TANJA BALAC DEBBIE P. KELLEY LORENA LOURENCO RACHEL ANSON MEGAN MANNING FANY DE LA CHICA LARA PLACIDO HANNALEENA HAURU SABINA VAJRACA
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CINEMA DOC THEATRE VIDEO
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 2015'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 2183 Days by the talented Natasha Debetak; the visionary dance cinema of Zornista Stoyanova ; SADIE, an immersive film and hypnotic film by Latonia Hartery, and much more.
>16 COVER Tanja Balac
TOP Still from Morningside by Debbie P. Kelley
LEFT Still from Birth of a Nation by Tanja Balac
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sabina vajraca Bela Lugosi’s Dead (USA, 2015) e
ITH ITS MIRACULOUS MISE-EN-SCÈNE AND HYPNOTIC ARTICULATION OF SOUND, IMAGE, AND PERFORMANCE, BELA LUGOSI'S DEAD IS A WORK OF RARE BEAUTY. SABINA VAJRACA PUSHES THE SURREAL GENRE TO PERSONAL DEPTHS AND VIRTUOSIC AESTHETIC HEIGHTS, MAKING AN EARNEST ATTEMPT TO FUSE POETRY AND FILM. A WORK OF INSTENSE VISUAL EMOTIONS, BELA LUGOSI'S DEADIS MADE UP OF RESONANT IMAGES THAT STAY IN THE MIND LONG AFTER THE FILM HAS RUN ITS COURSE. WE ARE HONORED TO PRESENT SABINA VAJRACA FOR THIS YEAR'S CINÉWOMEN EDITION. SABINA, TELL US ABOUT YOUR TRAJECTORY AS A FILMMAKER AND CHOREOGRAPHER. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO EXPRESS YOURSELF IN THIS MEDIUM?
Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity, and for the compliments. I am honored to be part of this CineWomen Edition, and thrilled to showcase Bela to your readers. My path to this point in my artistic expression has lead through many different avenues. First it was poetry and short stories, which I started writing in middle school. Then as a teen I stumbled across theatre, fell madly in love, and dedicated the following 10 years of my life to it. My university training was in a more traditional, classical theatre, so it wasn’t until I finished college and joined a New York City-based theatre company led by a former dancer that I was introduced to the concept of fusing theatre
and dance. I loved everything about it. The beauty of movement grounded in words, and the ability to tell complex stories through simple gestures, made my imagination soar. I found it a perfect vehicle to explore so many of my ideas, from interconnectedness of beauty and violence, to the concept of hauntings, both as ghosts and as characters “haunted by their past”, all of which remain my main themes to this day. Switching from theatre to film came suddenly, with the success of my first film Back to Bosnia, but once I found it, I knew I was “home”. Not only does film allow me to push my visual language to the edge, it also has an element of permanence, something I realized was important to me as an artist. I feel that we as artists have a duty to the society to inspire, enrich, encourage, question, and push our fellow humans to think beyond their usual comfort zones, and having a medium that can capture that not just for today’s audience, but for many future generations to come, is wonderful. It also makes me much more thoughtful about what it is I want to say, knowing there is no way of taking it back. Your directorial debut Back to Bosnia (2005) has gained enormous amounts of popularity in the festival scene over the past few years. What was it like
making a documentary that is so personal? It was probably the hardest thing Iâ€™ve done as an artist. While we were shooting it I kept trying to be super professional, while at the same time handling many emotions flooding my system, as well as taking care of my parents, who were going through their own emotional rollercoasters, and my crew, who were mostly Americans and unfamiliar with such deep chasm of pain. It took us 2 years to make it, from the first shot to the final edit, and in that time all the walls I had built around myself, in order to survive the war and its aftermath, came crashing down. It was cathartic to say the least, and it led me into a deep, soul-searching inquiry about identity and suffering - an ongoing investigation in all my works since then. My favorite thing about it, however, is that it inspired many of my fellow Bosnians to face up to their individual traumas, and start telling their own stories, which, as we know, is the first
step to recovery. Ultimately I believe that is what art is for - to inspire a shift, a change, be it emotional or intellectual, that can lead to a more peaceful, grounded existence. And I am very proud my littlefilm-that-could accomplished that. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your dance film Bela Lugosi's Dead: how did you come up with the idea for this project? The first time I heard the song I was sitting on a crowded NYC subway, listening to my iPod, trying to ignore the slow, stressful commute home. As the song came on, I was immediately flooded by images of women weeping in the woods. I could see only snippets, like when you try to recall a dream upon waking, catching only a glimpse of it here and there. I had no idea where they came from - I donâ€™t usually get such vivid impressions when listening to music - but next time the song came up, some months later, same
images emerged again. I was intrigued, but I dismissed it. I’ve never made a music video, and didn’t even know where to begin. I told myself someone else should do it, and probably did already. It wasn’t until almost a year later, and many more images-filled encounters with the song, that I finally succumbed. I knew Bela Lugosi was the original Dracula, but, once I started researching him, I discovered that he was also a well-known heartthrob of his generation, with hundreds of women grieving when he died. I thought that was fascinating, and almost Draculalike in itself. So I fused the two ideas to imagine all these Bela / Dracula’s wanna-bebrides left to wonder aimlessly when he died, grieving uncontrollably, confused, lost, with only each other for comfort. I didn’t want to make them vampires per se, but I did want them to have that same eerie quality that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up when they look at you, and yet unable to look away, mesmerized
by their creepy beauty. I felt Bela would have appreciated that. In Bela Lugosi's Dead you create a genuinely affecting mood through precise rhytms and visionary imagery. We have been deeply impressed by the way you chart the interstices between imagination and perception, dream and reality. How did you develop the structure of Bela Lugosi's Dead? Did the film unfold before the camera, or were you already aware of these various pieces of the puzzle? I’d say both - we had elements in place, but a lot of it unfolded in front of the camera too. We showed up on the day of the shoot with a list of images we were aiming to get, but I also left it a bit loose, allowing the moment to inspire how we would actually capture it. I wanted to really push the whole idea of devised cinema to the max - allowing true collaboration and flow of imagination to be present throughout.
The structure of the piece, however, didnâ€™t fully form until editing. I walked away from the shoot with all these images, the puzzle pieces as you put it, not really having any idea of what comes where. For that I turned back to my initial inspiration - the song itself - and let it guide me. Surprisingly, it didnâ€™t take me very long to finish it. Even with so many images to choose from, and so many variations I could put them in, somehow I knew which was the best order the moment I saw it. It was as if the images themselves told me what goes where, guiding my hand. It was both an odd and a deeply reassuring experience. The performers in your film did an excellent job, how did you collaborate with them? Can you tell us something about the shooting of your film? I love these ladies! All of them were actresses I met and worked with before, during my theatre career. We trained in the same movement theatre/dance techniques
- Viewpoints, Contact Improv, Grotowski and had a number of devised theatre pieces we collaborated on under our belt. Once I decided I was going thru with this idea, I knew I had to have them by my side. This was a new venture for me - not only was I creating devised cinema, if you will, but I was also attempting to capture theatre movement and dance on film, neither of which I was sure would work, and I needed all the help I could get. We had a week of rehearsals, in which we created images and movements corresponding to the main themes of the piece - grief, hauntings, loss. Some of the images came from my imagination, prompted by the song, but a lot of them were pulled from paintings, sculptures, photographs, that each of us brought to the table. Weâ€™d start a rehearsal with all the print-outs we brought in spread across the floor, assessing, seeking. Each of us was allowed to take any of the images and run with it, presenting her interpretation of it by the end of the
rehearsal. Some of the movements each of us created we shared across the group, some we kept for the individuals who envisioned them. The shoot itself was quite something. We shot it all in one day in January, which happened to be the coldest day that winter, with 19F / -7C temperatures, overcast and windy. We met at 6am, right before sunrise, bundled up in our winter coats. The performers got into their make-up as Adam Lukens (my cinematographer) and I scouted specific locations for each individual image. The moment I asked the performers to strip down to the gauzy chiffon dresses so we can start shooting was probably the cruelest of my career. We had to shoot everything so fast because the performers would start shaking and crying from the cold, especially if they were not moving. The trick we came up with was whiskey - they’s take a shot to warm up whenever it became unbearable. Thank god for Jameson! I am still shocked no one walked out on me. And even more so that all they still want to work with me!
Bela Lugosi's Dead is a puzzle with reoccurring motifs slowly pieced together, a series of beautifully filmed allegories.. Throughout the film the viewer is asked to follow the logic of sensation. How did you develop your filmmaking style? Bela is the closest I’ve gotten to my personal visual style out of all the films I’ve made, mostly because of the organic nature with which I approached it. To start with there was no story, just images, that in turn inspired the story themselves. I shot most of the rehearsals on my iPhone, trying different camera angles and seeing what feels the best, which I then shared with Adam Lukens in lieu of a shot list. I truly was inspired by the performers as much as I was by the song, and let my imagination lead the way. I find this way of working suits me the best. The more traditional films I make require a more rigid shot list, but I still prefer to let the moments themselves inspire me. This shooting on the fly (if you will) worries a lot of my producers, understandably so, but I find my best work lies right there, in between
structure and chaos, rigidity and looseness. I always know what I want, but I also allow myself to be inspired (and change my mind) by everything I encounter on the set the day of the shoot. The location, actors, lights, camera, even random remarks from the crew, can lead to the “eureka!” moment that makes the film best it can be, and I remain open to it throughout. From the first time we watched your film we were fascinated by your crisp black-and-white cinematography reminescent of Pier Paolo Pasolini's eraly films. What were some of your aesthetic decisions? The decision to go black-and-white, as well as the font I used for titles, was prompted by the silent movies Bela himself would have been a star of. I wanted to recreate the world he would have known, but without going totally into “period”. The women in the video are openly fierce and powerful, even in their profound grief, and
they help one another instead of seeking male heroes, which is a much more modern concept of a damsel-in-distress. The dresses they wore were designed by my friend and an amazing costume designer Amela Baksic, for a theatre piece we did a few years before. I loved them, so I kept them after that show ended, knowing I would find a way to use them again. I thought they were perfect for this piece, their softness juxtaposing the hardness of the barren trees and the jerky movements we came up with for the dance. The make-up was done by my good friend Julia Granacki, who was also one of the performers. We were discussing animal nature of these women in one of the rehearsals - living in the woods, feeding on what they can find - and she came up with this dirty mouth, covered in caked blood which they never cleaned off. I thought it was perfectly disturbing and very much in line with the eerie feeling of the piece. And finally - the trees. I find them to be great
symbols of strength and resilience, and often find myself seeking their company, especially when my life feels ungrounded and chaotic (which, one would argue, is the norm in the life of an artist!). In particular, I’ve always been fascinated with the barren, winter trees - they are simply breathtaking, almost lace-like - and have always wanted to incorporate them into my work. They also perfectly led themselves as a setting for the bird-andbat-like creatures we were after, inspired by the Harpies. From a visual point of view, Bela Lugosi's Dead is a highly layered work. What was the most challenging on this movie for you? Out of all my works so far, this was definitely the easiest to make, which is even more amusing, knowing how long it took me to finally get to it, scared as I was of its complexity. So I’d say the biggest challenge for me here was the fear itself.
