The incredible duo of Lewie & Noah Kloster and their short films in the 23rd Thessaloniki Documentary Festival
On Saturday July 3rd, the premiere of the short films directed by the incredible duo of American directors and brothers, Lewie & Noah Kloster, was held on the M2 Building roof of the Megaro Mousikis of Thessaloniki, in a windy movie night under the stars and by the sea. Lewie & Noah Kloster, who are experimenting with animation documentary in a unique way, landed in Thessaloniki to meet the audience in a memorable night.
The Kloster brothers stated with excitement: “Thank you for inviting us to the Festival. What an extraordinary screening! We were joking earlier that due to this wind this film screening would be a 3D screening; a different kind of experience. No matter what, everything will be fascinating and we will discover it with you together”.
This directorial duo draws inspiration from pop culture, as well as from everyday people, directing fun-to-watch and innovative short animation documentaries. The Festival showcased the world premiere of their last film featuring Sara Driver and bearing the title Stranger than Rotterdam - with Sara Driver, whereas the films Slinging Hash – with Laurie Lindeen, Stick ’Em Up - with Adam Luca, Le Tour de Pants - with Ali Selim and Shots in the Dark - with David Godlis are celebrating their international premiere.
A Q&A with questions posed by the audience followed the screening of their short films.
Lewie Kloster commented the weather and the… coincidences by saying: “We will present to you our next film in a windy night, taking pictures of the film screening and that would be the plot of a new film. This screening is full of coincidences and there are things occurring accidentally. Most people here in Greece know Jim Jarmusch; this is not the case in the US. Sara Driver loves this Festival so much. Moreover, most of our movies have scenes full of smoke; this is the case here in Thessaloniki. We first directed a movie when Noah was 17 years old and I was 20. Over these years we have seen ourselves getting better; our sketches were not so good at the beginning”.
Noah Kloster explained: “We forge bonds of friendship with our protagonists. We often wonder over the best timing for someone to see himself/herself as an artist and share this identity with people. For Christine Choy, it was when she smuggled cigarettes at the airport. For David, it was when he decided to quit his morning job and started to work at night. Christine Choy was Lewie’s professor at the University. They met later at the Film at Lincoln Center, where we first met Sara Driver. Laurie Lindeen, has been like a mother to us, we would spend hours discussing with her and talking about the artistic process. We also know she will be always there for us even if we go broke – to be more specific, when we go broke”.
Noah Kloster answered a question on how they create their movies and the way they give life to the most simple and cheap materials through their imagination: “We started directing films in 2016; we have recently finished the shooting of our last movie. I wanted to be a painter, whereas Lewie dreamt of being an editor. The moment we got our hands on Christine Choy’s story, we wanted to make something of it, in any way possible. Our grandma, who had passed away several years before our first film was released, was a painter so we learnt a lot of things from her. After her death, as we were clearing the house from her belongings, we found paints and brushes. We are still moved even today when we see boxes of paint from the 70s. We always believe that you may find something useful as you walk down the street and add it in your film in a completely different context”.
The Kloster brothers continued: “How much time do we need to finish the shootings? We spent three months working two days per week, to finish our last film. At that time, we had just finished an advertising campaign, trying to find time for Sara Driver as well. We hope that someday all pleasant and funny things will be profitable too. The time we need to finish a film, while working with a speedy rhythm, is about six weeks. The interview process is something different. For instance, we had to build a relationship with Sara before starting to film her. We have gathered 16 hours of film material with David Godlis. If we had sponsors, we would have different versions of the film. We would be able to have endless hours of podcasting, where we would share our experiences from the Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan concerts”.
In a question as to when someone realizes that he/she is an artist, Lewie replied: “We have an upcoming project with Sara Driver revolving around some famous directors we all know. We intend to go back in time and retrace their first steps, when they were trying to find financing for their films. How far can someone go to assert his/her status as an artist? He added by joking: “you can’t imagine what we have been through to come to Thessaloniki!”.
Noah joked on to say: “In Brooklyn, where we live, we come across some interesting cardboards that can be transformed. In New York there are huge rats. I haven’t seen any, here in Thessaloniki. I remember once, around 3 am in the morning, I painted a dead rat with a spray and kicked it so that it would leave a mark on the ground. Art! Or maybe, just… anger management”.
The characters in their movies make a living out of different jobs and not from their art: “In Slinging Hash – with Laurie Lindeen, we see the artist giving her first interview, while working at a restaurant. We had been working for a long time at the New York Lincoln Center, editing trailers. In fact we do our best to make a living out of our art”.
Noah Kloster, in a question on whether they have thought of making fiction films, he replied: “There is something delusional in our films. They seem to come out from the dreams of a person who is burning from fever. You have to be inventive in order to produce an animation documentary. We try hard to make out what is real and what is illusionary in our films. I have to admit that my dreams are even worse! We used to work with cardboards because they are very cheap. Lately we have been using dolls; this is surely an element of our illusionary world. After all, ‘if journalism is all about facts, then documentary is all about truth’ – the only profound words heard here tonight are not ours”.
Really enthusiastic, the brothers concluded by pointing out: “We thank you all for screening our last film, a work in progress. We have worked overtime to get to this result. In any case we have worked overtime just to make it to Greece!”
Stranger than Rotterdam, with Sara Driver (world premiere)
USΑ, 2021, 10΄
In 1982, the completion of Jim Jarmusch’s sophomore film, Stranger than Paradise, hinged on producer Sara Driver’s willingness to smuggle one of the world’s rarest and most controversial films across the Atlantic Ocean.
Shots in The Dark, with David Godlis (international premiere)
USΑ, 2020, 7΄
Between 1976 and 1980, young Manhattan photographer David Godlis documented the nightly goings-on at the Bowery’s legendary CBGB, “the undisputed birthplace of punk rock,” with a vividly distinctive style of night photography. Lewie and Noah Kloster bring his photos to life with electrifying immediacy, bolstered by black-and-white watercolor animation, a rollicking soundtrack, and voiceover narration by Godlis himself.
Le Tour de Pants, with Ali Selim (international premiere)
USΑ, 2020, 4΄
When Alexi Grewal won gold in the 1984 Olympics, it wasn’t because he was wearing spandex. However, after the photo finish, bike shops across the USA were flooded with new faces frantic to buy the miracle material shorts. Filmmaker Ali Selim was one of the only few keen enough to understand why Grewal actually won.
Stick ’Em Up, with Adam Lucas (international premiere)
USΑ, 2019, 4΄
When artist/street artist, Adam Lucas, decided to combine the names Banksy and Tom Hanks into one “HANKSY,” lightning struck. The pun-loving street artist ran with his new self-given name until one fateful day: when he met his all-time hero, Tom Hanks, backstage on Broadway.
Slinging Hash, with Laurie Lindeen (international premiere)
USΑ, 2018, 4΄
What does it mean to be an artist? For singer/songwriter Laurie Lindeen, it means playing a gig and then making eggs. Art life may not be as glamorous as many think, but isn’t that the thrill of it? Maybe Laurie can help you decide in this animated documentary about her early years of brief rock and roll success.
Legal Smuggling, with Christine Choy
USΑ, 2016, 4΄
As the price of cigarettes becomes astronomical in New York City, Academy Award nominated filmmaker, Christine Choy, goes the extra mile to secure her favorite brand. Bouncing from one airport to another, her duty free cigarettes get lost in the shuffle, forcing an attempt at smuggling.