DIRECTOR MIKE BURSTYN
“Azimuth is my metaphor for what went on between us (Israel) and Egypt until they finally chose co-operation rather than conflict and violence. My hope is that our Palestinian neighbors will finally choose the same path.”With an international, multi-lingual show business career on stage, screen, television, concert halls and nightclubs spanning over 60 years, American-Israeli actor, singer and dancer Mike Burstyn, at age 71, is making his debut as a script writer and film director. “Azimuth”, a narrative feature on the Six Days of War. For almost 50 years, he walked around with the plot in his head, but somehow the time to fully develop it was never ripe until now – the 50th anniversary of the war.
Interview by Victor Eustáquio for Cult Critic
Victor Eustáquio: Mike, first my congratulations for “Azimuth”. Best Narrative Feature in Calcutta International Cult Film Festival. Why “Azimuth”? Which is the statement with this title?
Mike Burstyn: Azimuth is a navigational point on a military map. From the pl. form of the Arabic noun “السَّمْت” as-samt, meaning “the direction.” It is a good metaphor for where our two soldiers meet.
Q: How would you describe this film?
A: This film is a message of hope. That the only way out of the conflict in our area is through peaceful co-operation.
Q: You were a witness of Six Days of War. What feelings did you have at that time looking at the conflict between Israel and the Arab countries and how they influenced on the screenplay of “Azimuth?
A: I was 21 when I participated in the Six Days War. It made me realize the horror and senselessness of war. Azimuth is my metaphor for what went on between us (Israel) and Egypt until they finally chose co-operation rather than conflict and violence. My hope is that our Palestinian neighbors will finally choose the same path.
Q: Debut filmmaker at 71. Why did you decide to move on with this film?
A: I’ve been an actor since the age of seven. I’ve had this story since right after the Six Days War but decided that the time was right, now, during the 50th commemoration of the war, to both tell the story and direct it as my first feature.
Q: Which were the main challenges to bring “Azimuth” out?
A: The main challenge was obtaining the financing. I was very lucky to have two personal friends who believed as much as I did in the in the importance of bringing this story to the screen. Especially at this critical time in history.
Q: Do you feel comfortable with the fact of being a low budget film or do you think it would be different if you had get more money?
A: I am very comfortable with the intimacy of the production since it is really an intimate story of two individuals who get trapped in a claustrophobic environment.
Q: Are you happy with the final result?
A: I am both happy and very proud of the result of Azimuth in every respect.
Q: What do your expect from viewers after watch “Azimuth”?
A: I hope viewers will come away from Azimuth with a feeling of hope in the ability of common men and women to cooperate with one another for the sake of their future generations.
Victor Eustáquio is an award-winning film producer and screenwriter and the Director of Calcutta International Cult Film Festival. A novelist; screenwriter; film producer and composer, Victor currently lives in Portugal and holds a BA in Political Science and a PhD in African Studies. As COO of HLC Studios, Victor coordinates the company’s various distribution strategies to maximize the value of HLC’s content across all current and emerging digital exhibition platforms.