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w o m e n SPELA FRANCIC HALE EKINCI ANDREA GOLDMAN MADELEINE SPIVEY CAROL RODRIGUES LYDIA JANBAY JI HYUN KIM INÈS ARSI VARDA BAR-KAR SABINA VAJRAČA

INDEPENDENT

WOMEN’S CINEMA

Sabina Vajrača


cINEMAKERS W O M E N

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Contents 04 Sabina Vajrača

116 Carol Rodrigues

You've made your bed, now lie in it

Doll and Silence

32

142

Varda Bar-Kar

Madeleine Spivey

BIG VOICE

La La London

58

172

Inès Arsi

Andrea Goldman

76

198

Ji Hyun Kim

Hale Ekinci

YES BUT NO

Cold Water

Ambience

Almanci Bride

96

222

Lydia Janbay

Spela Francic

What You Done

Alone


Women Cinemakers meets

Sabina Vajrača Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, USA

Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sabina Vajrača immigrated to the U.S. in 1994 as a war refugee. She started her professional career in theatre, writing, directing and producing plays at The Lincoln Center, SITI Company, and Shakespeare & Company. In 2005 Sabina ventured into the world of film by directing and producing the critically acclaimed feature documentary Back to Bosnia. The film premiered at AFI Fest and screened at over 30 festivals worldwide, winning Director’s Choice at the 2006 Crossroads Film Festival. It is currently streaming on multiple platforms, including Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play. Since then, she wrote, directed, and produced numerous short narrative films; music video for Nouvelle Vague’s Bela Lugosi’s Dead; commercials for ESPN and IFP Media Center, and wrote a number of short and feature screenplays, including Variables, for which she was awarded the 2017 Alfred P. Sloan production grant. She also assisted writer/director Max Mayer on his feature film Adam, starring Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne, which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and was released by Fox Searchlight. She is currently attached to direct a feature drama Lost Children, written by Erin Kathleen, with Erika Hampson and Myriam Schroeter producing, and starring Rhea Seehorn (Better Call Saul). A passionate advocate of women in film, Sabina received multiple awards for her work, including the Annenberg Fellowship, Cagney & Lacey Fellowship, AAUW Fellowship, FEBA Road Map Award for shaping the women’s role in the society, Dana and Albert R. Broccoli Scholarship, MSN/ Visa Ideas Happen Award, and grants from Jerome Foundation, Puffin Foundation, NYSCA/IFP and LMCC. Most recently she was selected for the Ryan Murphy’s Half Diversity Directing Mentorship. Sabina spends whatever free time she has left studying philosophy, shopping in her closet and dancing to the beats of The Hot Sardines. A proud New Yorker since 1999, she now resides on the West Coast, pursuing her M.F.A. at the USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles, CA. She’s a member of Film Fatales, Women in Film, WIMPS, and Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and is repped by Lawrence Mattis at Circle of Confusion. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

Callback is a captivating short film by award-winning writer

and director Sabina Vajrača: her film offers an emotionally complex visual experience, demonstrating the ability to capture the subtle dephts of emotions: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Vajraca's stimulating artistic production.


Hello Sabina and welcome to Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted background: after having earned your Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Directing & Stage Management, you nurtured your education with an MFA in Film and TV Production, at the prestigious University of South California: how did these experiences influence your evolution as a filmmaker and as a creative, in general? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of your artistic research? Hello, and thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity to connect with your readers! Although I am deeply grateful to both of the universities I attended, for the knowledge they imparted, and (even more importantly) for the people I met there, I’d say the biggest influences in my filmmaking journey thus far came not from schools, but all the various experiences life has so generously thrown my way. Originally from Bosnia, I was only 14 when the war broke out, forcing me and my family to flee for our lives. After a couple of years in Croatia, we immigrated to the U.S.A. as war refugees, and proceeded to rebuild our lives from scratch. Since then I’ve lived mostly in NYC, surviving like most struggling artists in a big city, until 3 years ago I moved to LA for yet another “new beginning.” There were a lot of heartbreaks, setbacks, deaths, and hardships along the way, but also plenty of laughter, great friends, and some amazing experiences I could have never dreamed of. I used my times at both academic institutions to work through each of those experiences, using them as fuel for my storytelling, and creating work that (hopefully)

interview

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers helped my audiences see life in a new way. Perhaps because of my history, I tend to gravitate towards characters that are haunted by their past (either figuratively or literally), and prefer to tell stories that deal with the darker side of human nature. I am forever curious about what we can learn from those shadows. For this special edition of we have , a captivating short film that our readers selected have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once impressed us with your brilliant storytelling is the way it sapiently engages the viewers with a cliché free narrative. While walking our readers through , Could you tell us what did attract you the genesis of to this particular story? was made as part of my MFA studies at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Every semester the school selects 3 directors out of a large pool of applicants, to support in the creation of their advanced project, and this Spring I was one of those lucky 3. We each had a choice of 8 scripts to direct and I selected not only for its timely message, but also because I understood all too well the issues the main character is dealing with. The story revolves around Laura, a struggling actress in LA, who has an inappropriate run-in with an A-list director at the biggest audition of her career, and has to decide whether to pursue the role, or walk away from her dream. While I myself have never been an actress, I have been in way too many rooms where it was obvious that advancement in my career comes at a price of my body. Such scenarios are almost a given, or at least they were, until recently. And not just in the film industry. Service workers are constantly having to suffer inappropriate behaviors for that tip that may just make a difference come rent time, for example. I felt it was important to shine the light on this issue, because to me it’s not a matter of one “bad man”, but a reflection of a systematic cultural


