cinewom cinema art dance issue vi

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Building on the success of the fourth edition, CinÊWomen continues showcasing video practice from around the world. As the ultimate mirror-medium of our times, video is all around us. Despite the proliferation of mainstream cinema, independent films continue to be made –radical, poetic, and dreamlike films, whose directors work on the edge of the mainstream film industry, never restricting themself to any single field, yet inviting the eye and the mind to travel further. Cinema is no longer the monolithic system based on large capital investiment: in the last decade the technological advances have dramatically changed the economic conditions of cinema production. Revolutions arise from obstinacy. It is not by chance that today one of the protagonists of the digital revolution in cinema is a talented and courageous woman director, Elle Schneider, co-founder along with Joe Rubinstein of the Digital Bolex Project, who after developing a cult-camera harking back to 16mm film aesthetic -a significant leap towards the democratization of technology- is now promoting an application process for a grant for producers employing women in their camera troupes. Only eight percent of 2014's top-grossing films were directed by women: it's time to reverse this trend. However, cinema is not only technology, but ideas, experimentation, and above all dialogue, networking, interaction. Creating and supporting a fertile ground for innovation and dialogue does not necessarily require compromise. Honoring the influence of women in video art and cinema, our editorial board is proud to present a selection of powerful and surreal visions from seven uncompromising outsiders. In these pages you will encounter details on a new wave of filmmakers marching away from the Hollywood stereotype, with films like by Arlene Bogna, recently screened at Cannes; the visionary world of Vanessa Aab and her , featuring the marvellous cinematography of legendary Thomas Mauch, one of the greatest figures of the early New German Cinema known for his collaborations with Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo); Caroline Jaden Stussi and her Brechtian narrative techniques; The Earth Belongs to No One, by Ani Laurie, mentored by Mr Stephen Frears and featuring Jessica Barden (The Lobster) and Alana Boden, and much more!


CinĂŠWomen Board





COVER Caroline Jaden Stussi, réalisateur de Nameless

LEFT Still from The Regret, Mariana Cobra

TOP Still from Exchange, Arnolda Noir

Edition curated




ani laurie The Earth Belongs To No One (UK, 2015)


independent cinema

A graduate of the NFTS, Director and Writer Ani Laurie is a British filmmaker. Ani has a passion for telling stories. She is a narrative and visual driven filmmaker, born and based in London. Her films have screened to National and international audiences. Ani’s passion for cinema began during her time at drama club at the tender age of 11. It was here, on the set of English Television series ‘The Bill’, that Ani decided she would either become an actor or a director. After a stint working at a senior level for Universal Pictures, Ani redirected her career to fulfil her childhood passion. In 2013 and 2014 Ani was awarded a scholarship by noteworthy producer Mr Duncan Kenworthy (OBE) of Notting Hill, Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral. It was at NFTS where Ani honed her craft with four short films: The Wheel (Super 16mm) B L U E (Super 16MM), Pedigree and The Earth Belongs to No One. She has received early acclaim as a new rising British Talent with the screening of her Film Pedigree at BAFTA / NFTS 2014 Talent showcase. Ani studied under the guardianship of Ian Sellar, Brian Tuffano and Mr Stephen Frears. Ani

was recently nominated for the BAFTA New Talent contest. Ani Laurie is based in London. She is currently developing her first feature with a production company. The Earth Belongs To No One is a narrative fiction film inspired by real events which occurred around me, growing up in London in the nineties.

Nominated for Best British Short at Raindance Film Festival, The Earth Belongs To No One is a dreamlike work of profound psychological depth. With one startling, painterly composition after another, Ani Laurie creates a drama of extraordinary tactility, mixing emotionality and stark realism. Superbly shot in soft light, and acted with astonishing nuance by Alana Boden (Mr Selfridge) and Jessica Barden (The Lobster), The Earth Belongs To No One is an enchanting, atmospheric work of cinema. Ani, can you tell us what attracted you to this particular story? Thank you that’s a quite an introduction. I knew I wanted to make a film which conveyed a sense of Love and sacrifice. The characters had a stronghold on me. I wanted to make a character driven film that was

psychological. These are the films tend to make. In the case of ‘The Earth Belongs To No One’ I wanted both characters to have a journey. In addition, I wanted to tell a drama with secrets. Every home has a secret, every single one of us has a secret, in this very moment the person reading this has a secret. Many things attracted me to the story but primarily the characters. While isolated together there, the characters of your film perform a mysterious emotional transference. The Earth Belongs To No One looks at our world from an angle unlike any other, depicting emotions in places where dialogue could not scratch the surface. From the first time we watched your work we were deeply impressed by your minimalist language. Rather than focus on big dramatic moments, you rely on simple gestures and domestic routines. How

did you develop the character of Sky? I was adamant in developing a cinematic language which was true to the story – true to the nature of the characters. It’s fun when you don’t do the expected. I was drawn to creating a character who does not speak throughout the film. Sky is the polar opposite to her older sister – JessyMay (played by Jessica Barden. I knew I was taking breaking convention by having a character who is silent throughout but I truly felt unafraid. I remember watching ‘Persona’ (Bergman) and thinking that would be really cool to have a develop a character who is silent throughout. Research informed me that there is a selective mutism that occurs often in children when they experience a sense of trauma. And possibly, this may be the case of adults. Alana Boden did a terrific job making The Earth Belongs To No One a very


human film. How did you direct her? Did you rehearse a lot with the shots you prepared in advance?

Seydoux and Colin Farrel. Can you talk about your creative relationship with her?

Rehearsal was minimal in the traditional sense of rehearsal, however, the audition process was structured in a way that allowed me to try new things with Alana during the second stage. She plays a character who does not speak throughout the film. It’s an accomplished thing for an actor do. Alana was brave and trusted me and the story and I trusted her - this is the best exchange you can have. Alana’s performance is potent.

I remember first meeting Jessica at the audition and I knew immediately she was Jessy-May. During the audition we read a scene together which is not something I usually do – it was electric. The scene ran of script and we kept going. My relationship with an actor has always been important one to me. I am performance focused – whilst it’s integral for me to take audiences on a visual journey, I feel there is nothing more permeating than strong performances. There is no way of cheating that.

The Earth Belongs To No One features an intense performance by Jessica Barden. Recently at Cannes Film Festival we had the chance to watch her fine interpretation in Yorgos Lanthimos's spell-binding film The Lobster featuring Lea

You believe Jessy-May and her plight: she is tough but deeply sensitive. She wears a ring signifying her father - often in life she has to be the parent. Everyone knows a ‘Jessy-May’ – at school, work, college, Uni our around the


neighbourhood. My creative relationship with Jessica Barden was about layering the character in a truthful way. She trusted me and believed in story – and that is the best thing you can aim for making a film – TRUST and Faith. The Earth Belongs To No One does not follow a linear story structure. How did you develop the script for your film? I wrote the story and began researching the themes and the locations. Once I felt I understood the characters, the worlds etc. I felt a collaborative experience might bode well and it did. I used the short story and developed a screenplay, working co-writer Katerina Giannakos, whom I had previously collaborated as a jump-off to develop the screenplay alongside Katerina. I wrote, she wrote, I wrote , she wrote – the exchange was pretty organic. We had worked on my

film ‘Pedigree’ which I had just Directed and Produced. Your film has drawn heavily from the specifics of its environments. Park Hill is also a location where Yann Demange filmed a portion of 71, his critically acclaimed debut film. How was The Earth Belongs To No One affected by its locations? The locations, two contrasting locations primarily that of city and country, work as characters in the film. They carry secrets. They force the characters to unravel. Creating worlds is a glorious process for me and it informs my writing. Sometimes you are fighting for a particular location (as in the case of the estate) but not entirely sure why, it just feels right. It’s instinctive to me,and Park Hill was exactly that to me. I know Yann he is a really supportive of me actually, I know he really liked Park Hill


for much of the same reasons. Your film is marked by an enigmatic approach to narrative and characters that harkens back to an old tradition of European filmmaking. Who among international artists influenced your work? I guess I’ve never thought about that before but come to think of it I admire the following Michael Haneke, Ingmar Bergman, Jack Audiard, Sergio Leonie, Agnes Varga, Andrea Tarkovsky, Ousmane Sembene… I grew up on English Television but equally world cinema, and 1970’s Americana films. We had a healthy appetite for international films at home but also kitchen sink dramas. My dad speaks many languages so we watched German films, French films, Italian films, Arabic films, African Films - as well as

British films and American. I remember watching Godfather when I was around 8 or 9 with my dad. I literally fell in love with every aspect of it, I realised that everything I loved creatively in life was in a film - story, acting, music, costume. We would re-enact the scenes at home my sister and brother and use my mums JVC cam-corder. We would film all the time – it was pure joy. The Earth Belongs To No One was shot in soft light and tightly edited. What was your approach for lighting? It’s the same rule every time – use as much natural light as possible. We set some rules to follow and we tried our best to follow them. There is a delicacy to the characters, and to the story which requires a delicacy in light. The majority of the film was filmed on locations which had a natural light fall for example Park Hill estate: as Sky is walking down the



corridor, the way the light falls on/off her face couldn’t have been planned. We knew we were making a film with a certain tone informing the visual aesthetic of the film. What did you enjoy about working on The Earth Belongs To No One? I enjoyed every aspect of making this film, it’s really hard to choose one – I especially enjoyed being on set and post. I always love the being on set. We filmed the entire film in six days and our script cut was about 60mins long.

when you have honest trusted relationships with your tutors. I like to think of them as my friends. I’m a fan of their work and them as people. Seldom are you blessed to find those whom you trust, respect and look up to – that’s’ exactly how I feel about Ian Sellar, Brian Tufano and Stephen Frears. Their support was beyond words. What's your view on the future of women in cinema?

You studied under the guardianship of Ian Sellar, Brian Tufano and Mr Stephen Frears. Can you tell us something about your experience at the NTFS?

My view on women in cinema is the same as my view of women in business, politics, law. Women are essential to cultural progress and growth in every single nation across the globe. Women have voices and stories to tell. In the context of gender there are many nations where women are the majority.

It was a formidable intense epic journey. I just spoke to Brian today actually, the relationships you build are everything and it’s a beautiful thing

For those bodies that represent public funds, there needs to be a balanced quota of male v female directors on rotation. This is progressive.

