Film Courage: Saroo, from the beginning of when you wrote your book [A Long Way Home: A Memoir] until now, how long of a process was this?
Saroo Brierley: 2012? April I think? So this is 2017, so four years? Four and a half years. But it took me a year to write the book. So I was pretty fast.
Film Courage: Okay. And then how did you present the book for adaption for [screenwriter] Luke (Davies) to write it? Or how did that whole process turn out?
Saroo Brierley: The process was Luke read the book and then I said to Cecil Films and then I said I’ve got to get Luke to India and take him through the journey that I went through and I thought that would give him another dimension of feel and atmosphere that you would sort of get from reading a book so and I wanted to take him back from right where it started. Do the train journey and all the places that I went to. And then come to Australia and see if it rings true as well. Because I think if I didn’t do that, it wouldn’t have had clarity. It wouldn’t be sort of as clean and it would really sort of help him in terms of writing the script.
Film Courage: For me LION has been my favorite narrative film for the year and I’m not just saying this because you’re in front of me here. I’m really excited to tell others about it and I have. The whole package is beautiful with the music and everything. For you, I’m wondering what is an inspiring film that has touched your life as LION has touched mine. It can be from any year. It does’t have to be this one [2016-17]?
Saroo Brierley: It’s very relevant actually to LION and it’s this other movie. It’s called the JOY LUCK CLUB. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it? Particularly, where the mother and the children meet in the room there…..and at the end of the movie, I meet my mother and it’s very touching to me. I have a very soft spot for that movie. But it’s an amazing movie that I saw at a young age and remember it still to this day.
Film Courage: So when you saw that film and you began working with Luke Davies on the screenplay [for LION], did you want people to come away with the same feeling, or a similar feeling, or really because it was about your life you were not able to remove yourself? Since that movie impacted you, did you want others to be impacted, as well?
Saroo Brierley: Well of course I would have. That was up to Luke to make that variation of that certain situation with Garth to make it come alive so I guess that’s such a pivotal point in the movie as well that particular bit, reuniting together mother and son. I think that the way Luke has done it is really, really amazing and really wanted to get down to the grass roots and more particularly that sort of scene because apparently that was the first scene shot and I couldn’t believe it when he told me. But a lot of people were particularly enthralled with this scene because it would resonate with a lot of people especially mothers and people who have lost their mothers as well. But I think that it touches me overtime that I see it.
Film Courage: What book for you has been instrumental in the creative process, in writing for you. What book [can you recommend] on writing, creativity?
Saroo Brierley: That’s a hard one because I’ve only been really reading magazines and comics and sometimes reading Mum’s beauty magazines, Cosmopolitan and a few others but I’m a first time author and I’ve never written a book. And I went from being into industrial retail sales to just landing in this…to just doing this journey but all the sudden becoming an author and having been asked to write my memoir.
Film Courage: And I understand you are working with your Mom on a second book. Is that right?
Saroo Brierley: How did you know?
Film Courage: I heard it in another video…A little birdie told me.
Saroo Brierley: Yeah…we are. We’re about to start the prequel to LION or A LONG WAY HOME. Which doesn’t really have to do so much with me but coming to the point just prior to me which has mostly to do with mothers, my adopted mother and my biological. And also one more lady which is Saroj Sood who owns the orphanage and how those women are all interrelated. And all for the one cause, the humanitarian side to help others that are more in need. And I’m just getting goose bumps just talking about it. It is so unique to have women from oceans apart from different backgrounds all wanting to do one thing and that is to help a child and to give him or her another chance of life.
Film Courage: Well I could stay here all night and talk with you but I know you have to go. But last question and that is for people of an adult age who have a childhood that either they don’t remember or there are lots of unanswered questions and they’re adults. What would you recommend to them about either going home or trying to find out more about their own history so that they know who they are, [and have] a sense of themselves?
Saroo Brierley: I’m not too sure but for me it was finding closure. And for them I think it was about listening to your heart and listening to your dreams really. Because that is what it was for me. In a nutshell, encapsulated. And if they are longing for something that has been lost for such a long time and it’s such a weight on their shoulders then they ought to pursue it. Because life is a little bit difficult when you don’t know your identity and you don’t know your past because…but give it a valiant attempt and at least try to get answers and closure to something that you can’t get answers to because if you don’t try then you don’t know.
Film Courage: Well thank you and good luck tonight, Saroo!
MORE VIDEOS OF THE USC SCRIPTER AWARDS
LEFT ON PURPOSE – Midway through the filming of a documentary about his life as an anti war activist, Mayer Vishner declares that his time has passed and that his last political act will be to commit suicide— and he wants it all on camera. Now the director must decide whether to turn off his camera or use it to keep his friend alive. Left on Purpose is an award winning feature length documentary that confronts the growing issues of aging, isolation and end of life choices through an intense character driven story of the relationship between filmmaker and subject. With humor and heart it provides a rare cinematic look at what it means to be a friend to someone in pain.
THE SPECIAL NEED: Enea is 29. He has blue eyes, likes trucks, and loves girls. He hasn’t found the right one yet. Still he has never stopped looking for her. One more thing about Enea: he is autistic. One day, after taking a photo of a girl on the bus, he is pushed to the ground by her boyfriend. Enea’s therapist convinces his mom that the time has come for the man to cope with his sexual desires. Enea’s friends Carlo and Alex get involved and try to find a way for Enea to have sex in a safe and legal environment.
PROBLEMSKI HOTEL: For the inmates of the multinational residential center somewhere in Europe, the circular, black comedy that is the cross-frontier migrant’s life ‘within the system’ becomes even blacker in December. For we are in the European ‘season of gladness and joy.’ Bipul doesn’t want to admit it to himself, but the Russian girl’s arrival makes a difference: Lidia. Hope? Surely not! A future? Get real! December is also the ninth month of Martina’s pregnancy. Pregnancies don’t go round in circles; they end in eruptions. Because when the situation is hopeless, rescue is near.
SURVIVING SKOKIE: They survived the horrors of the Holocaust and came to America to put the past behind. For decades they kept their awful memories secret, even from their children. But their silence ended when a band of neo-Nazi thugs threatened to march in their quiet village of Skokie, Illinois “because that is where the Jews are.”
Surviving Skokie is an intensely personal documentary by former Skokie resident Eli Adler about the provocative events of the 1970s, their aftermath, his family’s horrific experience of the Shoah, and a journey with his father to confront long-suppressed memories.