Women Cinemakers phenomenon that we have all been witnessing, and choosing to look the other way, for far too long. Elegantly shot, features stunning cinematography by Mikaela Addison and Lina Li: what were your when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? Thank you so much for the compliments. We worked really hard to create a cohesive and meaningful visual language, through which we could tell a story in a more subtle way. In the end, our decision of how to film it was guided by two distinct factors: characters and themes. I created extensive character histories, going as far as assigning them horoscope signs, and elements, which my DPs and production designers then used to create the world of the film. Laura was Earth/Woods, and Randy was Metal/Water. We gave Laura the colors of a forest in autumn, deeply saturated, her lines curvy, since there are no straight lines in Nature. While Randy was more harsh, metallic, desaturated, covered in straight, sharp lines. From there we went to the main theme of the film “Integrity vs Ambition” - to help guide us in the planning of our shots. Laura is a very ambitious woman. She’s worked very hard to get where she is, while keeping her integrity intact. But when faced with a possibility of losing what may be her last chance to “make it”, she starts to slip into blind ambition territory, forgetting, or rather ignoring, her gut instincts. She knows in her heart she should walk away from this situation, but yet she doesn’t. This is the “why” I was most interested in, and worked a lot with Kirsten Kollender (the actress playing Laura) to come up with the most honest answer we could.

These two factors together dictated all the choices we made, from lenses to camera movements, and all production design elements you see on the screen. In the story we go from a wide-angle lenses and circular motions of the opening shot, to long lenses and still, non-moving camera in the callback scene, to show the arc of both Laura as a character, as well as the story as a whole. When she’s true to herself, she’s in her colors, the lines of the camera movements reflective of the Nature’s curves. But as her


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ambition takes over, her whole world becomes more Randyesque - gray, straight-lined, and almost painfully still. Closer she gets to it, the more boxed in she is, with the path out of it all almost invisible. It is as if the world all around her is warning her of what is about to happen, but she ignores it. This is something I felt all of us have experienced at some point, in one form or another, and could therefore relate that blind running off the cliff, when we know deep down that we have to stop before we fall. And yet we don’t. I

wanted this film to remind us of that common phenomenon, so that we approach Laura with compassion, rather than judgement. With its brilliantly structured storytelling imparts unparalleled psychological intensity to the narration, to unveil an ever shifting internal struggle. We have particularly appreciated the way your film gives to the viewers the sense they are watching excerpts from


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real life: would you tell how did you develop the structure of your film in order to achieve such moving autenticity? Moreover, how does everyday life's experience fuel your creative process to address your choices regarding the stories that you tell in your films? The writer conceived the idea right in the midst of the Harvey storm last fall, but by the time I became attached to the script,

the conversation was shifting already. Aziz Ansari incident happened right before we filmed, and people were starting to question the stories of these brave women coming forward. It was super important to me and my team to keep the story relevant, and we spent hours on end brainstorming about how this story will still be timely a year from then. In the end, the reason I myself was originally drawn to the script, is what became our guiding light.


Women Cinemakers answers that made sense to us, and that made the characters and their choices multi-dimensional and human. leaps off Featuring compelling narrative drive the screen for its essential still effective and we like the way you created entire scenarious out of : how did you structured your film in order to achieve such powerful narrative effect? In particular, what what are you hoping Callback will trigger in the audience?

I am forever fascinated with the grey zone of every situation, with “why” being my very favorite question. When not making movies, I like to study Vedanta and Stoic philosophies, digging deep down into the patterns of human behavior, and reasons for the choices we make. I do this with all my films, and this one was no exception. As we worked on the rewrites, we kept asking: Why would he do what he does? Why would she go back to that room after? Why, why, why…? Until we reached

Oh, thank you so much for noticing that! We worked really hard to create the structure that would carry all these lofty ideas and themes we were coming up with, and I’m really happy to hear you picked up on it. :) For this I have to give full credit to two of our professors at USC: Irving Belateche, whose story structure class was our guiding light on this journey, and Bruce Block, who taught me how to translate feelings I want to invoke in the audience into visual images on screen. As for what I hope the audience will walk away with, I turn to one of my favorite quotes, which has become a sort of a personal motto of mine - “Artist’s job is to disturb the comforted, and comfort the disturbed.” I don’t believe these types of stories have happy endings, even if the bad guy gets caught. I wanted to tell a story in a way that everyone who has ever been in that situation can relate and feel “I am not alone.” And for every person who has looked the other way, to finally have to face up to the truth of what’s been happening in front of their noses all along. So far the audiences have been mostly angry, which I think is a good sign. We need to be furious at this whole situation if we were ever to be motivated to change it. In your film you leave the floor to your characters, finding an effective way to walk them to develop


with the viewers: what was your preparation with actors in terms of rehearsal? In particular, do you like spontaneity or do you prefer to meticolously schedule every details of your shooting process? My background is in theatre directing, and I love to collaborate with my actors as much as possible. This starts as early as auditions. I always look for actors who, in addition to being talented, are also smart and fearless, willing to drop all their insecurities in order to portray the story in the most honest way possible. This film was no exception. Before meeting with my actors for the first time, I wrote up very detailed character histories, which helped guide us as we started exploring the text in rehearsals. We talked a lot about their choices and reasons for doing what they do, and did a lot of improv, shaping the dialogue and situations until they felt just right for each character. I carry this open collaboration to set as well. While I do shot-list all the scenes before coming to set, and create detailed schedules with my AD, I use those as guideposts only, letting the actors and the location itself tell me what’s truly needed to be captured once we’re all there. I like seeing what comes when all these elements we were developing separately finally come together for the first time. I find this “creating in the present moment” approach deeply inspiring not just for me, but for all involved. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once remarked that "

": what could be in your opinion he role of filmmakers in our contemporary age? In particular, does your artistic research respond to cultural moment?

