LUCIA VALVERDE AURELIA MENGIN CINTIA KASPARIAN T. GRAMMATIKOU ELZBIETA B. WYSOCKA KARL BLEND REBECCA GOSNELL LUIZA DE ANDRADE ELZBIETA PIEKACS RODEO WHITER RENE CHANDLER
CINEMA DOC THEATRE VIDEO ART DANCE
Building on the success of the fourth edition, CinéWomen 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 womenartconnect.com 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 Rodeo Whiter and Rebecca Gosnell; the visionary and surreal world of Aurélia Mengin, a young and talented French director; René Chandler and her touching study of melancholy; Elzbieta Piekacz’s remarkable use of mythic and religious Sources in her experimental film ; Theodosia Grammatikou’s documentary Non Omnis Moriar and much more. CinéWomen Board
COVER Still from Dad loves you very much, Lucia Valverde
LEFT Still from Embrace, Elzbieta Piekacs
TOP Still from Flutter, Rodeo Whiter and Rebecca Gosnell
wac* VIDEO ART CINEMA THEATRE DANCE
rodeo whiter rebecca gosnell Flutter (UK, 2015)
is a visually rich, and emotionally captivating journey to the darkest corners of human mind. The plot is simple, yet the implications of its charactersâ€™ actions are profound. An ambitiously constructed, elegantly photographed meditation on stalking, is a work of both great beauty and vivid darkness. We are pleased to present Rodeo Whiter and Rebecca Gosnell for this year's CinĂŠWomen Edition. Rodeo and Rebecca, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? Rebecca - For the longest time I was very lost and confused as to what I wanted to do in my life, however from a very early age I knew that I wanted to tell stories. I did this in whatever way I could find with the resources I had at the time, from writing, to painting, to singing, to acting. Although I enjoyed all of these activities I still felt that I couldn't fully express myself and my ideas exactly how I wanted to. And then, when I turned fifteen, I sat down and watched the BAFTAs for the first time, and it truly was a lightening bolt moment. Seeing so many talented people supporting and celebrating each-other's achievements inspired me more than anything up
to that point in my life. I knew at that very moment that I wanted to become a filmmaker. Rodeo - Film has always been very present in my life. I can't actually remember a time when I didn't want to make films - except for when I was a small child and I wanted to go and live in the rainforest with the Orangutans. Filmmaking was always something I did as a hobby throughout my teenage years, and when I came to leave school and decide what I actually wanted to do with my life it was a no-brainer really. I'd already been heavily involved with a couple of production companies in Oxford as well as with NFTS and the BFI, I'd already started working on a freelance basis to earn enough money to fund my own narrative film projects, so why would I ever want do do anything else? I don't suppose I really had an inspiration that caused me to start making films - it's just something I always did and something I will always continue to do. Can you talk about your creative relationship and how it has evolved through your work together? Rebecca - Me and Rodeo initially met on a
film course called the BFI Film Academy, where we spent two weeks at the National Film and Television School and created a professional film with other young filmmakers. Although we were in different groups, I was immediately drawn to her unique, kind personality and her taste in films. I remember one night she sat me down and showed me an animation she was working on, and I was hugely inspired by her ideas, and knew that she was a special person that I wanted to work with. After the Academy ended we drifted apart for about a year, as Rodeo focused on Univeristy, and I was focused on my job at the BBC, but we both knew that at some point we would work together again on a creative project. Over the past summer we finally decided to make our first film together, and also decided to co-direct as we knew from our friendship that we would work well together, and we were correct!
first ever BFI Film Academy, delivered by the National Film and TV School. Long evenings were spent sitting beside the hot chocolate machine discussing our various projects and ideas. Rebecca immediately struck me as someone I could not only be very good friends with, but someone who I could work with, simply because we were on the same page. So although we did drift for a year or so while I went to film school and she worked at the BBC, we would send the odd message and stay in touch every now and again. I think it was when both of us were beginning to feel a little dissatisfied with elements of our lives that we actually started collaborating - Rebecca was getting increasingly fed up with her job, and I had become somewhat disillusioned by my film school over the past year, so joining in our shared dissatisfaction we immediately decided we'd better get cracking on some preproduction.
Rodeo - As Rebecca said, we met at the
We want to take a closer look at the
genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for Flutter? Rebecca - I like exploring the dark side of human nature, and so for my first film I decided to look specifically at stalkers and obsessive love, as it is an issue that affects a wide range of people, and is very prevalent in our society. Rodeo - I've always found the darker side of human nature fascinating, probably because I find elements of it very relatable. I'd had a half-finished screenplay sitting on the back-burner for a while when we first started Flutter, which happened to be about rape. This screenplay told the story of a boy who became obsessively in love with a girl to the point where he would stalk her. However he was also suppressing the urge to rape her - he didn't necessarily want to; he didn't even necessarily know what his thoughts meant, but from an outsider's viewpoint they were incredibly sinister. When Rebecca and I
decided to make a film together, she also had a half-finished screenplay in mind which was about a stalker. So one evening, sitting each in a different cafe in a different city, over skype we mashed our screenplays together and came up with Flutter. Flutter incorporates my use of narration (most of which came from my half-finished screenplay), and Rebecca's characters and locations (all of which were from her half-finished screenplay.) So after we had gutted each of our consecutive scripts and combined them together, all that was left was to fill in the blanks. Flutter is marked by an elegantly structured storytelling: we have been deeply fascinated by your enigmatic approach to narrative. How did you develop the script? Rebecca - Me and Rodeo were throwing around ideas, when we both discovered that we had both written scripts about stalkers in our spare time. After looking at
both of them we realised that we could easily take elements from both stories and create a new narrative, and so after a few days of lifting dialogue and characters from both texts we crafted Flutter together. Rodeo - As Rebecca said; after discovering the parallels in our work really we just took it from there, gutting each of our own screenplays and creating something of a stalker mash-up with the help of "Copy" and "Paste". With little dialogue to use, Kieron and Clare do a terrific job making this short film above all a very human one. Did you rehearse a lot with the shots you prepared in advance? Rebecca - Rodeo rehearsed a few parts separately with the actors, especially the monologue that features throughout the film. However, on the day we improvised many shots, and often added in some extra
ones on a whim. I think that's what makes it so human, the fact that we didn't overly control anything, and let things unfold as naturally as possible. Rodeo - Prior to the shoot, I met with Kieron a few times to rehearse his monologues, giving him a more solid idea of the style we were going for, and really developing a more solid background and bulking out the character. Kieron is great to work with as he specialises in delving deep into the character's psyche, and he always does a lot of work in his own time, getting into the character's mindset, so each time we met, we would both bring something new to the table. So this really helped to bring Charlie to life. In terms of shots, Rebecca and I discussed the kind of intimate style we wanted in advance and both found bits and bobs of reference material. So by the time we came to shoot it, although we only had a rough shot list, we both knew exactly what we were going for and were therefore able to come up
with some pretty effective ideas on the fly. What challenges did you face while making Flutter? Rebecca - None! I know that sounds pretty crazy, but this was the first film that was a joy to make and involved little to no stress, which I think can be all attributed to working with Rodeo and a small, dedicated team. Rodeo - I completely agree with Rebecca! We decided on an impulse to make this film; we actually based our production style and timeline on the structure of the "48hr Film Challenge" - something I was involved in last year. That is to say, we agreed that it would be fun to challenge ourselves to make a film within 2 weeks. So we did roughly a week of preproduction. We typed up lists of locations, props etc. as soon as we had the screenplay locked down, decided to shoot in Oxford with some local actors, I asked
around in the cafes I frequented and a few bookshops and everything went really very smoothly! As we had such a small crew myself, Rebecca, and my business partner, Dan; we were able to work quickly and effectively, shooting over one weekend and editing within a week. Working with these guys in this timeframe was a neareffortless pleasure. Human experience is often the starting point of your artistic research. What draws you to a particular subject? Rebecca - Human nature and psychology feature in all of my stories. I have always found the dark side of the mind to be endlessly fascinating, especially after studying Psychology at A Level. My stories always begin with a damaged character, their thoughts and motivations, and then a narrative forms from this. Rodeo - I simply love exploring the human psyche. I find it completely and utterly
fascinating. Many of my initial ideas begin with trapping a character or two in a small space, mentally, physically, or sometimes both. I find that the average human being can really relate to these kind of things, and that's something that I always find interesting, if not a little disturbing as an audience member as well as a filmmaker. When we watched Flutter, we immediately hought of Yorgos Lanthimos's cnema. Who among international artists and directors influenced your work? Rebecca - We wanted our film to be as unique as possible, and so we refrained from trying to emulate other directors, and created our film in a void separate from all other influences. Rodeo - To be completely honest, most of the time when I'm making films I don't even think about my influences until I've written the script. With other films, I
work with a DOP, finding visual references from other films or images, and I find references for sound design too... however for Flutter, I worked as DOP as well, and as Rebecca and I had discussed our visual style so extensively, and were so much on the same page, we didn't really think about influences at all. Not even with sound design - we both knew what we wanted and didn't really think about anything else. Which is probably deeply self-indulgent, but in my opinion, self-indulgence is a good thing every once in a while. 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? Rebecca - My hope is that one day there won't be "female" directors or "male"
directors, just directors, and the gender of the person behind the ideas will be seen as arbitrary and not important at all. For me, the most important thing about a director is their work, their ideas, and their creativity. As long as you have those things, your circumstances should not hold you back from sharing your stories with the world. Rodeo - Again, I agree with Rebecca. I've never seen myself as a "Female director", just a "Director". I think that's something I have in common with most, if not all other female directors. I'm sure that in the coming years we'll lose that "female" prefix and all directors will simply be "Directors". Thanks for your time and thought, Rodeo and Rebecca. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Rodeo and Rebecca? Have you a particular collaboration in mind ? Rebecca - We have many ideas floating around at the moment, and we hope to give them physical form in due time!
Rodeo - Well since Flutter, Rebecca and I worked together on another film called "Rocket Man", which I directed and she produced. "Rocket Man" will be beginning its festival run pretty soon, and at the moment (for a limited time only) there are a couple of teaser episodes out on youtube. In contrast to "Flutter", "Rocket Man", which is set in space, 50 years in the future, involved a LOT more pre-production, and was probably the most emotionally, physically and mentally draining film I have ever made. But it was completely and utterly worth it. I have no idea how Dan (my business-partner, sound designer, and audio post-production director) put up with living with me, in our tiny edit suite for 14-hourdays for a solid month, but I am really glad he managed it. We probably only coped by sharing the same levels of increasing cabin fever... anyway, aside from that collaboration, we have a few ideas on the go, and once we each tie up a few of our own lose ends we'll be working on another project or 2 with a similar production scale and style to "Flutter". Can't wait!
cynthia kasparian Breath (France, 2015)
One night, returning home, I found myself haunted by dark images of suffocation and solitude. It felt like whatever I did and wherever I went I only kept going round in circles. It made me wonder, am I locked in such a large prison that I have become unaware of? Have I become a captive of my own city, Beirut? Beirut is a city impregnated with war and violence. Although, technically, the civil war has ended in the 90’s, but we can still feel it today. Governed by almost the same political leaders who used to be the warlords; tensions keep expanding through the years. Insecurity and violence have become part of our daily lives. Although struggling to create a more hopeful future in this chaotic set up, doors have repeatedly shut down on us. We became captives of our own. “Breath” is about a man who wakes up to find himself locked up in this prison. Wandering on the edge of a thin line defining reality from illusion, a single breath is enough to push him on either side; submerged by the uncertainty of his own existence and a feeling of suffocation, the young man ends up losing track of reality. One’s perception of life and its events is what makes us different and unique from one another. I have always been interested and fascinated by how we make up our memories and ideas based not on facts but on our emotional memory and interpretation
of them. “Breath” lets us have a look into a young man’s vision of his own reality. His car doors are open, yet he is locked in, with feelings of suffocations. He feels alone and hopeless and he ultimately burns up with despair. Breath reveals a sophisticated and personal reinvention of the dystopic film-filone. There is very much in keeping with Kafka's allegorical approach to literature, where the fantastic and absurd are rendered in clear images. We are pleased to present the talented director Cynthia Kasparian for this year's CinéWomen Edition. How did you get into filmmaking? Indeed I have been greatly inspired by Kafka’s work. I first read “The Trial” a little while before getting into filmmaking. Kafka’s depiction of a sense of alienation from one’s environment and his ability to drag us into his characters’ mind and own perception of reality intrigued me. I have long been interested in how our mind works and influences our perception of the experiences we have. Living same events may result in complete altered interpretations of it by two separate people. It might sometimes be so different that it might get us to question the facts. This is what particularly interests me in what we call the fantastic. But is it really a fantasy? Is it not simply one’s own perception of specific events? Before we even learn what the words mean we learn
to communicate thru sounds and images we generate and receive. What I try to do is to excavate these specific instinctive emotions and transcribe them into my works. Filmmaking gives me the possibility to share thoughts and emotional experiences that I wouldn’t have been able to accurately explain with words. For these reasons I decided to enroll in a filmmaking curriculum. During my student years in Lebanon and then France, I concretely tested my ideas in film, sound and image. With this program I had the opportunity to work and practice every phase of filmmaking, which made me aware of the importance of each step taken to produce a film. At the end of the program, I had to deliver my first short movie. That experience was so fulfilling and rewarding that I was eager to do it again. How did you become involved with Breath ?
