Please explain what just happened.

Our documentary, A People Uncounted, just had its international premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival, as well as playing concurrently at the Heartland Film Festival and the Mumbai Film Festival. It’s very exciting that people are starting to see the film.

 

What is your earliest memory?

The day before my 4th birthday, in a store called Young Canada, where my mother bought me a stuffed animal. I put it away in a bag and I didn’t play with it until it was presented to me ‘officially’ the following day. The bag had a Toronto Blue Jays logo on it. Marc Swenker (Producer) will appreciate this since he’s a big Blue Jays fan!

 

If you weren’t a filmmaker, what other profession would you choose?

I’ve always wanted to be an architect. I do the occasional bit of graphic design work and always have but never wanted to turn it into a profession. I could see being a writer. I mean, I am a writer, but of scripts. I could’ve ended up writing books, and perhaps I’ll take a crack at that one day.

 

Describe a typical work day.

Ship a bunch of packages to festivals…plan upcoming projects with producers Marc Swenker, Tom Rasky and Lenny Binder…ship more packages.

 


Is there a time you wish you’d lied?

No. I’d love to supply an amusing anecdote but really the answer is no.

 

What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?

First off, learn a few more languages while your brain is still malleable. Second, don’t waste time trying to conform to other people’s interests; let your own attitudes carry you with confidence. Don’t worry about your high voice that hasn’t changed yet; that’ll happen soon.

 

If you could have only one album to get you through a breakup, what would it be?

The complete Seinfeld collection on DVD. I know that’s not an album, but if I need some entertainment to get me through a tough time, I’m going straight for the funny bone.

 

 

What are three websites—other than your email—that you check on a daily basis?

Facebook (not proud of this), any sort of national/international news such as The Globe and Mail, The Onion (very proud of this).

 

From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?

From my parents, who are both exceptional at what they do while living balanced lives.

 

Name three books that have impacted your life.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, on account of Douglas Adams’ epic wit.
The Tipping Point (and everything else by Malcolm Gladwell), for teaching me to think about everything from a fresh persecutive.
Generation X, by Douglas Coupland, which I have wanted to adapt into a film ever since.

 

 

 

If you could relive one moment over and over again, what would it be?

On the flight back to Toronto from Eastern Europe, where we spent six weeks filming most of A People Uncounted, I had a moment when I realized that we had done it—not only made it back but with everything we had planned on getting and more. A Cat Stevens song was playing on my iPod. I experienced my first ever actual tears of joy.

 

How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?

About six years ago I was an extra in the film Where the Truth Lies, directed by Atom Egoyan. Kevin Bacon is one of the stars. So that’s one degree!

 

What makes you feel most guilty?

I feel guilty about how good I have it when I think about how many people in the world suffer. I experienced this a lot while working on this film.

 

 

How do you incorporate the work of other artists into your own?

Just by appreciating what others have done well and trying to follow that legacy by pushing any given envelope even further. Film being collaborative, ‘my work’ is really a coordinated effort with dozens of other artists, a process which I really enjoy.

 

Please explain the motivation/inspiration behind A People Uncounted.

It’s a privilege as a documentary filmmaker to find a story that hasn’t been adequately told before. As a group we came together to make this film because it’s a story that needs to be told. The hope is that this film can serve to motivate a better understanding of the Romani people and also about the broader human problems of racism and genocide. We want to build bridges between cultures.

 

 

What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?

Unless you’re the lead dog, the view never changes.

 

List your favorite in the following categories:  Comedian, Musician, Author, Actor

Comedian: Jerry Seinfeld.
Musician: Jimmy Page (if I have to pick one).
Author: Douglas Adams.
Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis.

 

If you had complete creative license and an unlimited budget, what would your next project be?

Probably either an hour-long series for television based on a concept I’ve had in mind for a while, or the first feature I wrote some years ago. In both cases it would be satirical comedy.

 

 

What do you want to know?

Whether or not the Rossi cold fusion power concept is real.

 

What would you like your last words to be?

No words, just laughter.

 

Please explain what will happen.

Civilization will advance past some of the problems of today. But it’ll probably be two steps forward, one step back, as per usual.

 

*Photos of Yeger and crew on location by Marc Swenker.

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Documentary filmmaker AARON YEGER attended the School of Image Arts at Ryerson University, where he garnered several awards, including the Norman Jewison Filmmaker Award, the Harvey Hart Directing Award and two Universal Studios scholarships. He has worked as a story producer for television and as a writer and director of commercials, short films and documentaries, including an exploration of Chuck Berry's influence in rock and roll, which is currently in production in association with Universal Music Canada.

A People Uncounted, Yeger's first feature-length film, tells the story of the Roma, commonly referred to as Gypsies — a people who have been both romanticized and vilified in popular culture. The Roma have endured centuries of intolerance and persecution in Europe, most notably during the Holocaust, when an estimated 500,000 or more were murdered. A People Uncounted documents their culturally rich yet often difficult lives, and demonstrates how their present state has been deeply shaped by the tragedies of the past.

Filmed in 11 countries and featuring dozens of Roma — including Holocaust survivors, historians, activists and musicians — A People Uncounted brings the Romani history to life through the rich interplay of their poetry, music, and compelling first-hand accounts. As ethnic intolerance flares up once again across Europe, A People Uncounted sheds light on this unique culture while placing the Romani story within the larger context of the world’s legacy of racism and genocide.

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