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Former Breck movie theater owner shows his second film

Kimberly Nicoletti
summit daily news

Former Speakeasy Theatre owner Guy Natanel’s story is a film within a film.

After running the Speakeasy for six years (from 2002) in Breckenridge, he decided he loved movies so much he wanted to create his own stories for the big screen.

“The thought of making films was already in the back of my mind for a while,” Natanel said. “I think I was reluctant to commit to it – afraid of the whole ‘starving artist’ syndrome.”

His mother was a significant factor in pushing him to attend filmmaking school in London. About four years ago, at age 62, she entered film school.

Now, Natanel presents “Scent of Strawberries,” a 27-minute documentary portraying his mother, a retired biochemist with a doctorate in microbiology, who enrolls in film school, while her son investigates her decisions and the production of her first film (called “Simanim”) in his own documentary. The end result: “a chronicle of time passed, love lost, lives ended and sustained,” Natanel said.

The film depicts her difficulties and doubts, as well as Natanel’s process of investigating personal stories behind his mother’s script that he knew very little about.

“This is how stories that I never dared to investigate are opened up in my film,” he said. “The interaction with the camera creates an environment in which questions can be asked.”

He decided to take on this project under a friend’s advice: “Before you start making films, tell your own story.”

“It was only recently that I understood (the friend’s) poignant message,” he said. “‘Scent of Strawberries’ is many different things for me: It is a sincere exploration of family memories, an expression of my fascination with film, and my first step in telling my own story.”

But like most in-depth personal projects, it wasn’t without difficulty.

“Following my mom around was quite challenging to say the least,” he said. “Any director in the midst of a production is not the most available person you could meet. So, I had to utilize every possible break in the schedule of the production and initiate conversations skillfully. The other challenge in this situation was that as the son of the director I was often expected to help during my mom’s production. remember feeling torn between documenting the events and putting the camera down to give someone a hand. At the end I stayed loyal to my own project; it was the right decision.”

Natanel debuted his first film, “Neighbours,” in Breckenridge in 2009. He graduated film school last year, and immediately after, a well-known executive producer in the U.K. and U.S. commissioned him to direct a documentary, which has kept him busy for the last eight months.

He feels he’s come a long way since “Neighbours” by crafting his skills and truly discovering his “voice.” Once he latched onto “The Scent of Strawberries,” he resonated with the genre “so fully that it dominated everything I have produced since,” he said. Oddly enough, he began shooting his documentary before he took his documentary course – a plan his professor wasn’t pleased with. But when Natanel pitched the idea to the school’s director, he got the green light.

Since then, the film has screened in Big Sky, Mt., Toronto, Canada, and Montevideo, Uruguay.

His mom is now close to graduating with a masters in fine arts in Tel Aviv University’s film department.

The two possess different strengths when it comes to their art: Natanel is a hands-on person who likes to play with the camera and use it to interact with people, while his mom isn’t as comfortable with the technical aspects of the trade. Yet, he says she’s a better script writer.

“She has the skill to tap into deep emotions with much less fear,” he said. “Perhaps this comes with age, I’m not sure. I can say that we are both very sensitive and tend to look for the emotional factors in the stories we tell.”

His next goal involves screening his first feature-length documentary called “Carrying the Light” and hopefully seeing it hit television. Unfortunately, he won’t make it to Breckenridge this year but said he’ll be there in spirit – as well as on the screen.

“I turned 35 this year and during a party my friends asked me what I would wish myself for my birthday,” he said. “I replied that I hope I can simply keep creating.”


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