Canadian filmmaker in disbelief over Oscar nod
Published Wednesday, January 23, 2008 10:30AM EST
Canadian filmmaker Josh Raskin said his first reaction upon being told his film "I Met The Walrus" was nominated for an Academy Award was utter disbelief.
In fact, Raskin told Canada AM he "swore his head off" when the illustrator who worked on the film called to tell him the movie was in the running for Best Animated Short.
"I was woken up at 6:30 a.m. by the illustrator on the film -- the genius James Braithwaite from Montreal -- who called me and said 'dude, we're nominated' and I thought he was playing a trick on me so I swore at him a lot and it turned out to be true."
Raskin spoke to Canada AM from Salt Lake City, Utah, where he is currently showing "I Met The Walrus," his short, animated film, which is set to a 1969 interview with John Lennon.
A combination of hard-partying, lack of sleep and nausea made it difficult for him to grasp the news, he said.
"It was probably the subsequent eight phone calls that I got that same minute that I had to keep interrupting one after another to prove to myself I wasn't dreaming and it was in fact happening. Or so I'm led to believe," he joked, adding that his appearance on Canada AM was the final proof he needed that the nomination was real.
The film adds animation to an interview with Lennon that was conducted in 1969 by Jerry Levitan, then a 14-year-old Toronto teenager.
Carrying a reel-to-reel tape recorder, the teen talked his way into the King Edward Hotel where Lennon was staying at the height of his bed-in days, and ended up speaking with the legendary Beatle for 40 minutes.
It wasn't until recently that Levitan, who had watched a film that Raskin made in university, approached the fledgling filmmaker about doing a documentary based on the recording.
Raskin, who had never done a professional film, said he was immediately intrigued by the subject matter.
"I'd grown up with Lennon -- I've been a massive fan for as long as I can remember," Raskin said.
"I decided I didn't want to do a full-length documentary about it but what I was interested in was the interview itself, the recording, so I pitched to him to cut that down to a manageable length, five minutes as it turns out, and that's the mess we have before us."
The short film, about six minutes in length, was completed in May 2007, and has since shown at film festivals around the world, collecting awards at AFI Fest, the Middle East International Film Festival, Manhattan Short Film Festival, Hawaii International Film Festival and 10 or Less Film Festival, among others.
Levitan, whose 1969 interview with Lennon has become the stuff of legend, said in a news release that the film was released at the perfect time.
"The world is as turbulent as it was in 1969, and John's message is as timely today as it was then. I am so proud that new generations can relive my experience through this film," Levitan said.
Another Canadian film, "Madame Tutli-Putli", is also nominated in the best animated short category.