Shona Auerbach┬┤s father and grandparents came from Breslau in Silesia which is now Wroclaw, and belongs to Poland.
She started her career as a photographer but had also been involved with theatre for several years as a passionate story teller. Realizing she wanted to combine this talent with photography, Shona Auerbach went to film school. She studied film at Manchester University, and cinematography in Leeds. She graduated at the National Film School in Lodz, Poland where she directed her first 35mm short film "Seven", which won the "Best Short Film Award" at the British Short Film Festival in 1996.
Before Shona Auerbach shot her first feature film "Dear Frankie", she made a series of successful advertising spots.
AVIVA-Berlin: Your first feature film "Dear Frankie" got a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, and it won the "Audience Award for Best International Feature" at the LA Film Festival. Did you expect this success, and how did you react?
Shona Auerbach: I didn┬┤t expect anything which is always the best way. I was happy if it would be shown in Birmingham or Manchester, so it was fantastic that it has had the journey it has been given so far.
AVIVA-Berlin: "Dear Frankie" tells the story of a mother who is very protective of her deaf son and tries to keep from him the real story of the father he doesn┬┤t know. What fascinated you most about the story?
Shona Auerbach: I was drawn to the unconditional love people have for one another, particularly mother and child.
AVIVA-Berlin: Jack McElhone plays the deaf boy Frankie. How did he prepare for this difficult role?
Shona Auerbach: I took him, and the other children in the film to a deaf club in Glasgow where they played with the children and learnt the basics of communicating with the deaf. Then I had two deaf advisors who were crucial in helping me, and Jack and Emily with all the details.
AVIVA-Berlin: Is there a character in "Dear Frankie" that is autobiographical, to some extent?
Shona Auerbach: My Gran from Scotland came to live with us when I was Frankie┬┤s age, so I am very familiar with being a child in a house with three generations. There are many personal experiences I have drawn from. For instance, my friend had a violent father, and then married a violent man.
AVIVA-Berlin: You have been doing some really successful commercials. What is the secret of a good commercial?
Shona Auerbach: It is a combination of many things, but for me it starts at the script stage. If the script is interesting or innovative it gives me the opportunity to do something new. Also having an agency and a client that are prepared to take risks allows a director like myself to express myself to the full.
AVIVA-Berlin: You started as a photographer and love to tell stories. You didn┬┤t just direct "Dear Frankie", but you also were behind the camera. Were you making a dream come true by doing that?
Shona Auerbach: For six years in commercials I have been directing, and the director of photography. However, my husband is the camera operator and we work very closely on everything.
AVIVA-Berlin: What kind of movies do you like best. What┬┤s your favourite movie?
Shona Auerbach: My favourite movie is GRAPES OF WRATH. I am not really a film buff but I am very inspired by many directors including Lasse Hallstr├Âm to Krzysztof Kieslowski.
AVIVA-Berlin: Could you tell us something about your future projects?
Shona Auerbach: I am seriously considering two projects at the moment. One is a complicated contemporary piece set in UK. The other is a true story set in San Francisco in the 1950┬┤s.
AVIVA-Berlin: Thank you very much for this interview. We wish you even more success in the future!