I find this to be true in general, too. Fear is what usually stops us from so many possibilities, artistic and personal. We are afraid of failure, of rejection, of being ostracized from the “good / talented / cool / (fill in your own attribute)” club. A lot of the time we’re afraid of success too, and the changes it might bring with it. All of that fear blocks us, stops us in our tracks, holds us hostage in the place we might have long outgrown. For me, on this project, it was a fear of not being good enough to pull it off. All my training and innate talent could not convince me I was capable. It wasn’t until I decided I was willing to fail, to mess it up, to completely embarrass myself, that I finally had the courage to do it. It helped that I surrounded myself with my friends, who have been my champions throughout my career, and whom I trusted to have my back no matter what. I believe that is imperative when making a giant step forward, as I did with this video. To have
people around you who love and support you, and kindly but determinedly push you forward, especially when all you want to do is drop everything and run back to the safety of the well-known comfort zone. I couldn’t have done this without them, and am forever grateful not only to these 6 ladies, but also to all my other champions who keep cheering me on as I keep stepping into the arena over and over again, scared but unflinching. Who among international influenced your work?
There are many artists whose works I admire and find incredibly inspiring Bertolucci, Polanski, Modigliani, Egon Schiele, Gregory Crewdson, Dorothy Parker, Alexander McQueen are just some of the ones I can think off of the top of my head. However I tend to be inspired by individual pieces of art rather than by artists themselves. I find a lot of the time even if I love most of the artist’s work, I’m not a
devoted fan to all of it, so I dig within their opuses for those individual pieces that resonate. I do the same when I watch movies. I seek moments, single shots, that make me stop in awe, and remember. I don’t necessarily take notes or save those images, I just let them reverberate within me and then let them go. What I’ve found is that once stored in my mind in such a way, they have a way of reemerging when I least expect them to, influencing my choices in filming or writing purely subconsciously, and therefore honoring the masters who inspired me in the most honest and unassuming way. Can you tell us something about your collaboration with Adam Lukens on this film? Reed Morano, who was my director of cinematography for a number of films, recommended Adam when she herself could not do this video. I met him once before, as her gaffer on a previous project, and I liked him, but I didn’t know how he was with a
camera. Reed assured me - he was great - and I trusted her enough to bring him more-or-less blindly into the project. We talked a bit about what I wanted, but we didn’t start collaborating until the actual day of the shoot. He showed up, bundled up and eager, and by the end of the shoot I knew we had struck gold. He was fearless, willing to do and try anything, full of ideas of his own, and deeply supporting of our entire process. He knew he was walking into a tight-knit family I created with my cast, and adjusted himself to fit right in. It was truly a joy to work with him on this piece. What are you hoping Bela Lugosi's Dead will trigger in the audience? One of my favorite quotes, which I read years ago and which has since become a professional motto of mine, comes from Stephen Gyllenhaal, who said that the “Artist’s job is to disturb the comforted, and comfort the disturbed.” I’ve
approached all my works with this in mind - tackling issues in a way that those who know nothing about them (“the comforted”) would be moved to experience them fully. And for those who know all to well what it is that I am talking about (“the disturbed”), to know they are not alone I see them. In terms of Bela I wanted to examine the concept of grief and loss over a death of a loved one. My younger brother died a year before I made this video, so I know all to well what it is to feel those two feelings at the core of one’s being, and I wanted to recreate them in a way that would trigger that understanding, but also shine the light on the beauty of such profound emotion. I myself have discovered that the only way we can process any feeling is by embracing it wholeheartedly and unashamedly. Not dwelling on it, mind you, for that creates a whole other problem, but when it comes, let it be there for as long as it takes for you to love it, and stop pushing it away. Only then does it lead to deeper wisdom and
acceptance, and stops wreaking havoc in your life, as emotions are known to do. What's your view on the future of women in cinema and animation? Oh, that’s a big question! And the one I can go on and on about! (laughs) Bottom line is that I too believe we are on the brink of a huge change and by the time the next generation is knocking on these doors, they will find many more of them open and welcoming to women in all fields. We still have a lot of work to do, and it’s nowhere near the perfect storm, but we’re getting there. It is deeply encouraging to see big institutions and powerful industry people take notice too, and choose to join the revolution, from Canadian public broadcaster CBC and Ryan Murphy recently launching initiatives that would make 50% of their TV show directors female, to Patty Jenkins set to direct Wonder Woman and Susanne Bier in talks to take over the Bond franchise. I am optimistic! I personally am a big advocate of womenhelping-women succeed, and aim my contribution to the cause to that specific avenue. We have to unite if we are to break all those walls and barriers standing in our way. The era of “only 1 woman allowed into the all-boys-club” is over, and sooner people realize it, the faster we’ll get to the next phase of equality. I love men, don’t get me wrong, and have worked and keep working with many remarkable male artists. For me talent trumps everything else, always, but the fact that many amazingly talented women are not even given a chance to interview for a job, simply because they are women, makes my blood boil. So when I’m hiring, I go out of my way to find women for any collaborative position I’m looking to fill, and at least meet them, talk to them, give us a chance to connect. That way even if we don’t end up working on that project together, we will find another one down the line to do so, and support one another along the way. I’m speaking of the USA film market
primarily, though, for that is the only one I know personally. I don’t know what the opportunities are like in other parts of the world. I hear that other countries are more accepting of women behind the camera, which is amazing and inspiring. Hopefully we too will follow in those footsteps soon. Thanks for your time and thought, Sabina. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for Sabina Vajraca? Have you a particular film in mind? After years of teaching myself filmmaking by simply making as many films as I could, I decided to step back and see what I can learn from established institutions as well. I have always been an avid scholar, and am insatiably curious by nature, so if there is a different way to do what I love, I want to know it! I’m currently attending the USC School of Cinematic Arts, pursuing my MFA in Film Directing, and most of my current workload is school-related. The one I’m currently working on is a short spy thriller in the vein of James Bond films, with a female “Bond”, of course, as well as a female antagonist. So basically two powerful women kicking ass and looking stunning doing it. My specialty.! (Laughs) I’m really excited about it! In the world outside of school I’m prepping to direct a feature film called Lost Children, written by Erin K.L.G., produced by Erika Hampson and Lawrence Mattis, and starring the amazing Lili Taylor. It is an ensemble drama with a trace of mystery about a missing girl in 1980s New Jersey and the repercussions her disappearance has on her parents and neighbors. We’re in the fundraising stage, talking to investors, attaching actors, and planning to shoot in the summer of 2017. And finally I’m developing a couple of new script ideas inspired by my love of neuroscience and philosophy, and one based on Bosnian-American youth trying to achieve their own American Dream through drugs and violence. Thank you!
tanja balac Citizens (Macedonia, 2015) e The Birth of A Nation (Macedonia, 2016)
AS A WITNESS OF A GALLERY OF FACES-THE FACES OF ORDINARY PEOPLE; INDIVIDUALS WHO WITHOUT A WORD, WITHOUT A GESTURE OR ANY OTHER MIMIC SILENTLY TELL A STORY OF THEMSELVES, THEIR PROBLEMS AND THEIR FEARS, THEIR DESIRES AND THEIR DREAMS... WITH A DOCUMENTARY APPROACH, ARTISTIC AESTHETIC, AS WELL AS SOCIOLOGICAL ANALYSIS, I HAVE ATTEMPTED, IF ONLY FOR A MOMENT, TO ENTER THE INTIMATE STORY OF EACH AND EVERY INDIVIDUAL INCLUDED IN MY PIECE. HE OBSERVER ACTS
A remarkably hypnotic and immersive goes back to the degree film, zero of cinema. With her characteristically clever attention to detail, Tanja Balac pushes the limits of fiction and documentary, gently engaging the viewer in cinema's process of transforming reality. Using a simple camera style reminiscent of Bartas's recent films, Tanja Balac initiates her audience into a heightened sensory experience. Poetic in its vision and realist in its expression, is a minimalistic
film that pushes Tanja’s interest in sound to an expressive extreme. From the first time we watched this short film we were fascinated by its poetics of close-ups, gestures and sounds. We are pleased to present Tanja Balac for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Tanja, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? I would agree with your classification of my film as going back to degree zero of cinema, because the film “Citizens” is truly made with minimal finance, as well as minimal technical means. I think that at the end of the day the financial means are not the most important aspect when it comes to artistic expression. It can be said that in general, each idea can be expressed through any art form; however, I am convinced that certain artistic concept are best conveyed with the correct usage of certain techniques. In other words, I believe that form is dictated by content. In this era when the digital
image is ever-present to the visual artists, it is of great importance that they resist the “seduction” of modern technology and its possibilities. By profession, I am an academic painter, but I also work with installations and video art. In my opinion, it is very important that an author maintains their desire to experiment and research as long as possible, and it is exactly this that video art gives to me as an artist. However, I have quickly realized that I do not wish to use short films as a medium to simply visualize, but with the aid of a camera, I attempt to express my attitude towards the reality that surrounds us. I have learned that way, that when it comes to film expression, a blend of documentaristic and artistic is what suits my aesthetic feeling in the best way
possible. I use the term “artistic” as way to open the gates to the intimate world of the protagonists, with which I enhance the regular documentaristic objectiveness. In reality, the gate must always be a little bit open, just enough to summon us to enter that interspace between reality and fiction. We have been deeply impressed by your visionary approach to cinematic time and space. How did you come up ? with the idea for The inspiration for “Citizens” did not come by watching films made by other authors, but it was conceived as a result of the search for the answer to the following question: How can i paint portraits of the people I see every day, without using neither a brush nor paint? Can I make a
short film portrait of the citizens of the city I live in, and have it not be a simple presentation? The answer was conjured in the form of a series of short portraits of individuals from different age, ethnical, religious, gender and social backgrounds. You are able to see a gallery of faces who without mimics or gestures, silently tell a story about themselves. The basic idea was to create profiles of the citizens that live in my city, Skopje, by using minimal technical means and authorial intervention. The individuals were set in an environment which felt unnatural, but which required following a set of rules that I was aware they would not be able to completely fulfill. Therefore, the final result largely depended on the individual input of
each participant in my film. I would like to mention that the director of photography is the famous photographer Boro Rudic with whom I have had the pleasure to work on other projects and the assistant, the young Sergej Sarchevski, making the entire experience a blend of experience and youthfulness. Throughout the film you brilliantly use sound and image to lead audience into a deep subjectivity. How did you conceive the sound ? design of The sound is composed of a variety of selected music backgrounds, as well as the bobbling of the people present in the backstage during the filming.
presents only one character- a pregnant woman, as a metaphor not only of the present, but also as a representation of the future of my country, Macedonia, which is currently going through a very turbulent period engulfed with deep oppressive divisions which are becoming greater and greater with every passing day.