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In the photo: Jessica Barden (The Lobster)

Everyone, I believe, is responsible for that in the industry include women positions of Influence. Women are world leaders, lawyers, doctors, filmmakers. It’s very strange and limiting to discourage any gender from doing anything – it would be like discouraging Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen (The late) Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren. The Earth Belongs To No One raises important questions about the nature of personal identity. What do you want people to remember after seeing your film? I’m not sure I can answer that to be honest. People have told me that the film stayed with them long after they watched it and that they were moved in some way. That is fulfilling; when months after screening someone is talking about your film. It’s lived with them – that’s when I know I have made something that struck a chord with the

audience. It’s always a risk to make something different – to be bold – but if you can’t be bold and original in cinema where can you be? Thanks for your time, Ani. We know that you are currently developing your first feature. Can you tell us something about this project? Your questions were really cool, thank you. All I can say is that is that I am very excited about the future. We are at the early stages and every and anything is possible! I can’t wait to throw the dice again.


kamila dydyna Testimony (Ireland, 2015) e

independent cinema

This story has been close to my heart for years. It always struck me that this actually happened, that there was no one there who said: “Whoa, hold on a sec, this isn’t right. You can’t ask a child to testify in a mammy vs. daddy case, while literally looking into their eyes. There are no bad guys or good guys in the story. The family members are entangled in a complex web, playing roles enforced by the presence of alcoholism and resulting physical and emotional violence as this family struggles to survive. Today, no court would allow an underage child to testify in the physical presence of the defendant, not to mention if the defendant was the parent. However, kids still have to deal with the effects of addictions and violence in their families. I wanted to show them they’re not alone. I hope my film will inspire those parents who struggle with their own addictions or violence to seek help, by showing them a littleknown way in which their kids get damaged.Lastly, I’d like the film to

serve as an educational resource to institutions who help adults and children suffering from the results of violence and/ or addiction. Testimony is a work of both great beauty and vivid darkness, one that deserves repeated and in-depth viewings. Inspired by true events, Kamila Dydyna creates an exquisitely nuanced drama, focusing on small, psychologically charged moments, capturing the pain of childhood with emotional depth. We are pleased to present Kamila Dydyna for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Kamila, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? I started out as a film and stage actress. During the past four or five years, I’ve been watching other directors’ work and reading scripts written by new and established writers. I have always loved cinema as a medium. It could be due to the fact that I think in images most of the

time; I’m very visual. One day last year I decided I wanted to try and express my ideas from behind the camera. It’s been a challenging process but also an incredibly rewarding one. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of Testimony, can you tell us what attracted you to this particular story? I’ve always been baffled by the fact that a child was allowed to testify like this in the first place. It’s just unthinkable pressure, even for an adult. The film is a blend between Polish and Irish legal environment; but just to give you an idea, in Poland, it was permitted for underage children to testify in the circumstances portrayed in “Testimony” until August 2005. Testimony is marked by an elegantly structured storytelling: we have been deeply fascinated by your clear

approach to narrative. How did you develop the script for Testimony? To be honest, I wrote the first draft of Testimony over a coffee on a long Sunday morning. I can’t really explain it. The story was there in front of my eyes, complete from start to finish. I simply wrote what I saw. During pre-production, I’ve made a number of small changes (mostly as a result of extensive research into Irish and Polish family law in 1991), but there were no major changes to the storyline I originally wrote. In this film you leave the floor to your characters, finding a simple but effective way to show how rough it can be to deal with the past. In the Director's statement, you said "There are no bad guys or good guys in the story." Can you comment this peculiar aspect of Testimony? I have a pet peeve about stories where


alcoholism and/or domestic violence are portrayed in black and white terms. “The alcoholic is always the bad one, the other spouse is always the victim.” That’s never true in my opinion. Whether healthy or pathological, family is a system where each member plays a certain role. The dynamic of this set up is obviously greatly twisted and damaged by the presence of an addiction and violence. However, I’ve seen cases where the addicted spouse is a personification of selfless love when he or she is sober. Accordingly, I’ve seen cases where the non-addicted spouse can have as destructive influence on the children as the addicted spouse. This is true especially if the family doesn’t obtain any sort of professional help. There’s an expression about the type of families portrayed in Testimony: “The sh*t always goes from the top down.” So, for example: the father abuses the mother, the mother takes out her frustration and anger on the oldest kid, the oldest kid beats up the younger kid when no one is looking, and the youngest

kid is torturing cats in communal cellars to vent his own feelings. Each of them is also a perpetrator in this context (except for the cat ;). And with no professional help, they can be stuck playing those parts, like puppets on strings. The addiction is the puppet master, unless or until one or more family members break out of the cycle. Testimony is your directorial debut. What challenges did you face while making your short film? When I set out to make Testimony, I remember thinking: “It’s just a short film, 6 pages of script, how hard can it be?” I’m laughing at myself when I think of this now. There were countless challenges along the way but from the perspective of time, I’m grateful for each of them because it was an incredibly intense crash course in indie filmmaking. I couldn’t have learned more – and faster - from reading 10 books on the subject, I think.



The most obvious challenge was money, but we were lucky with a successful crowdfunding campaign and a few private sponsors who came on board. In the week prior to the shoot, we lost one of the locations, so there was some very intense scrambling about for a new location. Again, we were lucky and found a location that was even better than the original one. For me, working on a shot list was also difficult, but my visual mind helped here too. I could go on for days about the other challenges but let’s leave it here. What do you want people to remember after seeing your movie? Using children in disputes between the parents is never a good idea. Also – nothing is black and white. Don’t judge. What is your preparation with actors in terms of rehearsal? With my acting background, I don’t like

to rehearse anything to death. I trust my actors to know their stuff. We did one or two rehearsals before the shoot, mostly for the benefit of our young star, Olivia Daly. I also tried to find a balance between imposing my vision on the actors, and letting them use their own creative choices, both in rehearsal and on the set. From the first time we watched your film, your peculiars use of close up shots reminded us of Yorgos Lanthimos's work. Can you tell us who among international artists and directors influenced your work? To be honest, there are more such artists than I could possibly list here. But as an example, there was a shot in “The Babadook,” written and directed by Jennifer Kent, which really just blew me away. At the beginning of the film, there’s a scene where the young son wakes up his mum at night because he had a nightmare. He crawls into her bed

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and hugs her tight, his little arms embracing her. As soon as he falls asleep, the mother moves her body in an almost imperceptible way away from her son. This tiny movement speaks volumes about the way she feels about her son. This type of visual storytelling definitely inspired the fact that there is no dialogue for the first 4 minutes of Testimony. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? I’m optimistic. I know that the current gender balance in the film industry is dramatically excluding women, particularly on the production side. But there’s also a certain pressure building to change this trend. More and more women filmmakers emerge, both in the independent scene and in the big studios, sharing their stories and raising awareness of the issue. I was thrilled to have many women on the production team

of Testimony: our talented Producers, Cara Bamford (Foxrock Productions, UK), and Florencia Iriondo (NYC), Zuzanna Gorzalczynska who skillfully multitasked as a focus puller, data wrangler and clapper loader, Justyna Seniuta who was just stellar in looking after the film’s marketing, and Gwen Jeffares-Hourie, a brilliant set and costume designer. I love working with women and plan to continue seeking future collaborations with them, further challenging the status quo in the film industry. What's next for Kamila Dydyna? Have you got any plans for other films? Not long ago I finished writing a feature film entitled “144,000 Lies.” It’s a drama portraying the process of growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, and the challenges of leaving that religious group. I’m currently approaching investors and funding bodies, and am hoping to enter pre-production in early 2016. I’m incredibly excited about this new project and I’m looking forward to directing it.


vanessa aab Frollein FrappĂŠ (Germany, 2015)

experimental cinema

Vanessa Aab's cinema is as beautiful as it is confounding and delirious. She incorporates the language of past cinema, eschewing traditional storytelling and opting instead for an associative, surrealist methodology. Her sensibility is firmly rooted in the avant-garde and cinema’s silent past: Frollein Frappé is a neo-expressionist nightmare evoking the poetic and visionary power of Bunuel and Cocteau. Featuring the mesmerizing black-and-white cinematography of legendary Thomas Mauch, one of the greatest figures of the early New German Cinema known for its collaborations with Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo, Even Dwarfs Started Small), Frollein Frappé is a visually breathtaking film. Vanessa, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? When I started my studies in drama, fine arts and film I was actually not focused on the medium film at first but then I spent some time as a student at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. That time in Paris became the turning point in my artistic development. There I had the chance to watch all kinds of movies and get to know the different facettes of film while I spent

most of my time in the beautiful arthouse cinemas and the cinémathèque. It was an intense period that was characterised by a lot of emotions and thoughts that were inspired not by real life events but by the movies I had seen. At that time the idea became clear that film would be my medium of expression. I realised that for me it would only be the extension of my first love: the painted picture. I remember how paintings had the power to let me experience scenic walks in my mind – which would explain my mother’s stories about mea s a five year old and how she was unable to drag me away from old paintings which the other kids would have thought to be boring. I can still feel the fascination of the interaction between the poetic and the scenic element in these pictures. Later I understood that films have a very similar power but as a filmmaker you can control the direction of your audience’s mental journey far better than a painter, a fact which I liked a lot. Frollein Frappé is a dreamlike film that careens from the humorous to the surreal. How did the idea came to your mind? Very simple: it was a dream that inspired my film. One evening I had been

iinterview watching Luis Buñuel’s The Golden Age and I woke up that night finding myself as a protagonist of the story that seemed even weirder than the film already is. While dreaming I suffered – but I also felt joy and excitement. I said to myself: Okay that’s it. I’ll just do it! Frollein Frappé can be read as an hommage to Buñuel although there are major differences to his style and positions. The combination of scenes that were inspired by Buñuel and a feminist subject, that can be found in all my films in contrast to surrealist cinema which always meant sexist cinema, formed the idea of my film. Where does the feminist subject become visual in the narrative of Frollein Frappé?

