ANNA CERVERA MAUD NEVE KRISTINA WONG KYRA GARRIGUE ANGELA YU YACHEN CHENG STEPHANIE JIHA EMILY BAYROCK KIMBERLY BURLEIGH VJOSANA SKHURTI
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 Talking the Bullet by Emily Bayrock by Tala Hoballah; the visionary cinema of Stephanie Jiha reminescent of David Cronenberg’s atmospheres; the couragous documentarist Anna Cervera; A Lizard Under The Skin by Maud Neve; the hypnotic cinema of Kimberly Burleigh and much more.
15/16 TOP Still from Stephanie Jiha’s film COVER Anna Cervera, Photo By Chul-gu Han
LEFT Still from , Mengxi Rao
wac* VIDEO ART CINEMA THEATRE DANCE
emily bayrock Talking the Bullet (Canada, 2015)
trajectory as a filmmaker?
Originally drafted for the stage by young auteur Kelsi James, “Taking the Bullet” follows the story of a young man distraught by his father’s death. After being told that his father was murdered, Aaron Filch (Jake Guy) feels as though he is being withheld information. During his search for the truth, he meets Cari Browne (Nicola Rough), a seventeen-year-old girl and the prime suspect of the police. Though convicted of murder, Cari has a kinder heart than Aaron could have imagined and within it she holds the secrets of his father’s death. With narrative twists and accurate cinematography, Taking the Bullet is an overwhelming emotional experience. From the first time we watched it, its enigmatic approach to narrative and characters reminded us the films of Raul Ruiz. Emily Bayrock's short film seems simple, but it encompasses an entire world. We are glad to present Emily Bayrock for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Emily, you began your career in film at the age of eight. Can you tell us about your
Though it may sound strange, I did begin what is now my career in film at eight years old. Through Young Moviemakers, a Vancouver summer camp, I learned the basics of film production. I spent my summers writing, directing, shooting, acting in and editing my own short films with the help of a mentor and two astounding coordinators. Over these summers I discovered my passion for the art of film, and when I was 14, decided to return to the camp as a volunteer. Between volunteering, I would attend film intensives that went more in depth into film than I had previously experienced. With more advanced equipment and professionals to learn from, I quickly excelled to the level of being able to mentor my own groups. Looking to higher learning, I have since applied, and was accepted to, Concordia University, Simon Fraser University and New York University to pursue my degree in film production. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for Taking the Bullet? Taking the Bullet was a collaborative project from start to finish. Going into this project I knew I wanted to make a drama, specifically a film that focused on the aspect of human connection rather than purely action. I came to my good friend
Kelsi James with the theme I wanted to portray, and she was kind enough to offer up a script she had originally written for the stage. Once I had read it, I knew this story had to be told to a wider audience. I was captivated by the subtlety she had begun to explore with the protagonists, and I felt that the characters could be explored further if the script was adapted for the screen.
unbearable grief -but it also displays the crucial importance of relationships, and it is this that I wanted most to explore and share. Both protagonists are kept prisoner by their morals, and, are abandoned by those who should have most fervently protected them. They are both victims of other's people's avarice, both trapped in helpless situations, and still, they find solace in each other.” –Kelsi James
“I wrote "Taking the Bullet" as a play, under the tutelage of Shawn McDonald for the Vancouver Arts Club's youth playwriting program "LEAP" (Learning Early About Playwriting). "Taking the Bullet" started as a vague exploration of justice, and grew to become an in-depth discussion of both guilt and betrayal. Emily is my good friend, and when she approached me about sharing my story with a larger audience, I could not have been more delighted. "Taking the Bullet" encompasses a lot of pain -disheartening misunderstandings, emotional crises,
Taking the Bullet features a clear and original storytelling. How did you develop the script and the structure of the film? Developing the structure of this film presented itself as an easy task, but boy was I wrong. This project is one of the most difficult I have taken on due to how many people were involved with the story itself. I wanted to stay true to the original script, but it was clear that certain aspects would have to be adapted for the screen. Having the added pressure of a ten-minute time
limit (in order to submit Taking the Bullet as an admissions piece to universities) definitely made that task a lot harder. I ended up sitting down with a paper copy of the script and a red pen. I worked through it, line by line, cutting out what I felt was unnecessary dialogue, or things that I felt could be portrayed better with a visual. After this I met with Kelsi to go over the changes then went back to go through the script again. It continued like this until I felt we had a solid skeleton to begin writing the screenplay. The hardest part of this project was when we had a completed screenplay and knew it would still be too long. The monologue recited by Cari at the end of the film was originally twice as long, but when it came down to it, we decided that it was the only part that could be condensed without losing any of the story. It broke my heart to lose that beautiful writing.
We have deeply appreciated the character of Aaron Filch. Can you talk about your creative relationship with Jake Guy and how it has evolved through your work together? Jake Guy is a fabulous actor and a wonderful creative spirit to work with. I knew when he came in for his audition that he would be a perfect fit for the character of Aaron Filch. On and off screen he helped keep spirits high, making jokes and offering to help whenever he could. The first time I met Jake was when he came to audition, though I later found out we have several mutual friends. He was one of the few of those auditioning for the part of Aaron that filled the room with character as soon as he stepped in. Over the course of shooting I was lucky enough to see Jake open up even more in his acting as he connected with the character. He was able to make choices and bring elements
to the screen that I hadn’t even imagined going into production, and I think that’s what makes Aaron such a memorable character. Jake put so much of his heart into every take that you can’t help but appreciate how real his character feels on screen. When I was watching Jake perform it wasn’t like I was watching an actor, but instead living inside the world I had written. It was magical. Working with Jake was such a blessing, and I truly hope to have him back on another project soon. Did you rehearse a lot with the shots you prepared in advance? Rehearsal was definitely a luxury we did not have time for on set. With the majority of our cast and crew being students, our schedules were already jam packed with assignments. I made the mistake of scheduling our shooting days during final exams week, which made finding time to film a very big problem. The actors were given their scripts in advance, so they did
have a chance to look over the text, however, when it came to rehearsal on set we only had time to do one or two run throughs of the scene before we had to shoot. I was so lucky that this didn’t faze my actors in the least. The performances they gave, even in their first take were so honest that it didn’t matter if the lines weren’t perfect. The characters were real and alive in front of me. You have cinema in your veins. Taking the Bullet contains a lot of references from Godard's early works to Darren Arofnosky's films. Can you tell us your biggest influences and how they have affected your work? Godard is definitely a huge influence of mine. I remember watching À Bout de Souffle for the first time and being mesmerized with every cut. The moment between Patricia and Michel in the car driving down the highway uses a lot of jump cuts, or what some may call choppy
editing. For me it portrayed a passage of time, as if their lives were going by in snapshots. It made me feel like they were in the car longer than they probably were, as if time slowed down. I definitely kept that in mind for the opening scene of Taking the Bullet. The shots of Cari don’t follow standard rules of filmmaking. They jump between strange angles, appearing to slow time. For Taking The Bullet in particular I drew from the elegant cinematography of Chan-Wook Park. Every moment in his films is crafted like a house, with a strong foundation and attention to detail. Often the only punctuation Park allows himself is a simple cut from one shot to the next. This is what I hoped to achieve. I strove to have a clean canvas for the characters to tell their story. In terms of sound, Kieślowski’s trilogy is where I constantly draw my inspiration. In Bleu, the first of the three works, music is used as an accent and nothing
more, making it one of the most powerful devices in filmmaking. The sparseness of the soundscape without music leaves no room for an audience to be manipulated into feeling anything more than they already are. Any emotion comes from the visual and performance alone. I find that placing music in every scene often detracts from the overall story and creates a false world. With music brought in at precise moments the viewer has no choice but to live the story like it is his or her own life. "Every minute on set was full of laughs" you write in your Director's statement. Can you tell us something about the collaborative nature of this project? If I were to call the process of Taking the Bullet anything, it would definitely be collaborative. I think what makes
this project unique is that it was created entirely by young people. Half of us knew each other from school going into this project, and those who had never met hit it off immediately. I believe that bonding between cast and crewmembers becomes very important when dealing with such heavy subject matter. With the lack of significant comedic moments in the script you have to rely on yourselves to keep the atmosphere light and fun off screen. The jokes we told each other between takes and the flubbed lines definitely kept spirits high. Do you have any advice for filmmakers who have their own stories they’re burning to tell although they lack the funding or infrastructure to do so? I am all about accessible filmmaking. Film is such a popular art form, and with increasing technology advances more young people are asking themselves how they can make a movie. You don’t need
fancy equipment or expensive programs to make a great film. All you need is an idea that you’re passionate about and a group of like-minded people. Film on your phone, on an iPad, an old handy-cam from your parents’ basements. Edit in iMovie or Windows Moviemaker or even in an app like Instagram. Even write a script and rehearse it with your friends until you have the materials to bring it to the screen. You may even find it makes a better play than it does film. It doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you’re telling your story. That’s not something that can be taught, but something ingrained into human nature. If you’ve got an idea you think would make a good film, chances are someone else thinks so to. 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 and animation? Cinema is definitely still a very difficult industry for women to break into. The creation of many magazines, festivals and mentorship programs focusing on women in film has opened the door for women looking to further their career. However it is still much more competitive for women to be recognized than it is for men. The discouragement of women getting behind the camera is systematic and can be tied back to Laura Mulvey’s description of the male gaze; the fact that women are meant to be placed in front of the camera as living props and should not be the ones to make decisions about how they participate in the formation of their own images. Whether you agree with that statement or not doesn’t change the fact that women are still widely excluded from the technical aspects of film. Though I wholeheartedly agree that the industry is changing, there is still a lot of room to
grow. I look forward to being part of the generation of women filmmakers that proves they are worthy of recognition and are capable of making films of a superior quality. As an instructor, I am dedicated to making sure the young girls I teach are heard and valued as creative minds right along side the boys. I look forward to the day the industry as a whole shares that dedication. Thanks for your time and thought, Emily. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Emily Bayrock? Thank you so much for including me in this edition! It has been an honour to be interviewed alongside so many other fantastic women filmmakers. Over the next four years I will be getting my degree in film production from one of the three fantastic universities I mentioned earlier. I can’t wait to work with so many talented individuals and continue to grow as an artist.
