Q & Andy: Asif Kapadia

Amy, Asif Kapadia’s documentary about the late singer Amy Winehouse, is devastating. Devastating because of the deterioration of an extremely funny and clever women, the talent lost, and the media circus that commandeered the last five years of Winehouse’s life. But it is most heartbreaking where it is most universal: the cutting soundtrack of Back to Black, the eating disorder carried over from her early teens, the childhood friends who desperately try to help but cannot, and Winehouse’s parents, to whom she turns to for help and is left wanting again and again.

Directed by British filmmaker Asif Kapadia, who is perhaps most famous for his 2010 documentary on Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, Amy premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May. This week, it is screening at the Savannah Film Festival presented by SCAD in Georgia. We asked Kapadia to answer some of our founder Andy Warhol’s favorite questions.

ANDY WARHOL: What did you eat for breakfast?

ASIF KAPADIA: An omelet, black coffee, orange juice.

WARHOL: What was your first job?

KAPADIA: I worked for my dad on a market stall in Petticoat Lane and Whitechapel Market in the East End of London selling t-shirts.

WARHOL: Who was the nicest person you worked for?

KAPADIA. Peter Lowe. After graduating from university, I worked for Carlton TV in London. I didn’t particularly enjoy the quick turnaround TV work I was doing, so I went to see my boss to say I was quitting my job to do a graduate degree at film school to pursue my dream to make feature films. He accepted my resignation and let me break my contract. I then asked him for money to pay the fees at the Royal College of Art, and he gave me a check for a few thousand pounds (which was a lot in 1995). I came back to him a few years later when raising finance for my graduation film and he wrote me another personal check for £1,000.

WARHOL: What are you working on now?

KAPADIA: I’m busy with press on Amy and deep in post-production on an adaptation of book called Ali and Nino.

WARHOL: Is there anything you regret not doing?

KAPADIA: There was a book that I was attached to many years ago. The studio decided to pass on the project, it went away from my desk to one of the biggest directors in the world, but it’s still my dream project and I still want to make that movie.

WARHOL: What’s your favorite movie?

KAPADIA: Raging Bull 

WARHOL: When do you get nervous?

KAPADIA: Before the first screening of one of my films to an audience.

WARHOL: Have you ever been to the White House?

KAPADIA: When I was seven, my family moved to the U.S. and I stood at the gates and looked at the White House but I’ve never been to the White House.

WARHOL: What do you think about love?

KAPADIA: One night I was traveling home on the subway in London with my wife, we’d just been to see a very powerful and emotional film by the Austrian director Michael Haneke called Amour. The film had had a pretty profound effect on us both. An older man was sitting across from us on the subway train; he was half-asleep and half-watching us. Eventually his station comes along and the man gets up, but before he gets off the train he walks over to my wife and I and says; “Just love, you never know when it might be taken away, so just love.” And then he got off the train, the doors closed, and our train moved on.

WARHOL: Do you dream?

KAPADIA: Yes, I do, but they seem to be epic in their mundaneness: I’m walking down a street, I’m feeling hungry, I walk past a cake shop, I buy a cake, I eat it.

WARHOL: What are you reading right now?

KAPADIA: Never A Dull Moment by David Hepworth.

WARHOL: Do you feel frustrated now with the way things are between men and women?

KAPADIA: Not really. 

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