LEERON REVAH AMELIA ARNOLD ELODIE FOURNOT CHRISTINA JEKEY JULIJA PROSKURINA TESSA GARLAND KAITLIN CREADON RAH ELEH ERISS KHAJIRA CLAUDIA PICKERING CINEMA VIDEO ART DANCE THEATRE
Building on the success of the fifth edition, CinĂŠWomen 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 â€“radical, poetic, and dreamlike films, whose directors work on the edge of the mainstream film industry, never restricting themself to any single field, yet inviting the eye and the mind to travel further. Cinema is no longer the monolithic system based on large capital investiment: in the last decade the technological advances have dramatically changed the economic conditions of cinema production. Revolutions arise from obstinacy. It is not by chance that today one of the protagonists of the digital revolution in cinema is a talented and courageous woman director, Elle Schneider, co-founder along with Joe Rubinstein of the Digital Bolex Project, who after developing a cult-camera harking back to 16mm film aesthetic -a significant leap towards the democratization of technology- is now promoting an application process for a grant for producers employing women in their camera troupes. Only eight percent of 2014's top-grossing films were directed by women: it's time to reverse this trend. However, cinema is not only technology, but ideas, experimentation, and above all dialogue, networking, interaction. Creating and supporting a fertile ground for innovation and dialogue does not necessarily require compromise. Honoring the influence of women in video art and cinema, our womenartconnect.com editorial board is proud to present a selection of powerful and surreal visions from nine uncompromising outsiders. In these pages you will encounter details on a new wave of filmmakers and videoartists marching away from the Hollywood stereotype, with films like Frisky by the talented Claudia Pickering; the visionary world of Leeron Revah; Dusty Bin Dreams, a stunning work by the young African filmmaker Eriss Khajira and much more. CinĂŠWomen Board
/15 Cinema VideoArt Doc
COVER Still from No Free Lunch, Leeron Revah
LEFT Still from Genesis of a sculpture, Christina Jekey TOP Still from Frisky, Claudia Pickering
Edition curated by
wac* VIDEO ART CINEMA THEATRE DANCE
kaitlin creadon Dead Eye (USA, 2015)
Dead Eye is an ambitiously constructed, elegantly photographed film. Kaitlin Creadon creates a dark and emotionally captivating drama, a psycologically penetrating examination of alienation in contemporary life. We are glad to present Kaitlin Creadon for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Kaitlin, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? Film has always been close to my heart. Ever since I was young, my mom carried around her large camcorder and recorded family videos. I was such a little ham as I loved to host interviews and game shows, give tours of hotel rooms, and do other random activities in front of the camera. As I entered my middle school and high school years, I realized I no longer liked being in front of the camera, but felt completely at home behind the camera. My best friend Amanda and I started making our own short films during sleepovers. We would cast our friends, and it seems our favorite genre at the time was horror. The videos were filmed at night as we crept around the house, looking for the bad guy. Years passed and in high school I lost my connection with film for a while, finding solace in photography. My family and I were in between cameras, at the point where our camcorders were too bulky but DSLRs didn’t have the filming capabilities
they do now. Photography ended up being a fun outlet for me as it seemingly kept my creative side alive. Following high school I was accepted to Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, for my undergraduate studies. After two and a half years of being unhappy in various majors, suddenly their Broadcast and Electronic Communications concentration seemed to fall on my lap. For the first time, I was getting all A’s in my classes, loving my professors and colleagues, and was truly happy in the field I was in. My professors at Marquette made me realize my passion and ability, and for them I am eternally grateful. I feel so unbelievably blessed to be in a field where I feel at home. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for Dead Eye? After graduating from Marquette University in 2012, I decided to pursue higher education and found out that DePaul University in Chicago, IL, had an up-and-coming film program. A year and a half into the program I applied for the class “DC450: Directing Actors for the Camera”. It was an applicationonly class that I was accepted into, consisting of five directors and nine actors from DePaul’s Theater School. It is an extremely unique class at DePaul, with second- and third-year directors and third-year actors finally having the opportunity to work together, using
scripts written specifically for our class by DePaul screenwriters. As the only female director accepted into the class, I felt empowered to make something I was proud of. The first few weeks of the class focused on turning an established stage play into a short film, and then the rest of the class was spent working on something entirely original. We had the wonderful opportunity of pairing up with the screenwriters at DePaul, who had written some great shorts for us in a previous class. I read through all of our options, and “Dead Eye” really stuck out to me. It was entertaining, dark, somewhat reminiscent of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and I knew it would be a challenge for me to make. Ronald Jean-Jacques, the screenwriter, and I then were able to meet, discuss the concept, and make needed changes. The entire preproduction process with Ronald took about three weeks.
How did you develop the script and structure of the film? The script that Ronald came up with was brilliant. When we had the chance to sit down one-on-one, we combed through the entire script together and figured out what worked and what didn’t. Fortunately, he and I both saw eye to eye on the changes in the script. During rehearsals with my actors, Abie Irabor and Jeremy Pfaff, different portions of the script were rewritten and reworked based on how well certain parts were flowing. One of my favorite rehearsal techniques is having my actors improv their first meeting, such as a blind date. That worked perfectly for my actors. We found some great moments during the improvisation session that we ended up incorporating in the final product. When my actors and I can find bits like that to use in the film, it makes the film more personal to me. As a director, I love to encourage going off script; to an extent,
of course. Since Ronald was the screenwriter, I ran multiple ideas past him. I wanted to keep the dialogue alive between us and did not want to veer too far from his original idea. However, things did have to change last minute. The opening sequence was added after the project was turned in for class. The way it was starting was not lending itself to the suspense we were looking for, and my professor Jonah Zeiger suggested filming my characters getting ready for the night. We wanted to show the routine “getting ready for a date” process, but also inform the audience that these two characters do not have a normal career. The simple additions, such as the cleaning of the knives and receiving envelopes, brought in another dimension to the short film that I think plays out really well.
One of my favorite cameras is the Canon C300. When it came to lighting with this particular camera, I kept in mind how dark I wanted the overall short film to be. The beginning of the film, when my characters meet, is meant to be a little on the lighter side compared to the second half. After a few drinks and the realization that they might like each other, the film gets progressively darker. Not only does that slight lighting change signify a later time, but also the impending downfall of both characters. Neither character is singled out by different lighting cues. Both Abie and Jeremy’s characters have their dark sides, and that is well expressed by the lighting done by gaffer Joe Kosty. He did a fantastic job both highlighting the characters and hiding them in darkness when they needed to be.
You shot Dead Eye on a C300; can you describe your approach to lighting?
Did you rehearse a lot with the shots you prepared in advance?
DePaul University has studio space over at Cinespace Film Studios just west of downtown Chicago and theater room space at our Theater School in Lincoln Park. My actors, Jeremy and Abie, were absolutely fantastic. We had the ability to do a scene run-through in front of our colleagues, then private rehearsals at both the Theater School and Cinespace Studios. The day prior to filming, Abie, Jeremy, our DP Allen Lee, and I were able to run through the bedroom scene on location. That allowed Allen and I to figure out all the glitches in both potential camera and actor movements, and filming the next day went smoothly. There were some shots we were unable to rehearse ahead of time, and those turned out to take the longest. The tracking shot in the bar, when Bill and Sarah move from the table to the dance floor, took some time, as well as the final overhead shot.
What was the most challenging thing about making this film? The most challenging parts for me on set were the blood and getting the final shot. Making the blood was more challenging than I had originally anticipated. The first batch I made was really great, but from that point on I could not get the same consistency. Fortunately, on the day of filming, there was a nurse on set who spent her time making the rest of the blood for the final scenes. She knew the correct consistency based on where the blood would be exiting the body. Finally, we were prepared to film the overhead shot where both characters are dying. We actually propped up the bed on apple boxes so my producer, Edwin Ruiz, could lay underneath and pipe blood up through Jeremyâ€™s shirt and off Abieâ€™s neck. It was a very time-consuming process. What do you hope viewers will take away from the film?
I still go to films for the entertainment aspect. While I hope people enjoy the film and find it entertaining, there is also an obvious dark side to it. This film follows two strangers who connect on a set-up blind date. They are each hired to kill the other, but that information is naturally unknown by them. The storyline itself is very reminiscent of Mr. and Mrs. Smith by Doug Liman. While it is a concept that has been done before, like many other films out there, I feel Abie and Jeremy brought a fresh face to the film. If the viewers only get one thing out of this short film, I hope it’s that they learn how talented student actors are. The seven other actors in my Directing Actors for the Camera class are no exception. Each DePaul Theater School actor I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with have simply blown my mind. These actors switched between theater work and film work seamlessly, and that can be a very difficult feat. The actors I had class with all graduated this past June with their
MFA in Acting and I wish nothing more than their success in the theater and the film world. They are going places, and we definitely need to support them in their future conquests. Massive shoutout to everyone from Jonah Zeiger’s DC450 course: directors John Klein, Randle Taylor, Eric Liberacki, Alex Sherman, actors Zachary DeNardi, Casey Morris, Laura Harrison, Shadana Patterson, Brian Rife, along with the four I had the privilege of working with on the classes short films: Abie Irabor, Jeremy Pfaff, Jason Goff, and Vahishta Vafadari. Keep an eye out for all these talented artists. Can you tell us your biggest influences and how they have affected your work? While I don’t have one single “Hollywood” director I look to as an influence, I find inspiration from fellow filmmakers and professors. While at Marquette, I fell in love with documentary filmmaking.
Danielle Beverly was one of my instructors and she helped me find my love for documentaries. During classtime with her, I discovered the documentary Elephant in the Living Room by Michael L. Webber, which is still one of my favorite films to date. Danielle is an independent documentarian and has several impressive films under her belt, including Learning to Swallow and Rebirth. My first internship at 371 Productions was because of her. I had the opportunity to work on the postproduction for their full-length documentary As Goes Janesville as a part of the PBS Independent Lens Series in 2012. Danielle has been all over the world both teaching and filming documentaries. She has recently finished her film Old South and is currently in Qatar teaching for Northwestern University. She is one of the best influences an up - and-coming female filmmaker could ask for. She is typically a one-person
crew on her film sets and has received lots of recognition for documentaries she has made throughout her career thus far. I hope to be half the filmmaker she is someday. With female filmmakers like her to look up to, I think I will be just fine. Whatâ€™s your view on the future of women in cinema? I have a very positive outlook on the future of women in cinema. Women have so much to say, but the fact that there are not more females in my cinema classes saddens me. Fortunately I have had several female professors the past few years who have been my biggest influences. Danielle Beverly and Wendy Roderweiss are two that have encouraged me to follow my dreams and do what my heart tells me to. Like I mentioned, having Danielle as someone to look up to as a documentarian has greatly influenced me to follow that passion. Wendy was one of my
professors at DePaul University and is now on my thesis committee for my MFA. She has experience in both narrative films and documentaries, and her filmmaking knowledge is one to beat. Her newest documentary, Stopping for Death: The Nurses of Wells House Hospice, brings to life the experiences hospice nurses live through. It was a topic I was fairly naive about until viewing her film. Wendy highly encourages her students to try out every aspect of filmmaking, believing it is important to know everyone’s position on the filmset and having your own knowledge of what each job entails. She herself is a very well-rounded filmmaker, as she teaches courses such as writing, cinematography, audio for podcasts, and directing. She pushes her students to their fullest potential, and won’t take no for an answer. Having these two women as role models has really aided in my confidence as a female filmmaker. It is a tough road, but what isn’t anymore? If we continue to work together and learn from each other, there is nothing we can’t do.
