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This Year’s Sundance Opening Film ‘The Princess’ Is Co-Edited By Daniel Lapira

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A Princess Diana documentary produced in the UK was officially selected for the opening of the Sundance Film Festival which happened earlier this week.

Daniel Lapira is the co-editor of this film, born and bred in Malta and currently based in the UK where he’s been working on a number of exciting productions.

‘The Princess’ is a documentary about the life of Princess Diana, created solely from archival clips and stitched together in a way to reflect her life.

Lovin Malta spoke with Daniel Lapira to hear more about what it must have felt like to be selected for the opening of such a grand and prestigious festival in the world of filmmaking, and the journey throughout. 

So how did it feel to be selected for Sundance?

“I’m honoured and extremely overwhelmed, to say the least! The chances of being selected are very small and we made it,” Lapira told Lovin Malta. 

“Sundance Film Festival is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the United States and also one of the most important pieces of the movie industry puzzle. You can also say that it stands in as an exhibitor of the most exciting independently produced films from around the world; an early predictor of movie trends, so you can imagine what this meant to us.”

What was your role throughout the production?

“I was one of the editors on this feature documentary together with the very talented Jinx Godfrey who is also known for editing the film The Theory of Everything (2014) and TV Drama Series Chernobyl (2019),” he said.

“I couldn’t articulate well enough how amazing the collaboration process was,” he expressed. 

Were there any challenges throughout?

“Unusually, we had to lean heavily on music to help us interpret the emotion of a scene. Unused to doing this and always preferring not to use music as an emotional crutch, this film almost required us to do so,” he explained.

Due to the film being created from archival clips, there were moments when challenges were faced to edit scenes that were short on footage.

“We didn’t have the luxury of our main characters displaying emotion in what they said or the way we read their expressions, most of the time our characters were stoical and impenetrable.”

“We needed to help the audience understand what to feel. We only discovered this quite late in the edit, since our instincts were to be more ambiguous with what the music was doing.”

“Once we understood how the music could help us, we discovered a more emotional way through,” he said. 

What is the message you aimed to convey through this production?

“Acutely aware of the multitude of documentaries about Diana, we were wary of the type of film The Princess could be. We wanted to tell the story differently. We knew the roads we didn’t want to take from the get-go,” he said.

“Ed Perkins, the director, had a very strong idea about how the people’s perspective had to be an integral part of the film; the symbiotic relationship between the people, Diana and the royal family, Diana and the media.”

“It’s no secret that documentaries are made in the cutting room and this film was no different. The main advantage of this film was that we had each other, the collaboration between Jinx and myself as I said earlier was invaluable,” he highlighted.

“We wanted to keep it as simple as possible, tell a human story, one that could be relatable, an emotional drama that unfolded naturally.”

“We wanted to target an audience who might not necessarily be interested in the royal family but nevertheless curious about another human story, her story,” he concluded.

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When Sasha (formerly known as Sasha Tas-Sigar) is not busy writing about environmental injustice, she's probably fighting for women's rights. Follow her at @saaxhaa on Instagram, and send her anything related to the environment, art, and women's rights at [email protected]

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