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Exclusive Interview with Gabriel Bologna | TANGO SHALOM

1- What was the most fascinating aspect of working on Tango Shalom? 

I directed a horror-comedy that co-starred Danny Trejo, called, “Boston Girls”, where I put my mother in as a cameo. It was so much fun! But I never had the chance to direct my father in a film.  I was so grateful to finally have the opportunity to direct my dad in “Tango Shalom”. I got to see, first hand, his process and collaborate with him in ways I had never experienced before. It really was full circle. I had the greatest father the world has ever known, and yet, when I close my eyes and think about my fondest memories of him, my adventures working on “Tango Shalom” immediately come to mind. Even though he has passed away, whenever I watch the film again, seeing his amazing performance, I am reliving every single glorious moment fighting in the trenches with him; it is like he is back to life as if he is immortalized. Last year I saw one of my dad’s films in an outdoor screening in New York City’s Bryant Park; it didn’t have the same effect on me because I wasn’t on the set when my father was shooting it. My dad wasn’t cracking jokes in between takes. “Tango Shalom ” is a memento, a scrapbook, a home movie all in one. Ivan Passer, the great Czech New Wave director, once told me, “A film is a living breathing organism”. Now I know what he meant. 

2- What was the inspiration behind the making of Tango Shalom and how did the film go into production? 

Jos Laniado, the star of the film, came up with the original idea. In real life, he is an Orthodox Jew, and also a tango dancer.  Honestly, he is just like the character in the film. Pious, has many children and blushes when he overhears a curse word. And just like his character, he’s got a great sense of humor. In real life, he too teaches at an Orthodox Jewish school (although, unlike his character who is a Rabbinical teacher, in his daily life, he teaches physical education).  

3- When did you start working in media and filmmaking and what was the first project you worked on?

My big break was being cast as a series regular in the ABC series, “The Marshall Chronicles”. Even though it only ran a season, its claim to fame was that it was the reason that the new show “Seinfeld” changed from “The Seinfeld Chronicles” as to not be confused with my show which too aired the exact same year. While shooting, I was most intrigued with television legend, Jim Burrows, who directed my show. That was the first time I said to myself, “I want to direct!”.

4- What is the most challenging thing about making independent films like Tango Shalom?

Parking in NYC!

Jos Laniado(from Milcho Manchevski’s Bikini Moon) as Rabbi Moshe Yehuda, and Karina Smirnoff(from Dancing With The Stars) as Viviana Nieves

5- Does the language of cinema stand out more than the arts to you? Why? 

Cinema is a literal medium. On the stage, you truly can suspend disbelief, because, in order to fully appreciate it, you are forced to. The lights, the sets, exits and entrances, the curtain, and the very stage itself leave you with no choice but to suspend all disbelief. The language of film, on the other hand, is entirely visual. It is truly beyond the suspension of disbelief because it is a simulacrum; it is visceral, emotive, an all-in dive into a world unto its own, a world that you are forced to take at face value.  And for me, that is what sets apart cinema as the piece de resistance of modern entertainment.

6- How did you get involved with the making of Tango Shalom and what was your first reaction to the themes that were involved in the film? 

My director of photography, Massimo Zeri, gave me Laniado’s script, and I fell in love with it. I told them I would direct it if they let my father do the rewrite because I knew he would give it that one-two punch of touching and hilarious. They agreed, and my dad knocked it out of the park.

7- How can cinema and films such as Tango Shalom change the world and have an impact on society?

Paul Gauguin once said, “Art is either plagiarism or revolution”. Cinema is no exception to this rule. In my mind, cinema is either part of the problem or the solution to it.

8- Tell us about the most interesting experience you had on the set of Tango Shalom in production.

It was truly extraordinary, every day we all immersed ourselves in a different religion. On and off the camera, we got to see how so many different peoples and cultures expressed themselves and prayed. Their customs, their beliefs, their prayers, and vestments. A pilgrimage. It was like doing a walkabout around the world. Without ever leaving Brooklyn and Queens!

9- What is your next film project and what are you currently working on?

I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire. All of them are projects that are shot in Europe.

10- Tango Shalom was recently selected in a few film festivals and was even awarded. What is next for Tango Shalom and who is your targeted audience? 

It’s about time Borscht-belt humor goes mainstream!

TANGO SHALOM
Feature Film
Year completed: 2020, Release date: 2021 Runtime: 115 minutes Language: English Country: United States Director: Gabriel Bologna Screenwriter: Joseph Bologna, Laniado Brothers (Jos and Claudio) Producer: Joel Zwick, Joseph Bologna, Laniado brothers (Jos and Claudio), Gabriel Bologna, Zizi Bologna, Robert Meyer Burnett, Jordi Caballero Cast: Renée Taylor, Lainie Kazan, Joseph Bologna, Jos Laniado, Claudio Laniado, Judi Beecher , Karina Smirnoff Cinematographer: Massimo Zeri Editor: Robert Meyer Burnett Choreographer: Jordi Caballero Music: Zizi Bologna, Zoe Tiganouria Production Design: Peri Grabin Leong For more Cast and Crew visit our IMDb

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