In this charming romantic comedy, an Indian woman studying in Prague and a lonely New Yorker begin an unconventional correspondence through video letters - two strangers searching for human connection in a hyper-connected world. When their relationship deepens, they must decide whether or not to meet face to face. Winner of the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2013 Slamdance Film Festival, Hank and Asha is a film about identity, longing, and the irresistible appeal of entertaining life's what-ifs.
Here's what producers, writers, and director James Duff & Julia Morrison had to say about their work.
Review: How did you go about pulling this film together and what was it about the topical material that you wished to explore that caused you to set this film in Prague?
Morrison: At the time we made the film we were living abroad in Prague, and teaching at a film school. We were in a new city, a new culture, and feeling rather isolated. We wanted to tell a story about the absolute thrill of making a deep personal connection with someone, the kind of relationship that buoys you when you are feeling lonely or going through a rough time. We were missing our home in New York, and at the same time, we were captivated by the extraordinary beauty of Prague. So the film is also a love letter to both of those cities.
Review: What was the most challenging component involved with pulling this film together?
Morrison: We wanted the film to feel authentic, to draw people in, and to invite the audience to feel like a participant in the story. So James worked with the actors in very collaborative mode; they added a lot of material. The film is a long distance romance. So how do you create chemistry between two characters who aren't actually on screen together? That was the challenge in editing the material. To build the story so that they are really having a conversation with each other. It's a tribute to the beautiful performances of both actors that it really feels like you're in the same room with them.
Review: I personally find it amazing that the digital communication of the IT age has resulted in phenomena such as I witnessed recently where groups of young people in a video dance club were sitting at tables texting one another rather than talking to one another. What are some of the insights that you gleaned about this topic while sculpting this film together?
Morrison: It's funny, during the two years we were in Prague, that's when the whole smart phone thing happened. When we came back to New York, we made the same observation; we'd go into a nice restaurant and there'd be a phone out on everyone's table. I suppose the two characters in the film are a reflection of our ambivalence about this hyper-connected culture. They long for something deeper, something more. It actually takes a lot of courage to reach out to someone in a meaningful way, to make the effort to express yourself and put yourself out there. There's such a giddy thrill to the uncertainty and anticipation of it, but it's also can be scary to make yourself vulnerable. We hope the film encourages people to take a risk and make an investment in getting to know someone new and unexpected.