The story deals with two cousins who fall in love inspite of social conventions that forbid their relationship. It all starts with the mutual wish of the protagonists to live their love but then the story drifts more and more to the male side of imagination. Greta indeed shows her affection to Franz but this leeds him to engross her personality increasingly. It seems that he is more in love with the feeling to be in love than with the person he adores. In the beginning Greta is characterised as the typical flapper of the 1920s that appears self-determined and modern, smoking cigaretts in her Charleston dress with Eton crop. Historically we find this type of woman in the movies of the decade and we can read about the fascination and at the same time the agony and fear it provoked in the male


audience. In Franz’s vision of Greta she suddenly finds herself shut in a room being dressed in a classical style evening dress and well made long hair, attributes referring more to an earlier time that the men of the 1920s sentimentally missed as a time „when a woman still was a woman“. Surely he doesn’t do that on purpose, it is just the expression of his subconscious oldfashinioned picture of a woman and a misunderstanding of the terms attraction, love and possession. This is why at some point the dream is turning into a nightmare and Franz as the dreamer cannot control it anymore. Greta’s body is filled with her emancipated personality again and she breaks out of his vision that imprisoned her.

Pushing the theme of sexual liberation to its boiling point, Frollein Frappé follows Franz and Greta's struggle against restrictive social conventions. The story is simple, yet the implications of its characters’ emotions and actions are profound. We have been strucked by the way you combine tragic and humor in a very innocent way, can you comment this aspect of your filmmaking style? I adore the early cinema of Luis Buñuel because it is so provocative and rude but still very romantic and poetic. This contradiction we also find in real life. It results from the contradictory relationship between the inner and the outside world. Our mind tells us all the

time what to do and how to behave properly but there are also our subconcsious desires, fears and understanding of everything that happens around us. There is no doubt that if we followed our instincts thoughtlessly we would possibly break rules of morality and make ourselves guilty in the eyes of others, though our subconscious instincts are actually innocent and pure. As a human being we are conditioned from our early days on to adapt to social conventions that might seem quite simple but at the same time the other side still exists, is present in our dreams and causes inner conflict that complicates our lives. For me it was an exciting challenge to confront these two sides of human life and put the focus on the subconsciousness that becomes real for the protagonists who cannot decide between the vision and the outer world

anymore. The theme of a forbidden love, an amour fou brings out the potential of this surreal conflict very well, I think. Frollein FrappÊ is marked by a peculiar use of overdramatic action and expression. What is your preparation with actors in terms of rehearsal? Because of the unconventional acting style I had in mind, the most important thing was the casting. It was necessary that everyone in the team would understand the vision behind the narrative surface of the film. This is one of the reasons why I chose to play the main part myself, a fact which entailed some organisational issues but gave me the oppurtunity to interact with the other actors at eye level. Also Oskar Brown was on board of the project from the very beginning. I’ve known him for


all of my life and when he happened to move from Cape Town to Berlin right after I had finished the script it was evident that he would be my co-star in the film. He is a very talented actor with lots of intuition, extraordinary intelligence and a great sense of humour. The conditions of the low budget shoot were quite rough and required from all the team members a lot of physical and emotional energy. Oskar was willing to take this challenge and he brought all his fantastic qualities and skills in the production and preproduction of the film. Also Guy Monacelli, Helge-BjĂśrn Meyer and Maren Barnikow who played smaller parts in the movie were very carefully chosen and prepared for the uncommon style so that I knew the time we were shooting, they were all into their characters and enjoying to dive into the expression of the subconscious. We did

not rehearse at all, we only talked everything very through carefully and used the power of the moment to experience the scenes for the first time. The connection of traditional and new media element is a distinctive mark of your films. Can you introduce our readers to this idea behind Frollein FrappĂŠ? Beside the fact that I just love the aesthetics of the 1920s I like the idea that the present is filled with the past and the future. Something we feel derives from something that developed in us before and implicates already fulfilment, desire or loss in the future. Also cinema of today is nourished from earlier forms of cinema holding already future opportunities in its form that might not be visible yet. I enjoyed

Vanessa and Thomas Mauch, the legendary cinematographer of Fitzcarraldo, Even Dwarfs Started Small


mixing this up and finding a poetic form that correlates with the surreal theme in pushing the past into the present. Also composer Matthias Becker picked up this subject and created an amazing soundtrack that brings together traditional elements like atmospheric string players and modern digital music in a way that is conflicting and harmonic at the same time. What do you hope viewers will take away from the film? Frollein Frappé bears a lot of references of cultural history and cites motivs of other films. For people who can read these hidden elements it could be fun to encrypt them and get the deeper meaning. However it wasn’t my intention to create an intellectual film but to take the audience on a more emotional path. The viewer doesn’t

have to understand all the cultural implications necessarily to get the story of a forbidden love and how it could drive a person crazy if he wasn’t allowed to live his love. So I hope everyone can enjoy the film as comic, absurd and tragic. Thomas Mauch has worked as director of photography in legendary films, like Fitcarraldo and Even Dwarft Started Small. Can you talk about your creative relationship with him and how it has evolved through your work together? It was a blessing to have Thomas in my team, he is the most wonderful person and an exceptionally gifted director of photography. We have got an inspiring relationship and always a great time together. He listens carefully to what I


want as a director and is extremely sensitive in getting the point. Our work is very harmonic though both of us are strong characters full of spirit and if he has a different opinion about a scene he will argue with me because he is really interested in getting the best picture he can – something I like a lot because this is the same thing that I want. At the same time he is not stubborn at all and happy to be convinced with good arguments. For the shoot of Frollein Frappé a trustful relationship was even more important because of the 16mm camera that didn’t allow to watch the scenes on a monitor. What’s more I was directing and performing at the same time and had to rely on Thomas to take the picture exactly as discussed. Not only in this regard he exceeded my expectations by far and these were admittedly high right from the beginning.

The use of 16mm has seen a renaissance as of late, just think of Tat Radcliffe and Jeff Preiss. Can you tell us something about the technical process? What was your lighting setup? One reason why I chose to shoot on 16mm was obviously because of the look of the film that refers to an earlier decade of cinema without the need to create it artificially in post production. However it also supported the idea to not shoot any scene twice in creating an economic necessity. Like the team I also kept the technical equipment very small so that we could focus our energy on the scenes to shoot and not on spending most of the time with setting up a perfect picture resulting from complicated technical arrangements. We shot a lot of scenes outside and on


location and did only enhance the light that was already there. Nicolas Rösener, Thomas Mauch’s assistant, did a great job on the lighting. Also in the studio we only lightened the scenes rudimentarily. The film benefitted enormously by Thomas’ experience in documetaries and feature films that were realised under unconventional conditions – just remember Fitzcarraldo as a jungle expedition. Shooting the film was a dynamic process that was not thwarted by technical ambition but by the fluidity of the handheld camera and improvisation in all parts of production. Another technical particularity was that we did not shoot with sound or a clapper board which was brilliant because we could communicate while we were shooting a scene. I actually never liked this

wait-the-whole-day and then be-allsilent atmosphere on filmsets. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? The problem you are discribing is not a particular problem of the film industry but a problem of society and long established gender roles in general. For centuries women were not the ones that were asked to express and share their point of view – neither with words, deeds or through a camera lense – but they were the ones being looked at as a passive object not only in front of the camera

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lense.This opinion hasn’t fully changed in the last decades despite the fact that women have prooved their equality in all busines fields. And still, a woman that appears demanding and assertive is often judged as selfish, reckless or unfeminine - while the same charecteristics of a man are regarded positively as sign of strength. Maybe this is one of the reasons why money lenders prefer to support men in making movies. I don’t see why female filmmakers to be treated equally should wait until society is ready for the matter of course. We live now and we want the same chances like our male collegues to express our ideas. Female filmmakers have to raise their voices and put public pressure on the film industry. In Germany the society pro quote regie does a great job in this regard and shows already first political success. My

hope for the future really is that the most promising film ideas – no matter what’s the director’s sex – will be realised. This would also mean a change for the type of films being made for an audience that consists largely of women. Thanks for your time and thought, Vanessa. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Vanessa Aab? The pleasure is on my side. Thank you very much for your interest in my work. For now I have several experimental projects in mind. Also I am preparing my first feature film that will continue my interest in the poetic form of film and the subject of an amour fou already present in Frollein Frappé.


guan xi Room (China, 2015)

independent cinema

With its sensuous cinematography and highly sophisticated use of on- and offscreen sound, Room leads audiences into a dreamscape where reality and imagination are inseparable, offering fantastic, surreal images. Certainly the aspect of the film that first hits is Guan Xi's poetic and visionary visuals: Room plays as a visual treat for those willing to experience a break in the laws of cinema and dance. We are proud to present Guan Xi for this year's CinĂŠWomen Edition.Guan, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker and cinematographer. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium?

conjure my storytelling. I love writing, photographing, singing, dancing, and performing all at once and film summons up all these elements. Compared to the theater arts, a movie has the capacity of breaking space, time, and logic at any time.By using angle and size of the shots, a director can deliver a vision that they believe in.

The camera is like my weapon, It is my medium to communicate language, text, sound, image, and music all at the same time. This medium allows me to release all my desires, and to express myself. Two themes that I've always been obsessed with are life and femininity. Based on these themes, I try to piece together my experiences, filling them with my desires and fears that

Room is a film of an extraordinarily youthful vigor, a puzzle with reoccurring motifs slowly pieced together, a series of beautifully filmed allegories. We have been deeply fascinated by your enigmatic approach to narrative, how did you develop the script for this film?

As a filmmaker, I am capable of shooting all kinds of genres. Whether be it experimental films, narrative films or documentaries. I love to infuse my own emotions into my work and that's what keeps me going as an artist. Commercial films have never attracted me.

