Tea time with Red Apples
What does the title mean?
Red apples are part of an old Armenian tradition whereby the groom’s parents send a basket of red apples to the bride’s parents the day after the wedding, when the loss of her virginity is confirmed. It’s a way of thanking her parents for giving them a pure girl, so the tradition goes. Today, it is still practiced and in most cases a basket of red apples carries a symbolic value. The Armenian audience will know right away what the title means and also recognize the shot on the basket of red apples, but we did not want to explain what the tradition means inside the film.
Can you tell us why you wanted to share the story of the bride?
For me, at the heart of the story lies the act of betrayal. Before anything else, I wanted to study this feeling – how is it possible that love can turn into hate in the course of one night? Betrayal is interesting because it is irreversible, once it happens there is really nothing you can do to fix it, so it’s fascinating. If I were to imagine the lives of these characters beyond the film, I think that the bride would eventually forgive her mother-in-law, but not her husband. Betrayal is something that’s hard to undo once it’s happened. The larger implications of the story of a woman in a traditional society was another reason for this film. It’s a voice that is rarely heard and yet is so important to be out there. The main antagonist in this story really is a tradition that has been oppressing women for centuries. It’s important to re-evaluate these archaic traditions today and reveal their unfairness and cruelty.
Can you tell us about your background as a filmmaker?
I got interested in filmmaking during my studies at NYU. I was doing a lot of theory and cultural studies there with a focus on communication and media and one semester I decided to take a break from Derridas, Foucaults, Adornos and Walter Benjamins and take a class on filmmaking. After that class, I knew I was going to apply to film school and so I did. I enrolled into the MFA Columbia University Film Program. Red Apples is my second short out of the school, after The Fish that Drowned, which was the reason for my first visit to Clermont-Ferrand.
If you’ve already been to Clermont-Ferrand, could you share with us an anecdote or story from the festival? If not, what are your expectations for this year?
Yes, I met a beautiful man who drove the shuttle from our hotel to the Maison de la culture. He had grey hair and reading glasses and always wore a black beret with a red scarf, he looked like a painter or some culinary critic. The thing was that he spoke very little English, less than I speak French, which is only a few words. So there was no way for us to communicate and I guess he was assigned to our hotel, but people rarely used the shuttle, so very often it would just be me and him, riding along, and I would get in the front seat with him. The first time I got in, he was playing Bach’s unaccompanied cello suites and with whatever French I knew, I told him it was my favorite thing Bach ever did. And he said “moi aussi”, but soon after we established that there was no way for us to speak to each other. So we rode silently, listening to Bach. And ever since that, every time I would get into his shuttle, he would put on some Bach and we would connect through the music. Eventually, it became a ritual, we would both smile at the sight of each other, which was usually followed by him putting on some Bach for me, for us. A good man. Those rides were some of the best because they made me forget about all the festival business and gave me peace for the length of the ride. The funny thing is I never asked him his name and neither did he, but we were friends and I believe still are. I bet he’s somewhere out there now, driving and listening to Bach. I wonder if I’ll see him again…
More information on your film:
Are any other releases scheduled?
The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, then went on to play at Austin Film Festival, Interfilm Berlin and Uppsala Film Festival.