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers Storytellers have an enormous power to shape and influence the world. We are all brought up with stories, whether told by our families, or by writers and filmmakers we’re exposed to in our formative years. Whichever story we hear over and over again, we start to believe, sometimes consciously, but most of the time subconsciously. Telling stories therefore carries a huge responsibility, and we as filmmakers have to be aware of the messages we’re spreading, making sure they are something we fully stand behind. I firmly believe that we can change the narrative we disagree with, by changing the stories we tell, to ourselves, and to others. My personal goal as a filmmaker is to not only entertain my audiences, but also to enrich and enlighten them, whenever possible. Another interesting work that we would like to introduce to our readers is your film ,a stimulating experimental film marked out with allegoric qualities capable of drawing the viewers into a multilayered visual experience, addressing them to inquire into : what did attract you of this theme and how did you research about it? In particular, how would you consider the role of metaphors playing within your practice as a filmmaker? This film came from a deeply personal place, so most of my research was done by going within, if you will. For about 15 years of my life I battled war-caused PTSD, which manifested itself as an acute depression. I did this secretly, and never considered therapy because I was told all my life that only crazy people did that, and I wasn’t crazy, at least not in my own view of myself. I was just sad, deeply sad. What was strange about that? I’m Eastern European after all. Aren’t we supposed to be melancholy and depressive, by default? It took a sudden death of a loved one to finally get me to realize I need help if I was to survive. I bit the bullet and went into therapy


Women Cinemakers (secretly, of course). But what really helped me more than anything was philosophy, Vedanta in particular. I started studying it at the School of Practical Philosophy in NYC, and for the first time in my life, I had the tools to go beyond the crippling depression, and find a way out of it. My teacher at the school liked to say that underneath all the layers of anger, sadness, fear, and other dark companions, lies the happy core. That deep down we are truly happy. And that all we have to do is clean off those layers on top to have that part of us shine. I didn’t believe her at all in the beginning, but I was willing to try anything at that point, so I started digging. And scrubbing. And pealing all the layers that kept me locked into the darkest corners of my mind for far too long. It was painful and hard, but I could see it working, so I kept at it. In the end it took a handful of years before I realized I was suddenly believing what my teacher told us at the very beginning. That no matter what happens, at the bottom of it all I am truly a happy person. Risking being super cheesy, it’s like realizing that even on the gloomiest day, Sun is always beyond those clouds. You can choose to focus on the clouds, or you can look beyond. This was truly life-changing for me and I wanted to find a way to express that in an artistic way. is a film that came out of that journey. As for metaphors, I have to admit I love them, sometimes too much. I find that some ideas and stories are best understood when told as a metaphor, and I try and use them as much as possible in all my films. Both and have drawn heavily from and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such powerful resonance between the intimate qualities of ordinary locations and the atmosphere that floats around the


Women Cinemakers stories: how did you select the locations and how did they influence your shooting process? I would say in both cases, it was the script that influenced the type of locations we were after. I kept thinking of As I developed cleaning yourself of debris, so you can finally see the reality as it truly is, not as you imagine it to be. Liv, my protagonist in that film, starts with just a bathtub and some pipes, alone in the vast space of nothingness, until she fights her way back to the real world, full of ordinary things, that remind her she is not alone after all. We shot that in three different locations - an abandoned house, a warehouse, and a bathroom of my good friend Sara, who was brave and generous enough to let a film crew take it over for a day. , the first image that popped into my head when As for I read the script was a hot summer night in 1970’s NYC. I wanted this story to stick to the viewer the same way your elbows would stick to the counters in those crowded dingy Alphabet City bars back then, as you listen to the Punk open mike, the stench of cigarettes and spilled beer staying in your nostrils for days afterwards. We wanted to have some of that raw grittiness in the locations we found, but instead of making it obvious - Laura = clean / Randy = dirty - we chose to play the opposites. Placing Randy in a sterile environment while it’s really his acts that are disgusting and sticky, while making Laura’s world gritty on surface, but pure and honest within. Over the years your films have screened at over 30 festivals worldwide: how much importance has for you that you receive in the festival circuit? And how do you feel previewing a film before an audience?


Women Cinemakers I absolutely love screening my films at festivals. It gives me a chance to see them through a whole new set of eyes - those of neutral audience members. It’s super easy to feel good about yourself when your only audience are your friends and loved ones. But when it’s a room full of strangers, that’s when you truly know if it clicks. I can see if they laugh where I wanted them to laugh, and cry in spots I deemed to be touching, or if I missed it completely (known to happen!). It’s scary, of course, but super important in my growth as a filmmaker. After all, we make the films for our audiences, and the only way we get fluent in their language is by practicing it over and over again. You are also member of and , so before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in cinema. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing: as a passionate advocate of women in film, what's your view on the future of women in cinema? Do you think it is harder for women artists to have their projects green lit today? Oh, this is a loaded question, and can probably hold a whole other interview all in itself. I don’t think there is anyone out there who would disagree that it has historically been much harder for women to get their projects off the ground. There is so much statistical data to support this, it’s enough to make us all quit. But ever since the #TimesUp movement began, this outdated status quo seems to be shaking in its foundation. I’ve been following the whole phenomenon with cautious optimism. Hoping it is a permanent shift for the better, while at the same time keeping my fearful inner skeptic at bay. In a way it all feels like our “15 min of fame”, and I hope we find the way to keep this momentum going even after the trend of “women directors, for


