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Ed Ziari, writer/director: DESIRE IN NEW YORK

February 20, 2015
Ahmed Ziari, director/writer of DESIRE IN NEW YORK

Ed Ziari, director/writer of DESIRE IN NEW YORK

1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of “Desire in New York”, from concept to financing.

I had just dislocated my shoulder in the process of a flight attendant training in Dallas so I had to leave everything and come back to New York and all I wanted to do at that point was work on my first feature- perhaps making a film was also an excuse to not go back to Dallas considering I was in a relationship and the idea of being based in Miami after the training was not appealing to me at the time. I thought making films and staying in New York were the top priorities for me so I said I will make a film as soon as possible and I did.

I had been writing a different script for a while but I realized it would take years and endless work to find financing for it so I decided I needed to write something I could produce myself. This was new to me as I had been sort of against the DIY method- I thought writing only what I can produce would limit my creativity but, it turned out, the exact opposite happened. I wrote the first draft in a few days and finalized the script within a couple of weeks. I took some loans, used my camera, and rented half of the equipment and friends provided the other half.

I’ve been always interested in sexuality and New York as a culturally rich city so I didn’t think for too long about what could be appropriate themes for the film. I also wanted the script to have diverse and complex characters and for that to be achieved we needed the right actors. That’s why we devoted more than enough time for the casting process, which was a lot of fun and I ended up connecting with all the actors.

2Q: Cinequest Film Festival is hosting the World Premiere of Desire In New York. Explain to us how it feels to bring this film before audiences for the first time, and what do you think their reaction will be to your film?

We are definitely thrilled to have the film premiere at such a major festival and we all know that having an audience for your work is the best reward any artist can ask for. I think their reaction would be similar to that of people who had seen my earlier work, two short films I had done a couple of years ago. This may sound like a cliché but I can tell that they would either love or hate the film but, at the same time, everyone would think it’s interesting. I’m okay with either- the main goal is to have a reaction.

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making Desire In New York?

Working with the actors was an amazing experience to the degree that sometimes, in spite of all the difficulties we encountered, it feels like a very intimate party that we started and we have yet to finish- it’s almost like I didn’t get enough of it. Also, having the freedom to be as creative as possible was honestly a joy for me.

Of course, we struggled during the production due to the weather (shooting exteriors in the cold), the financial limitations and due to other factors (shooting in noisy public places like the subway and the park) and those are all unpleasant experiences but looking back and thinking we have a final product, I would do it all over again for the sake of telling stories.

4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?

This film is for anyone who has an interest in independent cinema and wants to see something alternative and transgressive with an interesting story, something that would feel as real, obsessive and beautiful as human nature.

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for Desire In New York. Give us your acceptance speech.


See DESIRE IN NEW YORK at Cinequest!
View the Trailer!
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