Coffee in Winter
…is a romantic drama taking inspiration from the films of Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao Hsien. Rod’s always lived life in accordance with his Indian culture and his family’s expectations: graduate, get a good job, get married and you’re set.
Hoping there’s more to life than this, he decides to quit his job as an I.T. professional and study a masters in photography. Hema, his sympathetic wife, encourages and supports him to follow his dream.
When the semester begins, Rod meets a young and free spirited German girl, Kim. Her passion for art and life inspire him to become more than the sum of his family’s expectations. They meet often, taking photographs, sharing ideas and discussing life over drinks. Caught up in the atmosphere of the city’s quiet and languid nightlife, Rod finds himself moving further away from his traditional life than planned.
The idea behind Coffee in Winter came about when I returned to university to study for my Masters. Memories of the atmosphere of university life came flooding back to me. However the naivety of my student self no longer existed and I was soon reminded of the realities of life, something many of us spend our youth ignoring. The most important task for me was to capture that atmosphere. Giving a sense of the very same mood, sights, sounds and smells was a vital concept to get across in Coffee in Winter.
University life is a time for rebirth, a chance to reinvent ourselves, and the approaching winter months make the lecture rooms, café lounges and student bars the perfect environment to meet new people and become who we want to be.
So upon returning to university after having already experienced it as an undergrad, I wanted the lead character of the film (Rod) to find himself in a situation where he will be constantly fighting the intoxication of this atmosphere to maintain the order of his married adult life.
I wanted however to approach this idea with a great amount of sensitivity and depth without allowing the film to stray into the genre of commercial rom-coms. To achieve this, who better to study than Hou Hsiao-Hsien? Both Three Times and Café Lumière became sacred during the development and production stages. Subtlety was the most important characteristic and I chose to avoid plot devices and the temptation to offer closure. The characters in the film are not performing for the audience, they simply exist to be observed as real people.
The cinematography became the tool used to add drama to the otherwise moderate existence the characters in this film find themselves in. Rod and the female protagonist Kim are studying for their Masters in photography, which acted as the connection between the film world and the process of film-making. Wide locked off shots are plentiful in Coffee in Winter with a minimal number of cuts.
I concentrated on making sure every shot that made the final cut had a photographic quality to its composition. This way the characters become almost synonymous with their location, and in some ways the location becomes a character in itself.
All of these things begin to layer one on top of another until the simplicity of a story about a married man falling for another woman attains a natural depth similar to reality. In the same way, the characters are not two dimensional; they are riddled with conflicting emotions and contradictions that we may only ever see glimpses of. I wanted to make a film that could allow an audience to share these same feelings and experiences; a revisiting of our youth with the added burden of the realities of adult life.
Director: Manjeet S. Gill
Production Company: Black Country Cinema
Running time: 95 minutes
Cast: Kim Bormann, Roderick Masih, Anna Devi, Andrew J. Walker, Gurjit Bahia
Country: United Kingdom
Release Year: 2014