Festival Diary: Arnold Oceng

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Arnold Oceng in Toronto, Canada on September 14, 2016.

We spoke to Arnold Oceng at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) about A United Kingdom, in which he appears alongside David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike.

What aspects of A United Kingdom do you think highlight contemporary society’s growth with respect to race since the time at which it is set as well as its invariance?
The main aspect highlighted which shows growth in contemporary society in my view is that we as people are more diverse and multi-cultural, and this is mirrored and shown by the increase of people with mixed heritage and ethnicities. Seretse and Ruth embody true love and personify the idea that love is blind and sees no colour.

What did you learn that stands out (or what surprised you) the most over the course of your work on A United Kingdom?
How determined, down to earth, real, hardworking and phenomenal Amma Asante is. She’s a real go-getter and a winner which is why I always call her a phenomenal woman.

What has proven to be the most complex aspect of the film to try to explain or describe?
The political side of the story is difficult to explain and describe, only because I still find it hard to understand how the British Government got away with so much after all the injustice served out to Seretse and the people of Botswana.

What was the most challenging and/ or rewarding part of the production?
Being able to work on set and act alongside amazing actors such as David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike has definitely been one of the highlights of my year, it’s been very rewarding. I was literally a sponge on set trying to soak up and absorb all their knowledge and skill.

What’s a small detail about the film or your character therein that the audience may not notice but is very important to you?
Well my character at first may seem like he has a problem with the couple being in love/ together, but he is just being a caring friend because he is fully aware of the implications this could have on Seretse and his people. He is just worried for his friend because he cares and knows the trouble this could cause.

If you could attend one screening at TIFF this year apart from your own, which screening would you pick?
Defo Moonlight and La La Land, you can’t go wrong with Ryan Gosling.

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Noel Clarke and Arnold Oceng attended a screening of Adulthood for the Manifesto Festival.

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After a Q&A, Clarke and Oceng met with members of the audience.

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The following day, Oceng attended a baseball game for the Toronto Blue Jays.

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The Toronto Blue Jays played the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Oceng navigated downtown Toronto.

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Oceng stopped for a burger, root beer and poutine at A&W.

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Clarke and Oceng went to Onyx Barbers for a trim ahead of the Brotherhood premiere.

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Onyx Barbers opened in Toronto over 14 years ago.

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Clarke and Oceng shared a quick word before Oceng sat for his appointment.

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Oceng added the final touch to his hair.

As told to Paul Vaughan for TPJ
Photographer: Jessie Craig

Festival Diary: Taron Egerton

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Taron Egerton in Toronto, Canada on September 10, 2016.

We spoke to Taron Egerton at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) about Sing, in which he appears alongside Scarlett Johansson, Matthew McConaughey & Reese Witherspoon.

Sing features a failing theatre attempting to portray ‘real talent from real life’, what is a moment from real life that you felt made for a stronger performance?
I forgot the words to a song on stage once. Still makes me shiver. Valuable lesson in being prepared!

What do you think is the best (or your favourite) animated or voiced performance of all time?
Toy Story had such a strong impression on me as a child. I was exactly the same age as Andy and it was so magical. I’ve watched all of Pixar’s output since then and it continues to amaze me. If I had to go for a specific performance I think I’d probably say Billy Crystal in Monsters Inc.

I’ve read that on Kingsman you did a lot of your own stunts, how much does that help you get into a role and transversely, how did you find or try to find that same level of immersion in a project like Sing where your physicality isn’t rooted in your character?
When we recorded the dialogue they had some small cameras recording our expressions and gestures. It’s not motion capture but I’m led to believe that the animators use that footage as inspiration when animating our characters. You just try to be as expressive as you can be physically and I think the voice follows!

Does being part of an ensemble cast in a film where people aren’t exactly sure which character you play make the promotion of it more or less challenging?
I’m not sure. Perhaps I should I should have some sort of t-shirt made.

If you, like the characters of Sing had just one defining moment on a stage, what would you perform?
I can’t pick one song. Maybe Heroes? Lean On Me? These Arms of Mine? There are so many!