The indistinguishable voices do not have the purpose to complement the city noise, but to enhance the personal nature of the individuals who silently stare into the camera. In short, the sound functions as a support to our personal interpretation as viewers as we follow the characters that rapidly change on the screen. With its emotionally resonant imagery and laconic camera work, discovers mystery within the everyday. What do you want people to remember after seeing your film? I am deeply impressed and impacted by those people who are “special” and different in some way, the people who with certain characteristics, maybe even some vailed traits, snatch our attention at first sightand stay in our memory for a long time. In the film “Citizens”, 58
persons appear within four minutes of the film’s runtime, which means that the viewers have merely 4 seconds to get an impression for each and every one of them. Either way, I believe that a viewers with a rather developed sense of empathy, will be able to feel the characters’ spirits. The problems and difficulties of those people from poorer backgrounds, whether they like it or not, are writtenin their faces and in a traitorous way they are visible in their eyes and their poorly hidden mimics. This is what makes them very interesting to observe. They appear to be the ordinary people that we meet and see every day, but we rarely notice and we might never even get the urge to wonder who they are, where they are going, what they think, whether they are sad or happy…? Keeping this in mind, I am convinced that such powerful portraits would not be as easily made in a different, (dare I say)
wealthier environment in which the citizens are taught to hide away their inner world from the eyes of other people. Nonetheless, there is a variety of cultural, social, and even civilization differences and no matter how hard we try to avoid and suppress them, they will always be able to swim back to the surface. By minimizing external actions, Citizens offers a heady mix of documentaristic and fictional techniques, featuring at the same time the intimate feel of a documentary and the texture of an experimental film. How did you conceive the structure of the film? That my approach is documentaristic is immediately clear to any viewer because of the simple fact that the participants do not play a role. They appear on the
screen just as they are in their real, everyday lives. The structure of this short film is based on the idea that the “actors’”are shown to the viewers as unknown individuals taken out of the context of their private lives and natural intimacy. In our contact with other, unknown people, all of us define ourselves primarily through the “roles” we play in the daily life. By contrast, in the film the space decontextualization does not mean loss of privacy. Entering the private sphere of ordinary people, in my view is the reason why documentary films are so appealing to a large number of viewers. As I have previously mentioned, I attempt to enrich the documentary technique with film technique, in order to spark the viewer’s imagination, because the gift of imagination, more than anything, defines
not only an artist but also every other art appreciator. From a visual point, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on in your work? Technically, “Citizens” was not extremely demanding. The static camera and lights were part of a minimalistic approach. The film I am currently working on, on the other hand is much more demanding. I have set it in the space of a theatre, keeping their existing equipment and infrastructure in mind; however, it turned out that I am obliged to deal with some technical issues, as well. In my view, a film camera is the “eye of the viewer” which is why I mainly focus on the technical aspect; on what stands in front of the camera. What is more, I am
a supporter of the idea to intervene as little as possible in the editing process and the post production. What has been the most challenging ? for you on It might sound banal, but the most challenging thing to me during the filming was to soothe the participants’ “Balkan temperament”, not only among the younger individuals, but also among the older ones. The main issue was finding a way to make and convince the people, who commonly express their inner self through gestures and mimics, to introvert their feelings only if for a moment. I used method acting with people who are not actors in their private lives. We have previously mentioned Bartas, yet your filmmaking style is far from
what is generally considered 'academic'. In particular, your brilliant use of temps mort, as well as your expressionist use of sound effects reminded us of Philippe Grandrieux's films. Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? Indeed my academic background is painting. In the aspect of visual aesthetics, I am certainly excited by the films made by well-known directors such as Lech Majewski and Peter Greenaway. On the other hand, in the sphere of the experimental film expression, I would say that Sharunas Bartas and his close-ups, together with his dark aesthetic of an introverted character are very close to my own aesthetic. I would moreover mention the anthological films made by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Alesandro Jodorowsky and
Godfrey Reggio. In the sense of openness to influence, I must emphasize that I do not limit myself only to film and visual art. Quite the contrary, I am interested in many other art forms, because I consider the consumption of various different art forms as a prerogative for my own creativity. For instance, the German puppet artist, Ilka Schonbein in my opinion is one of the greatest, characterizing her work with a powerful artistic expression, despite the fact that she is rather unknown. It is pitiful that such important artists remain unknown to the public eye as well as to the art connoisseurs. This is an issue that is very common in the sphere of art, even more so if the quality comes from a little known part of the world. In this case, the possibility to have the piece be seen are brought to a minimum.
How did you approach editing this film? The post-production process is a very sensitive stage of the film making process that requires good collaboration. I mostly refer to the technical experts, but also the people with whom you share same aesthetic taste are an enormous part of this stage too. While working on “Citizens”, I put a huge amount of emphasis on harmonising image and sound, even though none of the participants utters a word. As I see it, the process of editing represents a sense of attention to details that have to fit in one final entity. The film editing was signed by the young Tode Kocev. 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? Surely, if we take a look at any book about art history, we will be able to see that they are mainly about feature film as a dominant form of film, but we will also notice the fact that among all those film-makers there are scarcely any women. The same can be said about visual art in general. The history of art is a line of great art names and it includes very few female authors, if they are at all included, which indicates that art history was mostly created by men. This poses the following question: Why not women? It is imperative that we do not to accept everything that is served to us and presented as “natural”, but to critically assess the root of the problem, searching
for the cause and uncovering the complex relations between knowledge, power, gender and art. Nevertheless, with the advance of technology in the 21st century, the approach to film production has been democratised in a certain way and I am convinced that this will influence wider involvement of female authors in the world of film. I believe that by involving more women as film directors, the art of film making would be enriched with fresh creative potential that would not be as focused on technical aspect as it is the case with male directors. Thanks for sharing your time, Tanja, we wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Tanja Balac? Have you a particular film in mind? I am currently in the final editing stages of my new short film with a working title “The Birth of a Nation”. The film presents only one character- a pregnant woman, as a metaphor not only of the present, but also as a representation of the future of my country, Macedonia, which is currently going through a very turbulent period engulfed with deep oppressive divisions which are becoming greater and greater with every passing day. The feeling of collective apathy and hopelessness have gained their own political expression in the protests and demonstrations that take place daily on the streets of my city. A part of the visible political involvement, which is a matter of personal decision of every individual, is the question of survival of the people who live on the tail of Europe. I am convinced that the responsibility of the artists at this time is even bigger, and I view artistic involvement as the artists’ civic duty.
debbie p. kelley Morningside (USA, 2015)
MOODY WORK THAT DELICATELY WEAVES PAST AND PRESENT, MORNINGSIDE EXPLORES THE FUGITIVE CHEMISTRY OF SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS, GRACEFULLY COMBINING ELEMENTS OF COMEDY AND DRAMA. WITH HER CHARACTERISTICALLY CLEVER ATTENTION TO DETAIL, DEBBIE P. KELLEY OFFERS AN EMOTIONALLY COMPLEX MEDITATION ON MEMORY AND LOSS. WE ARE HONORED TO PRESENT DEBBIE FOR THIS YEAR'S CINÉWOMEN EDITION. DEBBIE, CAN YOU TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR LONG CAREER IN THE FILM INDUSTRY? HOW DID YOU FIRST GET STARTED IN FILMMAKING?
I got my start the early 1980’s in modeling, television, commercials, print and I went on to work as a Production Assistant during the production for the (late) Producer, Mr. Ervin Melton of Car-Mel Motion Picture Productions based in Clayton, GA, USA. I put my arts and entertainment career on hold for a number of years and chose a new career path in the technical field while raising my two sons. I worked for
companies such as Lockheed Martin, Fluor Corporation and NASA. I had a great career and exceled beyond what I had ever imagined! But, the film industry was where I longed to be and I knew that I would work in film again someday! Looking back to 2008, many doors opened for me and I just simply walked through them. I have to say that 2008 was a very pivotal year for me in getting back into the film industry. It was also the year that I met Danielle Leslie and discussed Morningside’s script for the first time. Fast forward to 2011, I finally took a leap of faith and left the comforts of my “day job” in the aeronautic industry to become a Filmmaker. I was finally back where I had yearned to be for so many years and this time around I’m a Business Owner, Writer, Director and Producer. I started on the east coast in Greenville, SC, USA, then in 2012 I moved to Hollywood, CA, USA to expand my production base and to further my career in the film industry and
continued working on both the east and west coasts. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for Morningside? The original story was written and created by Miss Danielle Leslie from Travelers Rest, SC, USA. In reading Danielleâ€™s original script for Morningside, I was captivated by the two main characters, Joshua Klegg III and Noah Douglas. The two were unlikely friends from the 1960â€™s era and they reunite after decades. Both of them are of an elite status with one born into a life of wealth and privilege, and the other earning his way to the top. Both are guarding deep-rooted secrets from their past and nothing is as it seems on the surface. I read the original Morningside script in 2008, but I did not move forward at that time. In 2012,
Danielle pitched the script to me again after I had moved to Hollywood, CA, USA. After many discussions and much consideration, in January 2013, we came to an agreement to move forward with the restructuring of the Morningside script. From the first time we watched Morningside we were deeply impressed by its elliptical, episodic narrative. The team of writers did an excellent work, how did you develop the script and the structure of the film and how did you collaborate on Morningside? Our team of writers consisted of Danielle Leslie, Brian Q. Kelley and myself (Debbie P. Kelley). We collaborated on the restructuring of Morningside for approximately 10 months via phone calls, emails and Internet from the west coast to the east coast. We first looked at all of the original characters and the story
sequences with the plot lines as the foundation, keeping in mind our core audience and their expectations. As a filmmaker, the goal was to accomplish the maximum emotional impact that would connect each character with its audience. As part of the restructuring and pre-production process we developed 22 new characters. We added many comedic elements and additional dramatic moments. We established flashback scenes that quickly explained the back-story, the relationships, and begin the revealing of the secrets from the past, this also aided in moving the storyline along while leaving the audience wanting more. We produced scenes using mini cliffhangers and vignettes in a non-linear fashion to create more depth and complexity for the overall longevity of Morningside for episodic viewing. In October 2013, after collaborating
for10 months on the script and completing the Pre-Production, we began 12 days of Production for Morningside in Greenville, Seneca, and Simpsonville in the beautiful Upstate of South Carolina, USA then, we finished up Production and Post-Production in Hollywood Hills and in Los Angeles, California, USA. With its naturalistic, simple camera style and focusing on performance, Morningside demonstrates your ability to capture the subtle depths of emotion. How did you develop your filmmaking style? One of my main objectives as a filmmaker is to create ways to connect the audience with each character in a deep and meaningful way. I look at the process and think, how can we have the viewer take part in the story and relate to the characters? Also, how can the
viewer be drawn in emotionally and bond with the characters? One can never fully know how their audience will respond, but if you keep the audience in mind during the process, your decisions are much different. The strong physical and emotional elements throughout are what I like to call “the cause and effect principle”. This is very influential and increases the chances of the audience personally identify with the characters and the narrative. Our team was successful in capturing the depth of emotion through creative camera angles, the music scores, sound effects, and special effects during Production and in PostProduction. We have been impressed by your characteristic use of static shots reminding us of Athina Rachel Tsangari’s early films. Can you introduce our readers to your approach to lighting and composition?
