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Los Angeles, California

HomeAwardsContender-Matt Chesse-Editor-Kite Runner

Contender-Matt Chesse-Editor-Kite Runner


The highly anticipated The Kite Runner is the seventh feature in seven years that editor Matt Chesse has cut for director Marc Forster. The collaboration began in 2000 on Everything Put Together when Chesse’s friend, Adam Forgash, one of the screenwriters of the film, introduced him to the director. “Adam knew what my sensibilities were,” says Chesse. “We did our Quentin Tarantino film-school thing and watched a lot of movies. He vouched for my head and heart and hoped my skills would go along.”
Chesse had edited commercials, but never a feature film. Since the film was being shot digitally on a very low budget, it also didn’t hurt that he had access to an Avid, and brought online colorists, mixers and other post contacts to the table. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and received an Independent Spirit Award nomination. Forster then brought Chesse and the crew that helped launch his career onto Monster’s Ball, which garnered critical acclaim and an Oscar for actress Halle Berry.
During preproduction on The Kite Runner, Chesse discovered the documentary Shadow of Afghanistan, which was filmed over the 20-year period during which the book’s story takes place, at the Tribeca Film Festival. The directors, Jim Burroughs and Suzanne Bauman, agreed to screen their documentary for the company.
Burroughs’ love of the Afghan people and country “really affected us,” says Chesse. “It gave everybody a reality check, a palette and a tone. It gave me something to shoot for — that pride, resistance and strength that the Afghans have.”
The Kite Runner had many challenges — from weather, to political, to minimal coverage with no chance of reshoots. “Every day was a different catastrophe. We were lucky to get what we got,” says Chesse. He worked hard to put together a cut that Forster would really like and felt his job was to erase the pain that the director encountered during the shoot. “I had to recharge his battery by showing him the picture he envisioned before he left for location, to make the movie feel as grand as it does despite a low budget.”
In addition, Chesse was up against the high expectations from readers of the book, which has a passionate following. “Whenever you step between an audience and their beloved novel, it’s a big responsibility and an intimidating task.” However, working with the Dari language that is spoken for most of the film turned out to be easier than it seemed at the onset. The universality of human emotions made it possible for Chesse to get into what he calls a “Jedi mind-set” and stop worrying about what the characters were saying and concentrate on how they were saying it.
It was especially satisfying for Chesse “to work on an emotional story that shines the light on the heart and soul of the Afghani people.” And because cinema is a community experience. he feels “we can all go and share a story that makes the world seem smaller.”
— Mary Ann Skweres

2005 Nomination
Oscar, Best Achievement in Editing, Finding Neverland
ACE Eddie, Best Edited Feature Film — Dramatic. Finding Neverland

Written by Mary Ann Skweres

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