vjosana shkurti Titolo che inizia per Utland (Canada,
With its unforgettable nostalgic imagery, Utland is an overwhelming emotional experience. Vjosana Shkurti delicately weaves past and present in her deeply penetrating film, mixing melancholy and emotional intensity to create a touching, acute meditation on immigration. Utland seems simple, but it encompasses an entire world, depicting emotions in places where dialogue could not scratch the surface. We are pleased to present Vjosana Shkurti for this year's
CinéWomen Edition. Vjosana, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? It was a slow and gradual process. I grew up thinking that I would become an architect and I did not have access to a camera until high school, where I took a film course just for fun. My affinity for moving images became clearer in my final undergraduate year at the University of Toronto. I was studying architecture and art; both programs were studio-based, and I developed an interest in video art specifically because of its “immateriality”. Films/movies/videos all have a physical component that allows them to be recorded or stored, but the projection of the image and its accompanying sound --the artwork--are not tangible in the strict sense of the word. I like the idea
that artwork like that cannot be owned by one person alone. It has to be shared. A movie is like an idea that floats in front of your eyes and later inside your head. It cannot be held or touched but, if it’s well made, it will offer you that impression We want to take a closer look at the genesis of Utland, can you tell us what attracted you to this particular story? The original intention for this short project was to use sound and image as contrasting elements to communicate the sense of loss that follows migration to a foreign land. The visual component would indicate the present time while the soundtrack was designed to take the character somewhere in the past. I wanted the audience to see winter and isolation but hear the opposite, so in the
first stages of the project I made lists of opposing or complementary elements: ice and boiling water, ice and fire, wind and music, snow and sand. Was it important for you to make a personal film, something you knew a lot about? Most of my ideas come from personal experience because that makes projects more honest. I have moved a lot, so I have a lot of influences that seek translation. I try to exhaust all inspiration that comes from that experience. I am unavoidably obsessed with certain themes: home, landscape, time, family, memory. But I am also interested in concepts like impermanence, loss and instability. We have been impressed by the
way you use specific locations as inspiration for larger emotional inquires. Can you comment this aspect of Utland? Finding the right locations was my main focus on this project. There is no dialogue, not many characters and most of the film is shot outdoors, so the landscape had to speak for itself. It had to be another character in the film - one with a strong isolating power. The film was shot in Montreal and I incorporated the local climate in my concept to explain how migration from a Mediterranean country to Canada has affected me on a physical and psychological level. For a lot of immigrants who move from a warmer country to Canada, there is a major shift in lifestyle. It is not simply the geographical distance that takes you away from your home, it is the way of
living. The local landscape and climate had to be used in order to express through it the essence of loss. The most important location was the frozen shore in the second half of the film where the thread is found stuck in the ice. I had visited a lot of spots because I needed one that was shallow enough that would freeze in winter to allow us to walk on it. At the same time, it needed to face a distant horizon, to resemble a frozen sea. What made chosen spot ideal was the fact that the sun rose right in front of the shore. This might seem extreme, but I used a website called suncalc.net that lets you check where is the sunâ€™s position at any location in the world, based on the calendar day and time of the day. Itâ€™s a very useful tool if you have a specific outdoor shot in mind. In the story, after the thread breaks, I had in mind a shot of the girl facing the sun in the sky
holding the ball of thread in her hand. This is the only shot in the film that came close to what I had imagined originally. It was one of the first shots we captured because the weather forecast predicted a light layer of cloud for only an hour that morning and that was the exact condition I was hoping for. The shore scene was filmed in Verdun at a park along the shore. The walk was filmed in an industrial area near Lachine which I found while searching for the shore. I was attracted to the industrial and desolate look of the buildings behind the fence and generally there is very little traffic on the streets so it helped intensify that sense of isolation. This might seem strange to include, but the digital map at the introduction of the movie could be considered as one of the locations. It is a not a physical location but sometimes when I
reminisce about places I lived in Albania and Greece, I look at Google streetview and my memory rarely coincides with what I see on my screen. It’s so different that it makes me doubt I once lived there in the first place. That is why I included it in the film. We find stimulating the way you weave past, present and future in your cinema. How did you develop the narrative structure of the film? Originally the concept of the film focused on bringing together opposite elements. The present would be seen in images and the past would be heard through the soundtrack. This was the base for the structure of the film but it wasn’t followed to the dot. I think it served more as a hidden guide
during the production phase but at the final edit, associations were not made only between opposites. “Time” is the abstract sound of a train passing in the distance when we see the thread stretched against the horizon. The “Future” comes into play when the second character makes an appearance. At that point it becomes very hard to tell whether the old woman belongs in the past or whether she is a projection of the girl’s self. Utland features a very original approach to storytelling, as well as an accurate cinematography. How did you develop your filmmaking style? It’s a lot of trial and error. I have a background in video art and architecture so I learned about different ways of experiencing space and
movement. My storytelling approach focuses on a specific action that I find intriguing in itself. I have done different kinds of short videos from hand-drawn animation to digital infographic videos and video for gallery exhibitions. All of them tend to be very minimal with regards to elements.
not have to worry about too many props. For Utland, all that was needed was the ball of thread, the digital map and winter clothing. Everything else belonged to the landscape.
We have been deeply impressed by the lack of artifice of your film, your indifference to decors: you aimed at a minimal shape of production. Can you describe the shooting of Utland?
Filming at -30 or -40 degrees! Winter filming provides a steep learning curve. The risks are high when you are filming with expensive equipment and your body betrays you because it cannot handle the temperature after an hour. This was the first time I filmed outside in Canadian winter. I was pretty scared and felt really guilty for keeping my crew outside for so long. But everything goes well when you have a dedicated team with a good sense of humour..
My videos are very minimal in general. Sometimes they run the risk of looking too clean and cold through this method but I like focusing on very few elements for the sake of symbolism. I enjoy the production process more when I do
What was the most challenging thing about making this film?
When we watched Utland, we immediately thought of Victor Erice's cinema, his nostalgic atmospheres. Can you tell us who among international directors influenced your work? It is not easy to track down influences usually. I have favorite movies or scenes but no favorite directors and I am influenced by other types of art not just films. Some of the works that linger in my mind are Paul Auster’s “The New Trilogy”, Michael Haneke’s “Caché”, Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”, Claire Denis’s “Vendredi Soir”, Dostoevsky’s “Notes from underground”. 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 becoming more interested in the technical aspects of filmmaking and that gives them confidence about their projects. The more they know, the better they are able to control their projects and prove that they can realize them. Thanks for your time and thought, Vjosana, we wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Vjosana Shkurti? Have you got any plans for other films? Thank you for your interest in my work. I’m happy to be part of this project. I’m starting my second year in Film Production at Concordia so lots of creative ideas are waiting to be realized.