Thaks for sharing your time, Kaitlin, what’s next for you? More filmmaking!! As I embark on my third year at DePaul University, I am working solely on my thesis project for school. The script idea has changed several times but I believe I have landed on filming a documentary. I won’t say anything about it now as it is still a major work-in-progress, but I am excited about it. I have been working primarily on narrative films the past couple years and I am looking forward to getting back to some documentary work. Thank you so much for taking a liking in Dead Eye! As a student who is still finding her niche in filmmaking, it is very rewarding have my work noticed. This project was a great team effort. Too many people were involved to list here, but you know who you are -thank you all so much for putting your time into this fun short film. I had a blast making it come to life and your help only made it a better experience.
elodie fournot Working Holiday Visa (France,
Photos by MilĂŠna Grillon
Shot with elegance and sensitivity, Working Holiday Visa is a psychologically penetrating work. Elodie Fournot's stunning directorial debut deals with themes of personal identity and cultural difference, imparts unparalleled psychological intensity to the documentary genre. We are honored to present Elodie Fournot for this year's CinĂŠWomen Edition. Elodie, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? I started as a photojournalist, I was 20. The image has become my first way of expression. But I wanted more, I wanted to write, wanted the thought to escape, I intended to say more. At the same time I
discovered the sad reality of child soldiers, which so far, I knew nothing about. This reality was shown to me, not in a report, but in the cinema, in the blockbuster â€œBlood Diamond ". This episode is interesting because I donâ€™t, especially, wanted to see a movie whose try to be attractive with a poster that shows only celebrities. But I've realized at the end, by this process that millions of people could no longer ignore this reality. Efficient, we were willing to listen this situation because the public had come to relax, for another story... I started the trajectory of my journalism studies at this time and this experience has remained in my head. At the end of my studies, in my memory I have observed how it is reported and shown a same fact in television reports and in movies. Case study "child soldiers". The cinema as reportage have techniques that may be similar, their accuracy can be as fair. Also, art have, once again, its place when it comes to inform us, educate us, to decipher the world in which we live. The documentary has this power that the realevent, that nothing can replace. That's how I was inspired by the cinema. The Working Holiday Visa's movie is a first expression of these past researches and experiences, a mix between fiction and documentary.
Results are originals for the formatting and for the meaning. By mixing two types that makes it even more an inspired challenge. How did you come across the story of Steffen? To explain this I must tell you about the context of our meeting with Steffen our main character and the concept of the film. Steffen M端ller, the true Steffen (in Working Holiday Visa we choose to let the true identity to all our characters) - we met him in New Zealand. He gave us a hand of the fallen on the night when we had just arrived on a wilderness camping. We were on the same trip. He was at the very beginning of his journey, he travelled alone in his camper van. This story is the story of thousands of young people who travel like Steffen, like us. We explore the unknown for months, we want to trust in the unknown, in search of something not always well defined. Also,
the character of Steffen in the film Working Holiday Visa is inspired by events that we have experienced or that we have identified. I always wanted to experience situations that I then explain in my report, as did my models Albert Londres, Florence Aubenas or G端nther Wallraff. For the video, this experience going to go until when we shoot Steffen in situ situation. At this time, he is a reporter and also an actor. Finally, in this story there is feelings, psychology, real-life emotions, wandering, give meaning to the journey that we have (re) imagined, expressed and where Steffen play or live. The story of Steffen is: a traveler (live) reporter (investigate) and an actor (playing). In this script, we asked our participants to react as naturally as possible. We tried to give them much room for personal expression. The danger is permanent somewhere in this story, a little like the unknown, the future, it is necessary
to start as in this kind of trip. We have deeply appreciated your dynamic style of filmmaking. Working Holiday Visa is marked by a clear storytelling, each shot is orchestrated to work within the overall structure. How did you develop the script of the film? It is one key of the film, the concept: a mixture of genres that combine fiction and reality in their broadest sense. Many parts are investigations, but little is left to chance. The story takes place in complete consistency from the beginning to the end of the film. We go from one to another situations, real or played and of course nothing was shot in chronological order. Our script consists of several parts. Some parts are written with specific dialogues. Other parts contain only questions and some details about context to investigate.
For those parts of the investigation, we have explored several possible outputs and as always everything does not go as planned. For example, one moment Steffen has to abandon his job. We have asked to finish his investigation by leaving his job because it gives moral reflection facing the situation experienced. And then we want his adventure to continue to take us to other stories and reality. At this time we are with him, in situ, with hidden cameras but we have to think about the script at the same time. We must have an overview on the consequences of the scenario. Itâ€™s a pressure, but at these particular times, the reporter comes back at us. We could see the overall situation with the issues, editing, etc. For this reason we have shot the riskiest parts at the beginning, like this we have possibilities to adapt to a big change if itâ€™s necessary. It is believed that if this adaptation to the script has been rather successful it is
because we were well prepared in the field thanks to our immersion and because the problems that we wanted to raise are recurring. They are reproduced without too many nuances. We were not mistaken in our charges. We are comfortable with people who testify or we denounce, their portraits are faithful and that's one of our greatest rewards of this project. Steffenâ€™s fascinating story raises provoking questions about the nature of personal identity, as well as the alienation of everyday life in our cities. What do you want people to remember after seeing Working Holiday Visa? We want that people doubt about the path they have taken in their lives, find the energy to change, and change to be happy. We want people dare to live their lives, dare to discover, sweep their fears, dare to go and leave everything if it's necessary,
dare to discover by their own eyes the world around them: on the other side of the world as at the corner of their neighborhood. We also want to ensure that the path will not always be quiet, but the challenge worth it. It's possible. It must learn how to trust the unknown, others and ourselves. Working Holiday Visa is your directorial debut. What challenges did you face while making your film? Make a first movie, it's a full time challenge I think. Write the script was a first challenge. We have written it during our journey. We want to talk about some reality and also create a main story and stay relaxed even if you realize you have close to nothing to shoot the movie: places, actors, and friends. But we keep motivated, because at the beginning, we haven't imagined we will do it a few weeks after.
One big challenge: the self-produced project. Very good to understand every difficulties people can have at different job, but really exhausting to do everything. Production, script, directing, post production. We have put everything we have: our money (at the end it just left us something to take our plane tickets back!) and 20 months. Not in full time, but every day. Don't be alone help really for that. Another challenge, the clock. Some characters in the script were irreplaceable and it was also for them that we had decided to tell that. It gave us the starter. It's easier to be motivate for me when the goal helps other people. We have started the shooting one month and a half after finishing the script. Short time to prepare everything. With such limited resources, we had to build a team. So you have to be original to find a non-traditional way. We are two developers behind this project
myself Elodie Fournot (France) and Antoine van der Straeten (Belgium). I took care mainly of implementation (artistic choices and direction of actors) and Antoine van der Straeten took care about the technical parts (sound, light and picture). Then there is Steffen Müller (Germany), the main actor met on the roads of New Zealand. Thereafter were added Leon Konekamp (Germany) we met during a trek to Tongariro, passionate notified of pictures, also travelled for a few months he became an assistant cameraman and the second camera. And then we were contacted by William Akyol (Sweden) who saw our ad on the internet. After an initial exchange via Skype, he cut short his journey in Asia to join us as a sound engineer / boom operator. Miléna Grillon (France) had just arrived in Auckland, the serial-traveler has joined us to become a script girl. While
Charlene Bellier (France) moved her departure ticket for a month later to be a stage manager. We found the last three via an ad we had posted on a travelers website to help people who want to exchange work time against a bed and board. In which it was added travel and training. Making a film is a constant challenge to solve. There are logistical problems to house and feed seven people for a month and a half while moving every day for example. But also crazy stuffs like the beginning of tornadoes or the road that leads you to an unique place blocked by an accident where you have to be before sunset. We wait six hours, enough time to see a beautiful starry night befall us and look for a place to stay in an emergency. There was every day a new set of challenges and the shooting team sometimes wondered how we were holding on.
Your documentary is marked by an accurate, poetic cinematography reminding us of Terrence Malick's recent work. How did you develop the visual style of Working Holiday Visa? I am totally fascinated by Terrence Malickâ€™s work! Our intention was to show shades. All is not black, all is not white, not always beautiful or ugly, life, landscapes, and adventure, all are nuanced. We regret that our collective imagination are deceived by unreal things. Like the projection we have of a country before to go. Our intention was to make them a little more neutral space, nuanced, not always looking for beautiful or overwhelming, nothing more, and nothing less. Another challenge should be to shoot the passing time. Itâ€™s an important moment during this kind of
trip. But without slowness. And the last guide for the shooting have been to show the evolution of what we see depends on what we feel. Can you describe the shooting of Working Holiday Visa? We have shot Working Holiday Visa in the south island in New Zealand. The 15 first days have done only with me, Antoine van der Straeten and Steffen, the main character. Especially for the part with hidden camera. It was necessary to be a small team. The second part was shoot with the full team (seven) for one month and the half. Three team members had vehicles, allowing to have enough room to move together. At the end of the shooting as there was an actor in more, we rented a minibus for the last three days. Hardware Question had already been not bad of tools since it is our business to the database. It was mainly rotates with the DSLR
(enclosure photo). Luckily, Leon, the second cameraman, was one too. T his allowed us to shoot with multi-camera. That's what allowed us, among others, to make a documentary that looks like a fiction. As could cover every angle, it was possible to leave room for improvisation without coherence and detriment to quality. For other equipment, sound and light, we had to buy them on the spot. Finally, for the hidden cameras we used everything we had on hand, there are images smartphones, a gopro was hidden in a bag, by leaving only the lens to exceed. Sometimes also used the shoulder reflex like tourists or even far telephoto. For sound we had hidden under clothing, ties microphones that recorded directly into our smartphones, it's very discreet and very effective. From the first time we watched your
film, we thought of Werner Herzog's documentary cinema. Can you tell us your biggest influences in cinema and how they have affected your work? I love filmmakers with a full universe, raw, genuine, troubling who are not afraid to impose their look as Gus Van Sant, François Truffaut, Thomas Vinterberg, Xavier Dolan, the Dardennes brothers. These directors are free, beyond the conventions, their deep view is very encouraging. I like the commitment of documentary filmmaker as Patric Jean, Asif Kapadia who trust the intelligence of the viewers, to make their own judgment on the facts presented, they don’t give an answer, and these authors open the door to reflection. I love also challengers in scriptwriting like Paul Thomas Anderson or in techniques like Alejandro González Iñárritu. In search of innovation, the
evolution of language. There is so much intelligence and subtlety in all off these people. 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? It’s a question which is of importance for me. The question of a female actress in the history of humanity is an issue that is asked in the 7th art as it is elsewhere. Always. Her place is evolving but, what a shame that it is still in hope of fairness. Suffragettes, hippies, our revolutionary ancestors must be bursting. Fairness is a notion that is certainly changing, but not yet reached and the recognition and encouragement are still
fighting. Women take place in society, but the world is still codified in a very masculine way. Benchmarks are too homogeneous. To be accepted, a woman should be tough, masculine to be taken seriously and sometimes and in the same time if she can be sexy, it is better! The company is still much gendered and although there are people who love the tradition, I would still like a society where people are asking questions about what they have inside them and what they want before thinking if there are man or woman. Register a human being in a diagram, it is like attaching his wings. Let us trust in the creativity of humanity for the balance to be done. This is natural, all resources are in us, and we must just let them express themselves. It's a tough fight today, is nearly a silent fight; the disparities are not the same,
not always visible, but a secular past still codifies our present. This great cause is changing, but remains fragile and incomplete. The cinema is a great demonstration and I must say that for me and Antoine van der Straeten, one of our greatest motivation now is that in one of our next movie our hero is a woman, a hero without weapons or tear. Thanks for your time and thought, Elodie. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for Elodie Fournot? Have you had Particular movie in mind? I want to explore more this new style of movie we have explored with Working Holiday Visa : fiction-documentary without limits. The challenge is really exciting. I also hope to be able to create a scenario with this woman, far off « clichés ». Last words, dare, try, create… http://workingholidayvisafilm.com
claudia pickering Frisky (USA, 2015)
With its radical take on narrative and delicate humor Claudia Pickering's feature film directorial debut is a stunner. How Claudia constructs the film is incredibly mature: rather than focus on big dramatic moments, she relies on simple gestures and domestic routines. Claudia Pickering leaves the floor to her hilarious characters, who show real complicity throughout the film. Frisky is a psychologically penetrating meditation on the experience of leaving the country. We are pleased to present Claudia Pickering for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Claudia, how did you come up with the idea for Frisky? Frisky is based entirely on true events drawn from my life and experiences moving to the United States from Australia twice to live in Los Angeles with my early creative partner, or “Heterosexual Life Partner” as we called each other. We had an incredibly inspiring and creative but volatile working relationship and friendship. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, I was undergoing a lot of self discovery.
