The Waiting Room
A wry black comedy about an ordinary man lured into a bureaucratic labyrinth with the promise of an answer to the ultimate question. When he finds himself trapped in an endless waiting game, he has to choose between following the rules and following his heart.
DIRECTOR'S NOTES - Ian Hughes
"The Waiting Room was written in 1995 while I was living in the city of Prague. Hometown of Franz Kafka. It wasn’t until I lived there that I fully comprehended his work. Life was a constant spiral of bureaucracy and logical mind-bending. For a city of 1.5 million this created lines that would stretch forever. People were actually paid to stand in line for others.
But as a foreigner there was another world that had no law or logic. I lived there for nine months renting and working without officialdom knowing anything about me because to actually live legally took more effort, stamps, forms and lining up than was humanly possible.
To stay or work you needed to go to one specific police station on the edge of the city to get your passport stamped. There you would stand in line outside a door that had nothing but a handwritten sign that said 'Do Not Knock'. It could then take two days to be told you had lined up in the wrong place!
The Waiting Room is a black comedy about the afterlife. Heaven is in an old pragmatic public building that has been repaired, patched and repainted many times. Equipment has been updated at various times but with no real overall plan. It has become an institution infected with all that infects institutions: tiredness, boredom, petty power games and systems that are someone else’s problem, someone else’s responsibility.
It is also about the circumstances we find ourselves in that are not of our making. The three characters are stuck together in that room. All there for different reasons. They do not expect to be there long, so why get to know each other? It is about the challenge of trying to live in the moment.
The young man is caught between his voice inside that is screaming 'yell at someone', 'get mad' and the reality of being at the mercy of a system that has no face but is petty and vindictive.
It is about questions. A lot of the dialogue is in the form of questions (in fact one of the drafts consisted of nothing but questions). The situations are left as a series of unanswered questions but sometimes getting answers is a red herring. Often they may only confuse us more.
I love the films of Finnish director Aki Kurismaki. They are dark and cynical but ultimately joyful and very funny. He has a laconic stilted humour that is veryScandinavian but also is part of a very New Zealand humour.
Some other sources of inspiration: Barton Fink, Brazil, Viva la Bohem, Ariel by Kurismaki; Down by Law, Night on Earth by Jim Jarmuch, The heaven scene in Betelgeuse, The Kingdom (Von Treer), and the humour of Bob Newheart."