This movie’s storyline is like a puzzle


that encapsulates two layers of two different storylines. The first storyline is about the relationship between a girl in a blue dress and other characters, which implies the complex connections between reality and illusion: the girl is stuck in the room and the people, who might be the girl’s imagination, or regard her as their toy, move in furniture and decorations. Nevertheless, these roles finally tear down the girl’s conceptional world. The biggest puzzle here is whether the illusion conquers the reality, or the actuality breaks the imagination. Whereas in the second storyline, it is about the lives of these people and their dilemma in reality. The poet wants to get rid of his shadow; the lovers undertakes the chaos and pains from the society; the death angel is lighting

up a candle. A man, who tries to disguise his loneliness; a solitary clown decides to go on a journey and farewells to his pretending happiness. Both storylines, like ink and milk, blend together, however, also leave a clear boundary. The plots are based on characters. Room opens on a strange looking scene. Since the first scene, the absence of dialog and emphasis on bodies in movement evoke Sergej Parajanov's hallucinatory world. How did you develop your visual style? There are further extensions under a surface. At the beginning, the girl standing in the middle of an unreal and weird empty room, then some


“outsiders” interrupt this “peace”, furnishing the room and all of a sudden, such external harmony is broken by the goose that was put into the girl’s arms. The goose is an unreal element, that reverted the real atmosphere that was elaborately built up. The poet whispers secrets into the girl’s ear but, others’ laughter makes the secrets’ authenticity suspicious. Each plot is like a riddle, querying other’s flaws. My visual style is built upon the logic that reality and unreality have mutually intruded each other. I like to create the world that can be easily switched from one composition to another. Like a collage, each element can be formed, deformed, and reformed. Your film features a sophisticated use of on- and offscreen sound. Can

you tell us something about your approach to sound design? Even though my heart is attracted to more visually dynamic movies I can't deny, my OCD level obsession with sound. For me, the sound is the code to generate images that help the audiences with composing the story. In one word, sound undertakes and delivers most emotion in a movie. For instance, if you take a movie to be a hallucinogenic soup, the image should be the liquid, and the sound should be the fantastic ingredient. We couldn't record sound on set and that situation gave me the unlimited freedom to recreate sound mix during the editing process. I tried my best to give voice to some unrealistic elements in the movie. In poet and his shadow paragraph, you

“ ”


In the photo: Guan Xi

can hear bird wings’ sound, which is definitely unsubstantial. By adding those unreal things into reality, such as the wind, water, and bird, we can take the audiences on a journey that allows them to experience the scenarios. Additional for the music part, the Composer of this film Sebastian Örnemark wanted to find something organic for the music to ”Room”. The room itself is like a big acoustic wooden soundboard and he thought that the choices of instruments would reflect that. Piano, clarinet and violin are in focus, all made out of wood. I found inspiration from chamber music and was looking for a mesmeric, almost trance-like feeling mixed up with peculiarity and beauty. Did you rehearse a lot with the shots you prepared in advance?

Before shooting, we rehearsed dancing for two weeks as it was a major task to transfer the literal script to a physical choreography. We brought in actors to a training room since all the characters and scenarios would be built in an unrealistic space, not narrated in a linear world. The actors and I collaborated on creating a back-story and then discussed the relationships between each role, which was helpful to imagine scenes. This world helped them create a body movement that embraced the story. All the shots were developed in my mind during the rehearsals. By watching them practice, I looked for the most suitable camera position and camera movement for each part. The emotional and physical continuity of a dancer was very important, so I decided to shoot with three cameras at the same time, each of which played different functions simultaneously or


asynchronously. In order to utmost decrease the amount of cut, maintain actors’ physical and emotional state, and guarantee to maximize expression. I never took cameras to the training room, but I could catch each shot on set. I decided to let the camera dance with the dancers that eventually helped me to reach my expectation. What was the most challenging thing about making Room? The most challenging thing was the last scene when everyone pushed down the room. It was an like adventure to implement the last scene because we had to transport the intact room outside. On top of that, we needed a deserted land, which was flat enough to put down a room, and large enough to make sure that it would still look spacious after the walls were pushed

down. All of those plans had to be accurate, logical, and strategic, which made us go crazy. Most importantly the last scene had to be accomplished in one go. So we arranged one person behind each wall with a transparent rope and they could not appear in the image after the wall fell in with our wide angles lens camera.Phew! Now that was a challenge I can't forget. However, in the end, we chose to use five cameras to take the last shot, and people that controlled the rope stood 50 meters away from their assigned walls. Our well planning paid off and the scene wasn't as hard as we had imagined. All the other scenes were shot in a room that was set up on stage. Another challenge for me was taking two positions during the shoot, I was the director, and the cinematographer, which was a like a double-edge sword for “Room”. The advantage is that I

Before shooting, we rehearsed dancing for two weeks as it was a major task to transfer the literal script to a physical choreography. We brought in actors to a training room since all the characters and scenarios would be built in an unrealistic space, not narrated in a linear world.



could control both the image and the emotion; however, it gave me a huge amount of pressure and distraction to communicate with actors from time to time. As top dancers in China, all the actors took part in performing and choreography for Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony. While as a movie director, directing dancers is quite different from directing professional actors, since dancing movie allows physical movements and emotional expressions happen simultaneously. How to protect their physical and emotional status was my key concern, and I have learned a lot from such challenge. We would like to explore now your latest film Mandala, a co-production between China, Tibet and USA. How

did you come up with the idea for this work? Life is like a mystery for me, and everything that I came across in the journey was a piece work of reincarnation. I first went to Tibet when I was 18 years old, every moment I could feel my soul was being touched and comforted. The gorgeous plateau scenery and Tibetan religious commissions seemed familiar to me while every cell and pore in my body told me that I was back home. Tibet felt like a home away from home. So, from then on, I went back every year, like visiting my own home. Mandala is a journey story about loss, death, recovery, and reincarnation, which happens from the United States to Tibet. The little trinkets in the film were fragments of my growing experiences, which included my understanding, the

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puzzle, and an undying desire towards reincarnation. Such a personal story was meaningful to me. The movie is about healing from this chaotic world and enlightening from the past, present, and future. A girl who lost her lover embedded the feelings into a belief: if she reincarnated, her lover would come back to her in a similar way. She gradually recovers from her misery and illusion so she can start a new life with hope and love because she put down the past. All of this is part of the belief system in Tibet. On the another hand, the film accomplished my dream that manifests culture collision and fusion.Besides, I have always been obsessed with female themes, as a female director, I found it divine to combine all of the elements in a single movie, which like a mirror reflected all my inspiration and beliefs. So I came up with an idea, and together with my crew

gave frame, blood and flesh to “Mandala”. Mandala features gorgeous wide screen compositions reminding us of Carlo di Palma's work. With one startling, painterly composition after another, your film creates an intense, suspended atmosphere. Can you say your biggest influences in cinema? “BLOWUP”, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, was one of my favorites in high school. Carlo Di Palma generated his distinctive aesthetics of photography, which greatly influenced me from then on. I worship his aesthetic of color control, and precise composition. The movies shot by him encompasses his formal and pristine visual style, which has a cruel but beautiful imagery. I feel, the intense

distance, seduces you but never lets you get closer. Many directors leave long lasting impressions on me, such as Luis Buñuel, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Ingmar Bergman, Julio Medem, whose masterpieces have influenced me from different aspects. I wish my films are games between reality and illusion, filled with dark rhymed atmosphere. They should be eerie but not ugly, unreal but full of emotions. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? I’d like to use a character, Medusa to reflect my understanding of most outstanding female destiny in the past half century. Medusa’s beauty can be

compared to the ideology about women’s talent. In the myth of Medusa, men were turned into stones after looking into Medusa's eyes, due to her lethal allure. According to Perseus’s logic, in order to avoid such tragedy, Medusa must die. Was It her fault to be such a beauty? Of course not, I deny Perseus’s logic, on the contrary, it was because of patriarchal curse towards the growth of women, whose careers and talents were suppressed and hidden. As a female director and cinematographer, (which is quite rare in the film industry) I am very grateful that I was born in an exciting time in which my creativity and ideas can be accepted and respected. The gender biases are now getting blurred in my opinion, but its important embrace our own strengths and fight for our rights. The core element of the patriarchal culture is to objectify women as exhibitions. The


idea of objectifying women not only from the audience's point of view but also from male characters in movies reflects our society. The male is the symbolic of power in this society, so their watching “items” forms a field domain, including sex implication and reference. Those dominators use the strong implication power through images to manipulate audiences’ value, in order to reach their own aim of control. As a female filmmaker, I take responsibility in evoking the public to not only accept the female figures under patriarchal value but also it is the essential problem for feminist researchers and directors. I want to create a voice for female themes, female characters, and stories with a female scent, of which I will be proud and insistent. Thanks for your time and thought, Guan. We wish you all the best with

your filmmaker career. What's next for Guan Xi? Have you a particular film in mind? I would like to pursue being a cinematographer as my career path but also, I dream to direct films that convey my artistic voice and share stories with the world. Keep shooting all kinds of short/ long film. Hope all the movies, in which I performed as a cinematographer, can be invited to film festivals. Meanwhile, my work “Mandala” has just entered festival circuit, and been accepted and awarded by several film festivals. Hopefully, I can raise funds for a long feature film “Mandala”. I am developing another script about Tibet now, which might start next year. Currently, I am cowriting a youth movie about female under Chinese mainstream value.


arlene bogna The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam (USA, 2014)e

independent cinema

Marked by audacious narrative twists and gorgeous camera work, The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam is an adventurous work of cinema. Arlene Bogna's desert steampunk fantasy features moments of surreal humour and memorable images, pushing the road trip genre to personal depths and virtuosic aesthetic heights. We are pleased to present Arlene Bogna for this year's CinĂŠWomen Edition. Arlene, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? I was always drawn to the visual arts and to stories, and I followed my impulses as well as the opportunities available, which resulted in a blend of the arts with the many facets of filmmaking and the creative process. As a little girl, hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains, I would carry my cast of dolls and stuffed animals in my backpack. And whenever I could stop at a waterfall or a stream, it would be my time to create a scene with them and photograph it with an antique, all manual 35 mm film camera with a light meter. I remember my little fingers on

all the big metal dials, figuring it out. So that’s how it started, daydreaming and playtime, but with an impulse to capture it on film. There was no instant gratification to it either, but I would just go into the zone. I remember I really enjoyed the process. Now I look at my childhood and see the continuity. Both the visual arts and writing played a big part of my education and training. A significant life event for me was when I got a scholarship for some fine art training at Art Center and Parsons, which opened up a whole world for me. I started building an art portfolio which later granted me entry into the world of visual effects, which in turn gave me the experience of managing teams and working with technology to create and compose shots with an artistic eye. I started exploring fine art photography and exhibiting my work in art galleries in Los Angeles. Early on I had realized I was a cinephile, and I when had the opportunity to study film not only in America but in Europe, I took it. It seemed like the best way to continue feeding my insatiable passion for cinema and gain a worldly perspective. I also spent some time just learning about production, doing some indie set work

in different capacities, which was very helpful, learning best practices in production, seeing what works and what doesn’t. Then came directing. In addition to my film ‘The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam’, I have directed over 25 commercial and branded entertainment spots. I think my professional experience as a director has definitely given me an edge and a confidence that comes from helming so many productions and vanquishing any challenges. In my work I tend to make an homage or reference to some kind of cinema that I love, leaving ‘Easter Eggs’ for my fellow cinephiles or just for myself. Now I see all of this converging, a combination of my interests and skills and experience, in terms of what I want to develop and take on. I love adventure films (although drama is my first love), sci-fi stories, highly visual cinematic storytelling, and visual effects. I see