stephanie jiha Deep throat; hollow body (USA, 2015)
Assembled with visionary editing, Deep throat; hollow body is a psychogically penetrating meditation on alcholism and sexuality. With her radical take on narrative Stephanie Jiha creates a dark and emotionally captivating drama, delivering a complex and nuanced take on an issue of international importance. We are honored to present Stephanie Jiha for this year's CinĂŠWomen Edition. Stephanie Jiha, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? Stephanie: Photography was always my passion, from an early age I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Once I was in school
for photography at Parsons, I felt myself growing out of it and that is when I discovered that film was my true trajectory. My work had always been very cinematic, I just needed to take it to the next level with video. Coming from a photographic background, video came natural to me and after my first short, Theta Waves, I fell in love with filmmaking and expressing myself through video art instead of just the static image. I still do photography but I enjoy how visceral and fully engaging film can be in comparison. How did you come up with the idea for Deep throat; hollow body? Stephanie: For the past couple years my work has revolved around themes
of pop culture, the internet, selfies, etc., essentially I have been exploring themes about our generation. I really wanted to do a video about the idea of hookup culture and that’s when I asked my friend Lauren Brimmer to express my ideas into her own words for the film. She writes creative non-fiction and poetry, which I was inspired by for Deep Throat; Hollow Body. We have been deeply fascinated by your visionary approach to cinematic time and space. How did you develop your editing style? Stephanie: I have been doing film for only 2 years now but in that time I have developed a succinct editing style. I edit very intuitively, and focus heavily on the flow of the clips and how they relate to the music and/or narration. I go back and watch every
second of the video over and over to make sure that the pace and flow is perfect. It is very time consuming but rewarding in the end! Deep throat; hollow body is a mindbending reflection on alienation and personal disconnection in the digital era. The story is simple, yet the implications of its characters’ emotions and actions are profound. What’s your writing process like? How did you develop the structure of the film? Lauren Brimmer: My writing process always starts the same way--with one line. Sometimes the line comes to mind shortly after an emotionally intense experience but most of the time, it's days after when my subconscious has had time to reflect on it. When the line strikes, it feels as if the piece has
already written itself in the back of my mind and what follows just pours out of me. I go into this super manic, creative mode and a lot of times it feels as if I'm going to write something completely incoherent but when I'm done I'll read it and (most of the time) there will be a very clear theme and meaning that was formed almost accidentally. It's all a process of discovery. ? We have been deeply impressed with the accurate sound design of Deep throat; hollow body, which reminds us of Alain Robbe Grillet's cinema. Can you comment this peculiar aspect of your film? Stephanie: I did not make the music for this film, like my editing style, I choose the music intuitively and this was just a royalty free track I found that worked great with the tone and
vibe of the film. Deep throat; hollow body is marked by an elegant use of close-ups. How did you conceive the visual style of this film? Stephanie: Like I have stated before, I am a photographer first and foremost and I think this shows through my filming style. For Deep Throat; Hollow Body I wanted to make it very intimate which is why I used a lot of close-ups, particularly of skin and touching to perpetuate this feeling. We have appreciated your minimalist language. Rather than focus on acute or dramatic moments, you rely on on simple gestures to communicate a disturbing atmosphere. How did you develop your filmmaking style?
Stephanie: I wanted to use more minimal imagery so that it would not overpower the narration, which is equal in importance. The visuals and the writing need to have balance in order to make a lasting impact with the viewers. What do you want people to remember after seeing Deep throat; hollow body? Lauren Brimmer: What I hope people will take away from this video, and always my writing, is a sense of relation and comfort in not being alone in their struggles. This piece definitely came from a place of shame, loneliness, and most of all selfloathing. The experiences in this videonaren't just unique to me, I know, but it often feels that way to people who find themselves in this sort of sexual pattern because
subjects such as sexual promiscuity, especially as a woman, and especially associated with alcoholism, aren't discussed enough in a healthy and open way, leaving a lot of women like myself feeling extremely isolated. I hope that women can find power in the vulnerability of sharing their experiences and help others and themselves feel that they are not crazy, or a bad person and that there are others out there who get what it's like to wake up in the morning and want to not be yourself, or how painfully embarrassing those drunk texts can be later, or what its like to sleep with someone regardless of how they treat you,or to drink to cope or to want or not want something or someone, to know what you're doing is bad for you but to keep doing it anyway, or how it feels to try to validate yourself through other people
etc etc. Stephanie Jiha: I want people to remember that they are not alone in feeling isolated or dismantled due to their sexual experiences. Both men and women can be stuck in this cycle of ‘hooking up’ and have feelings of guilt and insecurity from it. I want people to be able to discuss and dissect these feelings and experiences without feeling shame that is often associated with them. 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 and animation? Entering a male dominated field is
incredibly intimidating as a woman but I think it’s great that more women are entering the industry. I hope someday that more female directors, cinematographers, editors, and writers will be recognized for their work to the extent that men have. I think women could have a major impact working in the film industry and it will inspire young girls to get behind the camera too. Thanks for your time and thought, Stephanie. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for Stephanie Jiha? Have you a particular film in mind? Thank you! I am now in the preproduction stage of working on another collaborative short film with Lauren, which will hopefully be finished by the end of the year.
yachen cheng Cobain & His Raincoat (Taiwan, 2015)
Yachen Cheng's debut film Cobain & His Raincoat is a smartly-written, elegantly executed piece. Mixing loneliness and fragility with creativity is not an easy task: the story of Cobain, the protagonist of Cheng's film, is masterly rendered through a a significant use of mise-en-scene. We are glad to present Yachen Cheng for this year's CinĂŠWomen Edition. Yachen, how did you get into filmmaking?
college, I have shot short films with my classmates. I started my final project since I was in junior. At the same time I had an internship with film-production company during summer vacation. The experience of intern let me learned a lot from predecessors. Itâ€™s very helpful to my final project of college.
Because I studied in Department of Mass Communication. Since I was in
Cobain & His Raincoat is my directorial debut. At the very
We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for Cobain & His Raincoat?
beginning, I just want to film a single story, a story that is easy to be understood. My interest is to investigate small thing and tiny people in my daily life, I found out that, there are always shy people around me. If they were teasing by others, they would keep to themselves, furthermore, in this generation with so many technological products, made them more immersed in their own world. In the script ,the bus was like a microcosm of society. There were all kinds people on it and everyone had fear, you could choose to face or ignore it. Cobain and the suspect are two similar but also contrastive characters. Everyone had own decision when they faced the pressure from society. By warm tone in the
movie, What we are trying to tell is, itâ€™s not difficult to make the right decision.Cobain was the main role who had dendrophobia. He lived on attic alone, enjoyed the small world and refused to communicate with others. Every time he went out, he always put a rain coat on, like protection, to separate himself from the world.In new yearâ€™s eve Cobain was abducted on the bus. He was forced to stay with crowd in a small bus. Meantime, he had to deal with real self in his heart. Cobain & His Raincoat won seven awards in Chaoyang Gold Awards. How did you feel about previewing a film before an audience?
It’s definitely my pleasure to screen my film.nI participated in several local and international film festivals, and many people discussed with me after seeing the film .Through filmmaker’s attendance, I could directly receive reaction from audience, no matter good or bad. And it would help me to improve myself. Most important is people can know much more about Taiwan via movie, and shows people in Taiwan are very creative. Cobain & His Raincoat is your final annual project at the Chaoyang University of Technology Communication Arts. Tell us about how this film school and your studies have influenced you!
I think school it’s a good environment for creator, especially in college. You wouldn’t be restricted and teachers would help me to put my skills to good use. Thanks for sharing your time, Yachen, we wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for you? Have you a particular film in mind? I will learn and create new project continuously. From short film to feature film, I want to shot one film every year to establish personal style. And at the sight of film, everyone will knows that it is Yachen Cheng in the future.
kristina wong Knots (Canada, 2015)
With its elegantly structured storytelling, Knots is a stunning meditation on the theme of crossing cultures. Kristina Wong dissects identity with the sure hand of a surgeon, creating an exquisitely nuanced drama. We are pleased to present Kristina Wong for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Kristina, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium?
allowed me to express my thoughts to the world without having to speak. For me, the most appealing part of filmmaking is that it’s such a personal art. It’s a way of dealing with your emotions and figuring out how to get the thoughts in your mind onto the screen. It’s having something to announce to the world.
I’ve always been a very reserved person, never speaking unless spoken too and so growing up I learned to really observe others and use my imagination to figure out who people really were. It wasn't until my oldest sister made a film that I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker. I remember as a child watching her make films with her friends and realizing it was more than just a fun hobby but a way of expression.
It’s very important to me that I only make films that are personal and true to my emotional state. While I was shopping around for short film scripts, I read many that had great story lines and unique characters but I didn't feel compelled to any because I had not experienced their journeys myself. That was until I stumbled upon a script called ‘1000 Paper Cranes’. It was a touching story of 3 generations combined with the Japanese tale of 1000 paper cranes. I was immediately taken by the cultural aspect of the story and felt driven to tell this tale;
And so being the quite person I am, I clutched on to this medium that
How did you become involved with Knots and what attracted you to this film?