We shot Morningside without the use of dramatic tilts, pans, dollies or trucks. Sometimes, we forget how important a simple camera shots can be. If used correctly, the static shots can be very powerful! What was the most challenging thing about making Morningside? There was a long list of challenges that happened from pre-production all the way through to the end of post-production. In pre-production, the funding campaign failed and we had some decisions to make whether or not to move forward with the production and obviously we did decide to proceed. During production, we lost three of our film locations the day of the shoot, which caused a domino effect with the catering for each location when we had to relocate the production an estimated 50 miles away and find catering for that area. Additionally, a lead actress could not continue filming due
to a major health concern in which she was hospitalized. There were two remaining scenes that needed to be filmed with her, but there wasn’t a question in my mind that her health was of the greatest importance and what needed to happen to ensure her safety and wellbeing. So, I stopped production and rewrote those two scenes while on set with the actors standing by. I thought the best approach was to have those scenes take place through the eyes of the housekeeper, Miss Vera. When I reflect, I have to say that one of the scenes written for Miss Vera where she is preparing a drink for Mr. Klegg and their tender exchange is simply golden and it remains very near and dear to my heart. Then, while filming a flashback scene with both ‘young’ Noah and ‘young’ Joshua, we received the news that a fellow cast member in the role of Noah Douglas’ Father had passed away suddenly. What
a total shock that was and our entire cast and crew were devastated to receive this news! That was a very sad and difficult night on set and I must admit that it was like being in a surreal setting where everything was as if it was far away, even sound. I guess I was just trying to process and make sense of it all while still directing and pushing onward with production. I didn’t re-cast our friend and I thought it was appropriate to dedicate the Morningside Pilot episode to our late friends memory. The challenges continued through post-production and to mention only a few, we had a damaged camera card and we almost lost the entire Dock’s Bar scene which took several weeks and many attempts to recover the footage for that scene. There were also dead pixels in one of the cameras, and to top it all off we had two separate computer hard drive crashes. One learns quickly to back up the files daily. It is true that we could have stopped production or post-production many times
with all of the challenges that we faced, but it’s not in my nature to give up easily and I think it’s very important for other filmmakers to hear about our experiences and to know that with drive, commitment, determination, and surrounding yourself with a skilled team, you can accomplish anything you set out to do! The strong and committed will always find a way to preserve, learn from the experiences, and rise to the top! The rewards are the sweetest after you have been through the trenches and you’ve earned it every step of the way! It is my hope that fellow filmmakers will be inspired and never give up when met with any challenge. What was your preparation with actors in terms of rehearsal? I took a different approach with prepping the actors for the production of Morningside. The majority of the cast was from the east coast. Since we chose
to film the greater part of Morningside in South Carolina, USA, I had to get creative with working long distance in the months and weeks leading up to production. I openly discussed the roles with each cast member, along with my expectations for their character. Communication is supreme and I spent a lot of time with each cast member on conference calls, texts, and emails to ensure they were comfortable with their role. I encouraged each of them to connect with the other cast members and to start building a rapport in order to relate with each other and to their characters. I set up a secret Morningside Actors page, and Support & Crew page on Social Media very early on where we had a Forum to post updates, announcements as well cast comments and concerns. Upon my arrival to the east coast, the cast had been working several weeks with other cast members running their
lines and rehearsing, and by this time they were ready for production to commence. Morningside is a work of unusual maturity and power. What do you hope viewers will take away from it? An appreciation of the realistic nature and personality of each character, relate to the characters, and to just simply enjoy the experience and to be entertained. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting into filmmaking, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? The future is OURS! It’s been a little behind, but the industry is now catching on to the fact that women are just as qualified, talented and deserving to rise up and become leaders in the industry. Everyday that we live and breathe things
are changing all around us for women. Many opportunities are opening up for female executives and filmmakers to run studios and to direct blockbuster pictures. There’s no stopping us now…the glass ceiling has been broken! So, if you want it bad enough... GO GET IT! Thanks for sharing your time, Debbie, we wish you all the best with your career. What's next for you? Thank you so very much for the opportunity. It’s been a great pleasure! We have a new film project in development, titled “Subject 7: The Hidden Agenda”. It’s a feature film and we have been working on the research and development for nearly two years and we are very excited to bring this one to the viewers. Also, we are in discussions about a program for helping independent women filmmakers with their film projects. For our latest projects and updates, please visit us on: http://www.orionstarfilms.com
hannaleena hauru Titolo che per Finland, 2015 Mercy allinizia the way
HE INSPIRATION FOR "MERCY ALL THE WAY" CAME FROM A COLUMN WRITTEN BY A FINNISH JOURNALIST MARKUS MÄÄTTÄNEN. HIS THEORY WAS THAT ALL THE SCHOOL SHOOTINGS IN FINLAND COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED, IF WOMEN WOULD JUST HAVE GIVEN SEX TO THE GUYS. ME AND SCRIPTWRITER-ACTRESS TANJA HEINÄNEN SAW AN IMMEDIATE PLACE FOR A COMICAL SATIRE, AND CAME UP WITH THE CONCEPT OF A GROUP OF WOMEN WORKING IN A FINNISH UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICE AND HAVING A SECRET CLUB FOR PREVENTING SCHOOL SHOOTINGS WITH SEX.
WE SAW OUR CHANCE ALSO TO PUNCH THE NORDIC WELFARE STATE WITH HUMOR, AS SOMETIMES THE GOVERNMENTAL PLANS TO RUN THE COUNTRY ARE QUITE ABSURD. AND AS I USUALLY WORK, HUMOR IN GENERAL IS A TOOL TO TALK ABOUT THE HARDEST TOPICS IN LIFE: HARD TOPICS LIKE ROMANTIC LOVE. "MERCY ALL THE WAY" HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS "UN-ROMCOM", AND I FIND IT AS QUITE ACCURATE GENRE DESCRIPTION. IT WAS AWESOME TO CREATE THE MAIN CHARACTER "MIRJA" TOGETHER WITH TANJA HEINÄNEN, WHO WROTE THE SCRIPT WITH ME, AND ACTED THE ROLE. WE'VE BEEN WORKING TOGETHER FOR 8 YEARS, SAME TIME AS I HAVE BEEN COLLABORATING WITH CINEMATOGRAPHER JAN-NICLAS JANSSON, WHO WAS ALSO MY CO-PRODUCER FOR "MERCY ALL THE WAY".WE SHOT THE FILM AS AN INDIE PRODUCTION WITH 5000 EUROS AND WITH 5000 FAVORS ASKED FROM ALL OUT FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES.
LUCKILY WE GOT FUNDING FOR THE FILM AFTER THE SHOOTING, AND WERE ABLE TO PAY SALARIES TO EVERYONE WHO WORKED ON THE FILM. BY THE WAY THE JOURNALIST MARKUS MÄÄTTÄNEN CAME TO THE PREMIERE, AND ENDED UP LIKING THE FILM A LOT.
With every inch of its wide frame crammed with irony and creativity, Mercy all the way is a masterful amalgam of realism and fantasy. Inspired by a column written by Markus Määttänen, a Finnish journalist, Hannaleena Hauru's film finds absurdity in the mundane, while at the same time raising serious questions about why women and men act the way that they do. From the first time we watched Mercy all the way we were fascinated by Hannaleena's inventive doses of parody, satire and comedy. The film’s humorous dialogue seems spontaneous and natural, and its sophisticated narrative structure no doubts owes something to Věra Chytilová. We are pleased to present Hannaleena Hauru for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Hannaleena, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker.
What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? My background is in theatre. I was a teenage playwright. Out of curiosity I attended a short film screenwriting competition by NISI MASA European Network of Young Cinema in 2005. I got awarded in the competition, and found myself in France at Premiers Plans festival, surrounded by a supportive, inspiring group of Europeans in their 20’s, as I was, convincing me that I should make the film I started to study cinema seriously, directed my NISI MASA script, which became my awarded international debut short film “If I Fall” (2007). I found cinema a much more effective and creative tool for transporting emotions than what theatre had been for me. The possibilities for expression through time, space and gaze are still endless for me.
We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film project: how did you come up with the idea for Mercy all the way? The inspiration rose from a column written by a Finnish journalist Markus Määttänen. His theory was that all the school shootings in Finland could have been prevented, if women would just have given sex to the guys. Me and scriptwriter-actress Tanja Heinänen saw an immediate place for a comical satire, and came up with a concept that a group of women has an organization where they give sex out of pity to guys in order to save Finland. The idea bubbled under a couple of years, as in the beginning we thought the concept would be too hard to finance. But it turned out that the biggest censor was in our own head. The Finnish Film
Foundation and Finnish National Broadcast YLE liked the idea a lot from the very beginning. Mercy all the way exemplifies your distinctive approach to narrative, which subverts traditional notions of dramatic tension, mixing comedy and absurd. We have been deeply fascinated by your original approach to cinematic time and space. How did you develop the script of the film? In my Master studies at ELO Helsinki Film School I explored Dramatic Situations in contemporary cinema, and one of my findings was, that dramaturgical tools in filmmaking are in the need of an update to have a post-structuralistic appoarch. For cinema to resonate with the current world we are living in, for me there is no choice but to deconstruct. Mainstream Hollywood and European Cinema is still
too much leaning on to the structuralistic heritage of film dramaturgy. The script of “Mercy” is an ”un-romcom” (a nice genre definition by film curator Angie Driscoll). It is deconstructing a plotline very familiar us, hence making it quite easy for the audience to watch, but at the same time resonating more to our present reality, as deconstructing and fooling around with binary oppositions. To battle against creating a story too thin, in the writing process we kept the main character “Mirja”, and illuminating her inner world in focus since scratch, meaning, the main character’s emotions were always set before the plot structure while writing. Cinema is no doubt a cooperative art. Mercy all the way is the result of a long time collaboration with with
Tanja Heinänen and Jan-Niclas Jansson. How did you collaborate with them on this project? Tanja co-wrote the script with me, and acted the lead role of Mirja. I’m very happy about the end result of her work, and hope to continue similar working methods in following projects. The depth it gives to the character, and time is saves while preparing the shoot and practicing is vital. I’ve worked Jan-Niclas as long as I have with Tanja: since. We’ve basically grown together to become filmmakers. My style of writing a script is very precise, so many times Jan-Niclas starts drawing storyboard drafts from the very first reading of a script. We spend a lot of time on the pre-production, and actually, on “Mercy” me and Jan-Niclas were the producers of the film, so it was the whole process we were observing,
as well as collaboration.
