In conversation with Amazon Falls director Katrin Bowen

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Q&As, Toronto International Film Festival
Tags: , , , ,

Amazon Falls director Katrin Bowen between Anna Mae Routledge and April TelekFor director Katrin Bowen, Amazon Falls is a very personal story. It’s based on her experiences in the B-movie industry and is also a tribute to the women who mentored her throughout her career. The Jana character “encapsulates all those women,” says Bowen. She wanted to show that the widespread impression that B-movie actresses are depressed is untrue; in fact, they are as happy as anybody else. Though Bowen’s experience differs slightly from Jana’s, as she was a kickboxing action star and Jana is a voluptuous beauty who built a career playing Amazons, the audition incidents captured for the screen are real for both women.

Bowen casted April Telek as Jana because she had an “old world glamour” that the role required. She knew Telek was a former Miss Canada (1994), so she inherently had the beauty queen quality Jana embodies; but Bowen had to wonder if she had the ability to carry the role. Telek proved she had the dramatic talent. “For her to be able to be that brave and to go there was great,” says Bowen. This is especially evident near the end of the film when Jana hides in the washroom, vomiting and beating her chest. This was one of Bowen’s favourite moments on set because of its difficulty and Telek’s exceptional performance. “I think that’s the scene that’s gonna win her awards,” says Bowen. Furthermore, when Telek revealed she wears wigs and was willing to strip off the pieces of her persona on camera, Bowen was glad to have the added element to “show the underbelly of the character.”

Bowen wanted to “show the burden of the dream, in that it’s really hard to live up to,” she says. Moreover, she “always wanted it to be a cautionary tale of the B-movie industry.” The vision is set up in the beginning of the film as Jana goes to an audition with the Hollywood sign in the background and a cheerful demeanour, only for it all to slowly unravel. “You can see how hard the Amazon falls,” says Bowen, simultaneously explaining the film’s title.

It’s particularly difficult for women to maintain long careers in the B-movie industry because they are so reliant on their physical abilities or features and human nature dictates neither of those facets last forever. For instance, Bowen tells of several permanent injuries gained during her acting career. But she also thinks independent films are giving women voices. To that, Bowen was the recipient of the 2009 Women in the Director’s Chair (WIDC) Feature Film Award, which helped her complete this picture.

Amazon Falls was a passion project for everyone involved and an interesting homage to the women of B-movies.

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