I moved to San Francisco without her to follow my heart after she moved back to London. The film fuses these experiences, recalling the formation and disappearance of strong friendships and fleeting ones, the heightened state of flux that my personality underwent in public and private settings, and the evolving love for my new city. It quite literally embodies the saying “one day we’ll look back on this and laugh”. Was it important for you to make a personal film, something you knew a lot about? Very important. I was inspired to create Frisky while I was working in an architecture office, waiting for my earlier film Winning Formula, a much larger but less personal production, to come out of post. It was a frustratingly slow process, and I was getting stir crazy in my repetitive office job, so I kept writing ideas down while drawing closer and closer to my tipping point. I was feeling disillusioned about Winning Formula’s lack of emotional depth with caricatures rather than characters in these surreal situations. I knew that I had a story to tell that had a lot of heart, and felt that as long as I was
We have appreciated your approach to narrative and characters, how did you develop the script and the structure of Frisky?
timeline that followed a classic three-act structure arc and shuffling the moments out of order until I had a cohesive storyline. I then broke those moments into scenes and dove into the dialogue. I tried to recall the words that had made an impression on me in those real-life situations, and included those in the scenes. Due to the honest nature of the film’s origins, and in an effort to maintain its rawness and minimise the opportunity to emotionally edit its content, I set out to write the script as quickly as possible - in six weeks I had structured and written the Frisky. This deliberate momentum was maintained throughout production and postproduction too, the film being shot in fifteen days and edited in six weeks.
I developed the script by first collecting key memorable moments and turning points from my life over the previous three years, then arranging them on a
The plot of Frisky is very simple, yet the implications of its characters’ emotions and actions are profound. Throughout the film you capture the
honest in my reflection and didn’t try to polish or corrupt the details, I could write a relatable and interesting script. I didn’t set out to write a comedy, but on reflection of those times, it was hard not to laugh at how out of my depth I was constantly finding myself, and how much I kept trying to take control of hopeless situations.The film was shot less than three months before I moved back to Australia after four years in California, and is something of a love letter and farewell to San Francisco.
pathos, loneliness, and excitement of living abroad, delicately weaving present and future. We have been impressed by your lack of artifice, your indifference to decors resulting in a work at once raw and deeply poetic. How did you develop your filmmaking style? For many years I have shot comedy sketches that involve anything I can get my hands on; Always being scrappy, flying by the seat of my pants and seeing what happens. I love to improvise. I have learned not to tamper with flaws as it is this chaos that makes a scene interesting - emotionally, aesthetically and comedically. Life is unrefined, and I like to hold a mirror up to that. We have appreciated the extremely natural feel of your cinematography, the first minutes of Frisky could have been the minutes of a Athina Rachel
Tsangariâ€™s film too. Can you talk about your creative relationship with Christiana Charalambous and how it has evolved through your work together? From the moment Christiana and I met, we hit it off. As a foreigner herself, she understood and related to the voice of the story on many levels. I knew that I needed someone who I could trust implicitly to solve problems as they arose and to keep a cool head as I was jumping from behind the camera to in front of it. Christiana is an incredibly capable and creative woman with one hell of an indie filmmaking spirit. I aimed to give the film a real-life aesthetic which Christiana nailed through the use of a lot of intimate and sometimes voyeuristic hand-held shots. I wanted the audience to feel like they are in the room with the characters, going through their struggles and victories.
From developing a shotlist, to calling cut on the final scene, our creative relationship began strong and only became stronger throughout the shoot as we became familiar with each otherâ€™s working rhythm. Christiana was a daily source of inspiration for me. Can you describe your approach to lighting? Each scene was lit as true-to-life as possible, utilising natural daylight for day interiors and exteriors, and available light including car headlights, streetlights, Christmas lights and even a bonfire for night exteriors. Soft boxes and China balls were only used for night interiors. Frisky features an impressive, modern editing style. How did you come to work with Julien de Benedictis?
I was introduced to our brilliant editor, Julien de Benedictis through Christiana who had studied with him at University. She said he was a genius and I tend to agree. There was something so captivatingly quirky but seamlessly flowing about his work. He understands character, story and comedy in ways that I am yet to. Julien has masterfully fused all the debauchery into a story where audiences might care deeply for the characters and relate to their journey. Shot in 15 days and edited in 6 weeks, Frisky is your directorial debut. What challenges did you face while making your feature film? The first few days were the bumpiest as they were by far the heaviest schedulewise, and we had new locations each day. Everyone was exhausted, we had a small crew and each person had a lot of responsibility. Our Assistant Director,
Cassie Vance and Line Producer, Willow Polson, were invaluable for keeping us on schedule and the cast and crew happy and full of tacos. We shot in friends’ houses, and we shot guerilla on the streets and in parks without too much interruption short of a little construction noise, a football game and a neighbour threatening to call the police as she thought we were shooting pornography in “that” car scene. I personally found my biggest challenge was switching between director mode and actor mode, while trying to deliver an honest performance. My trust in Christiana certainly helped these transitions. While we had no budget (the film’s entire budget including post was under USD 5000), the shoot ran incredibly smoothly. I was fortunate to have surrounded myself with an exceptionally professional cast and crew although our production was perhaps a little unorthodox in its
structure: it was a community project where everyone involved has been given equity in ownership based on their proportion of time contributed. I think that this has given the film a very unique energy. Did you rehearse a lot with the shots you prepared in advance? While we had a general shot list, the shots were largely improvised and adjusted on the day as there were few complex camera movements. Camera set-ups were quick as we were shooting handheld, and our lighting was minimal. We had originally intended to roll two cameras at once to shoot even faster, however this proved to be a lot more time consuming than anticipated so we abandoned the second camera early on in the shoot. We rehearsed cast performances
thoroughly, including some blocking, before we went into production so we could be more efficient on set. Your art director, Katie Nash, did an excellent work, making this fine film above all a very human and honest one. Can you describe your collaboration with Katie? Katie Nash is a very good mate of mine, who’s work I deeply respect. Her hawklike attention to detail, aesthetic nous and local understanding as a Bay Area native gave a sense of real life in San Francisco. Working with Katie was wonderful; I would suggest a feeling that I wanted from a scene, and she would curate a costume palette and set items to enhance that feeling, she would draw attention to little details from the script that I had forgotten or overlooked in the heat of preproduction. I found her ability to practice restraint, and let spaces speak
for themselves to be very complimentary to my overall intention. You had an all female crew on set, can you describe the shooting of Frisky? The environment on set was productive and professional, but also nurturing, creative and playful. We didn’t set out to build an all-female crew, we set out to build a solid, capable, reliable crew and that’s exactly what we achieved. I can proudly say, without a doubt, that creating this film with my talented cast and crew was the most positive, energising and inspiring experience of my life to date. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting into filmmaking, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in
cinema? No woman should abandon a career in filmmaking due to a feeling of restriction or prejudice from the studio system. Create content independently to demonstrate that women have what it takes, and beyond that, the unique asset of a female perspective. Half of the world’s population are women, and those women want to see films with a woman’s voice. There is certainly a market for it, and we need to keep making it so that it is available to consume. The best way to create momentum for women in cinema, is for women to make films. This is all possible at an incredibly low budget with the rise of digital filmmaking. I have learned that people want to be involved in creative projects, they want to contribute their talents, they want to work, and if you are willing to do the hard yards and offer them a vehicle to do that, you will find your cast and crew, and you will get your project made. Woman or man.
What do you hope viewers will take away from Frisky? The strongest friendship bonds are formed over burritos. Thanks for your time and thought, Claudia. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for you? I’m currently working on a script about a woman who, in the middle of abandoning her career and romantic persuit, moves in with her borderline con-artist father who she has not lived with since she was eight. I’m finding it a interesting relationship dynamic to explore, and hope to capture a real sense of the Australian small town beach culture. I’m also in the middle of shooting a short film for Tropfest titled 'Potluck' and developing a comedy pilot for Australian television with my creative partners Pru Vindin and Emma Leonard. Very exciting times ahead!
amelia arnold Titolo inizia2015) per PILLche (USA,
With her unconventional approach to narrative, Amelia Arnold captures the pain and exuberance of adolescence with wit, emotional depth. Directed with sensitivity and grit, Pill is a compelling movie experiment. Its story is simple, yet the implications of its characters’ emotions and actions are profound. We are pleased to present Amelia Arnold for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Amelia, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? Firstly I want to thank CinéWomen for this feature, it’s truly an honor. My path to filmmaking has been a long time coming. I’ve always appreciated the collaborative nature of film, and the heterogeneity of the moving image. I began making silly shorts when I was about thirteen with my friends, and that sparked my interest. In high school I
volunteered for a local youth film festival where I met many like-minded friends and future collaborative partners (including the co-producer and cinematographer of Pill, Noah Johnson). When I was eighteen I made my first two ‘serious’ films. One was a short experimental—a visual representation of a poem I had written. The other was a short alluding to Virginia Woolf’s novel To The Lighthouse. Pill is my third film, and I’m excited to do more. I’m a both a very visual and verbal person, and this medium allows me to combine those aspects to form a greater, richer, unified work of art. How did you become involved with Pill and what attracted you to this film? Pill actually began with the title. I loved the sound of it—it was so crisp, and yet said so much. Especially considering I wanted to make a film portraying a
interview hypochondriac who is addicted to antianxiety medication and is somewhat of a pill herself. I was inspired by Woody Allen’s neurotic comedic style blended with the hedonistic lifestyle many teenagers are told to experience. The two seemed like polar opposites, so I wanted to see what would happen if I plopped an overanxious person in the middle of a heightened pleasureseeking adolescent culture. Pill is marked by a clear storytelling, each shot is carefully orchestrated to work within the overall structure. How did you develop the script of the film? I began writing in March of 2014 and finished the final draft only about three weeks before we were scheduled to shoot in late July. The script went through several drafts—a main character was even cut out in the process. I knew the message I wanted to get across, but I had trouble translating it into a short film. My mother and Noah were both amazing during the scriptwriting process. They gave feedback
and great insight that helped PILL become what it is today. Did you rehearse a lot with the shots you prepared in advance? During pre-production, Noah and I would tirelessly sort each last detail in order. This included combing through the script several times and discussing a very specific shot list. We really left no stone unturned when preparing how the cinematography would match up with the story. When we got on set, the list helped expedite the shot set ups tremendously. How did you conceive the characters of Leah and Scarlett? It’s kind of funny actually. I originally came up with them through modeling the dynamic of their friendship off of my own, with my friend of 10 years, Charlotte. The characters themselves then became fictional and exaggerated, but the seed was my attempt to portray my friendship with
Charlotte. We’re both mixtures of Leah and Scarlett (as I think most people are), and what’s special about our friendship is that we push each other to try new things— things that are out of our comfort zone. But, we’re always willing to do it if we’re with each other. That’s how I intended Leah and Scarlett’s friendship to appear: adventurous, but at the end of the day, they’re there for each other.
their perception aligned with mine, I also wanted to be very open to their unique interpretations. I gave them basic bullet points of how each character functioned, their background, their motive, etc., and then I let them decide for themselves the nuances of their character.