If you could attend one screening at TIFF this year apart from your own, which screening would you pick?
I saw Tom Ford’s new movie (Nocturnal Animals) and it was incredible. I would have loved to have had the time to catch Jeff Nichols’ Loving.

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Egerton as he got ready for a TIFF event that evening.

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The view from Egerton’s hotel window at the Four Seasons, Toronto.

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Egerton leaned against the closet mirror.

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Egerton considered his shoes and a jacket.

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Before departing, Egerton applied a splash of cologne.

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Top & jeans by BURBERRY. Shoes by O’KEEFFE.

As told to Paul Vaughan for TPJ
Photographer: Jessie Craig
Stylist: Michael Miller

Festival Diary: Lyndsey Marshal

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Lyndsey Marshal in Toronto, Canada on September 9, 2016.

We spoke to Lyndsey Marshal at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) about Trespass Against Us, in which she appears alongside Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson.

From what is available to research suggests, Trespass Against Us portrays the decline of a small-time crime family. Why do you think that the symbiosis of crime and family are so often so effective at commenting on one another in film?
I think a family set up can provide you with a claustrophobic, pressure-cooker environment. You can see how an act of crime reverberates within a group. And how that effects individuals members and depending on how complicit or knowing each person is, how that impacts on the family as a whole. A family network also allows you to see the story through many eyes male, female, young and old. And it works. For me Sopranos is still one of the most compelling dramas. And The Godfather, Goodfellas, Animal Kingdom, Breaking Bad, should I go on…

When you think back on shooting the film, is there a moment or day during the production that encapsulates the experience?
For me the countryside we shot in (the Cotswolds) feels like a big character in the film. I remember a sunset the day we shot the Antiques Roadshow scene. I just felt so happy to be there. We were all sunkissed, hanging out in the caravan playing with the kids (the wonderful actors Georgie and Kacie) and in that moment I thought, who needs a house and all the shit we hoard! Surely this is how we should all be living. Out in the air, in a field, with just each other.

Doing press, how do you find the balance between answering enough to stoke interest in the film but not saying so much such that it forms people’s impressions for them or satiates their curiosity?
I’m rubbish at it. I’m still learning. Some people are great at press, I actually think it’s an art in itself. Some actors just know how to flirt with it… Like a potential lover! In terms of selling your product? Well if it’s something you love you want the best for it, and I love this film and so I of course want people to see it. But weirdly enough the more you love a project sometimes, the harder it is to ‘sell’ as you can get somewhat precious over it, or OVER enthusiastic and then that can be a bit off putting! It’s a fine line. I suppose it’s essentially about trying to give people the ‘essence’ of the film. A bit of a spray shall we say… What scent would Trespass be??? If I could bottle that Tom Ford would be eating my hand off innit.

What aspect of Trespass Against Us do you wish you was asked about (more) or posed with greater depth?
Education. I think it’s a massive part of the film. How that forms your position and relationship within the world and how it can change the journey of your life. The film shows a tribe that live by there own realms of education. The education of life I suppose.

Without away any spoilers, what is a moral to the story that you took away?
Is it better to stick with what you know? I don’t know. I’m not saying people shouldn’t aspire for better, maybe not even better in some cases just different, but you see Chad pushing and fighting to leave the world he knows. And it ends up being the thing that tears his family apart. Or does it?

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Marshal sips a glass of champagne at her hotel before the Trespass Against Us premiere.

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Marshal outside the Fairmont Royal York.

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Marshal gives a final excited glance before stepping into the car to the premiere.

As told to Paul Vaughan for TPJ
Photographer: Jessie Craig

Festival Diary: Noel Clarke

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Noel Clarke in Toronto, Canada on September 14, 2016.

We spoke to Noel Clarke at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) about Brotherhood, which he directed, wrote, produced and starred in.

