Interview With James Cullen Bressack – Writer and Director of Hate Crime

David Martin speaks to James Cullen Bressack about Hate Crime and asks if the BBFC have missed the point…

“Hi James and thank you for taking the time to chat to me about Hate Crime. It is a really disturbing film and even as a horror fan of many many years it made for tough viewing. You have already chatted to our great writer Lisa ….. about the hate crime you experienced that started the idea for the film. What were you trying to achieve as there seems to be a lot more going on than just violence and harassment?

I was trying to create a movie that was very much part of my nightmares.  I think as a horror filmmaker we have a responsibility to make the type of films that would scare us and this is what would scare me. Home invasion was always something that really scared me, as well as Anti-Semitism. I grew up as a Jewish man, you know. I have an entirely Jewish family and I definitely thought this was something terrifying and in looking into the past of the film and the past of what’s gone on in the world. Racial tension is on a rise and I just wanted to show people that there’s a darker side to the world that we turn a blind eye to.
Did you consider that some films boards may consider the film too much for a certificate?
I always thought there would be some controversy on the film. However, I like to believe that we live in a world of censorship should not exist because how can we tell an adult what they can and can’t watch. I mean, we might as well be the Gestapo.  
The UK film board has previously been a little pedestrian with regards to bans and cuts but with the new guidelines in place only a week ago it seems likely to get even tougher. What do you feel their real concerns are with Hate Crime?

I feel like they thought that Hate Crime might inspire people to be Anti- Semitic and go out there and kill or something and it completely confuses me. At the end of the day, the same could be said about Schindler ‘s List. That’s an anti- semitic movie, by their standards, I don’t believe it is. It’s a movie that’s depicting Anti- Semitism, but not in a positive light. Hate Crime does not depict any of this in a positive light.

You are Jewish yourself so did you find it hard to film something which portrays Anti Semitism in all its unpleasant detail?

I definitely think that there was a lot of tension on the set, as well as the for myself, I experienced a lot of, you know, a cathartic emotions. However, I definitely think it was more difficult writing it then it was to film it.

I have written to the BBFC with my critiscm of their decision and only recieved back a standard response. It seems unlikely the decision will be changed but where can people in the UK get to see Hate Crime?

Anybody in the UK can import Hate Crime from the US on DVD, or they can go Psykik Junky there they can watch streaming instantly for six dollars. We live in a day and age where censorship doesn’t really stop films being seen. Actually, the sales have gone up since the ban, at least over here.

You join the ranks of some well respected horror efficinados (Sam Raimi, William Friedkin) congratulations. The ban has yet again given a great film even more attention which cant be a bad thing surely?

I definitely think there’s no such thing as bad press. I appreciate the press, I just wish we lived in a world where censorship was not alive and well. 
As I mentioned earlier, I think that Hate Crime is one of the most striking and provocative films I have ever seen and its betrayal of hate crime definitely sends out a poignant message. Do you ever think we will see a day when this sort of hatred is gone forever?

I like to think that there is a possibility that we will live in a world,at some point, that people would accept others for who they are. Sadly, I feel like that would only happen outside of my own lifetime. You may be very far from now will happen, but people like to blame others for their shortcomings. I don’t understand why there’s so much hate and prejudice in the world, but I like to accept people for who they are.

It is a film that is very hard and uncomfortable to watch and the violence and threat are unrelenting. I dont ever want to see it again but I think it is also the most relevent film I have seen for a long time. What was your direction to the characters of 1,2 and 3?

I had different directions to 1,2 and 3 as actors but, if I’m being honest, this was almost four years or five years ago when I made this movie. I don’t really remember exactly what I said to them. I know that I wanted 3 to be kind of like Lenny from Of Mice And Men, “tell me about the rabbits George” 1 was supposed to be the ringleader but I definitely don’t remember any poignant direction as it was so long ago. I would like to harp on about the fact that I have all the people at the BBFC hating on me for making the movie, calling me an Anti- Semite. If you look at websites like Storm Front they are talking so much shit about me, for being “a paranoid, crying Jew Director”. Storm Front is an anti- somatic website, so it’s really interesting that you have both sides completely against you.

Looking at your next projects what have you got in store for us? You are one of the few director who seems capable of pushing the envelope with Horror. We at Haddonfield love it!

My next project that’s coming out is Pernicious.It’s one of my favorite movies that I’ve done,something really special shot in Thailand. Right now I’m shooting a movie called Bethany, which is one of my favorite scripts I’ve ever written and it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s definitely a much more mature horror film and I am excited to see what people say.

Thank you for chatting to us and for being a Director that isnt afraid to stay true to what your original vision is.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me

Find out more about James Cullen Bressack at his website and you can view the trailer for Pernicious here

Images Courtesy of James Cullen Bressack

Follow David Martin on Twitter as @ventspleen2014

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