Breath was born on a night on my way home when I found myself haunted by dark images of suffocation and solitude. I wrote the script regardless of its production constraints, only responding to that urge to express an oppressing feeling that was haunting me. In Breath, a man wakes up to find himself locked up in his car, yet all car doors are unlocked. It’s about this man’s perception of reality; he is feeling trapped thus being unable to free himself from his confinement. The challenge was to find the adequate film language that best transcribes the main character’s emotional experiment of suffocation with care for realism. For that I first introduce the character’s perception of reality thus embarking the spectator with him before exposing the real facts. Thus the feeling of suffocation the character is experiencing is shared with the spectator. If I had previously warned him that what he is seeing might not be the real facts, the
spectator gets cautious and stops believing in what he is experiencing. The short-film format, in its duration, is the perfect medium to share a precise feeling or emotion experienced in a given time. In Breath my aim was not to tell a story rather than share an emotion. Visually, Breath is a stunning film to watch. The film’s striking use of light depicts emotions and feelings in places where dialogue could not even scratch the surface. We have been deeply impressed by your use of close shots, as well as your low-key cinematography: you have these expressionistic touches which are very powerful. How did you develop your visual style? The visual approach and development varies according to the need of each project although it always starts with experimenting and testing before making
final decisions. Breath’s particular challenge was that it almost all happens in a car and by night which can be very limitative to the visual creation. However, I believe that what might look like a constraint might actually form a great source of inspiration. I have worked with Karim Ghorayeb, the cinematographer, on all my films. I waited for his views and sensibility on the script then talked to him about my intentions: for Breath it was crucial to be able to translate the character’s feeling of suffocation into the imagery which got us to choose the close shots; once we get into the car with the character we never leave it again until the very end. Likewise, the orange key lighting coming from the streetlights enhances that feeling of an oppressive environment. The car was an interesting set as it represents, all at the same time, a private place and a public one. The more time
Breath is the outcome of an intuitive and reflective writing based on the sense of alienation in an oppressive environment. I first wrote down images that struck me, and then I brought them all together to start the craft work of rewriting
passes with the character locked in his car and the more steams covers up the car windows, thus isolating him even more from the outside world. How long was the project? Shortly after writing Breathâ€™s script I met Carole Abboud (the filmâ€™s producer). We talked about art and film and decided to shoot Breath together. We had no trouble boarding some of the crew, since we have already enjoyed working together. With a very restrained budget, we agreed with the team to shoot a collaborative short film. We planned five hours to shoot the day scenes and two nights for all the car night scenes. Being surrounded by a very effective and talented team, we had one of the most constructive and smooth shootings. We then focused on the post production, which was a challenging phase especially regarding the visual
effects. When the script was done, I knew that this part will be a challenge I will have to raise. It is only a matter of ten seconds in a ten minute film but it is these crucial ten seconds. With the great collaboration of Pierre Platel, we were finally able to produce what we were looking for. Can you say something about the collaborative nature of filmmaking? Choosing the team is a very exciting part of filmmaking. Each and every person that joins the adventure adds its own value to the project. Breath was first born on paper to share a personal experience. When it came to bring the script to life, each person that was going to get on board was going to, in very different ways, add their own experience and vision. When I hand the script to a potential team member I like to first know what they think of it and their
understanding of it before talking about my own vision. It is important for me to know if we are on the same vision and if not how their own interpretation can enrich the project. Since we had almost no budget for the project, we agreed with the team on a collaborative short film. We ended up to be more or less ten persons on set and three on postproduction. Except for Karim Ghorayeb (the cinematographer) and Cedric Kayem (the sound engineer and designer),with whom I had already worked on my preceding short films, I didn’t previously know any member of the team. It was a great luck to meet with each and every one of them and a real pleasure to work all together. This is one of the very beautiful and particular features of filmmaking. Indeed, it would be interesting to compare Breath to the cinema of Chris Marker, yet your film reveals a
more intimate approach. Who among international artists influenced your work? David Lynch’s work has been of great inspiration to me. Watching Eraserhead was like jumping into the weirdest and most intense journey. It liberated me and stimulated me to discover a new way of doing cinema; his use of images and sounds as a way of telling a story in itself is impressive. He proved that it was possible to get into a character’s mind in cinema, which was for long thought to be unique to literature. INLAND EMPIRE’s theatrical release coincides with the period I was working on my first short film. Watching how David Lynch disrupts our traditional cinema experience and takes us into a very uncomfortable journey inspired me in my own cinema writing. The way he uses imagery and the sound design to
transcribe his characters’ inner sensibility is spectacular. I couldn’t have done what I was searching for in cinema if I haven’t discovered those specific two films. Also, discovering Camille Claudel’s work was enlightening. Her ability to turn the most rigid material into a living thing full of emotions is remarkable. I was deeply moved by the scenes she chose to immortalize. She captures decisive moments that are life changing; moments where the flow of emotions is too intense to be bearable resulting in a kind of a let go in its carrier. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera for decades, however in the last decade there are signs that something is changing. What is your view on the future of women filmmakers? As you say, for a long time women have been discouraged to get into filmma-
king which leaves us in one hand very aware of and influenced by men’s view on life and experiences and on the other hand very little conscious of women’s sensibility and their point of view. Women’s cinema offers a new way of dealing with life and it disrupts our way of thinking. This is why it might upset and our responsibility as women filmmakers is to perpetuate it. Being Lebanese, I come from a patriarchal country where also cinema production is very modest. Nevertheless, a valuable part of contemporary Lebanese filmmakers are women. We don’t have to wait for the opportunity to stand out, yet we have to create it ourselves. It is in our responsibility as filmmakers to produce creative work in spite of any obstacle that we might come across. Could you take us through your creative process when starting a new project?
The need and desire to share an experience and my vision on a certain matter is always the trigger. A balance between intuitive and reflective work is necessary for every project I initiate. Breath, for instance, is the outcome of an intuitive and reflective writing based on the sense of alienation in an oppressive environment. I first wrote down images that struck me, and then I brought them all together to start the craft work of rewriting. That second phase consists of a peculiar work of assembling, editing and rethinking the film structure. It is very important to maintain that balance in order to create something original and at the same time succeed in communicating it in the best way possible. Thanks for sharing your time, Cynthia, we wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for you?
Have you a particular film in mind? I have just completed the writing of my first feature screenplay, which revolves around cowardice in Lebanese society; Layal, a young Lebanese publisher, witnesses the aggression of a defenseless young woman without intervening. She then starts to realize that cowardice is all around her daily life even thought it is what she reports and fights in her job. We are currently in search for a European co-production before getting into production. I am also co-writing a feature screenplay dealing with repression, whether on a social level or a personal one. Beside the development of the two features, I have a series of short videos in mind which are still crafts for the moment. Thank you for your interest in my work it was a real pleasure discussing it with you
luiza de andrade Hopeless (Brazil, 2015)
Photos by Marcelo Andrade
Based on a poem by Vinicius de Moraes, Hopeless is a kaleidoscope of visions, a genre-bending work of art. Luiza de Andrade memorable makes an earnest attempt to fuse poetry and film, resulting in a work at once raw and deeply visionary. We are proud to present Luiza de Andrade for this year's CinĂŠWomen Edition. Luiza, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium?
we want, which is magnificent. Besides the freedom to create, I can use audiovisual as a tool to communicate with the masses and convey messages that I believe in. I can encourage people to reflect on certain topics and perhaps even effect changes that I think are necessary in the world. As soon as I got a degree in filmmaking I worked on every area till I became a director. I worked as a producer, assistant director, camera operator and film editor. Then I got into directing.
Iâ€™ve always liked to capture my travels on pictures and film. Iâ€™ve had that passion since I was 14. When I was 16 I got involved with a theatre group and decided to get a degree in filmmaking. Creating is the thing I love the most about being a filmmaker. We can create whatever
We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film project: how did you come up with the idea for Hopeless? It all stems from my desire to make a film about dance. I knew the work of dancer Raissa Rossi and had a strong
desire to make a performance film with her. I started thinking about how the film would unfold and what message I was trying to convey. I remembered a poem by Brazilian poet Vinicius de Moraes titled “Os Inconsoláveis”, which I’m very fond of. I decided to make an analogy of the modern man and the illusion of freedom, like the poem does. We have been deeply fascinated by your classic approach to cinematic time and space. How did you develop the structure of the film? Did the overall structure unfold before the camera, or were you already aware of these various pieces of the puzzle?
I split the film in three parts. The intro starts at the water mill. The second part starts with her dancing, which is quite free and loose. That’s the illusion of freedom of the modern man. The third and final part starts when she becomes aware of her prison and tries to break free from the chains, but is unable to. I knew we were going to record different parts and cut them together afterwards, but we figured it all out once the cameras started rolling. That’s when the film began to take shape. Kaue Zilli did an excellent work: his cinematography reminds us of Aronofsky's style. How did he
collaborate on this film? Kaue Zilli is an outstanding filmmaker and I was overjoyed when he agreed to come on board and work on this project with me. He helped me out from the beginning, when I wasn’t even sure what I was trying to address in the film. We searched for many references together till I became inspired by the great Vinicius de Moraes. He paints a beautiful picture with the lighting on the set and makes sure that the spectator becomes captivated by the story. In your film, there is imaginary and minimalist language. How did you
develop your filmmaking style? I believe I’m still building my artistic identity so I haven’t defined my filmmaking style yet. I think every art piece is the artist’s projection. I’ll discover more about myself as time passes and my artistic identity will unveil itself. The film indeed has a minimalist and imaginary language, but I came up with it spontaneously. What was the most challenging on this movie for you? The most challenging thing was the production. The project became a reality thanks to a team that’s
passionate about cinema. We had no money, so it took a lot of work to make it happen. The editing part was challenging too. There was no choreography, so to edit Raissa’s moves and making them fluid from one take to another was quite a challenge. But since we had no deadline, it was an enjoyable challenge. Hopeless is a puzzle with reoccurring motifs slowly pieced together, a series of beautifully filmed allegories. What were some of your a esthetic decisions? Filmmaking is a mix of things that match. The one that favored us the most was the location. It’s an iron factory in the country side of Sao Paulo that was built in 1810, so the
architecture is still intact. What do you want people to remember after seeing Hopeless? The idea is to get people to reflect, to have a more critical and less passive perspective, to look deep into the society that we live in, and think about our roles and the things we accept. We have previously mentioned Aronofsky's cinema, can you tell us who among international artists influenced your work? For “Hopeless”, Aronofsky was definitely one of my biggest inspirations in terms of editing. Another one was Chinese director Zhang Yimou, with his film “House of Flying Daggers”. In this film the
actors fight as if they were dancing and the photography is beautiful! I love films that surprise us with the unexpected. Pedro Almodóvar is a director that always surprises me with his films. Another director that I truly admire is Lars Von Trier. He portrays society in a wicked but realistic way, in my opinion. And Coppola, Polanski, Michel Gondry, among others. 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? As you may notice, unfortunately, in my previous answer I didn’t mention a single woman. I think women are
conquering their space around the world in every profession, filmmaking included. I believe women are going to get more space in the marketplace and gain more recognition, but we have to fight for that. Thanks for your time and thought, Luiza. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for you? I just shot a short film which is currently being edited. The film is about the main character Livia’s journey. We learn about her relationships and how the external pressures of society and her own personal burdens cause each character to react in a different way, according to their personality. The premiere will be next year!