Women Cinemakers everything!� has worn off. All in all, I think it is a long road ahead of us, but I remain hopeful because so many amazing and powerful individuals (both men and women) are doing everything in their power to make this shift permanent. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Sabina. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Funny enough, after years of staying away from Bosnia, I found myself once again digging through my past for the next couple of stories I’m working on. This August I will be filming another short, called , for which I was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Production Grant last year. It is a coming-of-age drama based on a true story about a group of Bosnian teenagers who got to leave the war-torn Sarajevo, in order to compete at the International Math Olympiad in Canada in 1995. , And I’m currently developing a feature drama called about a successful Bosnian-American banker who is pulled into the dark underbelly of the Bosnian Muslim immigrant community in Florida when his younger brother dies under suspicious circumstances. Overall, I see my work getting more and more ambitious as I grow as an artist and get more opportunities to direct. My passion lies in character-driven commercial films, with my eye firmly set on eventually directing a (female) Bond.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


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Varda Bar-Kar Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, USA

Varda discovered film as child one summer night at a beachside motel in Israel when outside her window she caught sight of a kissing couple as large as a building. Turns out, next door a drive-in movie house was screening "A Man and A Woman". Her love affair with film began. Following a successful career as a Script Supervisor, Varda launched into directing with her award-winning short film WINDOW starring Louis Gossett, Jr., about a veteran desperate for the bed by the window. Since then, Varda has been creating uniquely meaningful, compelling and imaginative films that delve into what it means to be human. Her work ranges from feature projects to branded entertainment for multiple platforms including theatrical, broadcast, web and mobile. Her films tour the festival circuit winning multiple awards.Her short film "What Kind Of Planet Are We On?" co-written with Taylor Negron was honored with YouTube's Most Innovative Non-Profit Video award. Her PSA "Journey To Safety" won a Silver Telly, and her poetic short "Ode To Los Angeles" received the New Filmmakers/LA On Location Project Grand Prize valued at $100,000. It’s no wonder SHOOT Magazine selected Varda to participate in their coveted New Director's Showcase. Varda's most recent project the feature documentary BIG VOICE was awarded "Best U.S. Premiere" at the Heartland Film Festival, screened at the United States Capitol as an advocate for arts education and has been picked up for North American distribution by Gravitas Ventures and educational distribution by The Video Project. Varda's work has been aired on major networks including CBS, NBC, ABC, The Documentary Channel and PBS, as well as going viral on the web, amassing millions of views. Varda sits on the board of New Filmmakers Los Angeles and is a member of Film Independent and the Alliance of Women Directors.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

Brilliantly constructed and elegantly photographed,

is an emotionally gripping musical documentary by Santa Monica based director Varda Bar-Kar: through sapient storytelling and editing, her film walks the viewers to explore a challenging year in the life of a determined high


school choir director pushing his students to achieve a high level of artistry. Brilliantly shot, this captivating film introduces the viewers to the figure of Jeffe Huls, offering a multilayered experience: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Bar-Kar's stimulating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Varda and welcome to : before starting to elaborate about your film we would ask you a couple of questions about your background. Are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as a filmmaker? I first developed an interest in movies when I was a young child living in Israel. One night when we were on holiday at a beach town, I peeked out the hotel room window and discovered a giant man and woman kissing. It turned out the couple was being projected on a massive screen at a nearby drive-in movie theater. I was astonished and mesmerized, and from then on I had a strong interest in movies. A few years later, after living in London for a while, my family moved to San Francisco where a wonderfully innovative teacher named Mr. Mohan allowed me to make paintings, create sculptures, write & direct plays, choreograph dances and make films in place of writing papers. He nurtured and encouraged my creative expression and his belief in my creativity fortified me during a tumultuous childhood. For the remainder of my middle and high school years, I continued to paint and to perform in school plays, but my main focus was modern dance. I had deep, intense emotions and a sadness I could not shake. Dance provided

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers me a way to express these feelings. At Cornell University where I went to college, I shifted my focus to Theater Arts and Cultural Anthropology, but it was at New York University where I was studying in absentia that I had the pivotal experience that awakened my journey to being a film director. I was primarily at NYU to study acting, but I decided to enroll in a film theory class since New York University was known for its brilliant film program. I discovered the power of visionary films to reveal the truth of the human condition. During a screening of Nicholas Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now” it hit me that the film combines painting, sculpture, dance, acting—all the arts I had dedicated so much of my life to—which made me uniquelly suited to be a filmmaker. Moreover, how does your due to your previous career as a Script Supervisor direct the trajectory of your work as a director? Working as a Script Supervising provided me with the opportunity to learn what must be captured during the production in order to have the elements you need to realize the film you envision. As a Script Supervisor I came to understand that everything in the frame matters, and that sometimes the accident or the seemingly unsurpassable obstacle becomes the very thing that makes a film more original. I came to understand the collaborative aspect of filmmaking, and to know that each crew member, from DP to PA even the driver, brings a unique value to the production. Making a film means creating a world so convincing that the viewers are willing to surrender their intellect and


