John Cooper on Independent Film, Architecture and Skinny People...

John Cooper recently chatted with the good people down under at the Sydney Film Festival. Click here for the original interview.

John Cooper, Director of Sundance Film Festival, one of the world’s leading hotbeds of film discovery, will be casting a finely tuned critical eye on the Official Competition films at this year’s festival as one of its jury members. We fired off a few questions at him on the eve of his first visit to Australia.

This is your first visit to Australia, what are you most looking forward to seeing/visiting (apart from the SFF of course!)?

Everyone...literally everyone...after you say you are going to Australia people exclaim "the people are great there". So I am hoping to meet fun people. I have worked with many Australians over the years...and I know I have nothing to worry about on that front. I love to try and feel how real folks live in  a foreign that is kind of it.... Bars, restaurants and of course the Opera House. Do I sound cheap? I wish I could go to the Barrier Reef.

What, in your eyes, makes a film successful/memorable?

Originality of story and style...meaning what the story is and how the story is told. Authenticity is big for me ...especially with performance. I'm especially fascinated with films that linger in the gray areas of life. That is why I am drawn to independent film.

If you weren’t in the film industry what would you be doing?

Besides Theatre...I would probably be involved with architecture in some way. I love buildings old and new.

What was your biggest break?

Finding Sundance...when I did.

...and your biggest mistake?

Not going into TV when everybody else was...I was a snob when I was young. That all goes away around about 35 years old. (I am sure others would say some of the films I have played....but I stand by those decisions).

Favourite cinematic moment?

Every time Meryl Streep's eyes well up with tears. Margo Channing's birthday party in All About Eve. When Hitler dies in Inglorious Bastards. There are way too many to decide.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party (dead or alive)?

None of the skinny people...they can only come to cocktail party. That's not true....Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn and John Waters are all really skinny. So is Tilda Swinton...but we would need some food lovers there as well....some Italian  like Pavorotti to order more wine in big booming voice. Jesus can come too as long as he doesn't want to rehash everything. Also I think you need someone really funny to keep the conversation going like Mel Brooks or  Joan Rivers. Julia Childs would need to cook and DJango Reinhardt would have to play a little something to get everybody dancing. 

What is your favourite guilty pleasure?

My dogs...I  wish I could get paid for spending time with them. 

If you were down to your last $20 what would you spend it on? 

Red wine, chocolate and  french bread.
Lead photo: