The New Hollywood North: Daniel Roher

The New Hollywood North: Daniel Roher

The Navalny director on his big break, his favourite films and what movie he’d make with $1 billion

Known for: Navalny, a documentary about Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who ran against Vladimir Putin

First filmmaking experience: “In 2005, my uncle Murray bought me a small camcorder for my bar mitzvah, and I used it to make little films with my friends and family members.”

Why you decided to become a director: “I’ve known I wanted to be a director since the age of 14. It wasn’t really a choice. I have no other skill set of value. Making films is what I can contribute to society.”

Your big break: “Getting to direct Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band. I met with Robbie beforehand to get his approval. Later, I heard that I reminded him of a younger version of himself.”

Desert island movie:Cast Away. There’s something instructive in there on how to survive.”

Movie you’ve watched the most times: “I’ve seen Searching for Sugar Man at least a dozen times. It’s got this propulsive, staccato rhythm to it.”

Favourite director: “Right now, it’s Sara Dosa. Her documentary Fire of Love, about scientists who died in a volcanic explosion, is a masterpiece of filmmaking.”

Hollywood star you most want to work with: “Helen Mirren, because she’s timeless and wonderful.”

Most memorable celebrity interaction: “Jim Carrey emailed me after he saw Navalny, saying he admired the documentary. Getting that type of response from someone I grew up admiring was one of those ‘pinch me’ moments.”

Favourite cinema snack: “Popcorn.”

Toughest part about directing: “The anxiety, fear and dread that comes with creating.”

One simple fix that would improve the film industry in Canada: “Remove Canadian content requirements. It limits our directors to only telling stories about Canada.” 

Someone gives you a $1-billion budget. What movie do you make? “I would let 500 young filmmakers each make a $2-million movie. Hopefully, we’d get one hit out of that.”

Would you rather win an Oscar for best director or direct the highest grossing film of all time? “Neither. I’d rather be in a position to empower young filmmakers.”

The New Hollywood North