emotion in order to fully experience it. This means that the acting, the wardrobe, the make-up, the props, the set, the lighting, the movement, being captured requires your complete attention and consideration. I also discovered that filmmaking is puzzle solving and that you can be sure that the director will be faced with some kind of a challenge that seems insurmountable, but that whatever comes up, even if it seems like an impossible challenge, the solution you find will make the story even more interesting than you had originally imagined. I enjoyed being a Script Supervisor and found the job fascinating until one day, I realized that I was more

ghost directing than script supervising and it was time for me to take the leap. I stopped Script Supervising altogether and started to make my own films. For this special edition of we have selected , a stimulating musical documentary film that our readers has already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: we have appreciated the way your film eschews any nostalgic or conventional direction, favoring documentary style to provide the viewers with a sensitive yet realist portrait of the work oh Jeffe Huls and his students. When walking our readers through the genesis of , would


you tell us what did direct you to explore these themes? During the time that I decided to make BIG VOICE the media was being especially critical of teachers. As I have mentioned, my middle school teacher, Mr. Mohan encouraged and empowered me during an especially difficult time in my childhood. I am indebted to him and to all the teachers who encouraged my artistic expression and made me feel loved and appreciated. I wanted to tell a story that reflected my positive experience with teachers. I was especially interested in telling the story of a teacher who empowers students through art education. I had attended one of Mr. Huls’

high school choir concerts and was deeply moved. I wanted to know how he was able to create such exquisite art in the context of a public high school. Not to long after that concert, early on a foggy morning, I saw Mr. Huls walk across the school campus and had the feeling I was watching a movie. Here was a chance to tell the story of a great teacher. I had such a strong desire to tell his story and just couldn’t shake it. BIG VOICE was meant to be. Featuring such stimulating enriched with sapient cinematography, balances captivating storytelling and refined editing: what were your when shooting? In


particular, how did you structure the editing process in order to achieve such brilliant results on the narrative aspect? Thank you. I knew from the beginning that I wanted BIG VOICE to draw in the audience so that you feel a part of the year long journey. In addition to focusing on Mr. Huls, I decided we would get to know some of his students too. I managed to identify a diversity of students who had some screen presence. It just so happened that one of these students became homeless, one struggled with academics and two of them fell in love. I wanted you to feel transported when watching BIG VOICE just like I felt the first time I went to one of Mr. Huls’ choir concerts. I wanted you to be drawn into the story in the way you would a narrative feature. In order to accomplish this, I visioned the story in three acts with turning points that catapult the story forward. This is a conventional structure that everyone is familiar with ensuring you the audience will feel safe enough to surrender to the story’s unfolding. Because I knew what kind of structure I wanted prior to shooting, I was able to keep and ear and eye out for story elements that would lend themselves to this kind of storytelling. Relentless diligence and good luck combined to provide us all the story elements we needed. Our DP Daron Keet helped me come up with a lush look and because I wanted BIG VOICE to be intimate he agreed that we should shoot with a shallow depth of field. While this made maintaining focus tricky, it was worth it. We always shot with a minimum of 2 cameras. One camera was

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers

assigned to getting lots of close-ups to provide that sense of intimacy I wanted. I also made sure that we captured as much production sound as possible, and my collaborator Dennis Leight who was present for every shoot day made sure that our sound was good. BIG VOICE editor Bob McFalls did an excellent job. He came up with the strategy of creating unique storylines which we could then combine in different ways until we found the optimal pacing and juxtapositions. He shared my passion for BIG VOICE and brought a great deal of skill and sensitivity to the creation of this story. Once we had a solid rough cut, we shared it with our producers Marina Viscun, Deb Love and Carol Coote. They provided us with very useful notes. When we had a fine cut we felt good about, we showed it to a select audience who answered a series of questions we posed to them. We spent a year and a half in post production. In your documentary you leave the floor to the figure of Jeffe Huls, finding an effective way to walk the between their own inner viewers to develope sphere and his epiphanic artistic journey: what are you hoping your film will trigger in the audience? Firstly, I hope the audience is entertained and engaged by BIG VOICE. Some audience members have told me that they are reminded of their school days and of a teacher or teachers who influenced them in a positive way and they reflect on their teachers with appreciation which I think is marvelous. I’ve seen audience members moved to tears which I did not anticipate at all. Teachers who have been


in our audiences seem especially moved by BIG VOICE. They appreciate that we have recognized and acknowledge how tough and challenging teaching can be and at the same time, profoundly satisfying. We’ve had audience members exclaim that they did not understand the level of discipline and intensity that music education requires. And that they did not realize how hard teachers work. Audience members have shared with me that at first they feel uncomfortable with the intensity with which Mr. Huls pushes his students, but by the end of the film, they come to realize that sometimes students have to be pushed and allowed to feel uncomfortable so that they will eventually be able to achieve artistry well beyond what they were able to imagine. Viewers also find the students’ stories compelling and they comment on the uniqueness of each student’s choir experience. could be considered an We daresay that allegory of and the way Jeffe Huls spurs his students to set aside their egos seems to speak to a wider audience: do you agree with this interpretation? Moreover, what could be in your in our unstable, opinion everchanging contemporary age? Yes, I agree wholeheartedly. I noticed as we were filming that the choir dynamic provided a compelling metaphor for how are society best functions. For example, each individual student has his/her own interests & desires and yet there are times when the individual must set aside his ego and personal desires for the greater good.