Mercy all the way is a highly layered film, open to several different readings. How did you develop your filmmaking style? There is nothing improvised in the film, everything comes from the very detailed script. The cast is a mix of professionals and amateurs, a combo that I like using a lot. For Mercy all the way we wanted to create a realistic feel, with the casting, the hand held style of shooting, shooting on site, using clothes for the actors that were as realistic as possible. When fantastic elements clash with this kind of world, that’s maybe that’s why it creates so many layers in between. I can’t say. Sometimes I’ve been thinking maybe the layers just come from the Finnish Language. It’s quite common, even in my everyday life,
to build sentences that have two or three meanings at the same time. I mean, If I say “Kuusi palaa”, it can mean 9 different things. (Google if you don’t believe). So maybe, as underneath I am a very language orientated creator, I somehow transport the Finnish language madness into my cinematic expression. Jan-Niclas did an excellent work. Throughout the film, he exploits the widescreen format’s capability. What were some of your aesthetic decisions? Jan-Niclas was using a 50mm lens for most of the film. I like the fact that he’s keen on making bold decisions about the style already on set, filters are used already on the shoot, not added in post. We wanted to stay close to “Mirja”, and the 50mm selection supported the general style of making the film and the
characters feel “real”.Actually with the widescreen format this is the one part of the film I’m not satisfied with. We were hesitant while shooting of would we make the film aspect ratio Cinemascope or 16:9. You can see this hesitance as for some scenes I directed them as 16:9, and as we selected Cinemascope to be the aspect ratio in the end, some of the framings are a bit too tight. A lesson learnt – select your aspect ratio before you start rolling. And, have the correct bars in your monitors… What was the most challenging thing about making Mercy all the way? Although the funders were excited about the project all along, they stood us up a couple of months before shooting. Our sent application for funding had not been read by the commissioner. We
decided to shoot the film anyway, with 5000 euros (money from a small crowd funding, form me, Jan-Niclas, and a bit from the production company). And everyone came to work for free. Anyone who’s seen the film will understand that there was a lot to be done (for the end scene alone). The lucky twist was, that we got the funding after the shooting, so we were able to pay salaries afterwards to everyone.
and then continued to watch the Simpsons and South Park. And I was a girl who played Amiga 500 games, loved the old Lucas Arts adventure games. So there comes my narrative basis, that for sure resonates to “Mercy all the way”. In our 20’s as theatre entusiasts we worshipped René Pollesch and Christoph Schlingensief who were blowing our minds with their work for the Volksbühne theatre in Berlin, as well as the Situationist movement, and Beckett’s absurdy.
We have previously mentioned Věra Chytilová, can you tell us who among international artists influenced your work?
Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves has been one or the first strong cinema experiences I’ve had, and for sure the Danish dogma has inspired me to create films that could grasp all your senses. I remember somewhere in 2009 me and Tanja were talking about a new genre of “Magical Dogma”, as part of 45-min film “Vialliset otteet” we did together. Maybe “Mercy” has echoes of that. Chytilová is not actually familiar to me.
I was a VHS / MTV kid. Films like “The Naked Gun 2 1/2”, or “Wayne’s World” were the ones I adored. Somewhere in between I though Jonathan Glazer’s music video “Street Spirit” for Radiohead on MTV was something absolutely awesome,
What are you hoping Mercy all the way will trigger in the audience? That serious issues can be dealt with humor and joy, Important is that they are not silenced. 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? Last year I was making visit to a Parisian Cinema with my fellow director colleagues, 3 men, 3 women. During the 2 hour meeting the elderly male owner of the theatre was addressing everything he said to the 3 men in our party. I realized that there is a big difference in generations. I have never come across anything similar like that from anyone
under 40 working in film. So my answer is, I see the future bright for women in cinema, as a lot of people will be dying. Sorry for the dark humour on this one. Thanks for your time and thought, Hannaleena. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for you? I’m currently working on my first feature film ”The Thick Lashes of Lauri Mäntyvaara”. We shoot in summer 2016, and the film will be premiered in 2017. I’ll be continuing my cinematic explorations with the mixture of realism and fantasy, comedy and poetry. In the film a rebel teenage girl wans to destroy ”Scandinavian Geisha School” – a private school for young women to become Ice Hockey Wives in the Baltic Sea Archipelago. The Film is Produced by Jussi Rantamäki / Aamu Filmcompany, with French co-producer Sébastien Haguenauer /10:15 Productions.
rachel anson Genome (New Zaeland, 2015)
EATURING A SAPIENT MIX OF DRAMATIC AND DOCUMENTARY TECHNIQUES , G ENOME IS AN EMOTIONALLY COMPLEX MEDITATION ON OUR BIOLOGICAL CONSTITUTION. RACHEL A NSON CONCEIVES CINEMA AS AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL TOOL TO QUESTION THE NOTION OF INDIVIDUALITY ITSELF . EXPLORING THE WORLD OF CONSUMER GENETICS, GENOME FOLLOWS THE QUEST OF S ARAH - A YOUNG TEACHER AND CONTEMPORARY ARTIST - TO DISCOVER HER BIOLOGICAL CONSTITUTION. WE ARE PLEASED TO PRESENT RACHEL ANSON FOR THIS YEAR ' S C INÉ W OMEN E DITION . R ACHEL , TELL US ABOUT YOUR TRAJECTORY AS A FILMMAKER . W HAT INSPIRED YOU TO EXPRESS YOURSELF IN THIS MEDIUM?
another, and he often brought me into the lab to try out his new experiments. I got to wear swimming caps covered in electrodes while he tested my reflexes, balance and coordination (I’m pretty sure this was all ethical). In her spare time my mum is a painter and my step dad is a wildlife photographer. So from them I absorbed the basics in composition, colour, light and expression, and I got to experiment with photography at a time when it was a pretty expensive hobby for a kid (five weeks pocket money to develop one roll of film). Generally my highly anticipated processed film would consist of 24 photos of my pets posed awkwardly. But mostly I just loved sharing in what my parents did; painting alongside mum at the kitchen table, taking photos of animals, wearing electrodes on my head.
Thank you for the interview CinéWomen. It’s really flattering to be included in a magazine that showcases such interesting and diverse women. As a kid I was fed on a hearty diet of art and science. My dad was a kinesiologist, looking at how the brain and human movement relate to one
My interest in both science and art grew as I got older but subjects that fused the two were hard to find. It felt like the expectation at high school was to start thinking about specialising in a discipline, to narrow one’s focus rather than branching outwards. I ended up
somewhere in the middle of the art/science dichotomy, doing an undergraduate degree in philosophy and psychology. A couple of years ago I came across a post grad course in Science Communication it was the perfect marriage of science and art, focusing on translating science into creative and accessible information and presenting it through the medium of documentary filmmaking. The first year of the programme was an intensive crash course on using camera equipment, editing, and constructing a narrative. In the second year we were let loose with the task of creating a 25 minute documentary on a scientific topic of our choice, with a budget of $1500 (just under â‚Ź900). I was drawn to documentary because of its capacity to simultaneously explore
creative avenues - writing, music, set design, photography and editing; with each component feeding the others. Making this documentary also gave me access to explore an area of science I knew little about but was really interested in genetics. I was able to dive head first into research on direct-to-consumer genomics, a complex and vast area of science thatâ€™s becoming increasingly relevant and accessible to the public. After getting to know some of the basics I was able to have invaluable conversations with some brilliant geneticists, technicians and bioethicists, a position I would have never put myself in without the impetus of the documentary. The thing I love about documentary is its power to communicate multiple narratives explicitly, through dialogue, but also
through the implied, unspoken and more subtle ideas that can be created through symbols, expressions and tone. I found the latter important for creating reflective spaces in Genome that (hopefully) encourages subjective interpretations from the viewer, an element that I wanted to push in order to emphasise the vast, varied and deeply personal nature surrounding concepts of identity. How did the idea for Genome come to mind? Does it have something to do with a personal experience? The seed of Genome was planted by a great friend of mine. We were comparing the colour of our skin while waiting for a lecture titled ‘Asteroids and Armageddon’ to start. She asked me about my olive skin and I gave the standard answer for most
European New Zealanders; Irish, Scottish, Welsh. But there’d also been whispers of a Spanish romance on my Grandma’s side. My friend suggested ordering a cheap genetics kit online if I ever wanted to explore my ancestry more definitevely. She also said the test could provide information about my health; the good, the bad, the helpful, and curious variations that occur in our genetics like the probability of getting Alzheimer's disease or having wet or dry earwax. My brain (normally a simple, linear place) exploded with the possibilities and potential of this idea as a documentary subject; to follow the experience of someone undergoing this test which could tell them where they came from, their risk for diseases, what they might pass on to their children. What if they found out something they didn’t want to know? Or came across information
The plot of Genome is very simple, yet the implications of its characters’ emotions are profound. Your film features a brilliant, layered script. What’s your writing process like?
of contemporary consumer genetics, but the ethical and hypothetical concepts remained relevant. Once I realised this I was able to focus on a script that was more practical and realistic. It became quite a physical process, where I used large sheets of paper with a timecode in the margin to map parallel storylines and visualise how scenes, dialogue, and ideas could interact and motivate potential shots and sequences. From this framework I was able to shape interview questions for my central characters.