myself taking on more genre films like action adventure and sci-fi while always sneaking in cinematic homages. In The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam the characters are organic parts of the landscape they move around in. Sam's desert seems to emerge from a new world at once discernable and unfamiliar. How did you become involved with The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam and what attracted you to this film? ‘The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam’ comes from a place of pure inspiration. The story was inspired by the music of West Indian Girl and was originally pitched as a music video concept. I soon realized it was a bigger story and developed it into a film. I wanted the challenge of showing Sam’s story without depending on words, just to see if I could do it. By focusing on Sam’s emotions, the narrative and the


mood would depend purely on subtext and visuals. I wanted to explore the idea of a Medicine Man, someone who’s maybe not quite there yet, but evolving. And to take the symbolism of Snake Oil beyond the questionable promise of an elixir and into the realm of ‘Snake Medicine’ which promises transformation and rebirth. The desert, with its unwritten code of ‘adapt or die’, was an ideal setting as a metaphor for evolution. I wanted the rugged, other-worldly terrain to be more than a location, but a catalyst for Sam’s transformation. It’s a harsh yet delicate testing ground where his confrontation needs to happen. I was also really attracted to the theme of redemption especially as it unfolds in emotional events between characters. Exploring the theme of redemption ending up being a revelation when I realized it was linked to the experience of trust - gaining the courage to trust in yourself and others then finally earning

and feeling others’ trust in you. I also wanted to experiment with dreamlike visuals, time, and costume to make the film feel both anachronistic and timeless. ‘The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam’ was a chance me to fly my cinematic freak flag, just by referencing and exploring so many things that I love! The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam is marked by an elegantly structured storytelling: we have been deeply fascinated by your enigmatic approach to narrative. How did you develop the script? The idea of a weary Snake Oil Salesman on a journey came from Anthony Ferranti, the co-writer and one of the producers of ‘The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam’. As soon as I heard his concept I was hooked on the idea of showing a Snake Oil Salesman seeking redemption. I’m really influenced by the notion of the

I wanted to explore the idea of a Medicine Man, someone who’s maybe not quite there yet, but evolving. And to take the symbolism of Snake Oil beyond the questionable promise of an elixir and into the realm of ‘Snake Medicine’ which promises transformation and rebirth.


hero’s journey as defined by Joseph Campbell. That form of storytelling in myths as well as in many feature films really resonates for me. So I wanted to develop a hero’s journey for our beloved main character with a first act, a second act, and a third act, to show his transformation and justify why this story from this cross-section of his life needed to be told. The challenge was how to do this without dialogue, like those deliciously full moments from a Sergio Leone film. I had to find ways to show Sam’s journey visually, so storyboarding really helped. After the concept was fleshed out, the shooting script was developed according to the storyboards. In your film you use specific locations as inspiration for larger emotional and philosophical inquires, reminding us of Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert: can you introduce our

readers to this distinctive aspect of your cinema? I have a deep passion for Italian cinema, and Michelangelo Antonioni is a huge influence for me. When I first saw ‘Red Desert’, I felt like it changed me forever. I saw the modern landscape and condition through his lens – empty, stark, inhuman, lonely. I remember when I studied his cinema at the Universita’ di Bologna, Italy, one of the terms that emerged was ‘metonimia’, which I understood meant using the landscape in visual composition to express and heighten the emotional condition of the character, and it felt like a searing new tool had been presented to me. Antonioni’s ‘The Passenger’ was a direct reference for me as an approach to location and cinematography on ‘The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam’. I remembered a shot in ‘The Passenger’ when Jack Nicolson was leaning against a tall


fractured beige stone, which looked like a chaotic, complex mosaic above him, the shot favored the stone just a little bit more than him compositionally. As a viewer I felt the character’s hopeless moment of despair even more because of the way the fractured stone surrounded and overpowered him in the shot. It was just a moment in the film but it was a powerful metaphor – using the nature of what’s outside of the character to amplify his or her emotions and condition to the viewer. For the locations of ‘The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam’, I felt like a ‘metonimia’ opportunist, looking at fractured desert boulders and empty landscapes that could amplify Sam’s inner life emotional just by surrounding him. The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam is rich of references. The film's aesthetic reminded us of Jodorowsky's surreal

western El Topo. Was this an influence at all? ‘The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam’ is definitely full of references! I wanted to fill it with cinematic homages and things that I love. Although I cannot say that Jodorowsky’s El Topo was a direct influence, I can say that the cinema of that era definitely was. I made conscious references to the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone, ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’, ‘A Fistful of Dollars’, ‘For a Few Dollars More’. I love the robust moments between his characters and the operatic style of the genre he helped define. I was also greatly inspired by the desert cinematography classic ‘Vanishing Point’, and I made a high angle wide shot as a direct homage. ‘Easy Rider’ continues to be a big influence on me, and I understand that El Topo inspired Hopper and other film auteurs at the time. Kim Jee-Woon’s ‘The

Good, The Bad, The Weird’ also inspired me with how his shots just flow and how style and costume informs character. I had a lot of fun with the styling and costume design, influenced by Steampunk and just a hint of Burning Man, since ‘The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam’ is also my love letter to the subculture of music and dance festivals. And, for anything involving the desert and music, being familiar with Oliver Stone’s ‘The Doors’ goes without saying. Achieving a dreamy tone was my intention, which included playing with colors, textures, light, and even subtle visual effects, to compliment the notion of reality vs. illusion. Your film features accurate cinematography and kinetic, rhythmic editing: each shot is carefully orchestrated to work within the overall structure. How did you develop your visual style?

I have a background in visual arts and in commercial directing, so storyboarding is extremely important to me, not just for telling the story, but also as a way to communicate the specifics of a shot sequence, visual composition, and flow. ‘The Ballad of Snake Oil’ Sam was fully storyboarded even before we cast our actors or found our locations. I used the storyboards to communicate my ideas and give us all a sense of what the film would look like. Also, I am a total color palette nerd, so I had an overall color palette based on Buddhist paintings to work with the beige neutrals of the desert, with different variations for different sets and sections of Sam’s journey. I also incorporated some tricks that I had learned from directing commercials, like having to tell a story in a single shot and using varied camera angles to define a moment. Our cinematographer Nathan


Levine-Heaney and his team did a great job following the actors and staying in the moment, and what Benjamin Verhulst did with a steadicam on a bunch of boulders was just epic. Our editor Billy Peake brought it all together, and I really vibed with Billy’s aesthetic - to stay on a shot right until the emotion ran out - which set a nice pace for a tone piece. And perhaps because ‘The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam’ was inspired by the music of West Indian Girl and was originally conceptualized as a music video, there was probably a rhythm built in to Sam’s journey. Some of the rhythms and accents also came from the seamless, organic visual effects created by Rory Hinnen. Our images, mood, and rhythm were further enhanced by an audio bed made possible through sound design by Patrick O. Bird of Sonicpool, which made our visuals feel immersive and highlighted specific story

beats. Our score composed by Vivek Maddala heightened the emotional and rhythmic flow of the story. I was lucky to surround myself with so many talented individuals! It did feel like an orchestra at times, especially in post. We found the film to be one that works on a very physical level. What do you hope viewers will take away from the film? I hope viewers will feel like they’ve been transported to a different world, or as if they’ve been privy to a whimsical dream. We filmed in remote, off-grid locations that hadn’t been filmed before, so that felt exciting, like I could share an adventure with our audience just by turning the camera on. I also hope viewers will respond viscerally to some of the shots like they’ve just encountered a colorful gem. On an emotional level, I

hope audiences will get to feel what redemption feels like through Sam, the relief when it finally comes. And I like that my female characters have a sensual texture to them, because I can go there in a way that feels good to me, and that my male characters feel sensual too! I guess it’s an intimate thing to explore the experience of trust wanting to feel it, not feeling it, yearning for it - my actors had an instinct to bring an intimacy into that yearning to make it come to life. I hope my audience can feel that. I have to say there was something about the project that attracted the most adventuresome, passionate cast I have ever met. The openness of the desert naturally invited them to fill the big space with their presence, then the harshness of the environment drew them out even more. Just coming out of the

shade and standing in the piercing sun on a set was a strong testament to defiance, before the cameras even rolled. On set I enjoyed seeing how Zane Byrdy attacked the role of Sam, Gabriel Voss skidded right into the role of his compadre Driver Dan, and Gladys Nyoth, Cristina Balmores, and Eva Zeva breathed life into the Muses in a challenging environment. I hope audiences can feel their rugged joy as well. And to pay proper homage to Sergio Leone, there was a pace and a staging that needed to happen. There was a choreography to it with the actors having to travel over that terrain and express non-verbal cues. I had a significant interest in modern dance when I was in school, and I remember the feeling of being in the zone before every performance and just move. Eva Zeva is a trained dancer and performer as well,


so she was able to bring that to her cameo. But dancing in the desert is just what music and festival aficionados do! I hope the audience can get a taste of that abandon even if just for a second, as it was a pivotal part of Sam’s transformation. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? I’m very excited because it seems that audiences are realizing that they are in fact starving for authentic female characters and an authentic female point of view in cinema and movies. Audiences are frustrated now, and there is little tolerance for flat or trivial female characters. And while stereotypical

female characters in movies may have seemed more commonplace a few years ago, today they feel stale, out of touch and out of step with the times. You can see it in empowered audience tweets and reviews unabashedly bashing an outdated mode of storytelling and demanding something better. So it almost feels like a bizarre form of witting or unwitting censorship is about to end, and there will be huge cultural gains as a result. Even A-List actresses like Natalie Portman are starting to speak up and refusing to go forward with a feature project without a female director attached. Directing is a craft. And of course a woman can master it as well as a man. There are some who view directing as a privilege, while others view it as a right. I think it might be a little bit of both since directing is not a solitary craft like painting or writing, it needs resources


Despite the statistics, women directors continue to dedicate themselves to the craft and are poised to make a significant contribution to the industry and to cinema. When film financiers, distributors, and producers truly believe that a female director can be a huge asset to any production, it will be a good indicator that the industry is catching up to audiences, the marketplace, and the data, as well as where we need to go as a society.

much about them unless you are a serious film history buff. Yet the statistics of the last few decades show professional women directors as a minority at single digit percentages, in contrast to audiences which are at least 50% female. In the past, you used to hear how the movie-going audience consisted mainly of boys which industry leaders needed to cater to, but it seems like that is an outdated assumption now. I heard a journalist from IndieWire mention during a Cannes panel that such a way of thinking makes no sense because the data does not support it. And we can see the box office keeps embracing female characters and a female point of view more and more over and over again, so it cannot be interpreted as merely a fluke. It’s a wave.