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Women Cinemakers I believe that the most compelling power of a documentary is to expand our understanding and knowledge of ourselves and the world. It’s important we be active and engaged in the creation of the world we live in otherwise someone else we do the creating for us and before we know it the world we live in does not reflect our values and may not even be beneficial to us. Our engagement could be as intimate as being kind to ourselves and others or as broad as engaging in national and even international movements. With the every day demands we face—family, relationships, jobs, health, societal pressures, school—we tend to fold inwards resigning ourselves to the belief that we are too busy or that we do not matter or that we are powerless to create the change we want to see. For this reason, I am compelled to tell truthful, optomistic stories that speak into possibilty so that rather than leaving our audiences feeling overwhelmed, discouraged or upset, audiences are left feeling activated and energized. Each of our thoughts and actions do matter and that the stories we tell shape the world we live in. We have been impressed with your stunning approach to documentary, that allows you to captures hidden and at the same time emotional reactions with with : what was the most challenging thing about making this film and what did you learn from this experience? Moreover, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value? I prefer to reveal “what is” allowing the audience to come to their own understanding rather than deliver a message. I like


Women Cinemakers to journey in the world of feelings and emotions rather than intellect. As a woman, I may have an advantage in the realm of feelings and emotions both in the production phase and in the post production phase. I tend to fall into unconditional love with my subjects and I believe they sense that. I am not interested in judging anyone, but I do want to be truthful and authentic and I do want to go deep. I am willing to be vulnerable and my willingness to be open and transparent allows for the subjects of my documentaries to do the same. I would not ask anyone a question that I would not also be willing to answer. The balancing act is always to go deep enough to get at the truth while at the same time respecting boundaries. During the editing process, I allow my feelings as well as my intellect to guide me. We have appreciateted the way you provide excerpts from real life with sich moving poetic qualities: how does your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process and address your choices regarding the themes you explore? I find human beings infinitely fascinating and mysterious. I am curious about who I am and that leads me to be curious about others, about how others engage with the world, how they see things, how they find joy, what makes them sad, what brings meaning to their lives, what are they willing to fight for, what brings them peace, what are they driven to achieve, what hurts them, what comforts them, how are they able to overcome the obstacles they face, what do they think is important, etc.


Women Cinemakers I am curious. Making films allows me to make use of my curiousity, to explore, to learn new things and to express that inexplicable mysterious part of being human that cannot be described with words. Over the years your works have been screened in was awarded several occasions and ''Best U.S. Premiere'' at Heartland Film Festival: how much importance has for you that you receive in the festival circuit? And how do you feel previewing a film before an audience? Making films is hard work and getting to participate and share my work in film festivals is a beautiful reward, receiving awards is icing on the cake. The most satisfying aspect of the BIG VOICE journey has been seeing it through the eyes of our audience members both at film festivals and special screenings. Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in cinema. For more than half a from century women have been getting baehind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on ? Do you think it is harder for women artists to have their projects green lit today? In the past, if you asked almost anyone to describe a film director they would immediately start describing a man. Today, because of outspoken advocates for women directors and the fact that the media is paying

attention to the need for women directors, more and more people are starting to realize that women can be powerful directors too. I think one day, not so far in the future, women directors will be selected on the merit of their work rather than dismissed because of their gender. We’re not quite there yet, but there is progress being made. To further that progress, please close your eyes and visualize a female director helming a movie. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Varda. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am currently working on another feature music documentary called , Executive Produced by Kabir Sehgal, about a musical convergence between the Son Joracho artists of the remote regions of Vera Cruz, Mexico and the New York City based Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra at the border wall between Mexico and the United States. Together, through music, they transform the wall from a structure that divides into something that unites. Music like the wind, like birds, knows no borders.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Inès Arsi Lives and works in Tunis, Tunisia

After 5 years of college, Inès Arsi decides to drop out of the Pharmay University to study cinema. Graduated in scriptwriting and directing at the Graduate School of Audiovisual and Cinema (GammarthTunis), Inès Arsi made a few short movies screened at arabic and international festivals. She studied then the documentary genre at LA FEMIS (Paris-France) where she made "All The Truth, Nothing But The Turth) which is a mockumentary. Her project graduation "Yes But Not" was seen at some festivals which gave her the opportunity to be a member of the UNIMED jury at the 74th Edition of La Mostra of Venice. She is actually working on her upcoming short fiction with Yol Film House.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

is a captivating short film by filmmaker and playwright Inès Arsi: demonstrating the ability to capture the subtle dephts of emotions and addressing the viewers through a

multilayered journey, her film questions the notions of freedom, social stereotypes and women's identity in our globalised still male oriented society. Brillianrly constructed, offers an emotionally charged visual experience, walking the viewers encouraging cross pollination of the spectatorship: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Arsi's captivating and


multifaceted artistic production. Hello Inès and welcome to : we would start this interview with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training and after having graduated in scriptwriting and directing at the Graduate School of Audiovisual and Cinema (Gammarth-Tunis), you nurtured your education in the field of documentary at LA FEMIS (Paris-France) : how did these experiences influence your evolution as a filmmaker? Moreover, how does your direct the trajectory of your artistic research? What needs to be mentionned is the fact that these two institutions are not the only ones which contributed to who I am today as a filmbaker, but strangely my studies at School of Pharmacy did influence my work and conception of things. In Tunis, I was able to discover the world of fiction and in France the world of documentary. This latter was for me an opportunity to step out from my comfort zone, because making documentaries is not about filming people, but rather with people. My uprbringing including traditions and customs are seen as something “holy” and true. This pushed me to put into questions those beliefs and demystify what is considered undebatable. For this special edition of

we

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Women Cinemakers have selected , a captivating film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. When walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how much importance was for you to make a personal film, about something you knew a lot? The main character echoes some of my personal traits in terms of my impulsivness: Both of us do not let auto-censorship prevailing our decisons or actions and dear to challenge society norms for our personal happiness and fulfillement. This short movie revolves around a personal theme, because it gives space to things to happen wheras in reality, it is complicated to do so.

Elegantly shot, features gorgeous cinematography by Mohamed Achref Jaghmoun: what were your when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? At first, I wanted symetrical cinematography where the rule of the thirds is respected. I was visualizing the movie in neat and fix shots but with rehearsals, I understood that I had to be as dynamic as the actions. This is where the ‘�pose plastique�and the flipping shots came from. I shot with a Black Magic Cinema Camera 2.5k with a 50mm lens for the majority of the shots. I also used an osmo device and a Ronin to have fluid movements while following the main character. With its brilliantly structured storytelling


imparts unparalleled psychological intensity to the narration, to unveil an ever shifting internal struggle. We have particularly appreciated the way the dialogues of your film: would you tell how did you develop and of your film in order to achieve such powerful results? Weddings always made me feel uncomfortable. Ironically, assisting to a wedding ceremony inspired me to write this script. The main character is the outcome of several acquintances of mine whom I

admire and influenced the shapin of . I tried to enrich the plot with multipal dualities : the heroin facing the social system vs the heroin facing herself, the reality vs illusion, loneliness with and without individuals... I opted for an open ending, not to confuse the audience, but rather to picture the psychological state of the character. As you have remarked once, the initial idea of didn't spring from


: we have particularly appreciated the way you used cinema as a mirror of society, urging the spectators to inquire into the notion of female identity and of freedom in our globalized still patriarchal and male-oriented will trigger age. What do you hope in the audience? In particular, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value? During and after the process of watching the movie, I want the audience to reflect on their own decision

making, experiences and ponder on every single decision whether it is a fulfulling one or not. My ultime aim is to dissociate the notion of personal will from society will or expectations. This goal may not seem as a gender-oriented one, but I confess that the circumstances of the writing and shooting process made me aware of how many women can be potentially victims of social pressure, due to the patriarchal context we are living in. Being a female filmmaker in Tunisia gave me the opportunity to portray situations lived by women


with a female perception. It is not about the sereotypical “feminine touch�, but rather the ability to understand, describe objectively scenes that I potentially could have lived. As one of the pioneers of feminist art, Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, Victorine Meurent not fall prey to the emotional prettification of a beloved subject and seems to be tribute to the issue of women's identity. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "

Not to remark that almost everything, ranging from Gentileschi's to more recently Valie Export's work could be considered political, do you think that could be considered political, in a certain sense? Absolutely! I do believe that every work of art is politically involved whether we admit it or not. YES BUT NO has taken place in specific sociopolitical circumstances where Tunisians were debating over constitutional women rights. Even though, this movie is not explicitly political, but it definetely is pointing to the leigitimate right of approving or disapproving about different issues and different domains. In you leave the floor to your characters Layla and Qais, brilliantly performed by Kmar Ben Soltane and Hichem Barcous, inviting the viewers to develope a bridge between their own inner spheres and their epiphanic journeys: what was your preparation

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Women Cinemakers with actors in terms of rehearsal? Can you say something about the collaborative nature of your filmmaking style? The two main actors were generous, in the sense of making the script vivid. I gave them the last draft, we met, we did a “lecture à l’italienne” – where every actor reads his/her part without really performing it-. They propose a couple of changes in the dialogue and we agreed on the appropriate alternatives that go with the fluidity of the context. YES BUT NO had an initial structure to which suggestions and new ideas were added up to it, to create the final work. Once I finished the script, I technically broke down the scenario and made a list of shots that I discussed along with my Director Of Photographry and my Sound Engineer. On set, we tried to figure out what was feasable or not. From the first time we watched we have been deeeply impressed with its refined realism, capable of pulling the spectators into : how did you select the locations and how did they affect your shooting process? I chose the locations based on their aesthetic sides, but also for technical issues: the distance that separated all the locations, the shooting permits, the surface of the interiors... It is quite hard to have a shooting permit in Tunisia, but


that did not stop me. In fact, I shot without permits in several locations (the great wheel, the train, the main avenue...). I think that you have to break some rules when you are making a movie about going over the system. I tried to follow a certain logic when it came to choose the locations : starting from traditional interiors to wide, open and modern exteriors. I did rehearse with the actors and the DOP in the locations too, because the camera movments are organically linked tho the space, we changed things, we adjusted others... It's important that you have had the chance to be a member of the UNIMED jury at the 74th Edition of La Mostra of Venice, so before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in cinema. For more than half a century women have been 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 is unfortunate to say that for a long time, women had only been called in the industry for acting jobs or for the beauty department. Being behind the camera has always been seen as a male job. But it is changing now, at an easy, slow pace, but we can see the industry evolving from a male-dominated field to an area where people are judged based on their abilities and talents and not on their gender. With the rising of movements such as Time’s Up or Me Too, women can finally speak up without fear.