lucía valverde Papá te quiere mucho (Spain, 2015)
Papá te quiere mucho (Dad loves you very much) is a penetrating journey into the darkest corners of the human mind. With beautiful cinematography, and a highly sophisticated use of long takes, Lucía Valverde's debut film is a work of both great beauty and vivid darkness. We are pleased to present Lucía Valverde for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Lucía, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? Thank you for your review on my short film Cinéwomen, it’s an honour to be part of your Cahiers. I grew up watching films, they were my favourite escape from routine, so I absorbed audio-visual language from a very young age. I am both a dreamer and an observer of life. I have always visualised stories in my mind, inspired by what I see, imagine and experience. Pictures, situations, moods, characters and stories constantly appeared in my mind, and I couldn’t find another way to express them than through filmmaking. I remember I wrote my first screenplay at the age of 16, I was impatient to start shooting, even if it didn’t happen so quickly. But I was getting prepared. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for Papá te quiere mucho? The idea overcame me one night. I always keep a notebook near my bed because, don’t ask me why, it’s that moment when I close my eyes to try to fall asleep when I get most inspiration. So I wrote it that night. I
visualised the whole sequence shot in my head. It came to me, I didn’t have to go and find it. At that time I had been living a very complicated emotional relationship that made me understand why abused women don’t denounce their husbands but instead stay with them and forgive them no matter what. The feeling of understanding this terrible contradiction made me need to tell this story. And unfortunately this terrible reality is far too common in Spain, so I needed to denounce it. It’s not only what these women can’t see about their perverse relationships, it is also what the people around can’t or don’t want to see. We need to face and understand the problem in order to fight it. From the first time we watched your film, we have been deeply fascinated by your original and clear story-telling. How did you develop the script and the structure of Papá te quiere mucho? At that time I had been reading a comic book about the idea of ‘travelling out’: the first picture showed a close up of an image which seemed one thing and as the following pictures showed a wider view of it, the context completely changed. What seemed to be the reality at the beginning changed dramatically as the context interfered. I was fascinated by this idea. It permitted me to start in the head of the character and expose the harsh reality from her alienation. I have always loved sequence shots because of the power of real time they express and how much they connect with the audience - living the moment at the same time as the characters. It was an authentic challenge for me to make a unique shot film. But I was determined to
make it in one take, no cuts - it had to be real. It was also amazing to see Macarena Gómez, the main actress, travel through her character’s emotions during the unique shot. She’s an amazing actress! I guess that’s why the short is emotionally powerful, because you never disconnect from her drama. Accurate cinematography and subtly expressive performances make your film a profoundly moving piece. How did you develop your filmmaking style? I had a clear idea of how I wanted the visual mood to identify with each part of the story. It had to match the emotional intensity of the situation and the feelings of the character. At first I wanted a very bright and clear image to bring the audience to a happy family context, which expressed the alienation of the character. Then, when she goes through the long corridor to take the bin out of her home, the image had to be dark and full of shadows because it represents the tunnel of harshness the character goes through when she is facing her terrible reality -
just about to get out of her home and face the exterior world. When she gets to the hall and listens to the conversation between the neighbour and the doorman I wanted to prolong this visual feeling of desolation. The end is a zenith shot of the staircase as an expression of how many people live around us but don’t know about the tragedies we live through. I met up with my DOP - Roberto San Eugenio and we discussed these ideas. He perfectly understood where I was heading and made an amazing job on the photography of the film. He is the kind of DOP you want to have by your side on a shooting! In the arsenal of artistic techniques you use, long takes are fundamental. You have always loved sequence shots: can you introduce our readers to this peculiar element of your cinematographic language? Of course. A sequence shot is a one take shot of a whole scene, meaning that the camera flows in the set and follows the actors and details that are needed to understand and emotionally feel the story.
This way you create a very personal and selective storytelling. There is only one camera shot without interruptions so you cannot change the angle or point of view of the image as in a traditional multishot montage. You therefore have to carefully select what you want to express and how you want to express it. It is a narrative way to give importance to determined things. Finally, as I said in the beginning, it is also an amazing way to create a connection between the audience and the film because what they are watching on the screen is happening in real time - the sense of reality is at it’s highest. If you have seen Birdman by Alejandro González Iñárritu, you’ll know what I mean, it is really impressive! What do you hope viewers will take away from the film? The most important thing, for me, is to make viewers understand the crude and harsh reality abused women live at their homes. Especially how difficult it is for them to accept this terrible condition and to escape the spiral of confused and distorted emotions it creates. Furthermore I also want
to highlight how we never really know what happens behind other people’s doors. We need to be more attentive and helpful towards each other, and avoid making judgements on first appearances. We truly never know what is really going on in a relationship. Abused women need help, and society needs to be more prepared and involved to help them get out of their daily terror. From the first time we watched Der Spalt we thought of Fassbinder's cinema. Who among international artists and directors influenced your work? I grew up influenced by the poetic universe of Julio Medem and Isabel Coixet; I was fascinated by the visual power of their photography and the romanticism in their storytelling. My favourite films were ‘Los amantes del círculo polar’ by Medem, a delicious romantic and poetic adventure, and ‘My life without me’ by Coixet, I believe her most marvellous creation about Life. With the years I have discovered other directors that have an approach to film-
making I identify with at the present. For example I like how Nadine Labaki, shows the little dramas and joys of women´s dayto-day lives. Her film ‘Caramel’ has become a reference. I am also a great follower of Fatih Akin. I was very surprised that after filming his profound social dramas like ‘Head-on’ and ‘The Edge of Heaven’ he directed ‘Soul Kitchen’, one of my favourite comedies. Hirokazu Koreeda touched me deeply with his film ‘Nobody knows’, a delicious yet terrible film about four abandoned children in Japan. His approach to the children’s universe and their drama is both very poetic and terribly crude. I am also a great follower of Jean-Marc Vallée and his powerful visual style and narrative rhythm. His films are pure art. I also admire Latin American directors, like Claudia Llosa, Walter Salles, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Juan José Campanella, Lucrecia Martel and Fernando Meirelles. They have authentic spirits, and show powerful and expressive stories with profound characters and situations. I could go on forever with directors and films that move me and influence my work… but let’s leave it for another time. We want to catch this occasion to ask
you to express your view on the future of women in cinema. 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 am glad you are asking me this question because this year I have organised (with a group of great women) an event celebrating films directed by women in Madrid and Barcelona, Directed by Women Spain. It has been part of the movement Directed by Women, an international celebration of films directed by women. It was an amazing and very successful experience we wish to repeat next year. We believe that women deserve more visibility and opportunities. The number of female filmmakers in the industry is still ridiculously small in comparison with the number of males, and this has to change. It is outrageous that the film industry is still so male oriented. The good thing is that this year a lot of women in the industry have started to protest against this situation, notably in Hollywood, so it is becoming more and more of a public issue. As
a result, more measures against this unfairness are being developed. I was very happy when the European Film Industry adopted a gender equality declaration to promote women’s access to film funding and to their on-screen representation. I am very proud that the Europe I grew in is fighting against this disparity. As a member of EWA I greatly support the work they are doing to encourage greater opportunities for women in the audiovisual industry in Europe. I am also very happy that this year’s major candidates for the Goya awards in Spain are two great female directors: Paula Ortiz with ‘La Novia’ and Isabel Coixet with ‘Nobody wants the night’, two fantastic films everyone should watch. I am proud to say that in my last short film, ‘The Heat Wave’, there were more women in leading positions than men. Not that I have anything against men, absolutely not, but I was happy to be leading a pro-women team. It is not so common unfortunately and I actively want to change that. Thanks for your time and thought, Lucía. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Lucía Valverde? I am now distributing my last short film, The
Heat Wave, a multilingual comedy I shot last year in Luxembourg, produced by Calach Films with the support of the Film Fund of Luxembourg. Its world premiere was at the Montreal World Film Festival this 2015, and we recently got a Special Mention of the Jury at the 20th Zaragoza Film Festival, it’s premiere in Spain. We already have two new selections for next year, so we’re very excited about how it’s starting its film festival career. I have another short film project in development, a coming of age dramedy ‘¿Tú también tienes cosquillas?’ (Do you also feel a tingle?), which I created as a seed for a feature film I am developing with a great friend and screenwriter, Amélie Vrla. The film will centre on women of different generations and origins and their relationship to love and sexuality in the era of online dating and communication. Thank you for your interview, Cinéwomen, it is always pleasure to talk about cinema. I want to congratulate the team for the work you are doing on giving more visibility to women in the filmmaking universe, especially women like me who are starting their careers. It is a great opportunity for us to show what we do, thanks for the exhibition. ¡Hasta siempre!
aurélia mengin Réalisatrice et Directrice du Festival MÊME PASePEUR www.festivalmemepaspeur.com
Subtly expressive performances and ravishing cinematography make Adam Minus Eve an emotionally penetrating journey to the darkest corners of human mind. Aurélia Mengin reinvents expressionist style for her own cinematic vision of a post-apocalyptic world. The story of Adam Minus Eve is simple, yet the implications of its characters’emotions are profound. An ambitiously constructed, elegantly photographed meditation on life and death, Aurélia Mengin's film is a work of both great beauty and vivid darkness. We are pleased to present Aurélia for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Aurélia, how did you come up with the idea for Adam Minus Eve? Can you tell us what attracted you to this particular story? Two years prior to shooting of my film, when I had just finished post-production on my previous film AUTOPSY DES DÉLICES, I fainted in my bathroom. The ambulance came and I was hospitalized. I stayed in the hospital for two days on a stretcher in the emergency room, suffering from memory loss. I underwent scanner tests, MRI, several spinal taps, and the doctors didn’t find anything. I couldn’t walk for a month. During this period, I lay in darkness of my room imagining how I would continue to make films in a wheelchair. A year later when I had fully regained my health, I felt a visceral need to recount this experience in a movie, this
pain, this solitude by mixing my favorite themes: freedom, submission, love, religion .... As I was writing, the history of ADAM MINUS EVE emerged as an allegory of a world of disillusionment where innocence would be violence, where music would be a curse, where faith would be punishment. Adam Minus Eve raises the question of becoming the original love in a postapocalyptic world, oozing lamentation and self-sacrifice. Adam Minus Eve transposes mankind’s first couple, Couple Zero, in a breathless world and observes its evolution. All the more, the man and the woman are not treated as a global and caring entity but as two carnivorous entities sometimes fatal, sometimes intoxicating one for the other. It goes back and forth between the painful and the claustrophobic. The film questions the chains of love ... Is love an oasis in our human abyss or is it merely a spiritual manipulation to ensure the reproduction of the species? Throughout the film Adam wanders alone in a desert of nature that symbolizes his own inner desert, while Eve, unconscious in a wheelchair, explores physical pain in her body. Two sorts of pain are combined: of body and mind. Amid this world in ruins, a priest protects refugees he saved and walks the deserted streets in search of survivors. The man is haunted by divine voices that will lead him to Eve in a violent encounter: Eve, inert and stuck inside the wreckage of a car, is lying next to her wheelchair. The cleric takes her back to his underground
laboratory, making Eve his creature. An unusual and sober love story emerges stealthily in the dark between our enlightened priest and his disjointed and disenchanted doll that is Eve. During this time, Adam is going through a hostile period in search of his beloved. He exhausts himself to the point of insanity on the border of the lava desert, giving his damned soul to Hell watchdog girl. In my film the interiors and landscapes are also characters in their own right. ADAM MINUS EVE is a mystical journey into the bowels of the interior desert that we all have locked inside of is, which is why I have chosen rough sets, essential to fuel the chaos of the characters. I had no ambition through this movie to make a parable on the creation nor on the real world. I wanted to show that the disappointments, the disillusionments are only a step towards elsewhere. An inner experience, a hymn to denial, accepting the loss of a part of oneself to be reborn like a Phoenix. Finally, ADAM MINUS EVE gets closer to an asymmetric rite of passage, one resulting in death, the other
in the resurrection. We have been deeply impressed with your enigmatic approach to narrative and characters. Your film features a brilliant, layered script. Whatâ€™s your writing process like? Before answering this question, I would like to thank you for having sensed the various layers in the screenplay. The writing process is always about the same for all my movies. My starting point is always a simple story. My writing process follows five steps. The first draft of ADAM MINUS EVEâ€™s screenplay focused around the Trinity: Adam, Eve and the priest. The whole story was focusing around this three-way relationship. My writing process is quite a painful one. I never went to film school or leaner how to write screenplays, I am self-taught. So I developed my own method of writing based on rituals. For several days I allow myself to be overwhelmed by the story I want to tell, then once it inhabits me enough, I begin to write. I only write at night. As time goes on, my
characters begin to take possession of me. Sleepless nights follow. I don’t feel that I am writing, I have the feeling that what I write is whispered in my ear by a spirit. My characters become real through a mysterious process. They tell me about their lives and I write down their confessions. The writing becomes automatic or I enter a kind of "trance.” I often say that I feel like a vector or a door through which circulate emotions, memories or spectra that I do not know. Once this first step in writing is completed, I put it aside for several weeks, sometimes even months, without rereading my script, all the while continuing to think about it. In the second phase of writing, I read the screenplay. I have the strange feeling of discovering it for the first time. I dissect my characters, I give them a more pronounced identity, I also describe the sets in more detail. The surreal, fantastic or unusual aspect of the script is strengthened because my mind frees itself of the story to filming would take place on the Island of La Réunion, a French island located near Madagascar in
the Indian Ocean. I rewrite my sequences by soaking myself with its volcanic landscapes and rain forests. My challenge: to combine the post-apocalyptic world in my scenario with the tropical atmosphere of La Réunion without falling into the cliché aspects already shot on the island. At this stage of the work, new characters appeared: the survivors collected by the priest, reinforcing the strangeness and diversity of the film. I had a bulimia of faces, bodies … all different ... I was guided by the desire to integrate into the screenplay a gallery of portraits symbolizing the remains of mankind and its extinction. The third step of writing becomes organic. The words gradually disappear, the film descends from my brain to penetrate my body. I prepare all the preproduction by myself because I need to completely possess each part of the film. I make a scrapbook of pictures, my inspirational bible that is a collection of all the images that inspired my film. For Adam Minus Eve, I gathered least about 500 photos, I look at these pictures regularly to immerse myself in them, then I get
detached. New ideas for direction often appear much more incisive than what I had originally written. I have one rule, which is nothing is forbidden and to never censor myself. Once the locations, the costumes, the casting are all set, the movie ends up having many new sequences but also loses some. The fourth step in the writing process is done during filming and is imbued with the magic of the actors and the film crew. As the shoot progresses, I realize that the film resembles mine but is also different at the same time. When I feel this contradiction I know Iâ€™m not cheating, that my work is sincere and alive. I think that if I shot exactly what I had written without the slightest surprise, without the vertigo of the unexpected, I would not need to make movies. It would be enough to just write them down so that they exist. I film, motivated by the need to discover what my movie will look like at the very end of its cycle of creation. The fifth step of the writing process is done during the sound and image editing. I like working with editors who know how I function. On Adam Minus Eve, I had the great pleasure to work once again with Bruno Gautier,
who had edited Macadam Transferts, my film that was selected at Cannes in 2011. I attend all the editing sessions. I had 16 hours of rushes to condense into 30 minutes. It took four months to edit, during which Bruno and I knocked down, ground my rushes in all directions to find the truth and accuracy of ADAM MINUS EVE. Bruno understands my world, he knows my penchant for enigmatic and deconstructed narrative. Demanding and benevolent, he asks me about the story, driving me into corners guided by his will to not lose the thread of our story. Bruno draws my attention to the viewer and makes me aware of the need to give some benchmarks to the public to help them understand my film more easily. We had eight edits before getting the final version. ADAM MINUS EVE is a film without dialogue that I shot without sound. I often work this way it allows me gain time in the shooting. Nicolas Luquet, my sound engineer and composer, received a completely silent copy of the film with the mission to create the sound and music. Nicolas did the sound of my three previous films (Autopsy des DĂŠlices, Karma Koma,
Macadam Transferts, my director showreel : http://vimeo.com/137589222). He’s perfectly aware of my sonic aspirations and especially of its special place in my movies. In Adam Minus Eve, the sound is part of the cast, it symbolizes the divine, the suffering of the characters, the soul of nature. Despite the lack of dialogue, the sound is ubiquitous and even deliberately dizzying. It counterbalances the silence of the characters to reflect some of their feelings. Nicolas was able to give life to the sound and bring forth a true sonic identity - “tribal romantico", perfectly adapted to the saturated and dreamlike hell in my film. With finesse and intelligence, Nicolas fits in generously with my world that is yet very distant from my own and manages to compose an expressionist sound that takes part in the writing process of the film. Adam Minus Eve is marked by a peculiar sense of time that harkens back to an old tradition of European filmmaking. How did you develop the structure of Adam Minus Eve?
ADAM MINUS EVE is marked by a special sense of time which brings us back to an old tradition of European cinema. How did you develop the Minus Adam Eve structure? By this we mean a style of cinema marked by a certain rigor and a wise use of time-out. Think, for example, to the trilogy Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors or Humanity Bruno Dumont. They are a classic and modern style at a time. I am flattered by your comparison to traditional European cinema, which is all the more funny because many festivals in Europe that select my films point out the novelty and originality of my work. For Europeans and the French, my films are closer to American independent cinema or certain Asian films. I try to develop an aesthetic, a narration, and a sound in my films that get their inspiration from my mixed race origins. The true identity of my films this may be my inclination for difference and freedom. Coming back to the structure, time is an important concept for me. My previous films were marked by urgency, by memory loss. In Adam Minus Eve, I wanted to explore a temporal
approach I had not yet addressed, an alliance of slow time and fragmented time, a time in weightlessness that can translate the boredom of the characters and their imprisonment in a world in slow motion. And I wanted to experiment with a world where the obsession of the frantic race against the clock has disappeared. The relationship with time becomes a personal and subjective relationship unique to each character. Thatâ€™s why the movie starts with this long sequence of the priest waking up. His awakening is deliberately treated in a very slow manner which highlights the suffering of the character, his fatigue, his loneliness, his questions. We have the impression that the slightest gesture requires an uncommon energy. The characters are breathless. To survive, they save their energy. Our challenge in editing was to accept this will of slowness and boredom all the while ensuring that the overall pace of the film would not suffer from it and could be digested by the viewer. Alongside this construction around
immobility, it was necessary for me to create breaks of pace and tension in the narrative by integrating very cut-up sequences motivated by my desire to bring out a panther in a motionless world. Thus, we follow Adam in his frantic quest for survival, following the rhythm of his heartâ€™s palpitations and his stride. He takes us along, with him we suffocate, we stumble, wobbling to madness. Editing ADAM MINUS EVE is based on the coexistence of these two contradictory time spaces. Spleen flirts with panic. A permanent back and forth allowing the viewer time to acclimatize to the atmosphere of the movie, allowing them to slide with the characters in this saturated journey with the strange sensation of a mild vertigo. Your film features innovative editing and haunting cinematography. Can you talk about your creative relationship with Carryl Bertet and how it has evolved through your work together?
I had the honour of obtaining an aid in creation from the city of Saint-Denis, the capital of La Réunion where I went to shoot my film. As soon as I knew I was going to La Réunion to shoot Adam Minus Eve, I started my pre-production work by myself. I thought about the lighting, the saturated hues that I wanted, the type of framing. I wanted to work alternating Steadicam shots to give a dreamy feeling of weightlessness and espousing them with more aggressive and live shots with a handheld camera. I also wanted a lot of macro shots that I wanted to edit in as narration plans and not as insert plans. My idea was to use close-ups of the skin, face and eyes, as landscapes recounting the soul of the characters. Once this preproduction phase was done, I met about a dozen cinematographers for my project. Choosing a chief cameraman for my films is always a delicate stage. I have a very pronounced universe with a taste for very saturated filters. I look for a contrasting and hard light that accentuates all the
traits of the actors, a light with assumed directions. Once the editing is over, I do a huge calibration work. For some sequences, I sometimes radically change some colors and switch to another color calibration. It is always difficult to explain how I work with cinematographers, they often struggle to break away from their visuals. Most of the time, I ask them not to be present during the calibration phase. This request could come as shocking to the cinematographer. When I met Carryl, I explained how I worked and he spontaneously said he would not come to the calibration and that he would create a lighting that would give me the freedom to have a large margin during calibration. Carryl is undeniably a genius when it comes to quick thinking. La Réunion is an 11 hour flight from Paris, airfare is very expensive. The majority of the aid I received was devoted to airfare: I flew in the core of my crew and my lead actor Olivier Pages. So I did not have enough in my budget to rent the lighting. I was lucky
that the Cinema Henri Madoré of the city of Saint-Philippe (a city of in the southern wilderness of La Réunion) lent me concert lighting. I was already scouting in La Réunion when I told Carryl he would have to work with show lights. Carryl was not deterred; on the contrary, he tackled my shooting like a warrior, assuring me that he would create a lighting that would be on par with my imagination. It is essential for me that all the members of my crew share their artistic proposals because my cinema is an area of freedom, expression and sometimes transgression. Despite the constraint, Carryl proposed a very bold light that I liked a lot, I think of three sequences in particular: the sequence of the dining hall where the refugees are preparing to eat their soup, the sequence where the body is washed and massages, and the chapel sequence, which is one of my favourites, when the priest prays his head pressed against a huge cross illuminated by white neon, while on the ground rays of light illuminate a mini
graveyard. My work with Carryl was done quite organically. I showed him my previous films, and by looking at them, he immediately understood the colours that I like to work with: ultra saturated red, green, blue. I loved how Carryl and I discussed our work on the lighting through a sensory and tribal approach and not intellectual. Once the filming ended, I took on nine months of post-production work. Nicolas Bordier was in charge of calibration. Like for the visual editing, I attend all calibration sessions. I absolutely love this last stage of post-production. Nicolas’s relation to color is very remote to mine, because he likes a lot of black and white and soft colors. I remember when he first discovered Adam Minus Eve, he didn’t know what he could bring to the film. As the calibration sessions went on, we got to know each other and we really enjoyed accentuating and deploying the aesthetic personality of my film. Some shots required several days of work, but I must admit that I am proud of the result. I’m
thinking of the final scene where Eve goes back on the deserted road or the the girl in the bathtub full of blood. Nicolas and I reworked every frame of the film in order to magnify the work done on set. A truly fastidious step because each image has multiple caches. I work the colors of my visuals like a painting. Nicolas's passion for photography, his patience combined with his talent, made him the ideal person to sublimate the work Carryl. His work is particularly surprising in exterior sequences. I’m thinking of the street sequences with wrecked cars, the forests and deserts of lava. The natural settings were filmed without lights, so the lighting was created during calibration. Through this work, we witness a real intensity and beauty of macro shots-throughout the film, for example the priest’s blue eyes in many of the sequences. Once calibration and sound mixing were finished, Carryl saw Adam Minus Eve for the first time. He really liked the end result. How did you conceive the characters of
Adam and Eve? Adam and Eve are characters that complement one another and constructed in total opposition of one another. First I worked on the character of Eve. My starting point in the script was Eve in a wheelchair. I built the character around two axes: immobility and metal. So Eve is unconscious for a large portion of the film. Adam was to be the opposite and very athletic. I built his character around movement and nature. Throughout the film Adam continues a frantic race through wide, hostile landscapes guided by his absolute desire to join his beloved. Adam's character is marked by his will, and his fight, a fight against the elements, a fight against his own dementia. Eve is exactly the opposite, her character being specifically characterized by the absence of will and feeling. She suffers everything that happens to her without any reaction or pleasure. This attitude makes Eve a dehumanized and mysterious woman who
makes the priest waver. Adam is also constructed with references to slavery. Slavery was abolished in La Réunion in 1848, and it was essential for me that Adam’s role be interpreted by a black actor, because I find it relevant that the first man ever was black. References to slavery also appear as a watermark in the film with a number of shots on rusty chains. Adam, with his animalistic gestures, his leopard-like fur melts completely in nature. It is part of it, symbolizing a vegetating world. Eve is very wearing very little her oxygen mask, her metal knee cap and her wheelchair are part of her. She belongs to the new world, the world of chaos, a no man's land of sentiment. In ADAM MINUS EVE, Eve is a retrofuturistic woman machine and Adam a postapocalyptic animal man. Olivier Pages and Camille BessiereMithra did an excellent job, how did you come across those two actors and how did you work with them? Olivier and Camille are each very good in their roles and come through the screen. The character of the priest is crucial because the audience identifies with him, he is the narrator of the story. A friend introduced me to actor Olivier Pages, I was looking for someone to play the role of the priest, a man of about fifty, with a clear gaze, charismatic and athletic. In Adam Minus Eve, the priest is depicted as a protective adventurer. As soon as we met, I was seduced by Olivier’s force and elegance. I immediately knew that he was my priest. Working with him was a wonderful experience. His professionalism and availability on set helped us to dig deeper into his character work. Olivier quickly disappeared, allowing the priest to be born. His face was transformed, his gait, his way of breathing, swallowing, the expression in his eyes. A real work of composition. During all the takes, I was constantly talking to Olivier in a slow whisper in order to accompany him in his emotions step by step. In a perfect harmony between high concentration and letting go, Olivier was guided by his character without ever allowing the priest to escape. Olivier played the priest with subtlety, a nuanced portrayal which shook the religious man in several states of being: touching, comforting, caring, sinking into madness. For Camille, things turned out differently. He sent me several photos to
apply for the role of Adam. I found his face very interesting. His mixed race and fine features gives him an almost androgynous beauty. Camille lives in La Reunion. The first time I talked to him was by phone. I told him about the film, the way I work, I felt his interest in the project and desire to participate. So I give him the role of Adam before even having met him in real life in La Reunion. The role of Adam is very physical. We shot the film in the summer, temperatures were high, especially on the volcano where we shot all the lava desert scenes. The first step for Camille was to adapt to his costume and learn to breathe with a gas mask. At the beginning of our work, Camille was showing me an energetic Adam that was too enraged. I have channeled his beautiful energy into a muzzled animal. When Camille managed to tame his energy, the suffering of the character of Adam and his struggle against madness appeared. Camille was very brave, he has very good physical endurance. I took him beyond his limits for his body to let go. Exhausted, his body gave way releasing the animal that lives in him. Camille is the actor who suffered the most physically in Adam Minus Eve. He never complained even if sometimes he didn’t understand in which direction I was taking him. The work of this character was delicate and absorbing, but the result is really full of emotion. Camille managed to embody Adam with rhythm and emotion. For each of the characters in the film, I worked by letting my cameras turn for a very long time without cutting. I can let it keep running for 10 to 15 minutes non-stop, for example like in the scene where the priest wakes up, when Adam is in the lava desert or in the fire, when the girl is in the blood bath. My priority is that my actors do not feel constrained by time or by the technical crew. I allow each actor to share their emotions and gestures at their own pace by directing them with a hypnotic voice. I want to give my actors the opportunity to forget themselves and forget they are being filmed. Did you rehearse a lot with the shots you prepared in advance? Two months before filming I arrived in La Reunion to do the scouting and casting the roles of the refugees and children. During this period I also worked on the sets. I took a lot of pictures on the sets to prepare my
camera angles. I also met with each actor alone, and we made costume fittings and several photos on set. My visual team joined me five days before the shooting, so we didn’t have time to rehearse much. I had to make choices, and we have focused during rehearsals the dining halls where all the refugees gathered to eat the soup and the chapel with a lone priest who prays with his head leaning on the huge cross. These two sequences were shot using Steadicam. We had to rehearse and adjust them because I wanted precise movements that were sometimes difficult to achieve. For the dining hall sequence, we had to stall all the movements of the actors and that of the Steadicam. The rest of the sequences were done without any rehearsals. 8/ From the first time we watched your film, your gorgeous widescreen cinematography reminded us of Bruno Dumont's work. Who among international artists and directors influenced your work? I take much of my inspiration from contemporary art and surrealism. I grew up in the Contemporary Art Place built by my parents in La Reunion 30 years ago. I had a childhood surrounded
by artists which allowed me to develop an innate sense of aesthetics from a very early age. I spent my youth in artist workshops to watch the development of their works; my father is an artist himself. I have always been challenged by the extreme reactions of the public that a painting or a sculpture could cause, how a frozen image could converse with such force with the world. For me, cinema is a logical extension of painting. I film in a fantastic universe the union of opposites and the misuse of symbols, constantly flirting between romance and horror. I rubbed shoulders with artists like, ERRÓ,VLADIMIR VELICKOVIC, ERIK DIETMAN, PETER KLASEN, NILS UDO... artists who enriched my world very early on. I was also influenced by the surrealist and sharp works of my father, VINCENT MENGIN. As a teenager, my father introduced me to An Andalusian Dog and the Golden Age by LUIS BUNUEL and DALI, FRITZ LANG’s cinema, The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse and his inescapable M. I immediately developed a passion for this stylized cinema, cultivating strong and violent images.
Looking back, I realize that provocation and freedom of the surreal and expressionist cinema’s cry of revolt must have responded to the teen angst that I was experiencing at the time ... I am also particularly influenced DAVID LYNCH, LARS VON TRIER, DARREN ARONOFSKY, QUENTIN TARANTINO, WONG KAR-WAI. In France, I especially appreciate LEOS CARAX’s work on his last film, HOLY MOTORS. It had a profound effect on me. I also feel a distant kinship in my work ? sur ? 9 13 with BRUNO DUMONT’s work. I loved his film HORS SATAN. I'm a big fan of the series P'tit QUINQUIN he just directed, a truly inspiring work that’s like an ovni, invigorating and full of freedom. For me, cinema is more than a passion, it is an act of faith, my way of life, of communicating, of loving. I have a visceral need to make films. The cinema offers a world of emotions without any frontiers. I am constantly crossing paths with it, turned inside out, shocked, moved by very different films. The directors I deeply admire all have a unique and authentic world. I respect their sincerity and I applaud their unique vision,
the intense and open way they look at the world. 9/ Your film seems simple, yet it encompasses an entire world. What was the most challenging thing about making Adam Minus Eve? I am happy that the film seems simple to you, because when I make a film I work a lot on each step. But my goal is that at the end when the spectator watches the film, he has the feeling that the film is as simple as a dream. The challenge is that working hours disappear to make way for escapism. Each step of the film demanded a very intense personal investment, but I think the hardest and most stressful part for me was the creation of the set. In my screenplay, I describe a very specific and highly styled scenery. When I found out I was going to shoot my film in La Réunion, my biggest worry was to find the post apocalyptic scenery that I had in mind. When I was scouting locations, I couldn’t find any interiors that resembled what I wanted for my film. My parents have been living on La Réunion island for the past 30 years. They built a contemporary art center, Le Palais 7 Portes (www.palais7portes.com ). My parents were very supportive
In the Photo: AurĂŠlia Mengin
throughout the whole adventure that was my film. My mother was of a great logistical support and my father offered me the immense gift of building the decor for my film. As I said earlier my father is an artist, he has a very vivid imagination. We read my script together and I told him what I wanted for each scenery. Highly reactive, he made
several drawings for each sequence. Then we chose all the materials to build the sets. I wanted a dominance of metal. My father and his two assistants worked for two months to build every set. When I arrived in La RĂŠunion for the preparation of my film, much of the scenery was already built. I remember how I was overcome with
metal that is lit by a white neon in the sequence of the chapel and, at the end of the film, when Adam and Eve clash in the flames, or the giant cage which the violinist plays the violin with a knife in the lava desert. The scene where Eve’s body is being washed, then the blessing of her body on the lighted table were shot in my father’s large workshop. At first the walls were entirely white. He covered all the walls with corrugated metal, he then painted them to give them a rusty appearance. I also have a special affection for the decors of the refectory sequence with the refugees that was shot in a school, specifically in a classroom fully transformed for the film. The whole movie is full of interiors of characters that symbolize the soul of ADAM MINUS EVE, and without the inspired, hard and clever work of my father and his assistants, I would not have been able to shoot Adam Minus Eve on La Réunion island. I would also like to salute the wonderful work that Guillaume Gotterand and Fabien Spinelli did for the creation of the costumes of the Priest, Adam and Eve. Indeed, the costumes reinforce the film’s atmosphere and anchor it in a world of chaos. 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 ?
emotion when my father showed me for the first time the giant aquarium and the cage that fits together inside with a thick chain sliding system. This aquarium was exactly as I had dreamed. It gives the body washing sequence a particular atmosphere and a disturbing intensity. I also think of the giant cross in rusty
Film, just as art, were originally male-dominated turfs. Although women have always been the muses and omnipresent in painting and movies, film is male territory. Now attitudes are changing, but we still have a long way to go. I do not want to be an obscure object of desire but I want to put my wishes on film. Like me, more and more women are defying the rules and imposing their brand of filmmaking by braving hostilities. As heroines of art of film, they kidnap the camera to break free and create their world. They shamelessly reveal their fantasies, their impulses and their fears. Filming to exist! So many men have told stories about women, dissected them, why can’t a woman recount her own story or that of men under a new angle? Are we so dangerous to have been kept away from being behind the camera for so many years? I am not advocating a war between the sexes, as men are muses for me and a mystery from which I draw some of my inspiration. I want to fight for a balance, equal opportunities. I'm not saying that women are better, I’m just saying that the
main focus on a director should be their talent and not gender. I admit, I struggle to understand why in 2015 that is often more difficult for an equally talented woman to make a film that for a man. Fortunately, smart women manage to assert and impose their style with grace. I’m particularly thinking about the outstanding work of directors such as Asia Argento, Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Marina De Van, Sophia Coppola, Jenji Kohan, Marjane Satrapi, Maiwenn, Julie Delpy... Maybe the film world would be a little different with more women in decision making positions. If there were more women producers and distributors, an unexpected type of cinema could emerge, and with it more female directors could express themselves. I’ve been making fantastic films for 8 years. The fantasy film is even more of a testosterone fueled fief than other genres. Rare are the women who venture into it. On some of my shootings I unfortunately had to face unpleasant macho behavior, inappropriate remarks that would never have been said if
I were a man. I think when you're a female director, it is essential to surround yourself with technicians who do not have an archaic vision of women, otherwise tensions are inevitable and all of the director’s decisions are questioned.The credibility of a woman and her ability to lead a film crew is still questioned today. In parallel with my career as a director, 6 years ago I created the Festival MEME PAS PEUR (Not Even Afraid www.festivalmemepaspeur.com ), the International Fantastic Film Festival of La Réunion. MEME PAS PEUR was born from my desire to promote talented films, a desire to open up the fantasy film genre, put forth the unusual and allow coexistence of different genres. Each year, my team and I discover cinematic nuggets, and among these nuggets several are made by women. Even if in our program we are not trying to promote women, I think my feminine sensibility influences the artistic direction of the festival, and every year we find that our programming offers more films made by women than in other festivals. Finally, I would say that men may be in the history of
cinema, women are perhaps its future … Thanks for your time and thought, Aurélia. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for Aurélia Mengin? Have you a particular film in mind? I have two feature films in development with two French production companies. Two very different projects, a rocking, sulfurous remake of Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s Sunrise and a very personal film that I wrote and which is a continuation of the world that I’ve been developing for the past 8 years. These projects are still in their infancy so it would be premature to say more. When I see the warm welcome that foreign countries have reserve for my last film Adam Minus Eve, it awakens in me a strong desire to work with international producers to make films abroad, like in Anglo-Saxon countries and why not - the USA! I'm still in the beginnings of my career and I'd like to experiment with several very different film projects. I will also
be very interested in making a film not written by me or a book adaptation. The short and medium-length film for me is an area of absolute freedom. I also know for sure that I will continue to express myself and to test strong themes through this medium, all the while pursuing with rigor and determination my feature film projects. I would like to thank the CINÉWOMEN team for offering me such a great opportunity to talk about my work. Thank you for your intelligent and pertinent questions that allowed me to dissect my film Adam Minus Eve in depth. It was a real pleasure to answer your questions and I really hope that the readers of CINÉWOMEN will enjoy reading it .
theodosia grammatikou Non Omnis Moriar (Greece, 2015)
Non Omnis Moriar is a vivid document of a landmark event. With her characteristic vérité style, Theodosia Grammatikou examines the lasting social and psychological effects of the European crisis, documenting what is internationaly kmown as the Greek strike. is a subtle, precisely observed tale of courage. We are glad to present Theodosia Grammatikou for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Theodosia, we want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for ? First of all, I’d like to thank you. As it is worldwide known, in 2011 the first signs of the economic crisis in Greece became visible. Athens and other parts of Greece were inundated by protests and strikes, in response to the measures taken by the government which were abolishing labor rights and the conquests of workers throughout the years. There was one strike thought
that caught my attention. It had already lasted for 20 consecutive days and was taking place in the “Steel Industry of Greece”. When I went there I didn’t know what I’d meet, or how many days the strike would last. The idea to make a documentary came up a few months later, when I had already collected enough material and thought that certain aspects of this fight had to be shared with the rest of the society. You see, this was not an ordinary strike. It lasted 9 months. On one side, were the strikers, the workers of the “Steel Industry of Greece” and on the other side were the employer, the strikebreakers, the state itself. So I felt the need to lodge my point of view, through the timeline of the strike and its qualitative characteristics. The collective I belong to, “Lokomotiva”, played a key role in the making of this documentary. What emerges in front of your cameras are not only merely the fears and hopes of a generation: in your documentary you highlight the in-
ternational dimension of the Greek phenomenon. Can you comment this peculiar aspect of Non Omnis Moriar? Filmmaking artists take a stand through their work on the proceedings of the society, based on their experiences, beliefs and wants. People were unprepared to face the crisis caused by capitalism. The belief that strikes are pointless had been systematically cultivated, without any reference on how labor rights had been conquered throughout the years. There was a historical discontinuity in film making. The days inspiring movies of social content, like Labros Liaropoulosâ€™ Letter from Sarleroi (1965), seemed to have passed. However, a slow movement towards social issues seems to be making its appearance again and creators are turning their cameras back to society. What was your research process like?
It took a lot of time for the documentary to be made. First of all, I had to put the material I shot during the strike, in order. After the useful material had been culled, I started researching journalistic sources and collecting audiovisual material in order to cover the events I wasnâ€™t there to shoot myself. When this phase was over, I studied labor movement both in Greece and worldwide, as well as books referring to the various forms of the class struggle. The hardest part was coming up with a way to use this material without being tiresome -since the strike was taking place at four to five places simultaneously, as well as finding a way to go from the specific to the general. We worked hard and patiently upon deciding on the final script. And this is how the final stage started. What do you hope viewers will take away from the film?
A society unable to imagine and assert its future is destined to fail. There is a way to overturn the existing status quo; history has shown it, even this film is trying to show it by featuring the long-lasting struggle of these workers. What it takes is the individual effort of every person. The use of any possible means! The only lost fight, is the fight not given; especially nowadays, when strikes and social fights in general, have lost the meaning they used to have. This documentary is trying to encourage, give optimism and become a source of reflection. We, of course, should not forget that cinema, in turn, reflects and shapes consciences. Do you have any advice for Greek filmmakers who have their own stories they’re burning to tell although they lack the funding or infrastructure to do so?
Making movies is an expensive art. We should not give up, however. We have to go on creating anyway we can. Filmmaking though is a job, not a hobby. Anyone who has been involved in it, knows that, to its largest part, the profit margin is extremely small if any. So it is imperative that we continue fighting for State aid and support of filmmaking. Tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? Moviemaking has always been and still is, one of my greatest loves. I cannot imagine myself out of this job. The visual representation of one’s thoughts is an incomparable feeling. I will use a part of Mayakovski’s poem on cinema, to explain why: “To you, cinema is a spectacle. To me, it’s almost a perception of the
world. It is a carrier of movement. Cinema renews literatures. Cinema is boldness. Cinema is an athlete. Cinema disperses ideas.â€? And this sums up why I was involved with cinema Greece is a land of original and courageous directors. We are deeply fascinated by Yorgos Lanthimos's films, as well as Athina Rachel Tsangari's intense atmospheres. Can you tell us your biggest influences and how they have affected your work? It would be hard for me to mention a single influence, since most cinematographic creations offer you something both in form and in content. I mostly focus, though, on movies and directors dealing with political/social issues. For
example the early Soviet films of Tzigka Vertov or Sergei Aizestain, the Italian neo-realism, the Taviani brothers, the Darden brothers, John Sayles, documentary makers Chainofski and Soiman etc., who feature the problems of society and leave a mark on their audience, help them see things in a different way. What do you think about the contemporary Greek cinema scene, from a filmmaker's point of view? Each cinematographer faces reality from his/her own standpoint, according to the way he/she has chosen to live in society. This is depicted on the film, whenever and however it becomes possible. Greek cinema would probably have more to offer, if the state provided its support. This would allow artists to experiment and create intact films without having to recur to the giants of production, where one usually needs to make many compromises. An important
aspect is that of distribution; how a film will reach the audience. What troubles me is that, a movie, apart from the awards it might get (which are important to a certain extend), needs to reach people. And I do not mean become a commercial success. I mean having a real impact on them, offer them something significant. I believe that contemporary greek cinema has a lot to offer if the state takes a real interest in it. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however inthe last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? I must say it always troubled me that there is such a small number of women movie makers worldwide. And it gives me great pleasure that, during the last years, there is a significant number of women taking this step. I hope things will get
even better in the future, even though, the way things seem to be going internationally, it will not be easy for cinematographers to create movies, despite the advancing of technology in the field. I believe it was the multiple roles of women in society, which kept them away from directing. Being a director means long working hours, often away from home, and no guaranteed income. If this continues to be the case, it will be hard for a woman to start making movies and stick to it for long. Thanks for your time and thought, Theodosia. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career.What's next for Theodosia Grammatikou? Right now Iâ€™m preparing a fiction short film and a feature-length documentary. If everything goes well, I will start shooting the first one in November. It is a comedy based on a true story which recently took place in a provincial area of Greece.
elzbieta piekacz Embrace (UK, 2015)
Embrace is a stylistically innovative and unusual art film. Elzbieta Piekacz offers a disarming and fascinating distillation of her ardent belief in cinema as a total art form, deploying elements of classical aesthetics in the service of cinematic modernism. We are pleased to present Elzbieta Piekacz for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Elzbieta, we have been deeply fascinated by your interior style of fimmaking close to Tarkovsky's notion of editing subservient to the timethrust. Can you introduce our readers to this fundamental idea behind your work? There is a profound link between fine arts and film. I was looking so much forward for 2nd term exercise at London Film School - using a painting as an inspiration for a story. I visited many times The National Gallery and than finalny I found a painting that I connected with. The image which was with me always since London embrace me seven years ago was painted by Leonardo da Vinci and is called Virgin of the rock. From the beginning I knew that I wanted to create a story that’s written on light. I always had passionate desire to be able to tell the story where the light will be one of the main narrations. Light is everything to me. Light is life. It's a beginning and end of everything the inner light of person, light in the room, light of past moment, waiting for the light. There wouldn't be also a life for me without faith. Faith is the motor of everything. I
always look for signs and meanings. I collect proofs of life's magnificence with images, I get concrete evidence of it „written in light”. One of the main inspirations thorough my life as a director was the legendary Andriei Tarkowsky and especially his film “Stalker” and by watching it I was trying to analyze composition and the movement that the camera is making. „Tarkovsky developed a theory of cinema that he called "sculpting in time". By this he meant that the unique characteristic of cinema as a medium was to take our experience of time and alter it.” Embrace uses mythic and religious sources to explore deeply personal themes: can you tell us something about the mythopoietical nature of your film? During the scriptwriting process I develop a story of Marianna who is entering her middle age and lives in a house that feels like a cave. Because of the eye infection she wears a black band over her eyes. She hears voices that remind her of things that happened or could have happened but did not. In the background, intermixed with the sound effects, a voice is heard reciting passages from the New Testament - the written esence for me about love, which start with: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”  Than the story moves to a scene where Marianna is seen lying clothed in a bathtub wandering if she should commit suicide. This was inspired by Sir John
Everett Millais painting Ophelia. I tried to use a lot of symbols. The name Marianna comes from the Semite name Marry. Both characters are linked with children. Marry gave birth to Jesus after the Immaculate Conception, Marianna is distressed when asked if she had any children. The story I was trying to create was very direct about Marianna’s pain, which was depicted with her eyelid twitching. Marianna blindness has also for me a symbolic meaning. Black band on her eyes, which she put it by herself, is not being able to give love to the child, to the man, to mother, to herself.
see pills that she might or might not drink because the memories are cruel judge and the darkness lasted for too long.
Da Vinci’s painting did influence the film’s mood but it was Ophelia that gave it a unique twist. Ophelia’s dead body seems here almost as a part of the nature. But her death is anything but natural. Her eyes were left half opened and her mouth as though craving for a kiss. They seem hungry for love and life and her stretched hands are open for an embrace, trying to cling to life. The eyes of Marianna are blinded with a black band and her mouth is closed, but she is unwillingly surrendering to death too, undecided yet about what to do. Hence, the painting set a strong tone that echoed strongly in this shot. Marianna is laying with her clothes in a bathtub listening the voices of the past while next to her we can
The soundscape of Embrace is in the same manner as the pictures a mix of fragments reminescent of Philippe Grandrieux's cinema. How did you conceive the soundtrack of this film?
Because of the light continuity the first scene that we shoot, was the last scene from the film. I named this scene a resurrection because Marianna is no longer wearing the black band on her eyes. She survived the voices and the hurt, resisted the temptation of committing suicide and goes back into the life again while the song of the birds wake her up carrying her back to the present and into the life and love.