Ironically there were women directors in the early history of cinema making a significant contribution, helping define genres like noir, but you may not know

The Geena Davis Institute has done an amazing job in researching gender inequality in film roles, and they came to the conclusion that 1) little girls need a

and collaborators in place in order to exist – it takes a village. So even if there have been less opportunities for women in filmmaking in the last few decades, which is what many studies have brought to light, common sense tells us that storytelling has no gender limitations.

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variety of authentic female characters in movies and television in order to broaden their sense of possibilities in terms of what they think they can accomplish in life and who they can become, and 2) the best way to achieve realistic female characters is by having a female director at the helm of the project. This is fantastic news because it identifies both the cultural problem and its solution right away. And, probably because I’ve wanted to save the world ever since I was a little girl, I’m thrilled to be part of the solution! I’m excited to be part of The Director List, a database of professional women directors, which is featured in the Sundance Institute’s Female Filmmakers Initiative Resource Map. I am also a member of the Alliance of Women Directors, which fosters a sense of community among female filmmakers and reminds us that there are many qualified female directors, and that we are not alone! Which is a great thing, because together we will build a better cinema. Which is why I

would like to continue building a strong community of female directors and female filmmakers from around the world. Thanks for your time and thought, Arlene. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Arlene Bogna? We will be sharing some exciting announcements for THE BALLAD OF SNAKE OIL SAM on our facebook page very soon, which you can find via, where we also post our festival screenings. As for me, I am continuing to develop my craft for what my experience and interests support – directing epic hero’s journeys, which requires an understanding of the visual effects process and storyboarding, in the genres of action-adventure, scifi, and thrillers. I will be making my announcements and sharing updates on new releases via twitter @rockstarawesome and on


arnolda noir Exchange (USA, 2015)


independent cinema

Arnolda Noir is a Lithuanian based actress, first time filmmaker. In 2014, Arnolda graduated from New York Conservatory for dramatic arts. From previous university experience, She also has MA in Law. She has been researching Movement and dance for the past three years, especially started to appreciate movement when she couldn't move after four broken bones in summer 2014. She gathered her tribe in New York city in spring 2015 to shoot her first dancerama 'Exchange' which was funded by indiegogo campaign. Director’s Statement "My theory is - we don’t really go that far into other people, even when we think we do. We hardly ever go in and bring them out. We just stand at the jaws of the cave, and strike a match, and ask quickly if anybody’s there."

—Martin Louis Amis I would like to welcome you into my

first short film 'Exchange'. Dance and movement are Big part of my world and it brings life to every one of us. A story is told in stillness and it is told with dance - then you have two different stories visually but not on every other level. I am very thankful for enthusiastic team for my first project that gave all they had in the time we shared and thankful for people who take time to see this short film.

Seamlessly shifting between fantasy and reality, Arnolda Noir's debut film Exchange is an unforgettable symphony of feeling. Featuring intense editing and camera work, Arnolda pushes the dance film genre to personal depths. We are proud to present Arnolda Noir for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Arnolda, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to

express yourself in this medium? Thank You so much CinĂŠWomen Team for such wonderful words about film Exchange. I couldn't have done it without the enthusiastic force of people around me in New York city. The city taught me to value personal relationships. Living and studying in New York was a great schooling for life and gave me some first steps for confidence that was very needed for a beginning artist. As any young and starting artist, I was exploring with many art forms from painting to dancing some of my own improvisations with my friend`s jazz at a downtown music Venue "Nublu" and went to an acting school in Manhattan. The best part of the city

were the people, the creative force and one of the short film 'Exchange' is one of the results of the creative team working together. The visual form attracted me because it combines all of the other art forms, from poetry to music, from energy to lighting. How did the idea for Exchange came to your mind? Does it have something to do with a personal experience? Exchange is all very personal. In 2011, I got my MA in Law in Lithuania and right after that, I went and auditioned for couple of acting schools in New York. I picked New York Conservatory for dramatic arts


because of such amazing teachers they had to offer. So the big move from Lithuania and one profession to a monstrous and amazing New York city had its toll on me. The leading characters in 'Exchange' are a lot of those two parts of me colliding . To add to that,I was watching a great talk at SXSW by Mark Duplass and he was talking a lot about how all of us,l filmmakers, start with personal stories and then get to develop our own way of storytelling style overtime. Exchange features profoundly moving performances. What is your preparation with dancers in terms of rehearsal?

Dance and movement has been a great ‘medicine' for me and I dived into that world the most when i moved to New York. It took us a month of rehearsals and character research to develop the choreography together with the main leading actresses and dancers Kimberly Gair and Veraalba Santa. Your cinema is marked by a stunning mix of realism and surrealism. Who among international artists influenced your work? I am attracted to certain works by Jane Campion, Pina Bausch, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sergei Parajanov, Jean-luc Godard, Wim Wenders and other

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"visual poets". I watched a lot of close people to me in their creative process and watched a lot of films from different genres and different cultures. I`ve been touched by all of them and this short film 'Exchange' is a reflection of moving continents, finding your identity again, growing up to be a Woman. From the first time we watched Exchange, we were impressed by your beautiful positioning of figures within the frame. How did you develop your visual style? I tried to give birth to the images that I had in my head and a great help for me was my friend doing his DP job- Justin Nieto. We worked on the imagery very closely. What do you hope viewers will

take away from the film? Just the observation of The beauty of movement and how much life it gives to us every single day. Exchange was funded by indiegogo campaign. Do you have any advice for filmmakers who have their own stories they’re burning to tell although they lack the funding or infrastructure to do so? Yes. Though did not know much about trying to get your own project funded so I did as best as I could for the first time being. All my friends helped me in anyway they could. I would recommend taking it seriously as an everyday job and prepare for the campaign way in advance, always try to find ways of thinking out of the

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box for your presentation of the project. nd don’t forget to be nice. I got my biggest donation for ‘Exchange’ just by having a conversation with a stranger on a cold March morning in New York. I guess, Your excitement for the project shows in Your eyes.

“Elena” directed by PETRA COSTA are on my top list to watch for this year. I am also participating in 'Directed by Women event' that is going on during the first half of September and encouraging other women filmmakers to do that. (#directedbywomen)

For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema?

Thanks for your time and thought, Arnolda. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Arnolda Noir?

I have great faith in the future cinema created by women. I see more and more examples from my home country Lithuania and everywhere else. “The Summer of Sangaile” directed by Alante Kavaïte and also

Thank you again for wonderful insights on our film ‘Exchange’. This august we were shooting and i just finished acting in this feature called " The Entitlement" directed by my dear friend Javier Antonio Gonzalez. It was filmed in New York state and i am grateful i had an opportunity to work with such talented people.


mariana cobra The Regret (Brazil, 2015)


independent cinema

A particular aspect of The Regret is the unconscious the relationship between the feminin and the masculine and the way women have put herselves in status of acceptation of male concepts with is something we clearly see from ages until nowadays. The photography was made to focus and follow this unconscious. The Regret is based on the book "O Remorso de Baltazar SerapiĂŁo", by Valter Hugo MĂŁe, which raises questions about the feminine, representing the degradation of the woman. The script has three acts that pictures a symbolic scenery concerning the female positioning in the society. The presentation of the feminine inferiority socially preconceived is pushed to the point where the

consent itself faces its degradation, reassuring the position of a male sovereignty. The female submission branded on the character's body, generates multiple meanings, inspiring the art direction to use, as visual and conceptual reference, the work of Artur Bispo do RosĂĄrio, who prints in it signs that "speak" about his own existence. The presentation of the feminine inferiority socially preconceived is pushed to the point where the consent itself faces its degradation, reassuring the position of a male sovereignty. The female submission is branded on the character's body, through her movements, her costume, generating multiple meanings that most women can identify. "

interview On behalf of his love and his jealousy, Baltazar Serapião gradually violates his wife Ermesinda, so no one else is interested in her, thus having her to himself only. Through his unconsciousness we are guided through his deepest feelings which is a result from a misogynistic, religious and unequal society. is a Mariana Cobra's spellbinding meditation on female positioning in the society. The boundless imagination of Mariana leap off the screen in this psychologically penetrating film exploring the unconscious relationship between the feminine and the masculine. The Regret is a surreal and genre-bending work of art, a technically audacious and emotionally gripping dance film.

We are honored to present the talented Mariana Cobra for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Marika, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? I am so happy to be invited for this CinéWomen Edition, thank you so much. I started filming independent bands’ concerts and performances and that’s the beginning of everything. My passion for music slowly migrated to cinema and that’s how I started working in the cinema field as an assistant director to understand and learn more about the whole process of filmmaking. At the same I was working on other director’s films I started to develop my own projects. I felt like telling some stories that have a certain message, that could share thoughts and feelings, that can make you reflect


about something in life, somehow get identified. it’s amazing when you get to touch the deepest feelings of another person, that is why I feel like expressing myself in moving images. I am really inspired by real people, especially women. Reflections on things I’ve lived and felt, it’s all part of my creative process. Cinema for me is not only about telling stories through images, but indeed touching people’s hearts, and indeed that’s what motivates me to go forth in this medium. Cinema it’s my favorite art, and that’s because it touches me so deeply, it takes me out of my reality and brings me another vision of the world, of people, on relationships, behavior and so on. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did

you come up with the idea for The Regret? How did you come across the work of Valter Hugo Mãe? The Regret actually was born thanks to my sister Heloisa Cobra who also works with cinema but as a costume designer. She wanted to create costumes that would tell the story and to be a total reflection of the character’s personal experiences at the time. She read the book “O Remorso de Balthazar Serapião” written by Valter Hugo Mãe, a great Portuguese author and artist, who has received the José Saramago Prize in Literature in 2007 for this novel. She invited me then to join her on the creation of a narrative film to tell the story of this woman called Ermesinda. As a costume designer, she would sew by hand the story and life of this