Thank you! I started with a really rough treatment which enabled me to vent an idealised version of the film - something that loosely resembled a bastardised hybrid of Gattaca and an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? I learned fairly quickly that most of these concepts were pretty naive and inaccurate, aligned more closely with science fiction than the reality
I was aware from the start that this would be a very real and introspective journey for my main character, Sarah. I felt strongly that this story should be told by Sarah, without the presence of an omniscient narrator, because I wanted her to be the sole authority of her experience. This also removed the process of writing narration, so the final script was
that impacted their family? I felt that here were the bones of a narrative full of tension, ethics, stimulating science, with the overarching theme of ‘identity’, quietly asking the question of whether or not we are something other than the sum of our parts.
essentially Sarah’s words interspersed with scientific and ethical elements by geneticist Stephen Robertson. What do you hope viewers will take away from the film? As my first film I just wanted people to like it, or really I didn’t even mind if they hated it, as long as it evoked some feeling or reaction. My worst fear was that people would walk away from the film completely unaffected, or bored, because it would mean I’d done a disservice to a really exciting area of science and some brilliant people. I also hoped the film might start a dialogue for viewers about the potential of genetic testing, especially from an ethical perspective. I wanted the audience to consider how genetics related to their own sense of self and to think about whether they would consider
exploring a direct-to-consumer test. It was also important for me to try to reinforce the multifactorial and complex nature of genetics, moving away from the misleading and deterministic tag lines that we frequently hear in the media: ‘fat gene’, ‘gay gene’, ‘smart gene’, etc. There’s a whole raft of environmental factors that influence the way our genes are expressed and interact and this is compounded by the fact that our understanding in this area of genetics is far from complete. Accurate cinematography and subtly expressive performances make your film a profoundly moving piece. What is your preparation with actors in terms of rehearsal? The relationship between Sarah and I played a huge part in the authenticity of the film. I met Sarah a few years ago
while working in a contemporary art gallery. When Sarah heard about the initial idea for Genome she suggested her own genetics might be of interest; as a baby she was adopted,meaning all the genetic information (both medical and ancestral history) discovered through testing, would be new to her and revealed for the first time through the documentary. I always felt incredibly lucky to be able to document Sarahâ€™s process. Not only was her story unique but our friendship meant we would spend time talking at length about concepts in the film. When filming began it was much more of a mutual partnership than a director/interviewee relationship. Sarah has a natural intensity and honesty that I think translates effortlessly to film. As an artist she also understands photography and was eternally patient; sitting under hot, blinding lights for long periods of time, and
empathetic when I obsessed over composition and lighting. I think this level of informality and flexibility between us created a more intimate environment which I think is reflected in the film, through Sarahâ€™s sincerity and delivery straight to camera. I was also really fortunate to be able to work with scientist Stephen Robertson. He has a warmth and normalness which comes across on screen, and as one of New Zealandâ€™s leading paediatric geneticists, Stephen is adept at talking with children and parents about genetics; making him a great communicator. The only preparation I really needed to do with Sarah and Stephen was provide them with information about the genetic ideas I wanted to discuss. I always tried to do this days or weeks before the interviews were filmed, to give them time to form their ideas, ask questions and to feel comfortable and prepared when it came to filming.
From the first time we watched Genome it reminded us of Werner Herzog's cinema: we appreciate the way you mix documentaristic and fictional techniques in your film. Can you tell us your biggest influences in cinema and how they have affected your work? Thank you for the enormous compliment! This is a tough question., because there are so many films have shaped the way I look at and think about film. When I was nine I was completely enchanted by the documentary on insects, Microcosmos by Claude Nuridsany and Marie PĂŠrennou, which imbued these tiny creatures with such intensity and drama. I think this was the first time I really noticed the transformative power of macro photography and soundscapes. One of the best parts of making Genome was working with the talented musician Zach Webber.
Hearing his music helped me imagine how certain sequences could be constructed and adding his tracks during the editing process immediately injected an energy into the film. Another film which I found really valuable was The Day After Trinity (1980) by Jon H. Else, which interviews members of the Manhattan project and their development of the first atomic bomb . Else gives interview subjects time to think and respond to questions, and shows how pauses, glances, sighs, fumbled words and subtle expressions can often convey a deeper sense of emotion, intensity, and add authenticity to a film. The documentary Green: Death of the Forests by Patrick Rouxel (2009) looks at the effects of palm plantations and deforestation in Indonesia through the eyes of a displaced and dying orangutan. The narrative is profoundly sad and
powerful, and told with no narration or dialogue. Green is important because it highlights how adept audiences are at understanding and interpreting a narrative without being told explicitly what is happening, or how to think or feel. It provides room for individual interpretation and thought, and encourages introspection in the viewer. These films all reinforce the power of innovative approaches in documentary, and still inspire me to prioritise creativity over formula. 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’m yet to experience the industry world, though I know women across many areas of filmmaking are still underrepresented, and there’s a lack of gender equality policies. Only 8 percent of film applications between 2009-2014 to the New Zealand Film Commission had a female director attached to the project, which is a pretty disappointing statistic. But I do believe the future for emerging female filmmakers is on a really interesting and empowering trajectory. In New Zealand, many of us are fortunate to have access to digital cameras, even if it’s just a mobile phone. So on a basic level if there’s a story you want to tell there are affordable ways of making it happen and there are film festivals and funding bodies that celebrate and support this type of filmmaker. We know high production values don’t correlate with better documentaries, and in a lot of cases
authenticity and creativity are accentuated through a low budget aesthetic. That’s not to say creating a film by yourself is the easy; being responsible for all aspects of a film creates a wonderful sense of control and ownership but also means you feel your mistakes and weaknesses acutely. Genome has flaws that make me cringe, poorly positioned lapel mics, choppy edits and a few odd camera angles, but I just tell myself that what I’ve learnt from this project will be invaluable for my next one. Thanks for your time and thought, Rachel. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Rachel? Thanks for having me CinéWomen! At the moment I’m interested at looking at representations of reality through internet live streams and how this medium changes and challenges our definitions of
documentary. Live streams are cameras that broadcast footage in realtime from fixed locations like the images of earth from the International Space Station or a karaoke bar in New Orleans or a the nest of a pair of breeding bald eagles. These are new frames capturing realities that run without scripts, production crews or any classic narrative devices, yet they manage to tell a story and engage large and loyal audience. What are our moral obligations as viewers if something terrible occurs during a live stream? Although we may see the same video do we construct the same narratives? I’d like to explore the psychology and personal lives of people who watch live streams regularly, and those on the other side of the screen who construct the frame and who are arguably providing the purest form of documentary so far.
lorena lourenco Titolo che inizia per 2015) Pedagogy (USA,
FILM THAT PLAYS OUT OEDIPAL SCENARIOS , P EDAGOGY IS A PSYCHOLOGICALLY COMPLEX PORTRAYAL OF THE DYNAMICS OF LOVE BETWEEN A STUDENT AND TEACHING ASSISTANT. WITH HER CHARACTERISTICALLY CLEVER ATTENTION TO DETAIL , L ORENA LOURENCO DEMONSTRATES HER MASTERY AT CREATING IMAGES THAT ARE BOTH STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL AND FORMALLY RIGOROUS . P EDAGOGY ' S DIALOGUE SEEMS NATURAL AND SPONTANEOUS , AND GIVES THE VIEWERS OF THIS FILM THE SENSE THEY ARE WATCHING EXCERPTS FROM REAL LIFE . W E ARE PLEASED TO PRESENT L ORENA L OURENCO FOR THIS YEAR ' S C INÉ W OMEN E DITION . L ORENA , TELL US ABOUT YOUR TRAJECTORY AS A FILMMAKER. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO EXPRESS YOURSELF IN THIS MEDIUM?
I clearly remember the moment I decided I wanted to make films. I was fifteen and was watching the plastic bag scene in American Beauty. That image coupled with the character’s narration made me weep; incessantly so. It was then I noticed the power of cinema as a medium that can manipulate human emotion. The movie made such an impression on me that Sam Mendes is probably one of my greatest influences. The final deciding drop was City of God. When Meirelles’ film ended I realized I wanted to make that kind of
movie: socially and politically involved art movies, that were able to shake the foundation of an entire country. I then moved alone from Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) to L.A. to go to USC for film. Chasing my passion to other side of the world was the best decision I have made. As an expatriate filmmaker, my art is shapes itself in a ridge between two similar yet very differing worlds: Brazil and America, the place where American Beauty meets City of God. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your short film: how did you come up with the idea for Pedagogy? What attracted you to this story? I had a crush on my philosophy teacher in college. We had a close and amicable student-teacher relationship but nothing ever came of it. However this crush did highlight how strong of a power teachers can have over their pupils. Most people tend to assume the sexes of the teacher and student from the perspective of a misogynist society: imagining the empowered scholar to be a man and the frail pupil, a woman. So, I wanted to tell the story of a student-teacher relationship that treads the boundaries of social acceptance, filled with shades of grey, but
in a way where the power play challenged these presumed sexist stereotypes. Your strong command of narrative, image and character makes your densely textured filmmaking seem almost "novelistic". Pedagogy features a brilliant storytelling, using a realistic structure that glides seamlessly between memory and invention. How did you develop the script and the structure of the film? I chose to keep most of the narrative contained within the bedroom, just like their relationship, so it could remain in this dream-like aura. The subjective manner in which the classroom scene was created was intended to main this dreaminess, so that their flirting felt almost imagined and the relationship, internalized. This introductory scene was used so as to provide context and paint
the picture of the beginning or their relationship. It is in the bedroom scene where I wanted to give myself time to explore their entire relationship, from conception to its final demise. Can you tell us something about the shooting of Pedagogy? It was very last minute and shot in a gorilla style of filmmaking. I found an opportunity to send a movie to the Cannes Short Film Corner and go to the film festival with it. I then decided to make Pedagogy. The entire production process (including pre and post) took three and a half weeks in order to be sent in time. It was a fast, contained and dense shoot but definitely worthwhile. Pedagogy has been screened at the prestigious Cannes Short Film Corner. Can you tell us something about this amazing experience?
It was a mind-blowing experience, the internationality and diversity of the people I met was so invigorating and inspiring. It is incredibly stimulating to spend two weeks in such an awing city as Cannes surrounded by likeminded people who traveled all the way there simply because we all share the same love for filmmaking. Additionally, the movies being screened at Cannes which I was able to see were such an inspiration. The High Sun, Youth, Dheepan and Embrace the Serpent have impacted me immensely, both as a filmmaker and a person. Sebastian Luna and Melissa Kirk did an excellent work in this film. Can you explain the director/actor relationship during the shooting? I had very open and close relationship with them. They were both talented friends whom I asked to read the script together and it just all clicked. I was open
to their feedback, so we changed the dialogue as we did different readings of it, so as to find what words ultimately flowed best and most truthfully. We rehearsed a bit before the actual shoot day but not too much for I also didn’t want it to feel too stiff. They also had complete freedom from the script and it was during their improvised moments that some of their best performances came out. I made sure to make the set feel like a safe and fun environment, especially for the sex scene, when we all joked around and got comfortable with each other before any action. From the first time we watched Pedagogy we have been deeply fascinated by your naturalistic cinematography, as well as your peculiar use of close-ups reminescent of Vera Chytilová's early work. Your sapient use of interior spaces reveals the emotional state of the two
characters who inhabit them. Can you describe your approach to lighting? I was very adamant about using natural lighting throughout the entire bedroom scene, so it would feel raw, true and as if the audience were in the room with this couple. The sex scene was specifically lit with some artificial lighting and much candlelight, in order to give it such warm textures. In contrast the classroom scene was lit very simply and brightly with artificial lights in order to make it look bland and contriving in comparison to the bedroom, the only place in which they could be intimate and true with each other. I did also opt for close ups and tight frames, especially in the bedroom scene, so the audience would feel deeply for these characters and through such tight frames also feel trapped in this bedroom with them. We have previously mentioned Vera ChytilovĂĄ, yet your visual imagery seems
to be closer to Yorgos Lanthimos's work. Can you tell us your biggest influences and how they have affected your work? I would agree that similarly to Lanthimosâ€™ work, especially Dogtooth (my favorite), Pedagogy has simple set ups, with much natural lighting and a very familiar setting. My main influences thematically and visually, and for Pedagogy in particular, come from Mike Nichols in what to me is his masterpiece, Closer, as well as Sam Mendes and how he introduces eeriness into the mundane of American beauty and Revolutionary Road. Pedagogy is a film open to several different readings. What do you hope viewers will take away from it? I love when people have different readings from my films, that is why I do films! Ultimately, I hope people take from it an understanding of how frail and complex the fabric of human relationship can be.