With much dialogue to use, your actors did an excellent job, making this film above all a very honest one. What is your preparation with actors in terms of rehearsal?
The purpose of PILL is to demystify the culture of Skins and to destigmatize those who don’t want a life of hedonism. But its purpose is also to hold a mirror up to society and show how silly this selfindulgence is. Overall, I hope viewers won’t feel like they’re “missing out,” and that it’s okay to go to sleep at 8pm on a Friday night.
All I ask of my actors is that they learn their lines on time. That’s truly it. I want to let the script speak for itself, so in the beginning stages, when I was busy with pre-production, I let the actors interpret their roles for themselves. I would then meet with them and discuss how they viewed their characters. While I made sure
What do you hope viewers will take away from the film?
Your cinema is rich of references, ranging from Almodovar to Leos Carax. Who among international directors influenced your work?
All I ask of my actors is that they learn their lines on time. That’s truly it. I want to let the script speak for itself, so in the beginning stages, when I was busy with preproduction, I let the actors interpret their roles for themselves.
Thank you—yes, it’s very important to me to allude to influential filmmakers in my own work. I believe that art should not be completely original, but rather build off of and interact with all the great work already in existence. As for influential international directors, Ingmar Bergman is the top. His ability to express the entire range of human emotion in one scene, even one shot, is phenomenal. The dark morbidity mixed in with reflective humor is so refreshing, because it’s so real. However, my single greatest influence is Julie Taymor. I became interested in art and creating art only after seeing The Lion King. Her unparalleled ability to see the unseen, think the unthinkable, and create the impossible motivated me to humbly try to do the same. Pill seems simple, but it encompasses an entire world. What was the most challenging thing about making this film? Balancing the two polar opposite anchors of the film: conservativeness and
recklessness. This really all depended on acting, so I worked closely with my actors for weeks before shooting. Ginger (Leah) especially had a tough role to play; she was the embodiment of the “entire world” that Pill encompasses. She did an incredible job with the complex and contradictory emotions that Leah goes through. The humor, also, was incredibly difficult to balance with the dark undertone of debilitating anxiety. All the actors did fabulously with their roles. I really couldn’t have asked for a better cast to portray the paradoxical nature of the film. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting into filmmaking, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? That’s such a tough question, and an even tougher answer. I think the discouragement of female filmmakers
isn’t a unique phenomenon, and it’s directly connected with the general sexism that exists almost everywhere. The specific aversion to female filmmakers seems to stem from the pre-conceived notion that men have exclusive capital on creativity and physical/artistic expression; while a woman’s sole responsibility is to be a caretaker. People think the two are mutually exclusive—that if a woman pursues a career in art (particularly cinema, because it is such a new and interdisciplinary medium that requires technological intelligence as well as artistic intuition), she will either fail or neglect her societal duties of supporting her husband. I will say this though, I think it’s definitely becoming easier for women to succeed in the industry, but there’s still quite a long way to go. It’s encouraging that people are becoming more aware of the issue, which helps hold those who are hiring accountable. How I truly believe women will break the glass ceiling of cinema is not to compete with men, but to form a
supportive network for each other. Many organizations like this exist already, and I think that’s where the success lies for the future of female filmmakers. Thanks for your time and thought, Amelia. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Amelia Arnold? Have you a particular film in mind? Thank you—support from a respected magazine means quite a lot to me as I go forward in my career. It’s hard to know what’s next for me right now. I’m about to go into my senior year of undergraduate studies, so I’ll be focusing on coursework for now. After I graduate, I definitely want to pursue a career in television as well as film, whether that be a writer’s room job or selling a screenplay, only the future knows. I don’t have any specific projects in mind right now, but I do have hundreds of little seeds floating around in my head. As any artist knows, it’s just a matter of time and cultivation until one of those seeds starts to blossom.
christina jekey Genesis of a Sculpture (USA, 2015)
Christina Jekey's directorial debut is an ambitiously constructed, elegantly photographed meditation on the torturous relationship between the artist and her creations, one that deserves repeated and in-depth viewings. Shot with elegance and sensitivity, The Genesis of a Sculpture is a transporting experience. We are glad to present Christina Jekey for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Christina, we want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for The Genesis of a Sculpture? I began formulating my idea in June 2014 and it took almost one year to fruition. I just wanted to make a film of my art to show that there is also a hidden process in creating a piece of art. Many people do not know that the creative process of an artist is not only a materialization of an idea, it is a growing process, from the initial until
completion. It is a slow process for me and it can take months or years. I grow together with my piece of art. It’s not only the repetition of an old idea each time I endeavor something new. It’s like the branches of a tree that develops growth and branches out, but the trunk remains solid. The problem was that I had only one short experience 9 years ago with a short film I created at school, the Academy of Fine Arts. So I decided to follow the Digital video producer course at the S.A.E. Institute in Brussels to learn the technical part of filming. During this study I first made a short portrait of a musician wood maker. The teacher complemented my documentary and encouraged me to do better. The challenge of making a better documentary in such a short delay seems to be impossible for me. But a few days later, the idea that has matured during the previous months became clear and I saw in my dreams
how the film would look like. Was it important for you to make a personal film, something you knew a lot about? I did not want to delegate the creation of this film as it was so important to me to explain my vision as an artist. Who can better explain my art than me? But making a personal film is not so important, it could have been any other subject that I loved but it was easier to take an idea that was already in my mind since months. For me, it was also easier to make my first film in my own environment: no long inquiries, no timetable, no pressure to make appointments, no travelling around, no carrying materials. Just me, the elements and my time. Whatâ€™s most important to me when writing a scenario is to have a special relation, a great interest with the subject you want to film, even if it is curiosity, fear, love or
something else. How could you create and show other people something that you do not know, you do not feel? It is like an actor who plays a role, who has to prepare his personage, and has to become the personality and character of his role before making his first show. With its mix of documentary technique and fictional storytelling, The Genesis of a Sculpture is a stunning film to watch. We have appreciated your poetic style of filmmaking. Did the overall structure unfold before the camera, or were you already aware of these various pieces of the puzzle? Once the subject was clear, to create a film about my art, I though it would be difficult to make a documentary about my art and myself as a sculptor so I had to find something else, something different than a portrait documentary. When Im filming, I like to present scenes as a fiction film, so therefore I decided to mix both techniques.
Once the poem came to me during my dreams and I began to write it down, the pieces of the puzzle came together because the poem is the spine of the film and they were finalized during the editing. Throughout the film you take us through your creative process. How did your background as a professional sculptor and designer has affected your shooting style? My background of course affected my shooting. As an artist, I have another vision as a filmmaker, the vision of a sculptor. Every creator has a different vision depending on which field he is working with, his artistic environment certainly influences him. When I create a piece of art, I care about the details and position of each pieces of wood. I did the same in my film. I looked through the lens and knew when it fits. I remember a teacher during my art studies who told us that it is always more powerful to bring ideas from another
area into a new field to create a new vision. Can you describe the shooting of The Genesis of a Sculpture? How long was the project? The first days of shooting were quite easy, I was in a trance- like state. I nearly had all the images I needed during the first week: my shoots in my atelier and even outdoor images. I was very fortunate with the light, the weather and some unplanned images came to me like magic during the shooting. The problems came later when I had to make retakes. It became more difficult, more tedious and less spontaneous. I had to postpone a lot due to bad weather. The inside shootings were also more difficult because each time I wanted to perfect my shootings. You have to pull the line at one point because otherwise it never ends. So I took almost 6 to 8 weeks to complete the film including the sound recording of the voice-over and the harp, and around 2
weeks with the post-production. The Genesis of a Sculpture is your directorial debut. What challenges did you face while making your film? I had many challenges. The first one was not only showing the practical side but to show the spiritual and unseen process of the creation of a work of art without adding expenses in the post-production. As I said before the reshooting was not so easy and the post-production proved to be difficult because I did not have any experiences ,but it was a pleasure to work with professional studios who know their work. Another example of the challenges that came along for instance were the blue flowers in the wood. I had to wait potently each day for them to blossom. After they bloomed, you only have a few days to shoot with the optimal blooming. So you have to take the right decision on the exact day, time and the best light to create a magical effect.
From the first time we watched your film, we thought of Peter Greenaway's cinema, yet your filmmaking style is far from what is generally considered 'academic'. Can you tell us your biggest influences in cinema and how they have affected your work? As far as I know, I’m not conscious of being influence by other filmmakers but perhaps other films may have played a part of my unconscious decisions such as: “La belle verte” from Céline Cérault, films from Luc Besson, Arabic films like “La source des femmes” by Radu Mihaileanu, “Les citronniers” and “La fiancée syrienne” by Eran Tiklis, “La visite de la fanfare by Eran Kolirin as well as some documentaries about awareness such as “What the bleep do we (k)now?), “Thrive” and “The living matrix”. The only similarities i see with Peter Greenaway is that we both are artists and do not make make academic films.
What do you want people to remember after seeing The Genesis of a Sculpture? I only hope that people will remember something… Maybe they will understand more about the spiritual process of the creation of a piece of art, the deeply relationship between an artist and his creation, the influence of the beauty of the nature as well as the merging of a new kind of artist. My secret hope is that the film will speak directly to the soul of the one who sees it but i do not have any influences on that issue.I just let it happen. 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?
It’s very important for me that women are allowed to express themselves behind the camera. It brings a different aspect to the screen, a different attitude because women are more sensitive and have the will bring to the cinema a new perspective of film making. In the US during the last decades we witness a lot of new festivals only for women and I find that great, they help women succeed. Thanks for your time and thought, Christina. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for Christina Jekey? Have you a particular film in mind? Yes I have a documentary project about artists and creators but still have to work on it to become clear enough in my mind and I already have a second idea, a fiction feature film which has to evolve during the next years..
tessa garland Another Day West of Highway 62 (USA, 2015)
Another Day West of Highway 62 reveals a sophisticated and personal reinvention of the visual identity of of the Mojave Dessert. In her quest to explore the tensions between perception, space and subjectivity, Tessa Garland produces something hypnotic and memorable with this film. We are glad to present Tessa Garland for this year's CinĂŠWomen Edition. Tessa, how did you get into experimental cinema? I started as a sculptor because I found was a natural maker but this early fascination with form soon moved towards installation and assemblage, I started to incorporate CCTV cameras into these works so that I could control and manipulate the audiences view. By the mid 90's I made what seemed to me the natural progression onto Super 8, I loved it's quality of colour and richness and depth of the film, but it was probably another 5 years before home computers became powerful and
affordable enough to allow me to start to really explore editing as a medium. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for Another Day West of Highway 62? I rarely work with a preconception of what it is I am going to do, instead I allow each stage of the process to evolve naturally. I often start with a journey, as in this film, then I allow myself to find my focus as the shooting progresses. This may be around a building or as in Another Day West of Highway 62 a desert landscape. I am excited by odd and dislocated spaces in this work I was particularly looking for somewhere perhaps reminiscent of another planet. I do actually spend months planning my trips. This one to the Mojave Desert was particularly exciting because of the history of UFO's and their followers. I was fascinated at how this landscape could be the seed
for so many different ideologies. This was my starting point an idea and a route map of maybe some interesting places to go and film -such as the Integratron a meditation centre built in the desert (with the help of aliens!) and the very beautiful but strange Joshua Tree National Park. You use video to heighten and alter individuals 'experiences of space and time. Can you introduce our readers to this fascinating idea behind Another Day West of Highway 62? I am interested in non linear narrative as this naturally dislocates the audience from the subject and I want them to experience that feeling of chance and randomness that I got on my journey. I wanted the film to have an other worldliness about it and take you not
just on a physical journey but also on the metaphysical journey ....the Mojave Desert is certainly the place for that. What message underpins the work if any? I don't believe I am looking for messages per say in my work, but I am fascinated by human beings intervention on this planet and the effect this intervention then has on them, by which I mean the extreme, sophisticated and bizarre systems they then construct to support their tenuous ideas and I like that point where the line blurs between fact and fiction. What was the most challenging thing about making this work? For this particular work its biggest challenge was also its biggest plus - the
location. It is a massive extremely hot expanse of land, the heat and the dust meant I had no real time for contemplation, I had to point the camera and shoot. I knew that I had to get as much footage as possible, if I missed a shot or lost the light it could take a whole day to back track and do it again. I did all of my editing at home in the UK and because of this and the way I allow ideas to develop I had many missing shots, so I ended up trawling the internet and archives until I eventually found the bits I needed. Your films often approach the sheer lyrical quality of visual music, taking at heart Michael Snow's teaching "I wish to abandon imitation and illusion and enter directly into the higher drama of
celluloid". Your process seems closer to a painter than to a filmmaker: could you introduce our readers to the multidisciplinary nature of your art? A lot of people have said that, I think it is probably to do with my early fascination with Super 8 and its inherent quality of light and colour that so enchanted and captured me. I think also my actual editing process is probably far more painterly than that of a proper filmmaker, I am sure if a real editor watched me work they would shudder at my abuse of the technology! But for me it's about what I am seeing in front of me and how it evolves stage by stage, each element informs what I try next, just like a painter building up layers but over actual time.
statement Another Day West of Highway 62 is filmed at different sites across California and Arizona and features: The Integratron, a whitedomed structure resembling a flying Saucer allegedly built under instruction by aliens from Venus; Giant Rock- a gathering point for UFO believers and conventions during the 1950's and the Joshua Tree Park, a vast expanse of rock piles, stark mountain ranges, and the twisted, tree-like yucca cacti that give the park its name.
The audio is a mix of immersive ambient sound interrupted by recordings from local paranormal radio stations in the area. The recordings have been edited from witness accounts and describe experiences of UFO and alien encounters.
The work begins as a fairly dreamy car journey - large windmills signal and prime you into entering a different zone or landscape, American flags flutter on desolate roads, communications towers pick up local airwaves and discharge persuasive indoctrinating messages. As the journey continues sublime desert landscapes hypnotise and then slip into moments of zealous activity accompanied by a hidden micro world of curious alien like organisms. By the end of the work
The sensory aspect of the film through sound and music is very important for me. It shifts the perception of the spectator is really key. In Another Day West of Highway 62, I worked with the improvisational musician Nick Harpley. I asked Nick to produce something spacey to get lost in. I then overlaid collected sounds from my library and also radio recordings both from our journey and found on the internet. The boundary between fiction and documentary is a topos of your cinema, reminding us of directors like Francesco Rosi: can you describe this fundamental concept of your filmmaking? Rosi is wonderful, his wide screen
scapes and colouration in films like The Moment of Truth, are both brutal and yet mesmerising. I am not trying to make documentaries but I do like to play with the political narratives that naturally emerge when I make a film and these big subjects seem to sit easily within the format. I see the editing process as the creative bit and this is the point where I can start to blur between the real and the fictional. Could you take us through your creative process when starting a new project? Usually I like to go to a place and hang out there look and listen and then start to shoot some video, I then begin to know which way to go. I often make many visits to a place to really
understand it, but because of limited time and budget I had to get all of my footage in one visit. For this project much of my early decision making about where to shoot was made on the internet. Your art is rich of references. We have previously mentioned Michael Snow, even though your filmmaking style is very far from what is generally considered 'academic'. Who among international artists and directors influenced your work? I have an eclectic approach to what I like and cannot think of any stand out influences although I find Chris Marker, Jennifer Reeves, Werner Herzog, Marie Menken, Ben Rivers films interesting. I also a big fan of science fiction
particularly from the 50's 60's and 70's so Nicolas Roeg, Don Siegal, George A. Romero to name a few. Thanks for sharing your time, Tessa, we wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for you? Have you a particular film in mind? Yes I have a couple of pieces on the go. I am currently revisiting footage taken in the Mojave at the Noah Purifoy Museum and making an experimental piece that overlays archival sound over images of his recycled assemblages. The other work is based closer to home, in fact at the end my street- not so far to travel this time!
eriss khajira Dusty Bin Dreams (Africa, 2015)
Eriss Khajira (1987) grew up on the largest dumpsite of East Africa: the Dandora dumpsite. Thousands of people live on and around this dumpsite, scavenging through the waste of Nairobiâ€™s residents. Khajira goes back to the place of her youth and she portrays five dumpsite inhabitants. Among them are her good friend Textbook who is soon to be a father, handyman Goko who wants to organise the Dusty Bin and rapper Mavoke who is working on his musical breakthrough. The result is a touching and shocking documentary that shows the strengths, the sorrows and the dreams of Khajira's slum neighbours. 'Dusty Bin Dreams' tells the story of African poverty from the inside: a story of hope, friendship, despair and betrayal.
Eriss Khajira is a young talented filmmaker from East Africa, an in our sense of the word. Her intense, original documentary stands as a brave and uncompromising film. Silent and hidden behind her camera, she explores the absurdity of poverty. is not a classical documentary. Eriss' poetic visual style is very much in keeping with Samuel Beckett's existentialist approach to theatre, or Thomas
Eliot's . We are pleased to present Eriss Khajira and Anne van Campenhout, her codirector, for this year's CinĂŠWomen Edition. Eriss and Anne, we want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: could you tell us a particular episode who has helped the birth of ? Eriss, was it important for you to make a personal film, something you knew a lot about? Yes, I thought it was very important that people from all over the world know what is happening at the dumpsite and that this film should be made by someone who comes from that place. An outsider doesn't have the access to the story and doesn't understand what is going on. I did not want to tell that people on the dumpsite are sad people, I wanted to show that we are hard working and we struggle but we survive. You have to be close to the people you film and you have to love and admire them to be able to tell that story.
as a filmmaker and reporter? For me personally, making this film was an emotional process. The film is also reflecting about my life. When I started filming, I had the idea that I was really one of them, one of the scavengers. I thought: all of us had the same start in life. This could have been me scavenging, so why is it that I am the one with the camera and why are they still scavenging? It was also a reminder of what I went through when I was young. These emotions made me strong to continue making this film. During the period of filming, I found out that there are more sides to this dumpsite that I did not know of. I got scared because my friends also had other sides to them. I did not feel safe anymore, to the point that I did not dear to go to the dumpsite anymore. I had become more of an outsider than I though, and perhaps I had always been. Can you tell us about your trajectory
I was born and raised in the Dandora Slum, next to the Dandora Dumpsite (the Dusty Bin). That is the largest dumpsite of East Africa. This area is known for criminal activities like rape, unemployment, drug abuse, health problems and bad environment. I used to play and scavenge on the dumpsite. When I first saw a film on TV I was very impressed. I admired how people produce stories and put them on television and I wanted to share what was going on in my place. When I finished high school I could not continue education, because there was no money for my school fees. I went looking for a place where I could learn how to film and edit and I found a man who was making videos for weddings and funerals. I started carrying his bags and whenever I got a chance I could use the equipment to go to the Dandora Slum and document a story. Luckily, the Dutch organization
Voices of Africa Media Foundation partnered with us and they provided a flip camera. I started collecting stories that we narrowcasted on www.africanslumjournal.com. We named our organization the Nairobi Community Media House and today we are working with young reporters from different slums in Nairobi. Anne van Campenhout got involved as a coach for the Slum Journals. My biggest dream was to make a longer film about life on the Dandora Dumpsite. In 2012 I had a chance to interact with Floor Koomen, chief editor from the Dutch broadcasting organization Evangelische Omroep. I shared my ideas and he was interested to produce this film. The lack of means has never been an obstacle to your creativity: your career started with a mobile phone. Do you have any advice for filmmakers who have their own stories theyâ€™re burning to tell although they lack the funding
or infrastructure to do so? Funding is always the main challenge for any film maker, especially in Africa. You have to think outside the box and work with people who are already in the field. If you have an idea, you can look for someone who has equipments and you can collaborate together. The best thing is to just get started because it is easier to convince an investor when you have already shot some material. Some stories can't wait for funding. Anne, how did you first meet her, and how did her previous experience influence your filmmaking process? Working with Eriss was very inspiring for me as a filmmaker. She works with her heart, very intuitive, whereas I work often with my head. Eriss started filming with a mobile phone, whereas I graduated from the film school in the Netherlands and learnt about filmmaking before I had
actually held a camera. I think Eriss has everything that makes a good director: she is extremely motivated, she recognizes what makes a good story, she easily wins people's trust, she has guts, she is technically skilled, etcetera. But she has seen very few artistic documentaries. African films are often staged, very slowly told and of poor quality. The challenge for me was to let Eriss tell her story in her style, but keeping in mind the standards of the Dutch broadcaster and investor of Dusty Bin Dreams. Filmmaking in Africa is a challenge. I have been working in Ghana, Benin, Tanzania and Zambia before so I have some experience in that. There are many factors at work, such as broken equipment, lack of money, bribery, people who become ill or even die, distrust and begruding. Eriss' previous experience making the African Slum Journals (3 to 5 minutes per episode)
was a good basis because she knew very well how to deal with these factors. How were we going to make this film more than a collection of five Slum Journals? I think that is the contribution of Eriss' presence in the film. Her development is part of the film. Together with Eriss, we keep adjusting our ideas of the dumpsite. In the film we see parts of a video diary in which Eriss tells about her experiences to us, the viewers. We also feel her presence when she is filming others with her camera. For example, if Eriss zooms it is as if you see what she is looking at, like looking through her eyes to the situation. And an interview with a character tells us more about the relationship between Eriss and this character, than about the character himself. Eriss, In you explore African poverty from the inside, avoiding all the clichĂŠs of documentary cinema. Indeed, it would