STILLS Ariela Bueno


woman and as a director, I would bring all the emotional distress suffered and accepted by the character. In a way, we wanted to feature her body as a blank canvas, where clothes and physical actions create art as a social critique. The book is about the power of love, on behalf of his love and his jealousy, Baltazar Serapião gradually violates his wife Ermesinda, so no one else is interested in her, thus having her to himself only. Through his unconsciousness we are guided through his deepest feelings which is a result from a misogynistic, religious and unequal society. The difference is that in the book the main character is Balthazar, and his craziness about women. “The Regret” is about Ermesinda, her submission to

this love and subject of violence: physically and morally. We have appreciated your dynamic, kinetic style of filmmaking. Did the overall structure unfold before the camera, or were you already aware of these various pieces of the puzzle? Glad that you appreciated! I was aware and wanted the film to be very dynamic and crescent in a sense that slowly you would also feel Ermesinda’s pain. We’ve prepared the cinematography for that planning big sequence shots in smooth movements, so you would feel like following her movements and feelings. Heloisa has worked in workshops with a lot of different kinds of women in order to stitch all her names, feelings on


Ermesinda’s costume, so that would carry a lot of energy, love and pain from a lot of us. During the process we got inspired by a lot of women, their stories, our stories, feelings and so on. We have been deeply fascinated by your use of symbols, from the first scenes the viewer enters into a dreamy filmic mystery. How did you develop your filmmaking style? I want to bring all the feelings of the character to the screen, so the audience could be touched or even feel her pain. So myself, Julia and Heloisa (my partners on the script) created actions to be made in between all the dance performance once we wanted to plant messages in

the scene. I really enjoy working as a team so my crew was really involved also in the creative process, I love to put everybody on the same boat to discuss and reflect about all elements of the film. As we started involving them and also other women, friends, we got to think and talk more about these symbols once we wanted to make sure that they were all on the script. The script was divided in 3 acts, in the first one the character is presented, Ermesinda in her purest essence, dancing slowly and very light, discovering her own world. The second act represents her marriage, her spirit getting connect to a strong and violent energy, the presence of Balthazar on life. The third act brings the sinister power of love, when Ermesinda accepts all the



moral and physical violence he has submitted her, the unconscious relationship between the feminine and the masculine. We needed a perfect location to present her unconscious, to develop the film in THE REGRET. Indeed I wanted the scenes to be very dynamic and dramatic at the same time. Researching a great location and having a organic cinematography was something essencial for this project. Every film can be different, I don’t like to be limited or attached to a specific style. The Regret is a mind-bending meditation on female positioning in the society. What do you want people to remember after seeing your movie?

Happy to hear that, it was indeed the idea to be a mind-bending meditation film, I want people to have their own conclusions about the film, but my hope is that people can really take care of themselves, love themselves, and not accepted any situation that can harm someone physically or psychologically. I know so many women that in the name of love accepted a situation or a relationship that put themselves in a place of submission and inferiority. For years women have been in a different place than men, although we have conquered space in the labor market, prejudice and sexism still exists. Violence against women is not something new in human history. It is part of a socio-historical system that has conditioned women to a

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hierarchically lower position on the scale metaphysical perfection, producing a force field of asymmetric relations between men and women in our society. Did you rehearse a lot with the shots you prepared in advance? I met up with the performer and also choreographer Patricia Bergantín in advance and really got admired by her work. We had met a few times to talk about the book and the story and how I wanted her to feel all violence the character had in her body. We rehearsed in front of camera on the shooting day, we prepared the script with parts of the book and actions and symbols I wanted Patrícia to show in the performance.

From the first time we watched The Regret, we thought of Angelica Liddel's theatre. Can you tell us your biggest influences in dance cinema and how they have affected your work? Pina Bausch is indeed a inspiration, the way she connects the body to feelings is amazing. For me her dance cinema shows and inspires a world of possibilities, how a human being can exteriorize thoughts, symbols, to be a moving poem. When I read the book I thought that dance would be an amazing way to express all of Ermesinda’s feelings and pain caused by the love she had for her husband. I started


researching body movements that could help the evolution of the violence she suffers. So the camera decoupage was all connected to her body. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? In the last decades women definitely have had a bigger participation in cinema, but we are still far away from an equal position not only in cinema, but in the arts and indeed leadership positions on society.

started during a stay in Cuba which I will produce next year. Again it’s about women, feelings, traumas and our own place in the world. This time in a fiction narrative, all connected to dreams and the message they carry to ourselves. So excited about this new film hope to share with you very soon. You can follow THE REGRET page on Facebook to see more pictures and soon watch the film:

We should all get together to make our voice stronger and to not be afraid to express our view and sensibility. We have to talk about it. And this question is not only relevant to men. Prejudice against women is not practiced only by them but also by us. There is a set of rules with which we are educated for a long time, where men speak and women listen, men act and women observe, men are active and women passive. By the time we start discussing all this - I think not only men but also women - we will be able to observe and better understand what’s actually happening. Thanks for your time and thought, Mariana. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for Mariana Cobra? Have you a particular film in mind? It’s been 2 years that I have been working on a film called “Lucía and the Swimming Pool”, a script I

LEFT Patrícia Bergantín


caroline jaden stussi Nameless (USA, 2015)


independent cinema

As a first time filmmaker, I had the vision to shoot an independent film-novelty which consisted of one continuous shot. Next was the search of a theme that would best be told in such a format. The continuous inducement without any breaks that defines psychological manipulation seemed like a perfect fit. The visual translation of this theme was elaborated in collaboration with manipulation expert and bestseller author Dr. G. Simon. Intrigued by the experimental nature of this film, private sponsors helped in fundraising a minimal budget of only $700. Manipulation expert and bestseller author Dr. G. Simon identifies 19 manipulation techniques. These are: lying, lying by omission, denial, rationalization, minimization, diversion, evasion, covert intimidation, guilt trip, shaming, seduction, playing the victim role, playing the servant role, vilifying the victim, projecting the blame, feigning innocence, feigning confusion, brandishing anger. Such are often used in persuasion, sales, advertising, media, fraud, police interrogation, mobbing, bullying, relational and sexual abuse. The film uses the analogy of an auditioning actress who gets caught in a net of psychological manipulation by the director. To emphasize the continuous process of psychological manipulation, the camera circles around the actress like a predator to spin her into a net of confusion while the circles get tighter and faster. Since most people are to a certain extent on both sides of manipulation - being manipulated by someone else and manipulating themselves - the camera has the point of view of the manipulator but the film itself creates in the audience the feeling of the manipulated person of

confusion and inner turbulence. As for the involved person, there is no escape while the predatory circles keep spinning and it just won't stop. In the film the involved person realizes what is happening but since all attempts to free herself fail, she ends up using the same manipulation techniques on the manipulator, thereby becoming one herself. Thus the camera stops circling and is now circled itself by the actress. This emphasizes also the converging boundaries between manipulator and the recipient. A Canon 5D was chosen to create an additional continuous flow and coalescence of boundaries by merging the shooting location of a theatre with a cinematic look. This film was made to raise awareness of the existence and appliance of manipulation techniques as the first step of a successful defense strategy. This stems from the belief that by an early recognition of these commonly used manipulation techniques a potential perpetrator can be identified and stopped long before anything happens. Being able to identify and put a name to these manipulation techniques also helps potential victims to address the issue. This is even more important since these acts are often subtle in nature. That makes it hard for a victim to explain what is truly going on and gives the aggressor leeway to twist the situation and make the victim’s statements implausible. Therefore, the ability of a victim to put a name to such subtle manipulative techniques deprives the aggressor of one of its main powers. Some typical areas in which psychological manipulation is used are, among others, sexual/ psychological abuse, domestic violence, brainwashing, bullying, mobbing, emotional blackmailing, enabling, fraud, interro-


gation, lying, media manipulation, mind control, martyrdom, overstepping personal boundaries, persuasion, propaganda, psychopathic thought processes, rhetoric, shaming, smear campaigns, social engineering, social influence, subliminal stimuli, victim blaming, victimology, machiavellianism, and so on. The film has been shown at the World Wizard Film Festival, the Lucerne Film Festival, the 5th Siliguri International Short Film and Documentary Contest, the Novella Showcase, the freedom Film Festival, and was screened at the Playhouse 7 in Pasadena. It has also been implemented into continued professional training classes by the UMCH (union for mediators with a university degree in mediation in Switzerland.) Lastly, it also got a great review and worldwide distribution by the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre.

Caroline Jaden Stussi's directorial debut is an ambitiously constructed, elegantly photographed meditation on psychological manipulation. Realized in collaboration with manipulation expert and bestseller author Dr. G. Simon, Nameless highlights subliminal tactics largely diffused in our society, featuring a radical and disturbing take on narrative. We are pleased to present Caroline Jaden Stussi for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Caroline, how did you come up with the idea Nameless? There were two approaches to Nameless. The first is as a female independent filmmaker. As a woman, I was excited to visualize female vulnerability, which can explain why women sometimes deal differently with external triggers. I believe that women can be more sensitive to subliminal tactics. I was also curious about making a film in one continuous take. In real life there are no cuts. Everything is a continuum. There was also the aspect of experimenting with unconventional means of filmmaking. Working without budget makes you independent of any financiers and allows such. You can be more provocative and explorative since the film isn’t expected to make any money. This film was realized with only $700, which were partly raised on kickstarter. I also wanted to create a contemporary work

embedding European film culture into an American setting. This is due to the fact that I’m born in Switzerland and live now in Los Angeles where the film was shot.The second approach stems from an observer of real life. Psychological manipulation is largely diffused in our society. I saw it even more accentuated in the Entertainment industry, which is still a male dominated field. Therefore, I decided to adapt it as the setting of the film in which a director auditions an actress. Nameless is about abuse of power using intimidation, authority, and bargaining. The bestseller “In sheep’s clothing: understanding and dealing with manipulative people,” on which Nameless is based, was a real eye-opener in understanding the magnitude of the theme. It made me realize that I wanted to create imagery for those words. Therefore, Nameless is not only a drama, but also an educational film. It made me really happy when Nameless got integrated into classes at a college in Europe. It seemed like a perfect marriage to visualize manipulative tactics with a one continuous take since they are characteristic for a gradual consistent process of working somebody’s psyche. You can also read more details about it on the website From the first time we watched Nameless we were deeply impressed by the way you are able to use a single continuous shot throughout the film. Can you comment this peculiar aspect of Nameless? I was ardent to pose the notions of truth and reality of manipulation. I believe that cinéma vérité can bring awareness and understanding that can contribute to positive change. The truth and reality is that subversive tactics don’t ever stop. They’re a continuous. This strikes me as one of the key characteristics of subliminal manipulation. I really wanted to emphasize that in a radical way. It’s almost a constant rewiring of the mind and it entangles you and builds some sort of invisible net around you. That’s what inspired me to circle the victim with the camera. In Nameless there is also the aspect of predatory behavior. The director in the film tries to coerce an auditioning actress to engage sexually with him. In that sense, he is like a hunter who has selected its