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?
to prove her worth as a female filmmaker, but only demonstrate her talent as a filmmaker. In that dream certain filmmakers will just happen to be female and will cinematically express the world as seen through their paradigm, which is only partly defined by their gender, also shaped by their many other identities and facets.
Steep and tough, but prosperous. As we all know it is a horribly hard path for any female who wants to be behind the camera, but as we have seen from the works of Katherine Bigelow, Ava Duvernay, Agnès Varda and Alice Winocour it is worth the struggle. It gives me joy and hope that so many women have had the courage to expose themselves and their work to this male-centered industry and proven their worth. But it is going to take ever so long to reach equality in the film industry considering society as a whole isn’t even close to it yet. However, I keep alive a dream that someday a woman will not have
Thanks for your time and thought, Lorena. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career! What's next for Lorena Lourenco? I have been developing a drama feature as well as a couple comedy web-series. My passion lies in feature drama, especially socially and politically involved stories. However, the free flow of comedy online, and the susceptibility of contemporary audiences to it have driven me to play with the genre and its many possible platforms. Expect a variety of web-series and features on their way!
fany de la chica The Visit (Spain, 2015)
ILLED WITH FANY DE LA CHICA’S UNIQUE EAR FOR DIALOGUE AND INSIGHT INTO RELATIONSHIPS, THE VISIT PARTAKES OF A TEXTURED IMMEDIACY THAT NONETHELESS OPENS ONTO UNIVERSAL THEMES OF THE HUMAN CONDITION. THE TALENTED ANDALUSIAN FILMMAKER EXPLORES THE COMPLEXITIES OF WAR IN AN ASTONISHING WAY, OFFERING A PROFOUND MEDITATION ON CAMBODIA'S NOTORIOUS LANDMINE PROBLEM. WITH ITS CHARACTERISTIC VÉRITÉ STYLE, THE VISIT INVITES THE VIEWER TO CONFRONT QUESTIONS ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL EXISTENCE AND THE TRAGICAL HISTORICAL EVENTS THAT HAPPEN WHILE DAILY LIFE CONTINUES, PROVIDING A SENSITIVE YET REALIST PORTRAIT OF CHARACTERS SEARCHING FOR INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM IN A HOSTILE WORLD. WE ARE PLEASED TO PRESENT FANY DE LA CHICA FOR THIS YEAR'S CINÉWOMEN EDITION. FANY, TELL US ABOUT YOUR TRAJECTORY AS A FILMMAKER. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO EXPRESS YOURSELF IN THIS MEDIUM?
I always saw myself as an artist. Since I was a child I liked to write, to sing, to read, to imagine stories. I was a very
sociable person and I remember I used to go to the cinema with my father almost every Sunday. A whole universe opened when I started to study Audiovisual Communication at university: I started to make photos, film stories, compose music as my main activity. I learned by doing it. With the passing of time I combined two of my favorite things: travelling and making films. I've been in love with History and Anthropology since High School ; so I think it was easy to end up doing documentaries. It was a natural evolution that gave me the opportunity to express myself. Making films on my own as I normally travel just with one person or alone. With the passing of time, I realized that perhaps documentaries don’t talk directly about me…. The stories have been told in these films reflect an interior conflict which I deal with – the issues about family, roots , find yourself and follow your dreams; living far away from your
family, friends and culture to get your professional goals. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for The Visit? I was living in Barcelona, studying in the film school. I used to work in a luxury hotel as a waitress most of the weekends to get money to pay my bills. I used to wake up at 5 in the morning to work in the breakfasts … but the best thing about work on Sundays was that I could get for free the Sunday editions of daily newspapers. It was in the Sunday's edition of La Vanguardia Magazine that I read an article about the land mines in Cambodia. I consider myself to be quite knowledgeable but I didn’t know anything about this issue. I really love kids and I thought to myself…. “ If I don’t know anything about it , imagine the rest
of the people…. This topic is something people need to care about nowadays”. It was a Spanish connection because Arrupe Center - the residence hosting injured kids- was founded by Spanish priests. So I contacted the magazine, the magazine put me in contact with the photographer of the article , the photographer with a foundation … until finally I get the contact to the main person that deal with Arrupe Center…. I got some funding and I traveled to Cambodia to make the film…. I was 24 years old….now I think what I did; traveling by myself to other part of the world – I was crazy. A striking work of seemingly improvisational form, The Visit is a highly layered film, open to several different readings, employing both a realist documentary style to capture life in Cambodia as well as a more intimate approach in filming the
story of Ratita. How did you develop the structure of the film? It was very complex and it took me more than one year to figure out the editing of the documentary. At the beginning I wanted to focus the film on a boy, however, I realized that it could have been difficult for cultural differences. As a women it was easy to get a closer relationship with a girls so after several days spent observing the kids in Arrupe Center I choose to focus the documentary in Sarin and Ratita. I wanted to spend more time with Sarin and make her the main character. But in the end, I end up spending more time with Ratita… Sarin was always at school and Ratita had a stronger – playful character. I loved since the very first minute their relationship…. They were a kind of outsiders in the residence, always talking apart from the group. In my head the narrative was clear since the first moment I wanted to film a kid that travel
during summer holidays from the residence to his/her house. I wanted to highlight the price that an injured kid pays in his daily life and how hard is to continue studying far away from family. And this is what I did. The rest of the scenes and the small secondary stories are just magic, something spontaneous, a gift that documentary gives you… you never know what will happen. You just need to be ready with a camera and choose the best angle to film it. The Visit exemplifies your distinctive approach to narrative, which subverts traditional notions of dramatic tension, mixing documentary and fiction in order to capture the subtle depths of emotion. What are you hoping The Visit will trigger in the audience? I have always thought that one of my best talent is to observe. I love to look at people. I can spend all the day staying in silence or just observing how people speak, act or react
while I am travelling on the underground. And I love it. I think that a filmmaker should have a good “eye”, and the ability to observe the world. And this is what I expect from the audience… to sit down and observe for one hour. Observe a different world. I don’t like documentaries with interviews or a voice over that explain everything. Images speak for themselves. Television treats the audience like idiots … they always want to broadcast easy content-documentaries where everything is explained so people don’t need to think that much or ask their self questions. But if you give the people the opportunity to get into more deep emotions, stories …. with the time you will train an audience that value real films, an audience that observe. Not all people like fast food. With the intimate feel of a documentary and the texture of a Rembrandt painting, The Visit's
cinematography remind us of Werner Herzog's cinema. What were some of your aesthetic decisions? I like faces. I think it was one of the most important aesthetic decision. Most of the scenes are developed through close up of the main characters. I used wide shoots only to give the audience the reference of the environment of the scenes. What was the most challenging thing about making The Visit? Translate everything, and the editing. The editing room is the place where you give life to the film. It took me one year, every weekends working from home editing. A nightmare. I like to be around people, travel, go out …. so for me was very hard to spend a hole year, all weekends editing. We have previously mentioned Werner Herzog, can you tell us who among
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international artists influenced your work? Buñuel, Kiarostami, Jose Luis Guerin amongst other. Obviously the Mayles brother and Wiseman but I watched more Buñuel or Kiarostami films that I did from Mayles or Wiseman. One of my favorite filmmakers is Guerin, the observational exercise he does in almost all his films. And one of my favorite films is “Los olvidados” from Buñuel. 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? Women are the future. Year by year, the number of female directors at major festivals will increase, I am sure. We need to help each other, to network and cooperate.
Thanks for your time and thought, Fany. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for you? I have a lot of projects but I need money! I have a documentary “Time amongst Olive Trees” in post-production and another 2 fiction short films almost finished. Unfortunately I’m doing the transition to make more fiction rather than documentary... I love observational documentaries, however it is very difficult to get fund for these projects -and almost impossible to get profits from them. If anyone is interested in collaborating with me in any way please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website http://www.fanydelachica.co.uk/ You can watch my documentary The Visit here: http://dafilms.com/film/9065-the-visit/
lara plácido With TitoloOra che sim, iniziahora per não (Portugal, 2015)
ITH O RA SIM , HORA NÃO L ARA P LÁCIDO MERGES DOCUMENTARY
STYLE WITH METAPHOR TO EXPAND HERE INTERROGATION OF SOCIETY AND POLITICS . F ROM THE FIRST TIME WE WATCHED L ARA ' S FILM , WE WERE FASCINATED BY HER SIGNATURE STYLISTIC MINIMALISM. WITH THE INTIMATE FEEL OF A DOCUMENTARY AND THE AUDACIOUS STORYTELLING OF A T SAI M ING L IANG ' S FILM , L ARA P LÁCIDO CREATES A SPIRITUAL PORTRAIT OF B OLHÃO M ARKET IN P ORTO , DISCOVERING CINEMATOGRAPHIC MAJESTY AND MYSTERY WITHIN THE EVERYDAY. O RA SIM , HORA NÃO PARTAKES OF A TEXTURED IMMEDIACY AND SPECIFICITY THAT NONETHELESS OPENS ONTO UNIVERSAL THEMES OF THE HUMAN CONDITION . W E ARE PLEASED TO PRESENT LARA P LÁCIDO FOR THIS YEAR ' S C INÉ W OMEN E DITION . L ARA , TELL US ABOUT YOUR TRAJECTORY AS A FILMMAKER . W HAT INSPIRED YOU TO EXPRESS YOURSELF IN THIS MEDIUM?
