Interview with Ana Souza: Producer, Traveler and addicted to Film Festivals

I am very honored to start the Interview Section of this blog with this lovely lady. I met her 3 years ago when I came for the first time to Los Angeles, and besides to be a nice and smart girl we figured out we had a passion in common. Now, 2 years later, I came back to see an experienced woman and a professional film producer. Her favorite thing in the world? Film Festivals.

– What was your inspiration?
My inspiration for getting into film really stemmed from growing up with my parents and their love for cinema. We would watch all sorts of films every night after dinner, everything from classic Hitchcock movies to the newest Luc Besson or Jean Pierre Jeunet films. I was in love with movies and while studying I discovered the world of film festivals and it was a perfect fit. I love the atmosphere of film festivals and the idea that it’s a bubble of energy and people coming together to watch and support independent cinema and give emerging artists a voice and a platform to showcase their work.

– When you decided to study something artistic?
I kind of always knew I would do something in the arts or humanities, I think it was just a natural intuition. When I was about 14 or 15 I started to think about what I might study in college and when I discovered that Film Studies was an option, I was amazed. A degree where you could watch, discuss, and talk about film all day?! That seemed way too much fun to even be allowed. I was surprised the entire world wasn’t doing it!

– What is exciting and unique about traveling? How many countries you visited/lived and why? Which one is your favorite?
Traveling is one of my favorite things in the entire world. I think it’s so important to immerse yourself in another culture and learn about different countries because it opens your mind and encourages tolerance and understanding. Plus the world is so large, there is so much to see and discover and experience! I think I was incredibly lucky to have grown up outside of my home country and attend international schools, which helped frame my thirst and love for traveling and meeting new people from all over the world. I have visited too many countries to count, in all continents except Oceania. I have lived in Brazil, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US. It’s hard to pick a favorite because they are all part of who I am and I consider them all home in different ways. I think right now I’m crazy about Los Angeles because it’s such a diverse and exciting city to live in and such a fertile ground for the arts in every way.

– Did your family supported you when you start being in the Film Industry?
My family has always been incredibly supportive of myself and my sister (who is studying Fine Arts) and I can’t thank them enough for that. My dad nearly went to film school himself before deciding on psychology and he really sparked my interest in film so I think he was proud rather than concerned, amazingly.

– What is giving you LA that other cities cannot give you, in a professional way?
LA is just an incredible crossroads of people from all over the world interested and motivated by a passion for film and entertainment, regardless of their individual ways of expressing it. It has an amazing range of opportunities for all sorts of facets of the industry, from independent smaller production companies to the key film studios. You can really find your niche here, and for me that’s film festivals, which LA also has plenty of; even many festivals that take place outside of LA, like Sundance, still maintain their headquarters here.

– What do you think makes LA the capital of the film industry besides the big production companies? Is it the film culture, the people, the fame, the interest for art?
I think it’s a combination of factors, but it mainly stems from the enduring history. It’s been the Mecca of film for so long and has endured and sustained the industry for so many years that its reputation definitely (and deservedly) precedes it. There’s a respect and a reverence for film here regardless of its commercialization that is something rarely so widespread and agreed upon in other places in the world.

– How was your experience in the companies and the different Film Festivals you’ve worked in Los Angeles?
So I’ve worked for a range of companies and had different experiences with production companies and management companies, but my interest has always been in programming and in film festivals. I think festivals are such an essential part of the industry because they are the first point of discovery, the place where industry professionals and public audience members alike unite and experience incredible films for the first time, many of which are from new or emerging filmmakers that need the publicity and distribution opportunities they can find from a festival to further their careers and the future of their film. It’s just been an enduring passion of mine because I think festivals are essential in the way that they provide these films an audience and a theatrical experience, which I believe is still something that people crave when experiencing a film; it creates a whole different impact than watching at home on a computer screen. I’ve screened and worked for a range of festivals including LAFF, No Budget Film Festival, Sundance, Slamdance, Ambulante California, IFFLA, AFI FEST and currently, Outfest, and the more I immerse myself in programming the more I am convinced that film festivals are more important now than ever before, when there is so much content out there and so many films to compete with in the market. With Outfest in particular I am proud to be a part of such an incredible team and to be working towards getting underrepresented voices and LGBT perspectives to wider audiences.

sundance next

– Tell me one movie you love and why in a very short explanation.
People are always surprised when I tell them my favorite film is Back to the Future, but it’s not hard to see it’s a perfectly told story with hilarious performances and I can watch it over and over again.

You can follow Ana on:
Twitter  @anasouzafilm and Instagram @ana2607