be interesting to compare your films to the cinema of Werner Herzog. In your hands, the camera and the subject seem to open themselves to the process of intimate gazing: knowing the lack of spontaneity that a camera can generate, the ease with which they reveal themselves is charming. Can you tell something about your filmmaking style? I don't know Werner Herzog and I don't have a good internet connection to check his work. What I can tell is that people open up in front of the camera because they know me and because I am one of them. Also because I don't want to hide the fact that the camera is present. The influence of the camera on the situation is part of the story. If people react to the camera and feel uncomfortable than that is what I film. I don't try to be invisible, I like telling the story the way it is. I do not think about my style too much
before I start to film because a different style would limit me in capturing the situation, and it would also limit the people I film. I don't want them to have to think too much about the camera. I see the camera as the tool to get to people and I try to see on the spot how I can be in the moment as much as possible. What was the most challenging thing about making this film? First of all, my characters were not easy to follow. Some of them were living two lives. For example my friend Textbook. Through the camera you would see a humble and hard working man, but sometimes he could just move to another house without a notice and it would be very hard for me to find out where he went. I actually needed counseling after Textbooks story, because it ended very tragic and it left me very confused. Security was also a challenge. Even though I was born there, I could not trust all the people working in the
dumpsite and looking back, it is a miracle nobody ever stole my camera. Can you say something about the collaborative nature of filmmaking? Collaborating with other people is very important. Of course you need to collaborate because there are different crafts such as sound, editing, music and marketing. But also on the part of directing, it was good to learn from each other. Your ultimate dream is to start a School of Journalism in Kenya: can you tell us something about this ambitious idea? Through this film I got a chance of going to a Film school. Some people who saw the film donated money on the website www.dustybindreams.com and from that money I can finish the Shangtao Media Arts College in Nairobi. I am very grateful for this opportunity. I can use all
this knowledge to start my own school. In my community, so many people want to go to school but they can't afford it. So the Journalism School that I want to start will be near my neighborhood and I will provide knowledge for affordable school fees so that students can assess easily. By going to school they will improve their lives and the society as a whole. For a startup, I want to make deals with local internet cafes. Students can come to the cafe and pay something to use a computer. I will teach them there, because I can't buy myself computers at this point. What do you consider your biggest challenge at the moment with regards to sustaining your career as a filmmaker, independent or otherwise? First of all, the lack of capital. Good quality films need a large amount of capital for production. There is not much
interest from investors in Kenya so we have to look outside for parties to work with. That's very hard, because how do we reach investors from other countries? There is a lot of corruption in our country and if you want your film to be on television, you have to pay for your airtime. And there are strict policies governing the film industry in Kenya, that restrict productions about for example homosexuality. We have previously mentioned the German director Werner Herzog. Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? I am influenced by society where I come from and the things that I see around me. Thanks for sharing your time, Anne and Eriss, we wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for you? Have you a particular film in mind? I know a boy in the slums whose name is
Kimaru and he lost his father recently. His mother can't afford school fees for him and his sister, but his aunt wants to give him some small chicks. If Kimaru can raise these chicks, he could start a small business to sell the eggs and he and his sister can continue to go to school. But there are a lot of dangers: the chickens can run away, or get sick, or be stolen or eaten by rats and cats. It is a film about a resilient boy who is taking destiny into their own hands. I want to show this film in our slum to inspire other children and I would like to find a distributor to organize screenings on European schools to make the European children aware of their privileges. We are now looking for sponsors for this film. I would like to invite people who are interested and those who want to make a donation to visit: www.dustybindreams.com/how-to-help. Thank you! Watch the full film with English subtitles on www.dustybindreams.com
leeron revah No Free Lunch (USA, 2015)
closer look at the genesis of your short film: how did you come up with the idea for No Free Lunch? No Free Lunch is the first movie I ever co-wrote and directed. After years of line-producing short independent films I was eager to explore all the other artistic aspects of filmmaking (screenwriting, shooting, directing and editing). I was ready to embark on the creative telling of my own personal story - one I was passionate about, intimately familiar with and ready to expose. It took me over a year to come up with the story. I knew who the main character was before I knew what the story would be because I wanted to make a film about someone similar to myself, a conformist who used her deceptive skills to her benefit. What emerges in front of Leeron Revahâ€™s cameras are the fears, hopes, and ambitions of a young girl as she struggles to change her fate. Written and directed with clarity and conscience, No Free Lunch is a psychologically penetrating film, one that deserves repeated and in-depth viewings. We are pleased to present Leeron Revah for this year's CinĂŠWomen Edition. Leeron, we want to take a
But I wanted to relay a metaphorical situation to one I had experienced so that I could create closure for myself in such a way that was relatable to viewers. I finally decided to tell the story of a young woman who goes on a job interview - a situation that many viewers may be able to relate to regardless of what country they are from. Was it important for you to make a
personal film, something you knew a lot about? My first film had to be extremely personal. Since I didn’t have any experience as a director I needed the film to be meaningful to me on the deepest level so I could feel secure to explore all the metaphorical aspects we brought into the script and its structure. I needed to be passionate about the material so I could be decisive about my vision and the message I wanted to relay. With “No Free Lunch” I was making a statement that some people might find dubious – I needed the story and message to be very personal in order to focus and not be enticed to sway in the wrong direction. Now that I have more experience as a director I think I have the confidence to work on scripts that may not be as personal and still bring the right level of authenticity. How did you develop the script and
the structure of No Free Lunch? After working with several screenwriters, I luckily discovered Shahar Fux, a professional screenwriter who has since become one of my favorite friends. He understood my intentions and helped me develop a structured storyline that made sense and depicted well the brilliance and complexity of the character. After a few drafts, we realized that the character's personality was dichotomous in that she was a different person outside than who she was at home - a theme I recognize to be very central in my life. We decided that this aspect would be clearly depicted in the structure of the screenplay hence the first part of the film is silent compared to the rest of the film, which is very dialogue-driven. The visual aspect became very clear to me throughout the writing process due to this understanding and helped me stylize the directorial attributes. A lot of thought
was put into how to depict the dichotomy, visually. We chose to film the scenes in the apartment via uncomfortable close-ups, using a hand-held to create an ambience that expressed suffocation. The interview at the café, on the other hand, was washed full of light, had wider stable shots that created intimacy in a social environment. At the end, I think the structure of the script helped me with every aspect of the filmmaking process. The character’s clothing, hairstyle, the art in the bedroom vs. the art in the rest of the apartment, the behavior at home and her attitude as she left her house were antithetical to one another and can be felt throughout the entire film. Nelly Tagar and Alon Leshem did terrific job making this short film above all a very human one. Did you rehearse a lot with the shots you
prepared in advance? Let’s just say I was very lucky to have had these two very talented actors work with me on this project. It made my job very easy. They were so professional and got what I was saying very quickly so I was confident enough to start filming after only 2 rehearsals and just a few discussions over the phone. Because of my confidence in them, I got to concentrate more closely on which shots we were going to do. I worked very closely with the DP and the assistant director prior to the shooting days and left nothing to chance. We had 3 days to shoot the film and at the café location we had approximately 50 shots (during daylight hours) - time was of the essence. My team and I came so prepared that on these very busy days I still had time to work with my actors, my art director and get creative with
some of the shots. Everything worked smoothly. It was an immensely satisfying experience to work with my team. Accurate cinematography and subtly expressive performances make your film a profoundly moving piece. Close-up shots are a fundamental element of your cinematographic language. How did you develop your filmmaking style? I hadnâ€™t really contemplated what my filmmaking style would be when I finally got to direct my own film. I just knew that my film needed to be authentic. And since the film focuses on an interesting character that intelligently dodges bullets and creates her own opportunities, we needed to really get in her face and get a feel for her. Relating to her, and maybe even getting people to root for her, was my intention for my anti-heroine. And close-ups, I think is THE way to get to know someone up close and personal. I encouraged the DP
to tell the story in the best visual way he saw fit. Throughout the filmmaking the soundman was heard loud and clear and was integral to the process. I met with the editor before the shooting so that he could have a say in the process. And the art director was given a lot of artistic freedom. I believe making a film is a cooperative collaboration, and I really wanted my film to be more than just â€˜workâ€™ for each collaborator, but a representation of each individual artist. As the director, I was responsible for making sure the direction agreed with my line of vision. I think that it came out to be a very cohesive piece of work that every team member feels that they played an important part in. What challenges did you face while making No Free Lunch? I have almost a decade of experience producing low-budget indies and student films so I knew that the biggest
challenges would be to commit to the (low) budget I had initially allotted AND commit to the production and postproduction deadlines. Since I had decided to finance the film myself, I took on the challenges head on and am really proud of my accomplishments. I decided that I was going to be paying my cast and crew what the industry demanded – I wasn’t looking for anybody to do me any favors. I needed them to get paid fairly for the work they were doing.
twice if I want to work with them again on a future project. Happily, I even made some good friends along the way. In terms of sticking to the deadline, I was 5 months pregnant with my second child during pre-production so I had no choice but to maintain my timeline and complete the film before giving birth. I was thrilled to have been able to invite my entire cast and crew to a special screening 10 days before the birth of my baby daughter.
I also wanted to make sure that the ambience was enjoyable and I believe that this attitude encouraged my team to have fun while being professional. We were able to work efficiently even with the most demanding schedule.
Human experience is often the starting point of your artistic research. What draws you to a particular subject?
Respecting and giving each team member a feeling of collaboration served my film on several levels: commitment to the project, professionalism and good sense of will. Best of all, I met professionals that will not think
I think that what draws me to filmmaking is it’s storytelling qualities. It serves me on a narcissistic level in that it provides therapy for me. No Free Lunch poured out of me because of my desire to create closure on a phase in my life that helped shape me and made me who I am today. I am no longer the
person represented in No Free Lunch but it was fun to revisit her and analyze her in retrospect. My next project deals with more current issues that I am dealing with and the more I develop the idea, the more I am learning about myself and perhaps even helping myself. Delving into and investigating my issues through the story I am telling is forcing me to answer some difficult questions that I would otherwise not be able to in conventional therapy. It’s quite an addictive process, I have to say. When we watched No Free Lunch, we thought of Yorgos Lanthimos's cinema. Who among international artists and directors influenced your work?
most as a young viewer but as I got older I realized that superb acting is enabled only when all the artistic elements of the cinematic medium come together – Films like Jason Reitman’s ‘Juno’, Noam Baumbach’s ‘The Squid and the Whale’, Dardenne brothers ‘Rosetta’ and Mike Cahill’s ‘Another Earth’ are perfect examples of this. The individual voice of the director comes through uniquely because the actors are able to do there best work when the script is intelligently structured, the cinematography visually gripping and the sound clean and purposeful. I learned a lot from studying these works and discovered what makes these films emanate a sense of authenticity, exploration and uniqueness.
Wow, thank you for associating my film with this wonderful director. I’m blushing! My interest in this art began with a passion for drama when I was a teenager. Acting has affected me the
For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your
view on the future of women in cinema?
the camera will be a non-issue - an equal playing ground for both sexes.
I think that working behind the camera in this industry is already an almost impossible challenge and women have had to work even harder to distinguish themselves. But lately, I have been optimistic of the headway made because there are more opportunities for women today. Creative labs focused on helping emerging female screenwriters and directors, women groups that provide social networks for female directors, funding that encourages script development by women, festivals focused on women artists in the industry and publications like yours all have the effect of encouraging the change needed in this industry in order to see a more diverse work of art by women.
Thanks for your time and thought, Leeron. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Leeron Revah? Have you a particular film in mind?
Eventually, and hopefully sooner rather than later, women being behind
My experience creating No Free Lunch was so thrilling and satisfying that I have decided that from now on I want to direct and produce my own films. The next project I have in mind is a road tale that contemplates the necessity of conventional relationships and reflects the typical phases they undergo. The desert landscape and political backdrop of Israel (where I now live) will help relay the obstacles that the couples residing in the caravans will experience.As I develop my filmmaking style, I am more and more interested in helping the viewers identify themselves in the story and to discover a different point of view.
rah eleh Oreo (France, 2015)
“Oreo,” 2014, is a Youtube tutorial parody which was completed as part of Artslant’s Georgia Fee Residency in Paris. Youtube tutorials have become a common way to disseminate and obtain information about many things including beauty. I use this model to address contemporary political issues and to stimulate dialogue surrounding racism and white privilege. I strategically use humour and the tutorial approach to seduce the viewer and as a communicative tool. Globally, people spend money and time trying to approximate European beauty ideals. Individuals are bleaching their skin, reconstructing their eyes, noses and even changing their eye colour at the risk of going blind, to pass as White. The character Oreo addresses the very complex issues surrounding one’s claim to Whiteness, passing as White, societal imposition and internalization of white supremacy. People are intrigued with the performative elements of the work, the high pitched voice and the use of humour. These character traits are important but there is a poignant undertone and a challenging script that is often overlooked and relates to my experiences as an Iranian-Canadian woman. I was raised in a predominately White-catholic-francophone community and since a young age, I was conditioned and socialized by visual culture and narratives of Western cultural imperialism to approximate Whiteness, an endeavour that is
unattainable. Critical race theorist bell hooks makes and important distinction between internalized racism and internalized white supremacy:
Albeit, Hooks is addressing experiences relating to the black community but I approached this video considering this important distinction and my own experiences with having internalized white supremacy. I was often labeled “whitewash”or “Oreo”when I mimiced White standards. It took years of unlearning in my adult life to embrace and celebrate my differences. Oreo’s relationship to Whiteness is one that in unique to the experiences of the Iranian diaspora. While I was researching, I came across an article by Alex Shams about the 2010 US National Census, a campaigns asking Iranian-Americans to ethnically identify. Most Iranian Americans identified as White because of our lineage to the Aryan race. During the Pahlavi regime and until the revolution in 1979, nationalistic ideologies of racial superiority were imbedded in this generation of Iranians.
Many of which migrated to the West holding on to these ideas of white superiority. In the West, claiming whiteness does not save us from racial based violence and systematic racism. Since the 1979 Hostage Crisis and more recently 9/11, Iranians have been lumped in a racialized category of terrorists and seen as threat to the occident. In this work, Oreo claims that she is White because she is Aryan and refutes her friends accusations of conforming by saying: “I am Aryan and you tots hate white people.” This reverse racism rhetoric is commonly used by those who occupy positions of racial privilege, to silence people of colour when they are confronted. After I completed Oreo, I was in Vienna doing a residency at the Studio Das Weisse Haus. There I created a video about LGBT Iranian refugees and expats. I met an Iranian gallerist from New York that began enquiring about “where I was from,” she could tell by
my thick English accent that I was not raised in Iran. I told her that I was currently making a transition from Montreal to Toronto, and that as a woman of colour, I experienced a lot of racism in Montreal. The gallerist and her friend turned to me appalled and said “You identify as women of colour?!” I was taken aback because they appeared offended. I asked them if they identified as white and with a hostile tone they replied that they don’t identify with a race, they are Iranian. This was a pivotal moment because it was the first time I had encountered an individual that made such a claim and I was reminded of the 2010 Census. I started to meet more Iranians that either identified as white or as “Iranian” and refused to accept a racialized identity or consider themselves a minority. The gallerist also told me that she is from Iran and only left in her adult life. I realized that her experiences having been
raised in Iran meant that she could identify with a dominant group. Our experiences and relationship to race was very different. Prior to coming to Paris, I knew that I wanted to confront France’s legislations surrounding the veil. During this period, Quebec was trying to pass a similar law and there was a cross-cultural link that was urgent to address. The veil, a garment worn by women to show religious affiliation in Islamic countries is a contentious cultural and political issue and has been the subject of political repression and cultural appropriation. In the video, Oreo is instructing the viewer to remove their veil as to assimilate to western culture. During my process of contextualizing the work, I wanted Oreo to resonate with many cultures but I also wanted to address the racism that was specific to Paris. While I was researching the script, I came across many people who nonchalantly
referred to the convenient store as “Arab.” While Oreo is putting on her contacts she states: “I bought this from my local Arab." I wanted to highlight the term that is so common in the Parisian lexicon and address the apparent economic apartheid and the racialization of this position. Oreo has been exhibited at the Cutlog Contemporary Art Fair in New York city, Vienna at Studio Das Weisse Haus, and it has been selected by MUU Galleria in Finland for Performance Voyage 5, a touring exhibition that has began traveling across Europe and North America to fifteen different galleries and countries. For information about the tour: https://www.facebook.com/performancevoy age For purchasing inquiries please contact my representative gallery PDA Projects http://pdaprojects.com/Georgia-FeeArtist-Residency
interview The embrace of the imagination has always specific political implications. To quote the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, every work of art is a step toward a "minoritarian history of the world" (Toward a Minor Literature, G. Deleuze and F. Guattari). Rah's experimental cinema blends a heady mix of philosophical ideas, parody, and overt allegory. In her work Oreo she highlights the boundary between identity and the perception of the Self, developing her own highly individualistic visual language. We are glad to present Rah for this year's CinĂŠWomenEdition. Rah, how did you get into experimental cinema and performance? I have always been interested in performance because of its interdisciplinary nature; growing up I took dance and theatre classes so the shift to performance art was a natural one. Further, video and performance were prominent art forms in the feminist art
movement; a movement that predominantly dealt with issues of identity politics. My artwork is inherently political and I use a â€œpost-colonial-feministâ€? approach so conceptually these medias are relevant. The narrative quality of these art forms and their ability to be read through gesture captivates a diverse audience. One does not need to speak English to understand Oreo, there is a visual language that transcends speech. Additionally, through performance and experimental video I can document the Self, as the other and challenge the insolent depiction of Iranian women that is perpetuated through western visual culture. I am my primary model, therefore, I am drawn to video because I can perform both in front and behind the camera. I can also use video as a tool to document my live performances and this documentation becomes the art work. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your work: how did you come
up with the idea for Oreo? The first video I created using the tutorial approach with a fictional character, Fatimeh, was called “Oriental Tutorial. This was my first attempt at strategically using humour as a communicative tool. My original proposal for Artslant’s Georgia Fee residency in Paris was a make-up tutorial with Fatimeh. When I started doing my research for the script there was a lot of controversy surrounding Bill 60; a Quebec legislation attempting to ban the veil and religious garments to promote secularism and “religious neutrality” in the public sector. I noticed many parallels to the France legislation that had been implemented years ago; a legislation which obviously targeted specific ethnic and religious groups. This commonality was important to address. That being said, I wanted the work to be more than just a critique of these legislations surrounding the veil. During this time, it was New York fashion week and designers were getting
criticized for using white models in black face. An article by Jezebel was discussing the diversity in the models through a pie chart illustration: “African, Latinos, Asians and Other” these umbrella categories symbolically annihilated many other ethnic groups. There was a common problem underneath all of this discussion surrounding the veil and fashion week and that was racism. This became the pressing issue. Further, I had read an article by Alex Shams about the 2010 US national census asking Iranians to ethnically identify and many Iranians claimed that they were White. I have always identified as a person of colour so it came as a surprise to me, that other Iranians in the diaspora,were identifying as White.Lastly, I wanted the character to embody postmodern characteristics relating to representation and similarly challenge the notions of purity and authenticity. In your Director's statement, you discuss the influence of the Western
cultural imagery and "ideology", a fundamental idea behind Oreo. How has your history influenced the way you produce art? I was raised in a predominately Whitecatholic-francophone community. Since a young age, I was conditioned and socialized by visual culture and narratives of Western cultural imperialism to approximate Whiteness, an endeavor that is unattainable. Any deviation from that norm was met with hostility and violence. Another aspect of my history that influences my approach, is that I come from a very politically active family and I was always surrounded by politics and activists. Therefore, my relationship to activism started at a very young age but the indoctrination of White supremacy undeniably took its toll on my sense of self worth. I wish I had the privilege to make works that are apolitical but for me it is about a greater social responsibility. I tackle important and relevant issues with inclusivity and accessibility in mind. I want
the work to resonate with many cultures and transcend national boundaries. Growing up in a colonial society and existing in a system that alienates nonwhites, I had to insert myself in the cultural narrative and my identity and body became a site for intervention and reclamation. Your sense of humour gives your films a playful yet utterly subversive sensibility, reminding us of Cindy Sherman's early work. How did you develop your irreverent style? My upbringing as an activist has certainly contributed to my style. I am very resistant and Oreo says all the things that is unacceptable for me to say. I take these issues very seriously but it is important to have a sense of humour. Oreoâ€™s character is sarcastic, exaggerated and perverse and through this hyper-racialized appropriation of whiteness, the gestural performance subverts and destabilizes the hegemonic norms of whiteness. The characterâ€™s tone is
accusatory, she accosts the gaze and puts the viewer in an apprehensive and selfreflective position while using humour. My works are about identity construction and the unequal distribution of power, these are tough issues to tackle, so I use humour because it is simultaneously assertive and approachable. Human experience is often the starting point of your filmmaking. What draws you to a particular subject? Could you take us through your creative process when starting a new project? I am drawn to subjects that are immediate and urgent. I also like to tackle issues that are relevant to contemporary discussions, medias and apparatuses. My process involves research and I am often influenced by text rather than other works of art. I also do a lot of filtering, for Oreo, I rewrote the script several times. I really appreciate getting the work critiqued and discussing the work with a vast audience because I am interested in how the work
translates in different spaces. My process is both strategic and intuitive. Some days I embodied the character, much like an actor and performed all my daily tasks as Oreo. Those days were the best for writing because the character took over and the script flowed more naturally. We would like to focus now on Ululate, a performance that is more than just open for interpretation. A peculiar aspect of this work is the fact that throughout the piece you observe long pauses of self-reflection. We are fascinated by your use of temps mort, in which the viewer project his own emotions. Can you introduce our readers to this 6-hours performance? Ululation was a durational performance at Xpace in Toronto and was curated by Kate Barry. In one word, Ululation was about transformation but there were multiple layers to the performance and temps mort was a dominating aspect. I am interested in stillness and tableau vivant. I appreciate
the simplicity and the powerful nature of the gesture. For the viewer, sitting through Ululation could be an agonizing experience, for some it was emotional, for me it was emotionally and psychologically very taxing. My performative works are about existing in a liminal space and the body is always at the forefront of the work so self-reflectivity is important. My performances are an offering and are about access. I did a similar piece recently called NW25 where I stood in a room unclothed with the shade of my foundation NW25 painted on my body and the spectators were encouraged by a facilitator, to enter into discussion about my body, race, and performance, while I remained silent and still. In Oriental Barbie, I stood on a plinth for three hours as a live mannequin and gave the viewer full access to representation. During these performances, I depend on my body and my presence to make a statement that I cannot vocalize. In many of my these works, I am revealing and concealing parts of identity and sharing intimate details of my experience. I am in a position of voluntary submission and these are the times in my work that I feel the most vulnerable. Can you introduce our readers to the multidisciplinary nature of your work? I started my practice as a photo -based artist but aforementioned my previous explorations in performance art led to creating predominantly performative and video works. I most recently started creating digital collages, light boxes and multiple channel video installations. Each media is very unique but regardless of the medium, my works are about a greater message that contributes to wider societal and cultural discourses. I am also interested in experimenting with new medias and 3D technology. I am fascinated by these new technologies and I wish to further explore these mediums. Your art is rich of references. We have
previously mentioned Cindy Sherman, however your visual imagery seems to be closer to the films of Věra Chytilová. Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? Cindy Sherman is certainly an influence but my biggest influence is Ana Mendieta because her work captures the anxieties of being an exilic artist and I have a profound visceral and emotional response to her work. I am also inspired by Orlan,Vanessa Beacroft, Martha Rosler, Eleanor Antin, Elke Krystufek, Shirin Neshat and Cosima Von Bonin. Each artist is very different but there engagement with stillness, body mutilation, masquerade, abjection, and the playful nature of their works has been a source of inspiration. Further, all of these artist’s address issues of race, gender and the many intersections that contribute to social inequality. There are many artists I am inspired by but also several scholars and comedians. Oreo was responding to specific articles and current events but I am very active so I seek inspiration from many sources. Thanks for sharing your time, Rah, we wish you all the best with your artist career. What's next for you? Have you a particular film in mind? Thank you for your time and interest in my work. I have many upcoming projects. I will be doing a performance in Rosendale New York this August, Oreo is currently touring with MUU Galleria in Finland for Performance Voyage 5 and will be touring many Nordic countries, North Africa and North America until December.I will also be making a short film in Istanbul and then continuing the Oreo series. I anticipate having more work and creating a live performance with this character by the end of the year.
