Director Philippe Mora and Whitley Strieber on the set of Communion
Director Philippe Mora's relationship with writer Whitley
Strieber dates back to the sixties when both were living in London. Mora was
painting, and Strieber was studying at the London School of Film. Twenty years
later, Mora was living in Los Angeles, directing a feature a year, and Strieber
was in upstate New York working as a writer and enjoying the success of his
book Communion, his best-selling account of a close encounter with intelligent
Mora was intrigued that Strieber's account was overwhelmingly real to him, and that it had corroboration and support from many other sources. Whether the stories were actually true or caused by some sort of unknown state of mind, they represented human experience at its highest level of intensity, right at the edge of the unknown.
Forming a production company in 1986, Mora and Strieber were committed to bringing the Communion experience to the screen with the tremendous emotional impact that it has in real life, and with respect for the dignity of the people who were involved.
As Mora explains, Communion is such a fascinating story because it is the first time someone as articulate as Whitley has had these experiences. Whitley came to the conclusion that the only explanation for the experiences was that the beings are in some way real. He was also amazed that so many thousands of people were reporting similarly vivid experiences with the same beings, as attested by the then over five thousand cases that poured into Whitley's mailbox after the publication of Communion. So, Mora says, whether it is a physical or a psychological reality, it's just amazing that it happens on this scale. It's almost like a religious experience for atheists.
An important element of both the book and the film is Whitley's own ambiguity and skepticism about his experiences. The story traces Whitley's doubts about himself, following him as he first seeks medical help and then explores various possible psychological explanations of the phenomenon. The film is closest to a psychological thriller, or a mystery, says director Mora. It takes place within a man's mind, and you go through his inner questioning every step of the way.
Born in Paris and reared in Melbourne, Australia, Mora began his film career at age 18 when he started the respected trade publication Cinema Papers. He moved to London in the late sixties to pursue painting and filmmaking, and subsequently wrote and directed his first film, Trouble in Metropolis. In 1973, he began an association with producer David Puttnam and Sandy Lieberson which yielded Swastika and Brother, Can You Spare a Dime, two award-winning films which he wrote and directed.
Returning to Australia in 1976, Mora directed Mad Dog Morgan starring Dennis Hopper. It was the first Australian picture to receive a wide American release and succeeded in bringing Mora to the attention of American film executives. Mora relocated to Los Angeles in 1978, and two years later he directed The Beast Within for MGM/US. He went on to direct The Return of Captain Invincible with Alan Arkin, A Breed Apart with Rutger Hauer and Kathleen Turner, Howling II & III, and the political thriller, Death of a Soldier with James Coburn.
Following the release of Communion in 1989, Mora's credits as director (and sometimes writer and actor) have included Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills (1994) starring Beverly D'Angelo (A perfect Beverly Hills housewife by day - a prehistoric flying reptile by night), Art Deco Detective (1994), Precious Find (1996) a sci-fi spin on Bogart's Treasure of the Sierra Madre, notable for reuniting two actors who appeared together in Ridley Scott's masterpiece Bladerunner, Rutger Hauer and the late Brion James. For television, Mora directed Mercenary II: Thick & Thin (1997), and the films Back in Business (1997), Snide and Prejudice (1998), and Burning Down the House (1998).
Director Biography: Philippe
(from the presskit for the original theatrical release of Communion)
© 1989 Pheasantry Films
Updated with information from the Internet Movie Database, Ltd.