up, it had to be made in Polish. Grabbing a chance to shoot on Super 35mm, Hood took the job, working with a Polish translator. On release, the film became the highest grossing film in Poland for the year and won Best of the Fest at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival in 2002.
SCREENWRITER KELLEY SANE
Kelley Sane found a roundabout way into screenwriting. He studied economics, played professional tennis and worked as a photographer (he's photographed Kevin Spacey, Charlize Theron and ads for Pepsi). He started in Paris; modeled in Japan; spent time in Vienna, London and Istanbul; and worked in Milan as a professional photographer for three years - where, he says, "I first started writing almost out of sheer boredom."
In 1996, he directed his first script, a campy, low-budget musical comedy, Francesca Page, which played in the Midnight section of the 1997 Sundance Film Festival.
CINEMATOGRAPHER DION BEEBE
Dion Beebe was born in Australia and grew up in Cape Town, South Africa. He explored the possibilities of still photography in high school, but his interest shifted to cinema. Beebe spent at year at Pretoria Technical College before moving back to Australia when he was accepted into the prestigious Australian Film, Television and Radio School. He not only graduated with a BA in Film & Television, but was awarded, during his years as a student, two of Australia's top cinematography accolades; the Australian Film Institute Award and the Australian Cinematographers Society Golden Tripod Award.
For a year after graduating from college, Beebe successfully directed music videos before earning his first narrative feature credit in 1992 for the critically acclaimed film, Crush, which was selected for competition at Cannes. In the next six years, Beebe compiled around a dozen documentary and feature film credits. Beebe was nominated for several more Australian Film Institute Awards (Praise, What I Have Written) and won an AFI award for Eternity. He was again awarded Golden Tripods at the annual Australian Cinematographers Society Awards for the short "Down Rusty Down" and the feature documentary "The Journey."
After winning a greencard in the US lottery, Beebe and his wife, Unjoo Moon, took it as a sign that it was time to make the move to Los Angeles. His early US credits started with Mira Nair's "My Own Country", a Showtime movie and included Jane Campion's "Holy Smoke" and Gillian Armstrong's "Charlotte Gray."
Beebe earned his first Oscar nomination for Chicago in 2003, which was also nominated for a British Academy of Film & Television Award. That same year he was presented with the Australian Film Institute's Byron Kennedy Award for pursuit of excellence. The following year, Beebe received another Golden Tripod Award from the Australian Cinematographers Society for In the Cut. He was nominated for an American Society of Cinematographers Award for Collateral and went on to receive top honors from The Los Angeles Film Critics and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for this movie in 2005.
Beebe won his first Oscar in 2006 for Memoirs of a Geisha. His work on this film also won him the 2006 ASC Award, BAFTA Award and the Australian Cinematographer's inaugural International Award.
Dion continued his collaboration with director Michael Mann on Miami Vice (2006) and with Rob Marshall on the Emmy nominated television special, "Tony Bennett an American Classic." He has recently completed Rendition with a fellow South African, director Gavin Hood.
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