julija proskurina Romeo and J: New Hope (Ukraine, 2015) e
Visually, Romeo and J: New Hope is a stunning animated film to watch. Stylistically, the film owes more to the surreal fantasy world of Alejandro Jodorowsky than to the unheimlich imagery of Jan Svankmajer. Julija Proskurina's cinema features baroque excess and rough emotions through an elegant use of primary colors. We are pleased to present Julija Proskurina for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Julija, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker and animator. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? It’s probably not the best idea to begin an interview with admitting my professional failure, but I do believe that my starting point as a filmmaker was the moment when I didn’t find my name in the list of happy few candidates, admitted to Filmakademie Wien. That moment, when Klaus helped to get my documents back because I suddenly couldn’t say a word in German, wiped
my tears and told: “You still have a month here, use it for inspiration”. That same night we sneaked into Volkstheater and almost immediately got kicked out for attempting to take a picture. Coming from a place where theater was going through hard times, I was so fascinated with the scenography and openmindedness of the play, that I wanted to take an image of it with me. I couldn’t imagine having something even close to that in Ukraine. That month I’d been nearly everywhere: from Opera to an intimate Kosmos Theater; seen all kinds of exhibitions, bumped into Hundertwasser’s former assistant, and came home ready to make movies. I still wanted to make normal movies, back at the time. I even tried. And then... You know it would all torn apart because of human factor. Someone would screw it all up by not showing up on time, this brings up the location issue, then the other actors run out of time...
Such things were too exhausting for me and, being an introvert, I wanted to reduce the number of crew members to a minimum and concentrate on filmmaking rather than managing. I also started to look for some “hacks” to reduce dependencies involved in production. Very quickly, I discovered that you can actually be your own master if you do animation. So I found a guy who could animate and offered him money to give me a crash course. He agreed. Very soon I could draw whichever character I wanted, I could make it do crazy things in the specific reality I’ve created. And all of this could be finished on time with no issues involved. Time is a crucial aspect for me. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your animated film: how did you come up with the idea for Romeo and J: New Hope?
Oh, it’s a really funny story which happened a year ago. During one of my trips to Vienna, I had a connecting flight in Warsaw. We scheduled a meeting with Stefan Laudyn, whom I accidentally met a week before in Lviv. Yeah, this story has wide geography and is full of coincidences. There wasn’t any decent coffee place around and no time to go downtown, so Stefan and I decided to take a walk nearby. He later admitted, it was his first time to walk around Chopin Airport. Seeing this area would make you understand why: nothing but road, pavement and the trees. While talking about millions of things, we got lucky and found a bench, more or less not covered with pigeon shit and took a seat. According to my “issue detected issue reported” communication style, I’ve mentioned my hometown turning into some kind of a messy parking lot and even shared a short story… of a younger me, walking down the street, hitting the hood of each car parked on the
pavement, making alarms go crazy. Stefan started joking about everything turning into “Lviv Chainsaw Massacre”… This became the first initial title by the way. Can you talk about your creative relationship with Stefan Laudyn and how it has evolved through your work together? The last thing we did before my plane departed, was deciding we should make a film about it. The first thing I found after the landing was a rough description of the future script in my inbox. It all continued in this emailtexting mode between Vienna and 67th Festival de Cannes the first four drafts were actually written there. After Stefan returned to Poland, he suggested we expand our team and make a project with Grupa Poetycka Rebjata -a Warsaw based poetry group, formed in
1994 by three at that time young men Witold Szuk, Tomasz Szafrański and himself. Looking back at all my attempts to keep the team as small as possible, which eventually made me the only team member for most of my projects, it seemed like a risky decision. But it suddenly felt right and I agreed. It’s not only “Romeo and J: New Hope” that we made together. In fact, right after the visual part of it was finished, we started to work on visualising some of their poems. The “Miles & More” cycle of poems, to be specific, which totally fascinated me with their simplicity and sharpness. I could easily associate myself with the narrator and had it immediately visualised in my mind. In the meantime, the guys were working on their sixth volume called “International” - a selection of poems, translated into six languages English, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, and Turkish. By that time I’d
already become their most dedicated international (or even worldwide) fan, so when I was asked to illustrate their book, I agreed immediately. I made six illustrations: four of them you can find inside and two on the book cover. We have been deeply impressed by your use of primary colors. The atmosphere reigning in Romeo and J: New Hope is joyful in the first part, yet after the first scene we have a coup de théâtre: the peaceful colors are replaced by blood. Can you introduce our readers to this aspect of your film? This not only happens to the colours, but also to my persona. I often balance between pure zen and sudden splashes of anger when my politeness is being overused. I’m not proud of it, things get a little better with age, but that’s just the way it is. I generally find blood very
cinematic and that wouldn’t be the first work where it’s used. There is something very intimate about blood. I’ve even started (and abandoned) series of drawings dedicated to bleeding wounds. However, ”Romeo and J” is definitely the most bloody work for now. There are things that end with blood. But blood also gives us a new beginning. I cannot recall when this blood inspiration started, but I must admit, seeing artworks of Hermann Nitsch at some very sensitive moments in my life, definitely left their traces. He’s a very ambiguous kind of character people either hate him or are fascinated with him. I am, obviously, one of the latter. Animation is always a long and hard work. How long was the project? It’s a bit different for me. If I don’t see it developing or it develops too slowly, I lose my interest almost immediately. Animation is something I firstly create in
my mind, so as soon as I finally begin to draw, it usually goes really fast. I also work full time in an IT company. It’s a bit funny because I use sort of an Agile approach in my arts. I am very good with estimating my work and prioritizing tasks. It’s like a film is your global goal, which you split on smaller parts tasks, which are later split into subtasks. You can easily organize your schedule and work in short iterations. In my case I was waking up at 4am, animating till 7, having 40 minutes nap and then rushing to work. Then animating couple of hours in the evening and going to bed at 10pm. This way I spent around 1,5 months animating “Romeo and J”. It took a little more time until I came to Poland, where we could finally watch and discuss it face to face. It was also first time someone saw it live. We decided to add one more scene of a girl walking into the sunset and proceed to the sound part. From their Berlin trip, the guys got me the sound library, we recorded the missing sounds, my
scriptwriter also donated some of his guitar playing for the closing scene. In September 2014, after three month of work, the film was ready. We presented it along with the second project of ours “Miles & More” on the transmedial poetic evening of Grupa Poetycka Rebjata in Warsaw. What was the most challenging thing about making this film? We all work a lot and have very intensive lives. It was difficult that we couldn’t just grab a beer, sit at the same table and have a working session. Distance and borders slowed the process a little bit. We also needed to be careful with different mentalities, you know. We needed to keep it clear and not overfill the film with some inside jokes, which only a small range of people would understand. There weren’t many difficulties, at least for me. Probably, I just don’t see it this way. Also, as an
animator, you really have ultimate creative freedom. It makes a lot of things easier. When we saw Romeo and J: New Hope we immediately thought of Jan Svankmajer or early Borowczyk's animated films, yet your animation style is very far from what is generally considered 'academic'. Who among international artists and directors influenced your work? I’m glad you’ve noticed. ‘Academic’ is something I never wanted to be. I’m very much inspired by Austrian artists, they are (and were) so brave and free. What matters the most to me is being opened to the fears and desires and approaching them with a good sense of humor. Do you remember Klimt’s famous “The Kiss” and Schiele’s paraphrase of it called “Cardinal and Nun”? I love these kind of transitions in arts and I love using it in my films. I was very impressed with Maja Borg, whom I
had chance to meet in person back in 2011, and her “Future My Love” which is the most beautiful and powerful documentary I’ve ever seen. I also like combining animation and documentaries. Speaking of which, there is this incredible film “The Stain” - an animated dark story, based on a newspaper cutting by Marjut Rimminen & Christine Roche. I love when art brings up these sort of skeleton-in-awardrobe-type of stories, which are never spoken out loud in civilized society: like Michèle Cournoyer’s film “The Hat” tells a story of an erotic dancer, being sexually assaulted as a kid; or like works by Paul Barrit, who breaks the illusion of children being all that sweet and innocent… I am inspired by artists showing uncommon, unpopular opinion. Art does not need to be pleasing. I love those artists who dare to speak from their hearts.
Do you think it is harder for women directors to have their projects green lit? I think women often lack confidence and undervalue themselves. Not just in filmmaking. And there are other people who use this for own purposes. In my case, since I am a woman, more people are trying to talk to me on those filmrelated events. What slightly annoys me is that they almost never assume I’m a filmmaker. They first assuming I am an actress, or a translator, or an editor, or that I work for a festival. My projects do not require a green light from anyone. No one really has any source of influencing my work. I get my income elsewhere and I can afford to be free. As I’ve already mentioned, you are your own god in animation. And I like it this way. What really is important are women supporting other women, like “Women In Film and Television” - a worldwide association for female professionals in
creative medias. Or like my absolute favorites “Tricky Women” - an animation film festival made by women for women. For them, it goes by default that any woman can succeed in whatever she wants and they are happy to give a helping hand. And I do not mean it just in the terms of finances. Support is what matters. Thanks for sharing your time, Julija, we wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for you? I am already working on a new project. It’s narration style lays in between a theater play and intimate diary, visualized on a glass surface, by mixing gouache with glycerine. All I can say for now is that it’s poetic, but tough story of how feelings morph: in the middle of parties, brutal talks, lovers and mistresses. After all that’s a story of a passion, which sometimes replaces the feelings, of a habit that is sometimes more powerful than desire and of the most significant, which always remains in a secret place in the heart.