The adventure of expressing myself in this medium is very recent. Ora sim, hora não is my second project in filmmaking. I graduated in Architecture in 2003 and discovered the cinema as a way of expression in 2011, after concluding a post-graduate course “Lato Sensu em Cinema e Audiovisual” at M_EIA, in Cape Verde. I accepted this challenge, without many expectations I must confess, but the truth is that throughout these years the
love for filmmaking grew on me and the keenness to experiment is very present. My inspiration comes from transforming the “know how to see” (developed in architecture) into the eye behind the camera, a trained eye that always pays attention to the socio-economic concerns felt nowadays. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film project: how did you come up with the idea for Ora sim, hora não? Bolhão Market is a historical symbol of my city, Porto. However, this secular building has been forgotten by the political power and has witnessed a continuous decay, year after year. The title Ora sim, hora não reflects the waiting time, the uncertainty, the absence of hope in a better future that is felt by the people who belong to the market. The waiting can be seen on the saleswomen’s faces. These women start working every day at 7 a.m., the same time as they start their battle against time that doesn’t go by and the absence of customers. Gentrification is taking over the city of Porto and my fear that it can also take over a unique place like Bolhão Market led me to make Ora sim, hora não.
Ora sim, hora não exemplifies your distinctive approach to documentary, which subverts traditional notions of dramatic tension. We have been deeply fascinated by your original approach to cinematic time and space, as well as by the film’s elegant cinematography and deeply pensive tone. How did you develop the narrrative structure of Ora sim, hora não? Did the documentary unfold before the camera, or were you already aware of these various pieces of the puzzle? After the intention of making Ora sim, hora não had been clear to me I lived for 6 months in the market. By living I mean going there every day and spending the entire day observing, paying attention to habits, gestures, people, the environment, even words that were said. I needed to feel that place and make myself part of it so I
could be perceived as an integral part of the saleswomen’s daily life and, therefore, gain their confidence. After some time I realised that some gestures were repeated daily and I began to record them in an uncompromised way. My main concern was to collect the experiences and daily life of the market as if they were pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and not so much to create a structure for the film. As I went along, I started to assemble these pieces in my mind and the narrative structure was created naturally, having as only concern the respect for the atmosphere of the place. We have been impressed with your cinematography and elegant use of details. What were some of your aesthetic decisions? The sensibility for details is intrinsically linked to Architecture. The reason that made me choose this aesthetics was the attempt to stimulate the viewer’s sensory
perception of this place. Each detail adds information to another detail and all of them make a whole. The lines of the bird cages may be read as the geometry of the market that functions symbolically as a cage for free pidgeons. Like these pidgeons caught in the market, the women are stuck in their routine, most of them for more than 50 years. The details emphasize the reality of that place, lending it a surreal setting, as if it was from another time, a past time that doesn’t exist outside its doors. The camera is still, in the line of the viewer’s look. One after the other, moments of contemplation and framings perceived by any keen visitor of Bolhão Market follow. A simplified aesthetic language that uses the dead time to create an approach. What was the most challenging thing about making your documentary? The biggest challenge was, without a
doubt, to respect the history of the market and the stories of the people who make this place the symbol that it is. How could the struggle of the saleswomen be shown without disrespecting their dignity? I talked to these women and one of them, who is 86 years old and the oldest saleswoman in the market, told me she has worked there for 75 years, selling the vegetables she grows in her field, and that she raised her children there —they played on the floor while she was working. It’s impossible to remain indifferent to these experiences and stories! A striking work of seemingly improvisational form, Ora sim, hora não is in fact a highly layered film, open to several different readings. How did you develop your filmmaking style? More than a filmmaking style it is an option of editing. Exploring games of
meanings and significances leaves the narrative open to different interpretation, allowing the viewers to read the space and time lived in the market. I recall two shots that follow one another: in the first one there’s a saleswoman watering the vegetables to make them fresh and in the second shot another seller organises carefully the dried flowers on her stand. The intention of joining these two shots is to highlight the time that goes by with no changes, even if the present is watered to be harvested in the future. So there’s a transition of time in the same space. The metaphors follow one another throughout the 16 minutes. However, this is not only related to a visual concern — the fact that I chose to capture the ambient surround, without conversations, emphasizes the intention of offering the viewer the opportunity to imagine different dialogues or develop thoughts. We have previously mentioned Tsai Ming Liang, yet your visual imagery
is closer to Sharunas Bartas's cinema. Can you tell us who among international artists influenced your work? I watch cinema for pleasure and curiosity and not because I’m expecting to watch a film that may be an influence for a particular project. I register, of course, some artists that have become in a way a personal reference such as Chris Marker, Agnes Varda, Santiago Alvarez, Wong Kar Wai, Miguel Gomes... But because my academic background is not related to Cinema I feel some liberty to wander through references that go beyond cinema and include architecture, painting and photography. I can’t dissociate the different areas that influence me when I’m immersed in a filmmaking project. What are you hoping Ora sim, hora não will trigger in the audience? This could be a bit ambitious of me, but I
hope that when people watch Ora sim, hora não they take some time to think about the importance of the identity of a place, the importance of the material and non-material heritage. I hope they think about what we are irreversibly losing because of globalisation.
made by women reveals the existence of production, even though the visibility in the commercial and independent circuits barely exists. We have to keep fighting for a market based in equality, a fight that can be inspired by the determination of the saleswomen of Bolhão Market.
For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema?
Thanks for your time and thought, Lara. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for you?
Little by little women are conquering the space that it’s theirs by right, not only in the Cinema but also in society in general. This has been an achievement for centuries and it means breaking down barriers such as prejudice and monopoly in the different arts. The emergence of several festivals dedicated to cinema
I’ve recently finished a collaboration in photography and editing in the short film Enquanto te espero a luz coalhou (While I wait for you the light has curdled) by Patrícia Freitas. I don’t have plans for an upcoming project – I’ll let myself be taken by intuition and (sometimes sudden) will of creating something new. I’d like to thank CinéWomen for giving me this opportunity to talk about Ora sim, hora não.
megan manning Opportunity Cost (USA, 2015)
CONTROVERSIAL FILM, OPEN TO SEVERAL DIFFERENT READINGS, OPPORTUNITY COST DELIVERS A COMPLEX AND PROVOCATIVE TAKE ON AN ISSUE OF INTERNATIONAL IMPORTANCE WITHOUT SACRIFICING ANY ENERGY OR SUSPENSE. NEW VIEWERS WILL BE STUNNED AT THE DEPTH OF MEGAN MANNING'S VISION: FROM THE FIRST TIME WE WATCHED OPPORTUNITY COST WE WERE IMMEDIATELY FASCINATED BY ITS ELLIPTICAL NATURE REMINDING US OF PHILIPPE GRANDRIEUX'S CINEMA. FILMED WITH AN EXQUISITE DETACHMENT, OPPORTUNITY COST IS AN AMBITIOUSLY CONSTRUCTED, ELEGANTLY PHOTOGRAPHED MEDITATION ON MATERNITY. WE ARE PLEASED TO PRESENT MEGAN MANNING FOR THIS YEAR'S CINÃ‰WOMEN EDITION. MEGAN, TELL US ABOUT YOUR TRAJECTORY AS A
FILMMAKER. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO EXPRESS YOURSELF IN THIS MEDIUM? For as long as I can remember, I've always loved film. I can understand it easier and better than most other things. The correspondence between picture and sound is just so fascinating, and I couldn't think of any better way of expressing myself. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your short film: how did you come up with the idea for Opportunity Cost? My favorite thing about cinema is when a film (through the story, characters or other elements) has the ability to make one think to themselves, "Wow! I can't
believe it, I thought I was the only one who felt that way!" So I wanted to make a short about an experience that everyone struggles with however, thinks they are alone in it. Opportunity Cost is that one wicked thought that everyone has had but will never admit and many people may think it's more sinister or bad-minded, but it's not. It's just honest. The film is rich of flashbacks. Can you comment this particular aspect of Opportunity Cost? It's also rich of flash forwards. I wanted to use as much visual storytelling as possible to depict that constant back and forth struggle of
weighing together the pros and cons during certain situations. Can you tell us something about the shooting of Opportunity Cost? There were actually a couple of times during the park scene shoot when I genuinely thought Storey, our little actress, went missing. Shooting at a public park with a three year old was easy enough in the sense that when the camera was rolling, she had a huge playground to keep her occupied-but as soon as we would cut, we'd turn around and she would be gone. I'll admit, a couple of times I got really worried if I couldn't find her
immediately and I just thought to myself, oh the irony. Can you explain the director/actor relationship during the shooting? This was my first time making my own project and because I was pretty limited, I decided to both direct and star in the short. I had my hands in so many departments, it was really difficult to remain focused and in creative control the majority of the time. I am so thankful for Steven, my director of photography, for really pulling more than his own weight during production and collaborating with me which was what really helped me remain balanced.
We have been deeply fascinated by your cinematography, in particular your use of natural light. What were some of your aesthetic decisions? Like I said, the collaboration and vision that Steven and I were capable of creating together was really what made Opportunity Cost what it is. We wanted something really genuine for the park scenes, so we thought it would be best if we shot at an actual open public park on a Sunday. It seemed like a great idea before hand but to be honest, after a couple of hours of shooting - we just wanted to get in, get our natural lit footage
and get out of the park as fast as we could haha! We have previously mentioned Philippe Grandrieux, can you tell us your biggest influences and how they have affected your work? My biggest influence, especially for this project would be Sam Mendes. In his films, he is constantly expressing the theme that is his exploration of changing the concept of home and stability. His power to shed light on very common and real experiences was something I kept in mind while making Opportunity Cost, however his biggest influence on me stemmed from his ability to reveal the 'demons through the veil' in everyday situations. What do you hope viewers will take away from Opportunity Cost? Awareness that you shouldn't be so hard on yourself. Because thoughts can be evil and random, you should never judge yourself based on your own thoughts but rather the actions you end up choosing. You can't control thoughts, but you can control actions. Do you have any advice for filmmakers who have their own stories theyâ€™re burning to tell although they lack the funding or infrastructure to do so? Lack of funding and/or infrastructure is no excuse. If you have a story you want to tell - find a camera, get your friends together and take the first step. The first and last step is making it happen, and anything worth working on is worth it. 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? Although the film industry is a hard industry for anyone, the imbalance of women and men in film is too big of a gap to ignore. The good news though is that people are talking about this gender gap more and more every day on the streets, in blogs and social media making this gap impossible to disregard. I think more opportunities for women in cinema will come into sight and things will absolutely change, but in the mean time - the best advice for any filmmaker is to never quit and to stay focused. Thanks for your time and thought, Megan. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career! What's next for Megan Manning? Thank you! Directing this short was an amazing opportunity but since Opportunity Cost, I have decided to remain in the post production department as an editor right now. I have been fortunate enough to work and experience a little of everything in film during my career, and editing is my calling in this industry. Currently, I am working full time inhouse for a production company and I couldn't be happier having just started post production on a 6 episode web series called 'Dice Lords' which is taking up most of my attention right now until the series premiere in June.