With Brotherhood at TIFF, do you feel more pressure to promote yourself as an actor, director or as a writer? Do your personal inclinations gear you to present yourself more as a director? Actor? Writer?
I don’t feel any pressure. I feel that sometimes because of the writing and directing that the acting gets ignored. Brotherhood is probably, bar Star Trek Into Darkness, my best film performance since Adulthood, 8 years ago. I do still see myself as an actor who does all the other things but I am now as much a writer, director, producer as I am an actor. In the UK, I get called jack of all trades, in the US a multihyphenate. Either way, I think acting sometimes suffers as it takes a very confident director to hire me.

Brotherhood was shot 8 years after Adulthood, and 10 years after Kidulthood. Was this a project that you had always been set on making to form a trilogy, or was it a proposition that you came to slowly? Can you conceive of yourself telling another story in this world?
This was never meant as a trilogy. It was meant as one film. When the first one was released and people said I had a voice I thought of the second and 2 years later it was released. After that point I had nothing to say about any of that world. 8 years and 3 kids later I had life experience and an emotional intelligence that allowed me to think about where that character could be.

Brotherhood, much like Kidulthood and Adulthood, possess heavy leanings towards the tragic, reflecting the consequences of action and choice in a gritty, compelling style. How important was it to you for these films to be both instructive and realistic? Are they one and the same?
Instructive came second and unintentionally. The films came from a place of truth. That’s where I’m from, I really know people like the characters in the movies, and that authenticity and the things that I have learned became informative and relatable to others I guess.

How much did your vision of Sam shift as you continued writing and playing the character for each installment?
I played Sam from the perspective of where I felt I was in my life. Kidulthood he was young and angry. That’s how I felt, not getting roles that I wanted. Adulthood he was a guy that was trying, but didn’t really give much of a f*ck about people doubting him – he knew what he was, even though others wouldn’t give him a chance, and that’s where I was too. People still weren’t giving me chances, I wasn’t getting to take part, so I wanted to take everything. I was still young and brash. Brotherhood, comes from an older, level-headed father who just loves what he does and will do anything for his family, and again, I am where Sam is.

What was the most vital element of influence on the ‘hood trilogy, Brotherhood in particular? 
Real life. All have elements of real life. Brotherhood is the most reflective in everyday of where I am as a filmmaker and as a man.

What would be the most gratifying or fulfilling comment or compliment someone could pay to you/ your film?
There’s no real compliments I get excited about. I guess the most satisfying thing would be for someone to say they were surprised by our results and say they didn’t expect that. I’d be thinking ‘I know you didn’t, I did though and that’s why I work so hard.’

If you could attend one screening at TIFF this year apart from your own, which screening would you pick?
They are too many to pick as I love films so much and there are so many I want to see, but I guess I’ll say A United Kingdom as it’s another British film and my brother Arnold Oceng is in it. We’re good friends and I support my friends.

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Clarke and his business partner at Unstoppable Entertainment, Jason Maza, began the morning of September 13 with breakfast at Soho House.

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(L) Arnold Oceng and Clarke. (R) Clarke watched on as his Toronto Blue Jays baseball cap was steamed at New Era Sports.

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Clarke inspected the fit of his new baseball cap.

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Clarke on Queen Street West.

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Arnold Oceng and Clarke cut loose backstage during the screening of Adulthood for the Manifesto Festival.

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Clarke sat for a Q&A session with Manifesto Festival at Innis Town Hall. “Manifesto is a non-profit, youth-powered platform that puts local artists on the map and unites, inspires and empowers young people through arts & culture.”

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After the Q&A, Clarke met with members of the audience.

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Driving back downtown, Clarke reflected further on some of the questions probed during the Q&A.

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Arnold Oceng and Clarke stopped off at The Hilton.

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Clarke was among a small selection of guests at a dinner with Cameron Bailey, the Artistic Director of TIFF.

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The next morning, Clarke was in a meeting discussing future projects.

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Clarke smiled as he Skyped with his children back in London.

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Clarke went to a Toronto Blue Jays game that afternoon, pictured here purchasing tickets outside the Rogers Centre.

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Before heading into the game, Clarke grabbed a street hot dog for lunch.

As told to Paul Vaughan for TPJ
Photographer: Jessie Craig