Insights from talented Filmmakers

David Healey & Ante Novakovic

“This is a passion project, a fiction grounded in fact, about an ordinary family who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances”.

Director Ante Novakovic

Director Ante Novakovic

 

A dying man who follows a country doctor to remote Sicily looking for a tree. When we understand that this amazing story is close to reality we just want to ask the writer, David Healey, some more questions and know more about the director, Ante Novakovic. Their film Leaves of the tree, starring Eric Roberts, Sean Young and Armand Assante, is currently being screened at numerous Film Festivals around the world and received, among many prizes, a Special Mention from the Miami Independent Film Festival. Filming in remote places, setting the story in different periods and countries must have been a challenging experience.

 

INTERVIEWER

Hi David. We’d like to know more about the story that lies underneath this film. Who are you?

 

DAVID

I am a middle-aged patent lawyer. I started this project as a web blog/series when my aortic heart valve failed. I was home or in rehab for months, I had four surgeries over four years. So I turned this web blog into a book, Kindness for the Damned: a novella of intrigue, love and redemption in Sicily. I then turned it into a screenplay which won many Film Festival Awards. I then made the movie, with our talented director and co-writer, Ante Novakovic, a great cast and my family here and in Sicily.

 

INTERVIEWER

(nodding)

Did you put your personal story in these pages and film?

 

DAVID

This is a passion project, a fiction grounded in fact, about an ordinary family who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. It combines my passion for Sicily, my love of family and faith found during lengthy illness, into a story of a dying man who follows a country doctor to remote Sicily looking for a tree that is said to have miraculous healing powers. The tree transforms all who search for it.

 

INTERVIEWER

Wow. A great journey. Which are the films or directors that inspired you the most?

 

DAVID

Well, here Sicily gets another point. Francis Ford Coppola: Godfather I and Godfather II.

 

INTERVIEWER

How was shooting there? Could you give us an idea of the effort?

 

DAVID

We filmed 18 days in a remote section of Sicily in ancient temples, 16th century villages, outdoor hot springs and olive groves. The whole production process took 17 months.

 

Leaves of the tree - Poster

Leaves of the tree – Poster and Trailer

 

INTERVIEWER

Could you tell us something more about Ante Novakovic, the Director?

 

DAVID

Ante began his career in the film business as actor Harvey Keitel’s assistant, an association that would last fifteen years. Keitel became his principle mentor, and Ante was able to learn the film business from the inside out. He went on to work with the prominent Irish actor Colin Farrell, an association that has been an integral part of Ante’s development as a director. He has 60 credits as an assistant to Keitel and Farrell, including: From Dusk Till Dawn, Eyes Wide Shut, U-571, In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths and Saving Mr. Banks. He made two short films, he’s now developing one of them, The Fix, into a feature.

 

INTERVIEWER

A very interesting path that could lead to the production of good films. What about you and your next projects?

 

DAVID

I returned to practicing law part time. I’m also working on a book.

 

INTERVIEWER

So good luck with your second book! One last question, David: what is your opinion about Film Festivals?

 

DAVID

They are crucial to learn what the audience appreciates, misses, likes and dislikes. So that the message and images in my next work can benefit from the feedback.

 

INTERVIEWER

Good luck again David! Thank you for your inspiring story.

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Next Film Festivals

FestivalLocationEvent datesDeadline
Miami Independent Film FestivalUSA - Miami, FLJuneEach month
Brooklyn Film FestivalUSA - NYCJune 3-12March 7th
Fantasia International Film FestivalCANADA - MontrealJuly 14 - August 02May 1st
Venice Film Festival - La BiennaleITALY - VeniceAugust 31 - September 10Line-up announced at the end of July
Camden International Film FestivalUSA - Camden, MESeptember 15-18May 27th (Late). July 1st (Extended)
Santa Fe Independent Film FestivalUSA - Santa Fe, NMOctober 19-23July 1st (Late). August 1st (Final)
United Nations Association Film FestivalUSA - San Francisco, CAOctober 20-30May 26th
American Film FestivalPOLAND - WroklawOctober 25-30July 15th
Show me ShortsNEW ZELANDNovemberApril 15th
Black Nights Film FestivalESTONIA - TallinNovember 11-27September 15th
Sundance Film Festival 2017USA - UtahJanuary 19-29 2017Submissions open in June 2016. Deadlines by September 23rd or 26th
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