Q&A with Tilda Swinton
TS: Well, I have just finished doing the third in a series of film festivals as a part of a foundation I am starting. My friend Mark Cousins and I have started a foundation called the 8 1/2 foundation. We want to inaugurate a cinema birthday for children because we believe that 8 1/2 is the most perfect age to fall in love with cinema. I mean the really wide cinema that is possible to find in the age of DVD, so that one is not only dependent on going to the multiplex and seeing the latest films of Pixar or Disney. One can see, as we showed this week to sellout crowds, extraordinary films from India and from Iran, France and East Germany and Russia. Films that children of 8 1/2, and around that age, are completely inspired by. So these festivals are an offshoot of our foundation. When we have global support, we're going to make a website where children can look at a menu of films that we have curated—rare and certainly international films that they may never have heard of—and they tell us when their 81/2½ birthday is and we'll send them a birthday present, the film of their choice.
RB: Was this inspired by your twins?
TS: I was inspired to do it by my son in particular. One evening when he was 8 1/2, I was putting him to bed, and I was "giving him a dream" by stroking his forehead. He asked me what people's dreams were like before the birth of cinema. It made me realize that at that age you are so open to the idea of cinema being varied and all-encompassing. If you're dependent on the multiplex and you're unlucky enough to not, at that age, see how wide cinema can be, you end up thinking that films are only fast-cut and noisy, usually with a shoot-out in them and with some kind of competition. But the truth is there's a huge wealth of cinema for children to see. I'm a mother, and parents know how frustrating it is when a child is coming to an age and looking for stories, looking for worlds, and learning what it is to feel a little bit alone in the world. If you have at your fingertips the kind of cinema stories that we have, it can open your children's eyes a bit to what's out there.
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