I attended a workshop that was run by The National Gallery „Art through words" and was for people who are blind or having difficulties to see. The paintings were described with words and with touch of the contours. That was probably the moment when I decided that I want a voice over on the film that I’m about to make. I wanted from the very beginning the film to
be accompanied with the music of violoncello. It is an instrument but in my film it will be one more voiceover that’s connected with the character, repeated as a meditation through entire movie together with the additional fourth layer after Marianna’s voice, the voices of the Baby, the Man, the Mother. Embrace is shot on 16mm (AATON camera). In today's cinematic landscape, shooting on film is rare. Can you comment this peculiar aesthetic decision? Shooting on film gave me feeling of kaleidoscopic ability to emulate nature and produce more then we can see. We used AATON camera 16mm colour, 4:3 aspect ratio. With my Director of Photography Vasilka Avramovska together with the gaffer we tried to create natural and soft lighting. For the scenes I wanted to use mostly a 25mm lens. The aperture was set mostly on 1.8. We used also a miniature torch, which DoP directed straight into the actress’s eye in the scene of the eye exam. We had only one day shooting twelve hours. From 5 min in stock I use 2:35 min to create the movie which allowed us to do just one take for each scene. We have been deeply impressed by your use of spatial perspective and graphic
delineation. Can you describe your approach to lighting? I spoke with my DoP and told her that I want to achieve shadows and lights like on Leonardo’s painting. I was also aware about significant number of four - like four characters on the painting. I wanted to achieve similar colours and atmosphere like in the Da Vinci’s painting especially in the details like white egg, white lilies, the colour of the actress's costume. I followed unique understanding of light and colours - using colours to express the story by Vittorio Storaro in his book Writing With Light. „I was asking to myself how I can represent this journey into our unconscious. And… so I thought that maybe the only way is to represent the same structure of our own life with the structure of the light itself. So the journey into our self that Willard is doing is the journey that [one] could do within the colour spectrum starting from the beginning to end into light to represent life. Photography means write with light. So I was trying to write with light, with these elements - the colours - the story itself.”  During editing process I cut the first scene of Marianna eye exam and I add them as a layers to other scene. I like mixing two different worlds together. I like when
things have their history, imperfections, unspokenness, reflections. I was always interested in breaking conventions. I started thinking more about this movie in terms of poetry - as a visual essay. What challenges did you face while making Embrace? I asked to play the role of Marianna person which I saw once in my life and in the end it turned out to be great choice. I was very happy that I trusted my intuition. During the shooting I found the character of Marianna in my actress and it was such a blissful feeling. I follow Robert Bresson method of acting: „BEING instead of SEEMING” . I don’t have to explain my actress anything. She just fill the character with her presents. I was thinking about many places as a location but finally I used my room. I put around things, which could belong to Marianna. I lived with them. I didn’t clean the room to make this more real adding and removing stuff. It looked so real because when my crew came they told me that next time I should have cleaned my room before the shooting. One of the scenes that at the beginning when I saw the rushes shocked me and later I loved it was the scene
when the woman is sitting in her room in the darkness and breaks an egg with a spoon on the table while in the same time she hears a voice of baby crying. As the voice of the baby gets more and more intense she hits harder and harder with the spoon. While she is doing this half of her face is completely dark which at that point was what I wanted even though my DoP warned me that the scene would be very underexposed. Later when I was editing the film one of my colleagues told me that it was a very brave decision to shoot the scene on that light and he said that it reminds him a lot from a scene in Apocalypse Now directed by Francis Ford Coppola.  When I saw the rushes for the first I wanted to punish myself for the risky decisions with the handheld camera and underexposed lighting. But during the editing process and later with the voiceovers and other sound effect and music everything fit perfectly and I was very happy. It was like „love to adopted child". When rushes came I saw different movie then I was rolling in my mind. But then I manage to embrace it anyways and I feel proud and thankful to all member of my crew who helped me to feel this feeling. We have previously mentioned Philippe
Elzbieta Piekacz, SelfPortrait
Grandrieux and Tarkovskij, who among international artits influenced your cinema? There are few directors and films which create me and gave me directions. Besides „Stalker” by Andriei Tarkovsky - Theo Angelopoulos and his movie „Eternity and a Day” . „An epic poet of the cinema, creating allegories of 20thcentury Greek history and politics. He redefined the slow pan, the long take and tracking shots, of which he was a master.”  „Mouchette” by Robert Bresson . I noticed his unique style, in using nonprofessional actors: „No actors. (No directing of actors.) No parts. (No learning of parts). No staging. But the use of working models, taken from life. BEING (models) instead of SEEMING (actors). HUMAN MODELS. No intellectual or cerebral mechanism. Simply a mechanism. If, on the screen, the mechanism disappears and the phrases you have made them say, the gestures you have made them make, have become one with your models, with your film, with you – then a miracle.”  Watching „Ida”  by Pawel Pawlikowski and latter director’s interview gave me a proof that sometimes in film words are unnecessary,
redundant. „With the filming in Ida, I wanted to do something that felt totally necessary and yet totally accidental at the same time - as if God made it that way. In a sense I’m more interested in developing aesthetic criteria than actually directing. Together the two womeninstinctively drawn to each other as parablelike opposites, one an archetype of innocence, the other of cynicism—drive across the Polish steppe. I wanted a feel that is not just timeless, but feels like a meditation” . The scene of suicide in „Ida” remind me Mouchette's suicide. Both of the scenes for me were later inspiration for „Embrace” for scene with Marianna in bath tube. Can you tell us something about your experience at the London Film School? I decided to choose the London Film School because for me it was a synonymous of art and freedom of cinema. A place where you can learn from such unusual artistic personalities like Mike Leigh, whose films inspired me to choose this career path. Where among students from all over the world in London Tower of Babel I can explore all aspects of filmmaking, not only directing but also cinematography, sound recording, editing,
producing - all elements necessary to create personal artistic movies, which I would like to make. 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? Working on script of „Embrace” I was visiting the Scriptwriting Clinic that was run by the LFS script-writing students, Jada Nation compared my script to „Elena” by Petra Costa . „A film about the persistence of memories, the irreversibility of loss, the effects of her sister’s absence on a 7-year-old girl, emotions which Petra refers to as “inconsolable memories. Gradually, the pain and grievance turn to water, they dissolved into memory.”  „Elena” brought me to Agnes Varda’s own signature on style by using „the camera, as a pen” - writing on film. Also to Maya Deren with her objective cinema like psychoanalytic session presenting the intimate, personal visions of the world screen in personal space by which emphasizes the author's dimension of their films. This is the way how I would like to express as an artist and I think is very close to woman nature - get inspiration from my own space, from intuition, my own feelings, work on base on my inside - founding „Stalker’s chamber” into myself. The concept of "Chamber cinema" instead of women deprived of "their own room" as in "Orlando" by Virginia Woolf directed by Sally Potter.  Thanks for your time and thought, Elzbieta. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for you? I wish to finish shooting and start to edit a project about subject of home I have been working for the last six years. A story about the house as a „life character" and people living there and fragility of life and love. „Embrace” - written, directed, edited, produced by Elzbieta Piekacz Cast: Marianna - RR; Man Voice - Mark Martin; Woman Vice - Anne Wittman; Director of Photography - Vasilka Avramovska; Camera
Operator - Sining Wang; Camera Asistant - Seiichiro Itoyama; Gaffer Chloé Deleplace; Assistant Director - Victoria Romero; Composer - Mahlon Berv;Sound Mix: Joe Watts London Film School 2015 FILMOGRAPHY:
 Stalker (1979) Dir. Andrei Tarkovski. Prod company Mosfilm. Main Cast: Alexander Kaidanovsky, Anatoli Solonitsyn, Nikolai Grinko  „Apocalypse Now” (1979) Dir. Francis Coppola. Prod Francis Coppola. Main Cast: Marlon Brando  „Eternity and a Day” (1999) Dir. Theo Angelopoulos. Prod. Theo Angelopoulos. Main Cast: Bruno Ganz  „Mouchette” (1967) Dir. Robert Bresson. Prod. Anatole Dauman. Main Cast: Nadine Nortier  „Ida” (2013) Dir. Pawel Pawlikowski. Prod. Eric Abraham. Main Cast: Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska  „Elena” (2012) Dir. Petra Costa. Prod. Busca Vida Filmes.  "Orlando" (1993) Dir Sally Potter. Prod. Christopher Sheppard. Cast: Tilda Swinton, Billy Zane BIBLIOGRAPHY:
 „Andrei Tarkovsky: The Philosophy Of Cinema” As Artby Bhushan Mahadani  Corinthians 13  „Writing With Light” by Vittorio Storaro   „Jean-Luc Godard and Vivre Sa Vie” Tom Milne „Directing Actors” Robert Bresson  Theo Angelopoulos by Ronald Bergan „the Guardian”  „Pawel Pawlikowski in the interview with Joshua Sperling”  „Petra Costa e Caetano Gotardo fazem cinema intimista” O Estado de S. Paulo
elzbieta b.wysocka karl blend Lunatic (Netherlands, 2015)
With its radical take on narrative and beautiful cinematography, Lunatic is an astonishing, compelling movie experiment. Elzbieta B. Wysocka and Karl Blend freely traverse the lines between fact and fiction, using unconventional and nonlinear structures which immediately reminded us of Alain Robbe-Gillet's cinema. We are pleased to present Elzbieta B. Wysocka and Karl Blend for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Elzbieta and Karl, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? Elżbieta: I always loved writing, drawing, making pictures and listening to music. And I thought that when I grow up I would have to choose one, so I thought – writing. But one lonely holiday, I was watching lots of TV and I found these series of interviews with film directors and actors about filmmaking. It was the first time I was so enchanted by the creative process of making art. How everything joins together, how art is affecting film and how film was affecting life of people
working on it. It was a pure magic to me. I was also watching lots of music videos from early ’90 and from ’70 and ’80, it was before the mass media culture exploded. The way in which an actor, the lyrics, music and picture were affecting each other made me realise the power of this medium. It was like poetry to me – creating new meanings in different configurations, depending what you were focusing on. That’s when I realised that I don’t have to choose, I can unite all my passions in one – film. Karl: As long as I can remember I wanted to be an actor, but I also remember that as a kid I always liked to invent things, create things out of nothing, to be at the start of new ideas. The most important part of it was the ability to create new worlds and that’s not so easy to do as an actor. I could partly satisfy this need by making music, which I studied since early youth as well. But it was only when I came across the set of documentaries on the making of The Lord of the Rings, which showed me how the process of filmmaking really looks like, that I realised that if I ever want to create new realities, I
should do it in film. And just like Elżbieta is saying – for me the film is also the superior art form. It combines all other arts. You can have theatre, painting, music, poetry all together, you can throw in art installations, photography and everything else you can dream of – all arts can find their place in film. That’s the ultimate medium. You are a couple both in art and in private life. Can you talk about your creative relationship and how it has evolved through your work together? Elżbieta: Basically we impress each other a lot, we have real admiration for one another. We are in many ways similar but we also have our differences, and this fascinates us. But what I think is best in us being together as a couple and in art, is that the understanding we have for each other makes us not tighten our muscles and keep the guard to protect our vision. We encourage each other to explore what is hidden and quiet in us; we give strength and pow-
er to our vulnerabilities. This way we can talk with courage about our weaknesses also in art. And how it’s evolving? I think we constantly try to understand each other and ourselves deeper and deeper, to not put on any masks, to stay wild. Karl: Exactly, and I don’t want to be cheesy, but we really complete each other also in art. We both have our own abilities, tastes and perspectives that although sometimes different, still work perfectly together and fill each other in. I feel like together we can do anything. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of Lunatic, can you tell us what attracted you to this particular story? Elżbieta: When I was a teenager I was very often a witness of emotional violence against people in many different environments. I came to realise that psychological and emotional violence can be sometimes worse than physical one. It’s difficult to prove its act, because it doesn’t leave
bruises. It’s difficult to prove to authorities. So I understood that we should talk about it. I was also always very tuned into minorities, maybe because I was an outsider for many years myself. So if it was so difficult for regular people to prove to be a victim of such crime, I know that’d be even worse for a disabled person. But it is happening. We should be aware of that and we should react. That’s why I want to talk about it, I want to show it, I want people to feel it for a moment in the safety of their chair and to know – this is how it looks like, this feels wrong, we shouldn’t let this happen. With its unprecedented narrative twists, Lunatic is a fascinating experiment. How did you develop the structure of the film? Elżbieta: Thank you. Well, in general this experiment was to let us try out what is the minimum of telling a short story. The basis was the Aristotle’s 3 act structure which I
translated to 3 scenes. But I guess the underlying structure of this particular story for me is a chain of violence. Hank provokes himself something he tried to protect Lizzy from. It’s also about life’s irony sometimes when we really don’t want something to happen, we actually make it happen, and even faster. We have been deeply impressed by the lack of artifice of your film, your indifference to decors: you aimed at a minimal shape of production. Can you describe the shooting of Lunatic? Elżbieta: We tried to create the abstract environment, which could signify the real space but also a visual representation of memory, space in mind where you play back events which occurred in your life to make sense out of them. The shooting was a very easy and magical process. We had amazing opportunity to work with brilliant artists who understood what we’re trying to make. Everybody felt
inspired, the energy was sparkling in the air, and we all worked very fast. We started from the rehearsals with actors, and because we were also working without the script, we put big focus on improvisations. Once we achieved what we were looking for, our great DOP, Goof de Koning, helped us block the scenes and shot it. It was a beautiful example of how 1+1 can equal 3, because what he added to the production is priceless. His camera is alive and that’s wonderful. We also owe a lot to our producer Hans van der Hulst for introducing us to a lot of great artists and giving us absolute artistic freedom which allowed us to make it all happen. Karl: Yes, for me it was also a surprisingly smooth shoot. I wasn’t sure if I was able to pull off the role of a disabled person, but due to the nice atmosphere and the fact that everything was shot in one location, I was able to relax and focus on the drama and the story and get myself in the character. I think the environment with its ab-
stract nature really helped me finding the emotions that the character is going through. What was the most challenging thing about making this film? Elżbieta: I think the biggest challenge was relying on actors – mainly Karl and Micah. On Karl to convey in a realistic and compelling way the character of disabled Bobby, and on Micah – to go through such transformation through only one scene – to go from a good guy to a person who completely loses control over himself and can’t distinguish right from wrong anymore. Karl: For me it was definitely getting over the nerves to play a disabled person. And especially this moment of finding yourself in that character, because once we finished the first take, I felt I was in it. When Elżbieta said that it was good, I just went on. I remember though that I didn’t want to look the takes back, because I was
afraid I would try to adjust myself and loose it. It was challenging and required full concentration, but was also fun if you believe it or not. There is some kind of freedom to be found in playing a disabled person. From the first time we watched Lunatic we thought of Yorgos Lanthimos's films, in particular Kinetta and Alps. As you know, Lanthimos is both a theatre director and filmmaker, and this fact reminds us of Karl's remarkable effort to explore the line between cinema and theatre. Karl, can you tell us something about this peculiar aspect of your art practice? Karl: I really like the different paths that both theatre and film have taken and whenever something new comes up, I’m curious how it could work in the other medium. Theatre is obviously special for its realism, seeing actual people on stage in real-time performance, whereas film gives
you a lot more opportunities in for example locations and special effects, not to mention the control you have in post-production, cutting on the frame and adding all these little details. So when I make theatre, I like to play with ‘cinematic’ dialog, if you will, and when I make film, I like to make long takes to get this sense of realism. I couldn’t do without either of these media because I will always be fascinated by their differences. - What is your preparation with actors in terms of rehearsal? Elżbieta: First we talk a lot. I’m usually working out the background of characters myself, trying to provide an explanation for actors why people they play do what they do and behave in a certain way. I’m also trying to get to know the actor better. The story can have many angles and many different approaches so I try to figure out what is the best way to reach the actor with it. Once I feel that we’re on the same
page, we might start rehearsing all together and then it’s just a matter of correcting the details. Karl: I’m just replying as an actor now. The main reason I was able to play a disabled person with such extreme emotions was that Elżbieta was constantly on my side. In between takes, she got me back into the emotions of the guy and what they are doing to him. I was aware of the situation, but that was not enough to get me in tears, take after take. It was by Elżbieta’s descriptions of the story and her way of talking to me that enabled me to do it.
