FILMMAKER and artist RAOUL MARTINEZ speaks about the making of his Raindance Film Festival award-nominated documentary The Lottery of Birth, and explains how he persuaded some of the world’s greatest thinkers to get involved in his Creating Freedom project.
CATRIONA REEVES: What is the idea behind The Lottery of Birth?
RAOUL MARTINEZ: It looks at how personal identity is produced by forces we don’t control - inherited genes, environment, religion, other people and the lives we lead - and the implications that follow through from that.
I came up with the idea for the film while I was working on a book on the same theme. I sent out some emails to the people I’d like to interview - Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, Tony Benn, Amy Goodman and Stanley Aronowitz among them - and they responded.
I had no previous experience as a filmmaker, but I booked a ticket to New York, as most of these people were based in the USA, and bought a camera. A friend put me in touch with a filmmaker called Joshua van Praag who helped on the technical side, and we went on a roadtrip for five weeks.
CR: It seems to be a bit of a detour from your previous work as a portrait artist - how did you become interested in the subjects explored in the film?
RM: I’ve worked as an artist since I ws 17, but have developed my own self-study in areas of interest to me. I started a degree in philosophy but it wasn’t answering my needs; I’ve never taken very well to formal instruction and prefer following my own interests.
CR: You’ve started working on the book again as a companion to the film - what else will the Creating Freedom project involve?
RM: The Lottery of Birth is the first of three films. I’m currently editing the second, which looks more in depth at the conflicting paradigms that shape assumptions, and questions how we can create a better world rather than one based on inherited ideas. The third film will look at societal alternatives.
CR: Your sister is the comedian and disability campaigner Francesca Martinez. Do you see any parallels in your work?
RM: I think we’re trying to put across similar ideas in different ways. If you have something to say, you find a way of saying it.
* For more information on The Lottery of Birth and the Creating Freedom project, visit www.creatingfreedom.info
- First published in the Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, January 17, 2013