Jessica De Los Santos (DOP)
however the only problem was that I am Chinese, not Japanese. So to stay true and thanks to the hard work of the screenwriter, we reworked the script into a hybrid film with the same theme of generations but with the Chinese motif of the knot. Knots features intense camera work. How did you work with the cinematographer Jessica De Los Santos? Did you give specific direction to her? First and foremost, Jessica and I have worked on our last 6 films together so over time weâ€™ve built a very resilient friendship that translates well into the professional workplace. Jessica was brought onto the project while the script was still in development, which is key to our successful on set relationship. As a director, I tend to focus more on the emotional aspects of the story, so by
having my cinematographer involved early on it allows her to have some creative input as to how to visually convey certain scenes better. This early conversation removes most typical conflict between director and DOP on set. The great thing about Jessica is that she is an emotional cinematographer, meaning that she is not only technically proficient but she frames her shots to match how the characters feel. Instead of heavy debates about a shot lists we spent a good majority of our time talking about the premise of the story so there is a mutual understanding of why itâ€™s important and then the shots were worked on from there. What is your preparation with actors in terms of rehearsal? I am a huge fan of Derek Cianfrance and if you look into his preparation style he
focuses more the characters and emotions rather than the script. For his feature film Blue Valentine, he had his actors live in a house together to celebrate special occasions, building an organic sense of love. When they were about to shoot an intense fight scene he had them rip up their pretend wedding photo to fuel it. Iâ€™ve always believed that you can't have a great character without a great actor. Acting is such a unique art form and I believe that directors must appreciate and let the actor do what they do best and find ways to encourage the performance you desire rather than force it. So for this film, I gathered the actors playing Scarlett and Clay and instead of giving them scripts to memorize, I explained to them the emotional back story of their characters and asked them what they would do if they were in this situation before revealing to them my written ending.
The responses and personal experiences they were pulling from were enough for me to feel comfortable enough to consider them prepared having not read the script yet. Itâ€™s never been about getting each word of dialogue right but for the emotional arc to come across in each scene. As for the actor who played Gong Gong, he wasn't brought on set until he was needed. I wanted to keep a bit of a barrier between him and the family to build up a slightly awkward tension just as it would be if this situation were real and being documented. Each scene on set was rehearsed more so for blocking, leaving the performances organic. What do you hope viewers will take away from the film? I hope viewers from any class or culture can relate to this story and take
something away from it. It wasn’t designed as a reminder to love your family or respect your heritage. Films in general are one’s perception of life and viewers can take anything they wish from it. Although I’d like to hope viewers gain a sense of perception of hybrid cultures and the difficulties faced by generals of immigrant families. I created Knots in such a way not to force viewers to understand the story from one angle; rather I left it open to interpretation, leaving wide shots for viewers to look at whatever they please. This way, the audience can interact with the piece by using their imagination to fill in the elements that aren't directly in their faces. I want them to remember the film as a thought - to ponder the
future of these characters and respect the short format. This glimpse is an invitation into my personal thoughts that can then be compared to one's own reality. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? I am a strong advocate for women in front and behind the camera. In fact, most of my key crew roles were filled by females. It’s highly discouraging too see the numbers behind films made in Canada or the rest of the world being
outweighed by male figures. We encourage movies that take on a new perspective of an old subject or directors who push the boundaries when it comes to storytelling but why do we not encourage women when that’s exactly what they are – innovative mindsets who have this fresh perspective. I don't think there is a lack of females in the industry; I think it's a lack of attention to them. I think as a woman it's difficult to promote yourself. You're an artist, not a sales person. It feels almost misleading when you push for your work to be seen. I don't think this problem is just males, it's also a lack of female support. Sometimes I feel that females do not support each other enough because were told that it’s a cutthroat industry and the only way to
make it to the top is to take care of yourself. On the bright side, there are so many up and coming grants and companies geared towards this feminist movement by offering discounted studio spaces, specialized grants and workshops. It's really great to see people in the community stepping up. We must remember that we are not each other’s competition but support. I believe women all around the world will make changes to further advance our society and I cannot wait for the day we stop having to inform others which movie was ‘female directed’ or ‘made by a minority’. Your accurate use of temps mort in
Knot reminded me of Chantal Akerman's editing. Who were some of your chief influences? I wouldn't say I have any particular influences in general. I've always thought of editing as the art of being invisible. It's easy to recognize bad editing but you can never fully appreciate good editing because when you’re allowed to be so interactive within a film, you forget you're even an audience member. I worked really closely with both my editors for this film, I'm usually not a very picky person but editing is as much storytelling as directing on set so I made sure the story followed through with the vision I had in preproduction. Could you take us through your creative process when starting a new project There’s no exact formula – or maybe I
haven’t figured it out yet but every time I begin a new film its always different. As mentioned before, the one thing about my work is that is has to be authentic and significant. You are only as good as your last film and when you have the power to put on screen something you want to tell the world, it better be meaningful. Usually it starts with a feeling - I'll pick up these certain words from songs, moments or quotes that make me feeling something. Then these ideas will marinate in my mind until I am able to get them down on paper. One thing I always do is keep them a secret from the world - like they are my treasure. My films are my personal thoughts so I do everything in my power to protect them until I'm ready to stand by them. A while ago, I had suffered from a looming anxiety of wanting to make films so great that I couldn't even begin. It may be stereotypical but I think you need to suffer
as an artist; it's the only tangible evidence you have to know that you're making something worth sharing. My solution to this problem came in the form of a therapy I never knew existed. My university had an academic strategist who specialized in helping students write their theses but occasionally they would take the odd musician or filmmaker who needed help. The problem was the same - when you can write about anything in the world you find yourself drowning in unlimited options. For me, I needed the sky as the limit (to at least gage where I was going). Once I have my premise and emotional drive, the rest is history. Thanks for your time and thought, Kristina. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Kristina Wong?
Knots has been in a few film festivals around the world so far and will continue to do so for the next year. I actually just wrapped production for my latest film, Tidal Waves, which is about a young dancer’s struggle with scoliosis. For that shoot I was able to shoot underwater, which was an amazing yet challenging experience to say the least. I will be in postproduction until mid-2016 but I have a really good feeling about this one. In the mean time, I’m working on a bunch of grants/treatments for my next short film that will hopefully shoot Fall 2016. I’ve also been very interested in other formats such as documentary, commercials and music videos so you can expect me to branch out soon. I’m honestly just very excited for the future and everything it holds. It has been my dream and passion for so long to make films and share with the world these reflections.
anna cervera A la puta strasse (Spain, 2015)
Superbly shot and tightly edited, is a captivating journey the Barcelona Underground. With her characteristic vérité style, Anna Cervera manages to brilliantly balance dramatic and documentary techniques, resulting in a work at once raw and deeply poetic. We are honored to present Anna Cervera for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Anna, can you tell us what attracted you to this particular project? The documentary “A la puta strasse. Not just a BARcelona” was born out of personal experience, and that is why it is a portrait of a particular environment from the inside. I had recently moved to Barcelona when I entered the Bar Segundo Acto for the first time. It was in a small and narrow street, next to Petritxol street where I currently live, in the centre of the Gothic Quarter, close to the Ramblas and the Liceu theatre. The whole area is overtaken by tourists, and it is hard to find the local people’s scene. Just after stepping inside the bar I was amazed with what I found. Local people enjoying themselves, laughing, singing… a rich world that instantly caught me. After that I would regularly frequent the bar, and even worked as a bartender in order to get to know the local patrons, and share their lives from within. Every character, every customer looked like a particular world. It was very interesting. Some nights in the bar turned magical. Some evenings, for example, just when we were about to close for the day,
suddenly a group of puppeteers would turn up and improvise a show. After leaving the bar, I would go back home happy, having rediscovered a confidence in life and in people. I got to know the bar in its later life, after the smoking ban had damaged the business, and the customers would talk more about the bar rather than go there. That is why Emilio, the owner would mention that it was no longer a profitable business, and remember the olden days when it was a successful enterprise. Everyday used to be a party, but in its later days it was the usual suspects enjoying their few eternal beers. Emilio finally decided to shut down shop, announcing that the 1st of November, 2013, would be its last day. That is when I realized that I had to shoot this last evening. I got together a few friends with cameras and shot everything, with the hope that something interesting could come out of that. Or maybe not. This hole could not be left to die without documenting it. It is part of the history of Barcelona, a piece of life in the Old City that is no longer a meeting point, and now this particular sphere of society has been left unattended, orphaned, and diluted in other environments. The bohemian family of the Old City has lost a temple. The following day I reviewed all the film, with great emotion. We had a story, and we had to dig deeper in it. features audaciously stuctured storytelling. Did the film unfold before the camera, or were you already
aware of these various pieces of the puzzle? I must admit that there was no previous idea before picking up the camera. It was after reviewing the material that I thought there could be a possible storyline. All those characters, with their impacting and sincere opinions could not be left as mere patrons in a bar. I felt the urge to look into their lives, and to show their human, real, and artistic side. I felt a growing emotion after visiting the characters’ homes, and after discovering their intimate and unique lives. Each one of them a unique world, with little big stories. They are all unconventional people; painters, photographers, cannabis connosseurs, booksellers, artists, pacifists... all líving outside the system, and with a certain nostalgia for a glorious past. This would be the second main focus for me; the last day of the bar on the one side, and the customers on the other. I needed a third focus to unite the other two. So now, with a team including Alejandro Gil, Berta Simó and Aved Produccions, we organised the shooting of Emilio’s interview and two other old customers. The location was the shut bar, half empty, with broken mirrors... all decadent but still somewhat cosy. The plan was that this interview would be the
thread of the story, with Emilio becoming the uniting point. I prepared a few questions that I wanted Emilio to respond in order to unite the different stories. Emilio told everything very naturally, with grace and sense of humour, as if he himself had written his own script. Myself and the whole team were very pleasantly surprised ! Once the bar had shut, Emilio had a week to vacate the premises. I did not want to miss that. He gave away much of what was in the bar to charity. Those were very emotional moments for Emilio; they were taking away his furniture, his bar ! I loved it when he said that the bar would remain alive. They were the most emotional scenes. The dismantling of the bar became a fourth piece of the film, and to be introduced in the script. The main difficulty with the story was to find the the climax. What should we explain first; the closing of the bar?; the open bar...?. It was clear to us that the viewer would empathise more with the emotion of the closing down of a bar if he has witnessed it alive, even if it is just its last night. That is why the script first introduces the customers, the viewer sees the emotion of the last night, and finally empathises with the closing down. As long as this viewer likes this side of the Barcelona underground, of course! Can you describe the shooting of your film?
I am grateful for this question. There were four main shooting threads: last day of the bar, the interview with Emilio, the customers, and the closing down of the bar. For me the most interesting was the shooting of the individual characters, as it became a trip through their private world. Many are apparently shy people, but they share the feeling that they are artists who want to be appreciated and liked, by their personalities or by their work. They wanted to be filmed, but in a somewhat reluctant way. And they wanted to be part of they beloved bar. My aim was clear to me: to make myself and my camera disappear. It had to be a one to one conversation. The fact that they knew me already did help the process, as there was a previsous link with each one of them. I felt that they trusted me, and the opened themselves. I shot everything, nothing was prepared. I just met with them, not knowing what would come out. Corvus, the great painter, was very reluctant to being shot. We met in order to film him in his studio. But he arrived two hours late. On the way to the studio we stopped to buy some drinks, then went to a friend’s place (who happened to be Javier, the chess player). It was then that we finally went to where we were supposed to be, and magic happened.
Seeing him paint in a place so aristocratic, so Picasso-like that came out of the canvas, was like being in the entrails of artistic and bohemian Barcelona. The evening I met with Quico Palomar, the artist who earns a líving selling his drawings and playing his guitar, was an evening like no other. I was moved by his simplicity. He is a quiet man, true to himself, and a convinced anti-establishment activist. He is a dreamer that hardly ever dreams any more, after realising that dreams hardly ever come true. He overcomes this feelings with his guitar. It was a pleasant evening. Him, myself and the camera. An evening full of conversation, of music, of trying on viking hats, armours, and having a walk. We went to sell some of his drawings, and ended up in the Filmoteca de Barcelona cinema, where he fell asleep half way through a film. This is when I stopped recording. It was all like this. A different character, a different life. A la puta strasse subverts all the typical Hollywood clichès, aiming at an intense, deep psychological realism. How did you develop your filmmaking style? I feel quite natural and spontaneous with the style in the documentary; I have followed the
same feeling of attraction in creating the style and in holding the camera. Following, in a conscious or uncionscious way, the idea of being consistent with the spirit of the bar. Not shying away from its disorganised, bohemian, naughty being, full of details and with subtle messages. At no point did I think about the shot itself, or the movement of the camera. I just opted for the viewpoint that felt less intrusive. The lighting at each shot many times did not help, and I had a discreet shooting kit. It is essential that the characters feel comfortable and forget about the camera. I have not wanted to show everything, or to strip every person; it is best to opt for seduction and surprise. The viewer plays the end-role of constructor of the story. This makes sense if we manage to give the viewer a tool with which to connect and share this underworld that i have known. And it is from this knowledge and I have aimed to express it. It was a difficult material to work with regarding the sound and image. I would like to sincerely thank my colleagues Hamid El H’mindi, our sound editor, and Eduard Miró,
our film editor. Good job ! The style of each story bloc was offered by each character. For example Max Messerli, the Swedish photoghrapher, is a very calm and relaxed man. He speaks very slowly. He himself created a pleasant atmosphere, looking for a certain intimacy with the camera. He was not intimidated by the sound equipment, but he felt uneasy with my camera. That is why we see him riding a bycicle, because he did not want to be shot while talking. I must confess that I cheated because I did record without his express permission, although in reality he did want to be recorded. As we are friends, I thought I could take that liberty. And now I just love those images. In its glorious past, the bar was a constant disorder, and the language of the documentary had to also be a bit chaotic, agitated, a series of flashes of disjointed people, all with a common link; wanting to have a good time and forget about life’s miseries. We have appreciated your editing work.
What were some of your aesthetic decisions? The bar had a very specific aesthetic: quite dark, subtle, Orange and reddish colours, while warm and welcoming at the same time. So I was quite constrained, although I love that look. Like in all bars, music has a prominent role, but in that venue it was not always like that. For licencing reasons the volume was always rather low, hardly audible. The various conversations and rumours of the patrons were the usual soundtrack of the place. Nevertheless, there were some songs that were frequently played, and I wanted them to appear in the feel. Mainly there are the theme when Emilio is preparing the bar for the day, and the song “Que no cierre el club” (Do Not Let the Club Shut Down) by the Cuban band Interactivo. They are two marvellous themes that help with the story. The sound is a vital aesthetic decision for me. Sound aesthetics. All the chosen tunes have a meaning, they talk to the audience. I work with a set of musicians from Malaga that fascinate me. They are Loreto P. García, El
Kana and El Edi. The latter is the leader of the flamenco chill band Chambao. I have been following them for a long time, I listened to their latest work imaginging scenes from the film, and I was really glad when they agreed to let us use it. The style and the story grows in crescendo, bottom-up. This is how the nights were in the bar. You had to enter into the scene, get to know the family, integrate yourself. The party was not there waiting for you. And it certainly was not to everyone’s taste. I believe this is like the result of the documentary. A viewer may not feel Connected with the film, and be left with half of the information. Or you may get an instant kick and enjoy yourself for a long time. A la puta strasse takes as its subject the Barcelona underground scene and expands to something richly philosophical. What do you hope viewers will take away from the film? I hope that the viewer appreciates the philosophical aspect like you have. I did not
want to turn a place into a myth, but rather to provide value to an anonymous place and its environment. A bar is an environment, and that is what makes it so powerful. Behind each character and also behind the bar itself, there is a philosophy of life and a set of principles. It is a world without borders, where everyone is welcome, a world where each person is true to itself, regardless of the consequences. They have not sold out to anything or anyone. All ways of life are honourable, even unconventional ones. A la puta strasse. Not just a BARcelona is not about just a bar, it is about a specific world, hard to find, hidden under the touristy layer of the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. I was happy giving a voice and shape to this little story of the Barcelona underground.
not want to think much about them, as otherwise I would not even have started the project. On the one hand, I first had to capture the essence of an environment that was over 20 years old, but shot in just one night. And on the other hand, I had to portray each person with dignit, without falling into charicatures, shows or just an exotic viewpoint. They are all unconventional people; painters, photographers, cannabis connosseurs, booksellers, artists, pacifists... all lĂving outside the System, and with a certain nostalgia for a glorious past.
A la puta strasse was your first directorial experience. What was the most challenging thing about making this film?
I am honoured. Many thanks. The truth is that I do not consider myself a film maker, and when you mention these references I blush. What is clear for me is that I have been in contact with film making and film makers for many years, and that they must
I had two main challenges, although I did
From the first time we watched your film we thought of Herzog's cinema. Can you tell us who among international artists influenced your work?
have influences each and everyone of the decisions I have made. I am a fan of a type of cinema that tell small stories, that talk about life. Some of my models are Etre et Avoir by Nicholas Philibert, Historias Mínimas by Carlos Sorín, Lugares Comunes by Adolfo Aristarain... actually, I love anything by Aristarain. During the shooting I did want the watch again the documentary El Desencanto, by Jaime Chávarri, which I strongly recommend. 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 and animation? I dream of a world where it is no longer necessary to answer this type of questions. It will mean that we have made it. But regrettably there is much to be done yet. In Scandinavia there is talk of the birth of a new wave of aesthetics and visual language
in recent productions. This is due to genderequality policies, and this new cinema is produce by women that have the chance to express themselves as film makers. This is a great step forward. Getting to that same result but withouth the need for gender policies is a huge challenge, but not an impossible one. Thanks for your time and thought, Anna. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for Anna Cervera ? Have you a particular film in mind? We do have a documentary project about a well-known artist, but it is now too early to talk about it. At the same time, we are organizing the 13th edition of the Zoom Festival, the International TV Fiction Festival, which takes place in Igualada, my hometown. I hope I can immerse myself in another documentary pretty soon. It has been a fascinating experience.
maud neve A Lizard Under The Skin (Belgium, 2015) e Photo by Lionel Samain
We love directors breaking the boundaries between various genres and formats. In her penetrating film "A lizard under the skin" the talented Maud Neve explores the blurry line between documentary and experimental cinema, playing with the notion that images tend to exist in continuum, residing somewhere in memory. Maud's cinema explores how the camera can expose the subconscious dimension, revealing a deep interest in complex psychological models. Maud, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? When I was still a little eczema girl, every night I used to wake my
parents up, scratching myself to blood. Every single night, they had to remain with me until it would calm down. One day my mother put me a « K7 » and while watching I totally forgot the pain or the itching. It was magic. And that became my first addiction! We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for A lizard under the skin? Ibiza, a rocky deserted beach, lizards running over my back. Lying there under the midday sun, I dreamed once again that my « mind » was a hundred miles away, separated from its body. I remembered something my mom used to say : « you always had a crocodile skin ». I was in the
island of my childhood holiday memories. When I couldn't expose myself like today, like all those people on the crowded beaches did. A few weeks later, I recovered my long disappeared menstruations while I just had « recovered » my mom. I felt I had in my hand some kind of a key to apprehend my own « body’s will ». I had to use it! We have appreciated your dynamic, kinetic style of filmmaking. Did the overall structure unfold before the camera, or were you already aware of these various pieces of the puzzle? Well, the blast (or the « IT » as he
would say) really happened while working with a very special editor of whom I’ve fallen madly in love and who’s eyes made me take a deeper look at myself! But before that… I had dived into my family archives to find some kind of a « proof » (it’s incredible the power MiniDV and other amateur cameras gave to the « common people » to remember, not just an image, but life as it is happening, attitudes, gestures, silences...). There was a very interesting material there but I really feared the flat illustration. Also I wanted to confront my mother today, as the wall I saw between her and me was still there. So, before going to Ibiza to shoot the first part of the film,
I already had in mind a to-and-fro between three kind of materials. But when you play with « real life » it’s impossible to predict what’s really going to pop out!
what I trust most. Often, as we were shooting and I came up with an idea, we would test it right away and the operator would say « that’s weird »!
Your cinema is marked by a stunning mix of realism and surrealism. How did you develop your filmmaking style?
In A lizard under the skin you mix various shooting format like AVCHD, Mini DV, Video 8. Can you comment this distinctive aspect of your film?
I try not to think about what I think I know. In terms of « academic » filmmaking but not only... Certainty is something I don’t believe in. Often they tell us, at the cinema school, that we need to know, as a director, and even if we don’t, pretend we are sure about what we are doing. You can’t be sure about intuitions. But that’s
I didn’t really choose those formats, since MiniDv and Video8 films already existed. I just chose to distinguish them from today’s shootings and to give to the Ibiza’s images a more « plastic » or « fictional » look. This film was my absurd own fiction. It had to capture that. The voice over, then, meant to
Photo by Esther Genicot
put all those materials on the same level of uncertain reality. We needed to dive into a scratching girl’s mind… From the first time we watched your film, we thought of Alina Marazzi's experimental cinema, as well as Werner Herzog's documentaries, yet your filmmaking style is far from what is generally considered 'academic'. Can you tell us who were your chef influences? I like to look into other forms of expression, especially theater and dance. As far as cinema is concerned, I watch all genres of films, with any kind of « radicalness ». But what I really find most exiting (as long as it doesn’t let me outside) is when the film eludes all standards. So I often remember a film for one particular « wild » aspect. There are lots of
examples in fiction films (Lynch is one!), false documentaries (William Klein’s Qui êtes-vous, Polly Magoo?), films that could be shown as well in a cinema as in a museum (Sergio Caballero’s Finisterrae) but also intimate documentaries (like Naomi Kawase's) or filmed journals and other experimental films, video art (Bill Viola’s), video clips,… We would like now to explore your first work Julia, written and directed with Nora Burlet, which has aroused great interest in the film festival scene. Can you introduce our readers to this project? This was my 4th year project at the cinema school, an exercise in which students shot a short film in pairs but edited it separately. It tells the story of a twelve year old who came across
her mother’s lover during the night - a wraith embodying the end of the family. She wants to believe that was her father and lies about it to her elder sister. A common hope leading the two girls to look at each other. The aim of this project was to write and shoot a film in a very short period of time, mostly focusing on the work with the actors. That undoubtedly induces a certain « style » of storytelling and film making (over-theshoulder camera). In short it’s a « classical » fiction film! Yet we ended up having a lot of fun while experimenting with the two young actresses a very spontaneous acting process, with a lot of improvisation. And it’s funny to see what two different editings can bring up. Do you think it is harder for women directors to have their
projects green lit? Actually, in my own experience and from what I have observed here in Brussels, I really don’t! It’s almost the opposite. But of course I couldn’t speak of the « big outside world ». Thank you very much for your time, Maud. Are there any film projects on the horizon? Of course, several projects! One is partly shot. But as they say in Spain… « del dicho al hecho, hay gran trecho » (there is a long way between the speech and the action)!
angela yu Shape Shifter (USA, 2015)
With its visionary imagery, Shape Shifter is a transporting experience. Angela Yu's film is a kaleidoscopic evocation of the experience of electro music through animation revealing a modernist sensibility where the form conveys its meaning directly. Shape Shifter is a stunning tapestry of images and sounds, which finds a particular state of grace when it moves closer to the structure of electronic music. We are pleased to present Angela Yu for this year's CinĂŠWomen Edition. Angela, tell us about your trajectory as an animator. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? I loved drawing since I was a kid. I always found myself getting obsessed with things that are beautiful, and at the same time, I wanted to know how to create something like that. I also loved reading comic and manga books. Manga books were my earliest inspiration for drawing. I used draw manga characters all over my textbooks. Those manga books were my best friends and I still remember all those nights when reading manga books under the blanket with a flashlight, because I didnâ€™t want my parents to catch me reading after bedtime. I also loved watching animation, especially Japanese animi. My favorites back then were Dragon
Ball and Sailor Moon, and I still watch animi these days such as One Piece. I grew up in China in a traditional Chinese family. Even though I dreamed about being a manga drawer or an animator many times when I was a kid, but I never thought there will be any possibility to turn the dream into reality one day. Before I came to the U.S., all the life choices I made were based on whether I can impress other people, specifically, my parents. When I was 22, I came to the U.S. studying advertising at Michigan State University, as my parents planned. While being able to stay away from the culture I was familiar with, it allows me to review my culture from a far distant, and gave me enough space to think independently, and eventually, gave the courage to pursue what I really want for my own life. One night when I was working on a marketing case study with my classmate at Michigan, I accidentally saw a commercial on Youtube, which is the HP hand commercial. I was amazed by how stunning and interesting the animation was in the commercial, and I couldnâ€™t stop thinking about it. Through research I found out that style of animation is called motion graphics. The commercial was the trigger of my pursing for animation. Because I was so amazed by that commercial, I self taught After Effects and applied an
internship at a TV station in Michigan, where I started to make animation for local TV programs. Later one of my promo won a national award, which gave me a lot of confidence to pursue my dream as a professional artist. After I finished the internship, I came to California for art school studying motion graphic design. And that was where the fun journey began. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for Shape Shifter? I always love sound-driven animation. To me, animation is like pixel choreography. When I animate, I try to translate the rhythm and beats into a similar sense of timing and pacing in animation, so that the viewer are able to â€œseeâ€? the music. Since I was in art school, I have always been collecting sound tracks that I feel
inspired to animate. Out of all the music genres, I collected more electronic music than anything else. I found electronic music is a great inspiration for animation, because it contains multiple layers and dimensions in the music, and a lot of energy and dynamics for me to be expressive in my animation. I started from making 5-10 seconds of animation pieces to clips of electronic music, just for fun and practicing my sense of timing and pacing. Later I got more and more into this game and start to thinking about making a full piece of animated music video. Meanwhile, I reached out to some of my musician friends and asking them for original music track that I can animate to. My friend Justin Chu is the one who produced the song of Shape Shifter. When he showed me the track, I fell in love with it immediately. Most of the electronic songs that I found easy for animation are normally those with a lot of heave beats and fast rhythm. They
sound like there are a lot of things and emotions going on in the song, but I tended to get exhausted after listening them a couple of time. But Shape Shifter is a clean, chill and happy track. It is also extremely dynamic, which gives me a lot of freedom to visually interpret the song. Justin was also excited about the idea of turning to his music to an animated film. He re-edited the track tighter and shorter, which makes it more suitable for an animation project. Synesthesia plays an important role in your art. In your film you try to visualize the experience of electro music through animation. Can you introduce our readers to this fundamental idea behind Shape Shifter? The motivation of this film is to visualize electronic music. At the time when I made this film, I saw a lot of motion
graphic arts using electronic music as the sound track. But I rarely saw any motion graphic videos that were purely generated based on the music. That was when I started to think how I can visually represent an electro song through motion graphics. The storyline of this film is an imaginary process of how a piece of electro music is made. It shows how the artist producing a song in the mixing room, while his imagination brought us to the world of electronic music. In this world, we see what the artist sees, and we experience what the artist experiences. In the chorus he get lost in a world with music note signs, symbolizing his exploring and struggling during the music production. Then he is back to his imagination world, presenting more visual surprises. At the end, the artist finished his track and back to the real world. From the first time we watched your