Elzbieta, you are known for your the way you apply nonlinear hypertext techniques into the film structure. Can you comment this original approach to storytelling? Elżbieta: Literary hypertext fiction is a whole new medium to tell stories in. At university I started my private studies on
narratology, I was comparing different techniques and mixing medias. I realised that they can influence each other – literary narrative, film screenplay, literary hyperfiction and film editing. Hypertextuality in writing for film mainly means to me liberating from clinging onto what I wrote and how I wrote it. Artists are immediately falling in love with their work. But then it’s difficult to spot mistakes and weak points and get rid of it. Hypertextual angle helps me gain perspective. After writing first draft most of writers would start polishing. But I treat it as a material which I can fold, mold and cut. By freeing myself from linearity I’m opening myself to other possibilities, sometimes I can find out that in different configuration the elements of the story or the scenes create unexpected meanings, far better than I originally thought. Elzbieta, 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?
eta and Karl. What's next for you? Have you got any plans for other films? Features or shorts?
Elżbieta: I think the situation is still quite difficult. It’s relatively easy for a woman to make an art-house or indie film, but it’s still difficult to get to high positions in mainstream. It’s not like women don’t have this ambition. So far we have only one Oscar won by a woman director, that’s for Kathryn Bigelow, and since 2008 nothing changed. Angelina Jolie did a great job with “Unbroken” lately, but even her status didn’t help her. Sophie F. Coppola is not making lots of films, but when she does, she’s making something extraordinary, but it also seems to be not enough. Women definitely have strong and interesting voices and they sure have something to say with it. I don’t know how the future is going to look like for them, but I definitely hope that soon some female names are going to be as cherished and recognisable as Tarantino, Scorsese or Lynch.
Elżbieta: As a matter of fact we’re just about to finish shooting for our next short ‘From Scratch’. Karl is now fully focused on making big steps in film music composing, so this film I directed myself, nevertheless he played the main role and is going to make music to it, and just like last time we’ll edit it together. This time the story inspired by true events, it’s about a homeless boy encouraged by charity missions to change his life, so he applies for a university. And this is where different perspectives and attitudes collide, and where people reveal their true colours. This story is even smaller than ‘Lunatic’, it has only one scene. But over the course of it we get to explore the circumstances and we look at the situation from couple of different angles. The film will be finished by the end of this year. We hope you’re going to like it.
Thanks for your time and thought, Elzbi-
Karl: As Elżbieta already mentioned I’m very busy establishing myself as a film composer
rené chandler Dacryphilia (USA, 2015)
From the beginning, I had a very strong visual sense of what I thought Dacryphilia could look like and the sense of desperation and despair I would be able to communicate. I decided that the stop motion medium with puppets would fit the script best because puppets have a unique and complicated presence. They have vulnerabilities and mystique which I feel the characters of Dacryphilia share. I chose a stage setting to give the film a play-like feel, linking back to the story's origins as a theatre piece, background, which I felt was evident in the script. While being traditionally trained in various forms of animated film, at this point in time I am drawn to the stop motion medium. Along with the work of my peers, Eastern European stop motion is a strong inspiration in my work. I feel there is a darkness and depth to those films. Dacryphilia in particular shares these elements. I like to animate stories that depict a rite of passage. I was interested in how Dacryphilia shows emotional and mental conditions that can be developed at any time in oneâ€™s life. How those conditions can become addictive and what the consequences are of holding onto something, when it is better to let go. The use of animals added a quirky tone that works with the script on a heightened level. They also add lightness to what is essentially the story of a relationshipâ€™s downfall. Animals have an emotional connection that is elevated yet still registers with people. I
find that when a human gesture or emotion is portrayed in animals it triggers and solidifies an endearing emotion as we can relate yet have the distance of seeing it through another species. Creating Pablo and Adora and watching them come to life was extremely rewarding. Throughout the process, the puppets become their own beings and there is a love and affection the animator / director develops for them. There can be many complications with perfecting the stop motion medium to match the script and entire production. For example, obtaining the correct gestures and emotions through puppets and protecting the fragile deteriorating nature of latex and armature. However I felt that this was the only medium to portray the co-dependency of the characters and the terrible repercussions of that co-dependency. I am glad we went through those challenges. I also had the best of help, support and feedback, and adored the opportunity to collaborate with writer Amanda Miha and producer Shelley Dresden. R.C.
With its unforgettable surreal imagery, Dacryphilia is an overwhelming emotional experience. RenĂŠ Chandler creates a touching, and brilliantly stylized study of melancholy and desperation reminding us of Jan Svank-
majer's early work. We are pleased to present René Chandler for this year's CinéWomen Edition. René, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker and animator. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? What I love about animation is that there are a bunch of varied mediums you can use eg: illustration, stop motion and digital. When I am working with a theme or script the medium comes organically. I read the script Dacryphilia written by Amanda Miha and I instantly visualized it as stop motion. I think the darker or more emotive the theme, the more I lean towards stop motion. I’m inspired by a lot of European stop motion, which has the same darkish content. Once I make the puppet there is a protection and respect that comes along with the character. There is something beautiful about seeing how the puppet plays out the role, like a director watching her actors. We want to take a closer look at the
genesis of your film: how did you become involved with Dacryphilia? I’ve read a lot of Amanda’s scripts. I particularly like her unique ideas and writing style. I find them intriguing, and thought provoking. She writes about people on the fringe, people you’d never expect to come across in real life, and she makes it relatable. I read Dacryphilia and asked if I could animate it. Originally she wrote it for theatre then she adapted it to screen. We teamed up with our producer Shelley Dresden and began working together. I’m based in New York so we would organize Skype meetings from New York to Australia to discuss the film. Dacryphilia is psychologically penetrating work. Its plot seems simple, but it encompasses an entire world. In the Director's statement you say "Animals have an emotional connection that is elevated yet still registers with people". Can you introduce our readers to this
fundamental aspect of your film? I think we can particularly see this today with cat and dog social media. I feel the public love to see an animal with the same problems we go through. We immediately empathize with it. It some how validates our own emotions yet it is also comical and adds a lightness to our situations. I thought that using animals would nicely juxtapose the moody nature of Dacryphilia’s storyline. A dog and cat makes an interesting relationship. We know that they can live together but they often have to work things out because they are traditionally enemies. Yes, I do like to make pieces that deal with people’s conditions. Your imagery is marked by a stunning mix of realism and surrealism. How did you develop your filmmaking style? During college I admired the films of Caroline Leaf and European stop motion. I am currently inspired by new
installations and conceptual projects driven by technology, live action independent film, documentaries, watercolor painting, and local Brooklyn artists working within the stop motion medium. Animals are a big visual inspiration as well. I would much prefer to work with an animal puppet with the stop motion medium then a human one, due to their innocence and beauty. When I make things, they tend to come up beautiful yet somewhat creepy. Amanda and I have a particular knack for this. We can’t seem to move away from this so we have just embraced it. Eastern European stop motion has deeply influenced your work: When we watched Dacryphilia we immediately thought of Jan Svankmajer's cinema. Who are your favorite directors? Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? That is such a nice compliment. I am not the best at choosing favorites. I like so
much. One stop motion recommended to me – which I saw recently - was Alison Shulink’s Eagar. It’s a good example, which demonstrates that art is endless - there is so much you can do and express with it. But to be honest what really inspires me on a day-to-day level is people, the human condition and finding new ways to express that. Can you talk about your creative relationship with Amanda Miha and Shelley Dresden and how it has evolved through your work together? Amanda and I continue to work on projects together. I think we have a unique style that’s dark and honest and we are very supportive of each other’s art. I met Shelley while studying Animation for Film and Television at The Victorian Collage of the Arts. Shelley was studying producing at the time and the film and television department was big on collaboration. A lot of students that
went there have stayed within the network as they are such talented and inspiring, productive artists. Amanda and I teamed up with her and we would love to continue working with her. The three of us had such a nice time working on the film together. Everyone is very positive, personable and motivated. Stop motion is a long and technically audacious process. What was the most challenging thing about making this film? I guess doubt is always the biggest challenge for me. Problems and technical issues can always be solved. Doubt always makes me so fearful. I don’t want to put anything out in the world that isn’t meaningful or touches someone. I am trying to be more selfexposing with my art. What do you hope viewers will take away from the film?
I hope that in some way they can be inspired by it or relate to it. We all have personal and eccentric idiosyncrasies. 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 hope the industry keeps on developing to a point where it is neither an issue, nor anyone’s business what sex you are. That you are looked at on solely your talent, execution and drive. Thanks for your time and thought, René. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for René Chandler? Thank you! I am currently working on a piece called The Present Habitat with my Interactive Media partner Sam
Keene. The piece is based around the theme of isolation. Again, it is stop motion. The character is a bear type figure in a sparse arctic setting. The bear paces in a transparent house of colorful stain glass before breaking free. I am taking footage of live action dancers and using it as source material for the bear. I visualize the icy landscape with it’s cold stark coloring making a nice contrast to the brightness and warmth of the stain glass panes. My partner will then take the piece and add an interactive element to it before displaying it. I am also working on a new e-book with Amanda titled Butterfly Hands based on her short screenplay Knuckles, which just made the quarterfinals at the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. Butterfly Hands is a children’s picture book about a young girl trying to find her voice in the schoolyard. There is illustrated animation throughout the eBook.