pray and circles it, drawing the circles closer and closer without leaving it ever out of sight. To me the continuous circling has also a poetic dimension. You go over the same thing over and over and yet – every time it is on a different level. To me that also creates a dreamlike feel in the sense that it starts to create a micro globe in which one starts to exist – it makes you dizzier and dizzier –but at the same time it’s the visualization of what is really going on. That again is in itself a strategy of psychological manipulation: to work the victim so long until the/her cannot differentiate between what is real and what is imagined and by rewiring he/she cannot differentiate... In Nameless I wanted to push the envelope and cross the boundaries of conventional story telling by working with one continuous shot and by adding the dimension of circling. It seemed a bold way to capture the unconscious emotional reactions of the actress. Everybody said that this would make it unwatchable and unattractive to be seen by an audience, but in reality a victim who doesn’t know how to defend him-/herself is exactly caught in that loop and cannot escape too. I wanted to create the same experience for the audience. Therefore, I was thrilled

when Nameless got distribution by the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC.) I was jazzed that there is an audience, who appreciates innovative films outside the conventional mainstream. This inspired the translation of the film in various languages. How did you develop the ‘script’ and the structure of the film? Nameless started with the fascination for continuous takes and the theme. The script and structure followed. Usually one has a script first. When you have a clean point of view of the protagonist where the camera pretends to be that person and no cuts, it changes the dialogue and the dynamic of a scene. The dialogue was fully rooted in bestseller author Dr. G. Simon’s book by adapting different subversive tactics and constantly pushing for more. For my next project, a feature film, I gravitated back to the traditional way and started with the screenplay, which is being finalized now. The continuous take was also challenging for me as an actress. You have to nail it since the take is so long while trying to direct at the same time. I have been asked whether Nameless is inspired by Béla Tarr’s earlier


films, which also utilize unconventional storytelling methods such as long takes to achieve realism. I feel very honored about that and I cannot wait to watch them. The contribution of manipulation expert and bestseller author Dr. G. Simon has been fundamental: can you talk about how it has impacted your work? Dr. G. Simon really made me understand how perfidious psychological manipulation really is – how it works, the different strategies there are, how they are applied, what goes on with the victim as well as the aggressor. I put all of that into Nameless. He made me also realize how often it happens and that we all do it to some extent. The question that arises here is almost of philosophical nature: when does a behavior become manipulative. The line can indeed be very thin. While in Nameless I approached the theme from the point of realism and truth, I approach such philosophical questions very differently in my next project in a more fun and almost philosophical, poetic, magical way of a fairytale. Dr. Simon paved the way in analyzing and wording this subject in a comprehensive way of which I could build on in creating Nameless. I was captivated by his input that

awareness and understanding of those mechanisms can provide help and change people’s lives. Often people are vaguely aware what is happening with them. By educating about the subject one levels the playground. It is important to provide verbiage of those subtle tactics that are so hard to be clothed into words, to visualize the unsee-able. I was fascinated when he made me aware that the two intentions of manipulators are to win and to look good doing it. They always have a justification for all their doings. That makes it so hard to word what it going on. In my next feature, a dramedy, one of the questions raised is to what extent technology is good or bad. And in a way the conclusion is that it all depends on the intent of the applier. In a way everything is neutral (I hope this does not just stem from me being from Switzerland.) One might say that it is knowledge and intent that defines whether the same action is good or not. Dr. Simon helped me understand the intentions of both sides as well as the level of knowledge. I believe that women can be easier targets since they are more likely trying to understand the psyche of a manipulator and hereby are more likely to accept the latter’s logic and justifications. As an actress, it was fun

portraying that especially because her role consisted almost exclusively of nonverbal reactions. The notion of intent and knowledge being decisive in how something is considered is also familiar to me from my legal background. I am also keen in contributing to female empowerment in that way. Nameless features a brilliant cinematography reminding us of Derek Jarman's cinema. How did you develop your visual style? I had the great pleasure to work with Sasha Krane and to be part of Monte Hellman’s entourage. Both of them have inspired and encouraged me in different ways immensely. The most challenging thing about making this film was to find my own visual voice. Especially since it was my first film. When you are surrounded by great charismatic artists whose work you admire one might have a tendency to follow their style and ideas. Even if it were subconscious. I also learnt about myself that I am more about exploring than producing a product. I have also experienced both of them being very open and supportive of interesting strong female roles. Especially Sasha Krane always encouraged me to write about female issues and power, which bleed

into Nameless. Monte Hellman has a very sensitive way of portraying women. I always feel that they move more freely in his films. Therefore, I would love to have him also on board for my next project for which I just finalized the script. Furthermore, I have been mostly influenced by photography. Maybe because my acting career started as a model and maybe because I see photography as the art of telling a story in only one picture as opposed to 24 frames per second one has in film. Helmut Newton’s empowerment of women always struck me. A friend of mine worked for him. He told me that even though Newton’s images involved psycho-sexual scenarios that one constant through all of those shoots was that the models were always in control. The dynamic was in their favor. I wanted to do the same in Nameless. In the film, the director has only the leverage of his position. In order to make aware of how elaborate and intentional his manipulation strategies are, I decided to use a subjective camera. The camera is in the director’s place. We see what he sees. We are in the voyeur’s shoes but the actress is really in control – she carries the scene and compels the audience with her reactions and inner life - she also ultimately turns the tables on the director –


and the dynamic is really in her favor. For me the cinematic style trickles down from the character. When you have strong protagonists, I feel strong cinematic choices are reflective of that. One of my first films I acted in dealt with the women of the French Revolution. Maybe that initiated my taste for strong female roles. Unfortunately there are usually less female acting parts in films and also less female filmmakers. I truly hope that this will change and more strong female parts and ways of expression arise. Why did you decide to play the lead part in Nameless yourself? I was stimulated by the challenge to express all emotions almost solely silently with reactive expressions. The auditioning actress in Nameless does hardly speak but listens to the wordy dialogue of the off screen director while being on camera all the time. It was also challenging since in fact, the other actor was in a different room and I looked at the camera and not at a real person. I was not sure whether throughout the long take I would not break the forth wall. The character was intriguing to me and I could easily connect to her through my own experiences in auditions. This was also a nice change since I had just finished shooting the web series Wingnutz, a

comedy with a complete different tone and pace, shot only on greenscreen. The only thing the two projects have in common is that they are both indie. I was also curious about how well I would deal with wearing different hats at the same time – acting and directing together. In Nameless the camera work suddenly changes when the actress turns the tables on the director at the end. In the future, I would like to work even more internationally and make use off all the different languages I speak. But that would require that I be represented in several countries. What do you hope viewers will take away from Nameless? I hope that Nameless and all my future films initiate some sort of healing in people and contribute to positive changes. I also wish that my work can pave the way when dealing with current relevant topics and provide help where needed. In Nameless that is how to defend yourself and counter psychological manipulation. I do believe that social deficiencies need to be voiced in some form in order for changes to the positive. To me that also involves the equal employment opportunities in the Entertainment industry for women as cinematographers and

actresses. Only then there will be more stories about women and more female point of views. I had the great opportunity to act in the feature film “Secret Trees of Inspiration” which was based on my life with a female director and producer. The film is about a woman being on a journey to find her inner self, guided by her revenge angel. The approach for the film was very different than anything I had ever worked on before just due to the fact that it was mainly women working in the key positions. I like differences and I do feel that there should be more opportunities to showcase them in positive empowering ways for all. I also hope that my films will become a sort of a store from which you can take out what you need and desire most in that very moment. It would be an honor if Nameless would also inspire people. I remember how certain films inspired me as a child and got me into the industry early on. It would mean a lot to me if I could give some of that back. What's next for Caroline? Have you a particular film in mind? As mentioned above, I am currently finalizing the script for my next project, which is an

independent feature film in the dramedy genre. It is about our use of technology and the different levels of realities that it creates. Even though the film deals with some serious themes and raises some philosophical questions, the setting and tone of that film is more playful than in Nameless. It is a film to entertain and seduce one into a poetic magical world. The next step is to find financing. While Nameless was shot with a minimal budget and was partly self-funded, this will not work for that project. There seems to be already a more international dimension to it than in Nameless. For the script I collaborated with a writer in Switzerland and we are currently negotiating with a potential sponsor in Europe. We also hope that we get some financial help in Dubai where I helped in finding some sponsoring for the feature “Secret Trees of Inspiration,” which was partly shot there. All in all we are open to new creative and unconventional ways of financing. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema?



I agree that there are not as many female filmmakers as male ones. While I was blessed to be around male filmmakers who were very encouraging and supportive of female empowerment in this medium, I do also feel that there is a general excluding tone for women in that industry. Maybe we have not proven ourselves yet enough. We should be able to encourage ourselves among each other and develop some sort of female comradely companionship. While I do think that maybe even legal steps might have to be taken to achieve equal opportunities in this field, I also strongly belief that this should not happen by putting men down in any way. We do need both views - female and male ones. Difference is good. And ultimately it should not be about whether something was created by a man or a woman. It strikes me that the number of men and women graduating film school with focus on directing is apparently about 50/50 and yet, the number of working female directors is so disproportionally low. This leads me to the question whether women are equally considered in the hiring of a directing job. If not, then there might be a gender discrimination. According to the Los Angeles Times, the American Civil Liberties Union

tries to initiate an investigation in that regard. But we do not even have to go behind the camera – there is a similar phenomenon for actresses in front of the camera. Even though the worldwide number of women is about equal to men, a study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University just showed that there are fewer lead roles for women in the topgrossing films. In my opinion this does also apply to the supporting roles. The total number of female roles on a project is generally less than male ones. And in my opinion, most of those parts are not gender specific – meaning: for the story it wouldn’t matter whether this character were male or female. The whole thing makes even less sense considering the fact that women make up the majority of moviegoers - meaning (hyfen) that the majority of the target audience wants to see female topics and characters they can more relate to. The gender of a role breakdown is in my opinion most often not truly integral to the narrative. This also leads me to the question whether also in front of the camera there might be a gender discrimination going on. For further information you can contact me directly at

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