film we have been deeply impressed with your visionary images. Shape Filter is a dreamlike film careening from the humorous to the surreal. How did you develop your animation style? I wanted to create a virtual world that feels surreal but also relatable to the audience. Inside of this world, I chose objects that audience can find reference in the real world, but I redesigned them with my own interpretation of forms, colors and physics. Elements like eyeball, mushroom, candy balls, skull, character with a boombox head are very popular symbols among the electronic dance music culture, so that audiences can relate to what they see and what they hear. I choose 3D animation for this piece because it gives me a lot of freedom to tell the story, and the 3D camera allows me present the view of this world uninhibitedly. I also chose to
use a low-polygon style for all the models and character because the look is contemporary and stylish, which fits my vision of the song. The palette of Shape Filter is dominated by blue and magenta tones. Can you comment this peculiar aesthetic choice? I love using the combination of blue and magenta because it is very a surreal and mysterious color palette, and it fits my vision of the story. There is a strong contrast between the two colors: one is the coldest color, and one is the warmest color. The contrast adds up an extra visual flavor through out the video. I was very determined to use this color, so we not only colored the world with blue and magenta, but also light up the mixing room with the same color palette during video shooting for the intro and outro. What do you hope viewers will take
away from Shape Shifter? Most importantly, I hope the viewers have fun watching it. I had fun making this film, and I hope other people find it interesting and visually entertaining. If I can ask for more, I hope the viewers can be inspired to view the relationship between music and animation with a new perspective, and be interested to see more sound-driven animation arts like this. From a visual point of view, Shape Filter is a complex and highly layered work. What was the most challenging thing about making this film? The film is mainly made in 3D software, but I had very limited rendering recourse during the production. Therefore, the balance between rendering time and image quality has been the most challenging issue. In order to achieve the
dreamy and mysterious look, we used a lot of volumetric lighting in the 3D scenes, which allows the viewers to see the light beam, but the rendering time increased dramatically. As an artist, it is natural for us to try to maximize the quality of visual art, but realistically, we canâ€™t afford long rendering time. As I mentioned before, we went for low-poly style because of its contemporary sensibility. In fact, the other reason we adopted this style was because low-poly style helped to make the project lighter, which saves the rendering time eventually. Shape Filter has been realized thanks to the help of your talented equip. Can you say something about the collaborative nature of filmmaking and animation? Collaboration happens in every step of the animation from initial concepting to
final execution. Especially for animation projects like Shape Shifter, it requires a team of artists with different skills such as modeling, rigging, lighting, texture, and rendering. Even though the animation can be broke down in to individual scenes and shots and then assign to each artist separately, we still need to constantly communicate with each other about the new ideas, feedbacks, and concerns about the project overall. I am really lucky to have a group of talented artists working with me on Shape Shifter. I couldnâ€™t finish this film without the contribution of my teammates. Could you take us through your creative process when starting a new project? It depends on the project. I like to apply the process that fits the concept the best. Sometime I start my creative thinking from a storytelling perspec-
tive, and sometime I start from the visual style of the piece. Shape Shifter is an experimental piece. The thing I wanted to communication the most is feeling, emotion, and experience that were driven by visual and audio. So at the very beginning I started to explore the look of the video. Since I knew I wanted to build the animation in 3D environment, I did technical testing at the same time too, such as testing different render setting to find the most efficient way to render the scenes. And then I started to develop the story after having my visual reference and knowing my technical boundaries. The next step was storyboarding and animatic, which is a sequence of animated storyboards with the music track. From there, I divided the video in to different scenes so that individual artists can work on their own shot. After all the shots were rendered, I
went to editing and assembled them into one final piece of video. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting into filmmaking and animation, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? As far as what I have seen in the passing 4 years of working in the animation field, there are not enough female animators. Especially when it comes to 3D animation, I see even few. It is very common for me to work as the only female artist out of the whole production team of 5 to 10 people. I think the animation industry definitely needs more female voice and sensibility. It will enough more female artist to create and stand for their voice, and also help the whole industry to yield more diverse art pieces. Thanks for your time and thought,
Angela. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Angela Yu? Have you a particular film in mind? Thank you for this opportunity allowing me to share my thoughts and my work with more audiences! Currently I am working on my third personal film. The film tries to reveal the complicated relationship between the mainland China and Taiwan, and I want to interpret this relationship through my own perspective. I am excited about this project because I have been thinking about this concept for last 7 years since I came to the U.S., when I started to review this issue from my home country with an outsider perspective. Now I am finally able to put up my thoughts into a page of script, and I am working on the preproduction right now. I am planning to finish this film by May 2016. For my other works, please see my website at angelayudesign.prosite.com
kyra garrigue Untitled Narrative #1v.3 (USA, 2015)
Untitled Narrative #1v.3 is a surreal and genre-bending work of art. Kyra Garrigue's film invite the viewer into a haunted, totally subjective flow of clean figurative images, playing with the notion that images tend to exist in continuum, residing somewhere in memory, whereas sound tends to evoke the present moment. As a result, she creates deeply contemplative moods that seem to transform figure and place into a transcendent time-space continuum a more reflective, interior style of fimmaking that was closer to the stream of consciousness of literary models. We are pleased to present Kyra Garrigue for this year's CinĂŠWomen Edition. Kyra, how did you get into experimental cinema? Entering into the world of experimental cinema was a natural progression from the earlier art forms I studied. Since early youth, I studied classical music and although I did not want to pursue that field as a career it has proven to be influential in my art making process. Music was also a stepping stone into the world of visual art. In my early 20s I started studying photography but I quickly realized that I was less interested in capturing an image, such as in traditional photography, than in creating an experience similar to the abstract and emotional experience one encounters while listening to music. The pieces I created with this intention I approached systematically, using abstract photographic images to form my own library of visual symbols and colors that equated to specific tones or passages of music. After working in this style for several years, I introduced video into my artistic practice. Video opened up new possibilities
and allowed me to further expand on my interest in creating a visual analogy of the auditory. More recently, my work focuses on narratives, and taking into consideration my interests in combing the visual and the auditory, experimental cinema is a natural outlet for my vision. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for Untitled Narrative #1v.3? Untitled Narrative # 1v.3 was born out of a larger documentary project of mine that deals with retracing the persona of a family member who disappeared almost 20 years ago. The project is a collection of memories of the missing person, as told by the people who knew him before he disappeared. An image of who he was assembles and disassembles throughout the project as the recollections of each person contradicts the other. Memories are tainted by the desire to reconstruct our own pasts; even the memory of another is influenced by how we want our history to be remembered. Only a fleeting image of the person could be formed. The further I became involved in the documentary project, I started to think about the narratives that have defined my own life; the stories that I share with my children and will be passed on to the next generation. In many ways, becoming a parent goes hand-inhand with being a story teller and it is these stories that will shape our mark in history. Seeing how much is lost when relying on memory, my approach to creating Untitled Narrative # 1v.3 was to tell a story from my life but remove the specific details that are so imperative to a documentary. Instead, I choose to substantiate the work with
metaphors and symbols to give the impression of the original tale without the specifics. In your work the medium moves beyond notions of theatricality and into the realm of real experience, reminding us Jonas Mekas's words "When I am filming everything is determined by my memory, my past, so that this "direct" filmming becomes also a mode of reflection". Can you introduce our readers to this fundamental idea behind your cinema? I am interested in memory and how it forms our sense of self in the world but it is also the process of remembering that is fundamental to my work. Every memory changes over time and it is only though the collective memory of others that a story can be solidified in history. This delicate maneuvering between memories of what has passed, and the universal desire to grasp the ephemeral informs the style of my pieces. However, the moment a film is complete it is contradictory to my notion of ever bending interpretations of the past, it has become a single version of the narrative. The abstract nature of my
images lends to multiple interpretations but ultimately, to achieve the same effect of a story that has been solidified in time through collective memory, I incorporate my own process of retelling the story by creating up to 5 or 6 different versions of each film. Each piece is a memory away from the last piece and therefore perhaps a truer symbol of the past. We have found really stimulating the soundscape of your work. Throughout your film you make the images react synaesthetically to the film's soundtrack. Could you introduce our readers to the multidisciplinary nature of your art? I have been interested in synesthesia since I started working with the idea of using photography to provoke the feelings of music. In the moving image however, I am interested in how the audio can inform the narrative; I treat it as equal in- part to the visuals. I see the two senses as accompanying each other as in a duet and at other times supporting each other. Just like in music, silence is also an important part of this symbiosis as it allows the viewer to enter into the film with the
