ACTION!
Kenneth Jones
Film and Media ’16

You had quite a summer, traveling overseas for three months. You started in Western Europe?
I was supposed to meet a girl in Paris, but she had a family emergency. I’m impulsive and spontaneous, so I started exploring on my own. I was painting, exchanging photographs. I met a lot of young filmmakers. Travel culture is bourgeois—four museums a day, expensive hotels.  But I would just hang out with friends until 4, 5, 6, then get on a bus and sleep for a couple of hours.

You ended up in Africa. How did that happen, and what was it like?
It’s only a $25 boat trip from Spain. It was cool. It felt to me like finding my heritage, and my people. While I was there, my mind wasn’t buzzing; I was just living in the moment, enjoying the culture. The biggest surprise was that they have similar gentrification problems in Tangier, Morocco, as they do in Brooklyn. A popular phrase you hear is “same same but different.”

Were the different languages a problem?
I’m a language nut. I speak great Spanish, decent French, and a little Portuguese. Each time I learned a new language, I was trying to impress a girl. I wrote this screenplay in which the main character says, “Te quiero,” and he means, “I want you,” but his girlfriend thinks he’s saying, “I love you.” Language connects us and destroys us at the same time.

What’s your favorite film?
François Truffaut’s Jules and Jim. Hands down. Technically, it’s like a cinematic encyclopedia. It’s got voiceovers, tracking and aerial photography, table conversations, 360-degree shots… I like films with a good female character because they’re so hard to write. You have to understand women really well.

Do you want to write and direct features?
In a naïve world, I’d be able to do that, though it’s going to be difficult because of the paradigms that have been established. Hollywood has this very formulaic way of making films. Young filmmakers—we have to challenge that, keep art alive.

Tell me about the independent study you’re doing on the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.
My professor, Ted Folke, worked on Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander in Sweden, and now he makes documentaries with the U.N. He gives me Kurosawa DVDs and I write critiques. I also read Kurosawa’s autobiography. It changed my philosophy in dealing with people. For example, he says to remember everybody’s name that you’re working with on the film. It shows respect and patience.

What’s one Kurosawa film no one should miss?
Dreams. It’s simultaneously a fantasy and an imitation of life; it’s pure cinema. I would love to make something like that one day.