memory of what they have just heard ringing through their own ears. Could you take us through your creative process when starting a new project? What draws you to a particular subject? Previously, it was the space that drew to me a project â€“in particular I am drawn to spaces that reference the past through physical markings indicating what was once there. After finding the space I concentrate on the audio and how that can be used to create a story about the location. I make soundscapes of the place, often times reassembling the environmental sounds to have a musical structure. More recently since my work has shifted to linear narratives there is a longer process involved in making the films. These films start off as written stories which then become condensed into key words, visual symbols and music/soundscapes. I see each one of my films as living pieces and therefore I continue to create different versions of the same piece, Untitled Narrative #1v.3 is now on its 4th version. Going back to the ephemeral nature of our
memories, since these narrative come from stories of the past I find it interesting to see how different audio and visual parings can create similar but slightly different reenactments of the past. In the latest version of Untitled Narrative which is now Untitled Narrative#1v. 4, I removed the original soundtrack and focused on created a more narrative scoundscape that adds another dimension to the story. You fill your delicate, contemplative films with metonymies to achieve a dense emotional complex. We deeply appreciate the visual symbolism of Untitled Narrative #1v.3. Can you tell us a bit more about this aspect of your work? The opening image of a woman holding a book is a symbol that I have reworked into several pieces. As we know, a book is a symbol of knowledge, life, history, and memory but what also strikes me about a book is the unintentional affects it can have upon a reader. An author brings the book into the world but once the book disseminates it may cause ripples in history or unwittingly affect the lives of many. It is this potential of the book that
brings me to use it again and again in my films. The ambiguity of words is another symbol I am interested in and its usage in Untitled Narrative #1v.3 is what separates this film from any of my previous projects. The text has a dual purpose, to guide the interpretations of the visual images and to be part of the scenes as well; words as images. Throughout the film select words appear and disappear while others can be seen in the backdrop, partially obscured although their presence can be noted. This obfuscation references the false promise of words ability to communicate; how often have words been interpreted in ways that the originator didnâ€™t intend. As I previously mentioned, Untitled Narrative # 1.v3 is part of a series of short films that depict significant narratives from my own life. Because the essence of the emotions is lost in trying to translate a memory into a description or reenactment I have focused on using symbols to recreate a dreamlike tale. The highly aesthetic images serve to draw the viewer into the film, and each scene represents a time period from the tale that expresses
the emotion of that moment. How has your history influenced the way you produce art? Coming from a family of musicians, music was always around me. In the summertime my Mother ran a Baroque music festival out of our house and throughout the school year I often traveled with her as she performed. My Grandmother, who lived with us, was a pianist who continued to practice daily until she passed away at 98. At a certain point I realized that my memories were deeply connected with sounds. Hearing Chopin brought me back to nighttime, lying in bed listening to my grandmother as I drifted off to sleep , Haydn Quartets was the heat of a summer in France and my first taste of Calvados, Handleâ€™s Messiah was the cold of winter and the smell of pretzels being sold on the streets. The deep visual connection that I feel with music is a driving influence in the pieces that I make today whether it is a narrative film or installation piece; I strive to use the audio as its own contributor to the story.
Your art is rich of references. We have previously mentioned Jonas Mekas, referring to the peculiar way explore the concepts of memory and perception, yet your visual imagery seems to be closer to Bruce Conner's work. Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? My influences have come from a variety of disciplines. The collaborative pieces of John Cage and Merce Cunningham always stay in the back of my mind. The idea of creating a dance/music piece where the dance is not dependent upon the music and the music is not dependent upon the dance is similar to what I am interested in creating with my soundscapes and moving images. From their joint collaborations 3 narratives emerge: 1 for dance, 1 for music and 1 for the moments in time that the 2 correspond. Although this is a bit more extreme than I would like my own pieces to be experienced the fundamental idea of simultaneously experiencing separate but equal narratives is very interesting. John Cageâ€™s writings on silence has also
been a foundational influence in my work along with the Electronic Music pioneer Pauline Oliveros and her Deep Listening technique. I studied with Pauline as graduate student and through her Deep Listening practice I gained a deeper appreciation for the potential of environmental sounds to form a narrative. From the visual arts, two contemporary artists whom I admire the works of are Ann Hamilton and Michal Rovner. Both of these woman master symbolism and the ability to communicate a message that is universal and rich with content on multiple levels. Thanks for sharing your time, Kyra, we wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Kyra Garrigue? Have you a particular film in mind? Thank you and yes, I am currently working on 2 other short films that will be part of the same series as Untitled Narrative#1v.3. I am also interested in moving film away from the screen and into spaces where it can be all encompassing as part of the environment. Look for updates at kyragarrigue.com.
kimberly burleigh Light Divides the Square (UK, 2015)
imberly Burleigh's experimental cinema explores the blurry line between perception and imagination. Her animated film Light Divides the Square creates image which are not achievable in reality, focusing on the tensions between imagination and reality and breaking the laws of
physics. We are pleased to present Kimberly Burleigh for this year's CinĂŠWomen edition. Kimberly, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker and cinematographer. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? My formal training is in the static arts, printmaking and painting. When computers became accessible to artists I initially used the software to generate still images that were either processed as digital prints or as sketches for paintings and drawings. As the 3D Computer Modeling software became more sophisticated, I became intrigued by the possibilities in creating impossible realities and rendering these out. For example, I could model a scene with two different laws of
gravity, make illumination that negates other lights, and or create objects that are invisible yet cast shadows. The possibilities were endless. Many of these phenomena are not appreciated unless they are set in motion â€“ so that was one impetus to make animations. Then there is also my abiding love of cinemaâ€Ś We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your animated film: how did you come up with the idea for Light Divides the Square? I am captivated by light in all of its forms, especially when it is processed in complicated ways. How the refraction index of a sapphire or a Fresnel lens in a lighthouse translates light is fascinating to me. I could watch the
moving patterns of refracted light at the bottom of a swimming pool all day. I decided to create a similar phenomenon in a 3D computer model so I could share that kind of aesthetic experience. From a visual point of view, your film is very complex and layered. How did you develop the structure of Light Divides the Square? Actually, the model for the virtual “pool” was really quite simple. I set up a square fluid body and trained a light on it. I perturbed the surface of the fluid with shape-shifting invisible objects which subsequently generated the ripples on the surface. I then rendered the moving refracted light patterns on the bottom of the fluid
body. I was intrigued by the constant reorganizing of light patterns after the fluid surface was disturbed – the ripples expanded and hit the side of the fluid body and then echoed back until they achieved a state of rest. The square shape of the model became a big factor in the composition of light patterns. For me it was like a selforganizing moving painting. In knowing how the images were generated I hope viewers can better understand the title. Audio has a huge importance in your work: how did you conceive the sound design of Light Divides the Square?
I wanted to enhance the aesthetic experience with lyrical sounds. I also wanted to reference water or fluid. The sounds are sampled recordings of my fingers sliding on the rims of crystal glasses, tinkling ice cubes in a glass bowl of water and falling rain. What was the most challenging thing about making this film? As I mentioned earlier, the set-up for the model was quite simple – however, it took me many years to learn the parts of the high-end 3D computer animation software I needed to know to accomplish this kind of work. I had to figure out aspects of fluid dynamics, refraction indexes, ray tracing (for rendering light and shadow), etc. It was a steep learning curve and I learned it on my own.
From the first time we watched your film, we thought of Peter Campus’s work. Can you say your biggest influences in cinema? I am very influenced by early modernism – and I pay homage by making several references to the work of that period in my animations. I especially like Maholy-Nagy’s and Man Ray’s experiments with the photogram process (“rayograms” in Man Ray’s case). Fernand Léger, Dudley Murphy and Man Ray’s experiments with the then new technology of cinema – as seen in their work “Ballet Mécanique” - is inspiring to me. (I wonder what they would have done if they had a computer to play with?) The lyricism and mystery in Maya Deren’s work is inspirational. I am also intrigued by science photography documentation – Harold Edgerton’s photographic records of shock waves captivate me.
And, after one of my friends saw “Light Divides the Square” she asked me if I knew of the Berenice Abbott’s science photographs of wave patterns. I looked those up and found a connection. And, Susan Derges’ beautiful photographs of water greatly inspire me. 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 experimental cinema? A long while ago, I worked as an art director on an independent experimental narrative film.When I witnessed the compromises the director had to make with everything and everybody – I went right back to my easel where I was in a world under my complete control (relatively). Back then film was
very expensive and video was crappy – but now digital video is inexpensive and can produce beautiful results. So, one does not have to compromise as much because of “things” like expensive technology. One still has to work with people – and women are really good at that. In the end, there are very few barriers for anybody to make a really beautiful film. Thanks for your time and thought, Kimberly. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for Kimberly Burleigh? Have you a particular project in mind? I have come to the realization that my past animations largely consist of “fixed” views of a moving and evolving scene. I mentioned “moving painting” above. I should try and get out there more! Go into the space and interact with it! Might need some motion sickness tablets….