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Women Cinemakers The fact that it is happening and echoing on every culture is a positive sign. It is true that the number of female filmmakers are really low compared to the male ones, but I am optimistic. It is a bit hard to be the leader of an all-male crew but we, women, have to believe in ourselves. Fear inhibates the creativity and we should only be afraid of not trying things out. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Inès. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am working on another short and on my first feature. Both of them are realated to the women conditions in the modern society. Some may think that it is an easy way to make a trending movie if the plot is a feminist one, but I have to say that until there is no concrete equality, female filmmaker should talk about it. On the other hand, I am trying to do both fiction and documentary. Going to workshops, meeting directors from every horizon awaken me and make me aware of the existence of other definition of the notion of ‘cinema’. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Ji Hyun Kim Junkyu works for HereForYou an app-based service company. He travels around the city at night on a scooter to help people with a variety of tasks.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

Hello Ji Hyun and welcome to WomenCinemakers: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would ask you some questions about your background. Are there any experiences that did particularly influence the evolution of your practice as a filmmaker? Moreover, could you tell us what are your biggest influences and how do they affect your artistic research? In my teenage years, my brother and I used to stay home alone since both of my parents were working. We also had to eat by ourselves. When we had our meals, we always watched a movie. Thanks to my father, an early-adopter and a movie fan, we had a video player very early with a quite large videotape collection of movies. I enjoyed watching old movies over and over again,

for example, Gone With the Wind and Back to the Future for more than 30 times as I recall. It was fun discovering new details every time I watched a movie again. It was also fascinating that the same movie delivered different feelings and messages as I grew up older and acquired new experiences. This memory from my youth led to my goal as a filmmaker to make films that people want to watch again, and for some, would never grow tired of. Another thing is a film camera, which my father kept in his suitcase. I could not even touch it since like other Korean parents at that time (and many even now), my parents wanted me to focus on formal education that could help me enter a “good” university and get a “decent” job. The camera was forbidden to me as they thought it would distract me from my studies. After a long secret desire, I finally got my own camera when I became a university student. The start was more like breaking a taboo and enjoying my freedom,


but it soon fascinated me. Particularly, it felt so good when I could take a photo or a series of photos that can tell a story. I could not cut down on this addiction while I struggled to adapt myself to the competitive Korean society. Creation gave me irreplaceable satisfaction, which eventually gave me the courage to deviate from the track I had been following until then and find my own way as a filmmaker.

For this special edition of we have selected , a captivating film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your clear approach to storytelling is the way it provides the viewers with such . How did you come up with the idea of this film? Could you tell us what did attract you to this particular story? Since I moved away from my family to study filmmaking in New York, I naturally came to spend more time alone observing strangers around me. New York was full of colorful diversity and vitality but I could also frequently encounter people isolated in this big city. They were busy interacting with each other, but it seemed that they were just doing their social roles without finding a real connection. It was also easy to notice people who could not let go of their mobile phones even in the company of others. Although new means of communications were springing up with fancy techs, people were still isolated and lonely as they had been. To share this observation, I started to imagine what people do with their loneliness and came up with a fictional mobile app called “Here For You.�

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Women Cinemakers Brilliantly shot, features essential urban landscape cinematography by Ari Rothschild and keen eye for details: what were your when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? One key decision I made through discussions with Ari was to avoid close-ups and use wide and medium shots to the extent possible. I wanted the audience to observe the characters in a distance and navigate all the space where each of the characters belonged to. I wanted the audience to understand and feel about people’s loneliness in their own way through the “ambience” created by an inseparable combination of multiple characters and spaces, rather than in my intended way through the character, lines or story of the main character. For the camera and lens, to be honest, my choices were limited to the packages that my school owned and lent for free to students since I had a tight budget . I chose the RED Scarlet camera as I thought it delivers the cinematic look with high digital resolutions and raw files. The lens package I borrowed was Zeiss Nikon, the lens set with the best spec I could choose from my school.

We have deeply appreciated your psychologically complex portrayal of the dynamics of the urban context, as well as your characteristic astonishing verité quality: what was your preparation with actors in terms of rehearsal? In particular, do you like spontaneity or do you prefer to meticulously schedule every details of your shooting process? I had three rehearsals with the lead actor and one rehearsal with the supporting actors. We talked about the characters and the hidden


background stories beneath the main story for a deeper

variations for movements and details that goes along with the

understanding of each of the characters. We also talked about

live situation of the set.

our own experiences that relate to the emotions of the characters since I think understanding others’ feelings comes from reflecting on our own feelings. Then we read the dialogue a couple of times. I do not prefer spontaneously making a big change to the lines on set. Sometimes we had to spend more time for extra takes until the actors became familiar with the original lines in the script. However, other details like movements and gestures

We like the way your intimate close-ups created entire scenarios out of psychologically charged moments: in Ambience you leave the floor to your characters, highlighting their mutual interactions and finding such brilliant ways to create a channel of communication between their daily journey and the viewers' emotional sphere. What are you hoping Ambience will trigger in the spectatorship?

remained flexible during the rehearsals and even while we were

We all have emotions that we are keeping inside and cannot

doing blocking on set. I like having many spontaneous

properly express in words. Instead of speaking out loud, the


characters in Ambience indirectly express how they feel in their own ways. Nevertheless, each character leads us to feel the same humane emotion through the relationship with Junkyu in this story. In the end Junkyu finally understand what they want to express through a series of encounters with them. In that aspect, the characters in this film including Junkyu are no different from each other as well as from any of us. I wish the audience take this short journey with Junkyu and understand how we feel and what we need.

In this film you leave the floor to your characters, and we have particularly appreciated that though your inquiry into the personal sphere of the character

seems to be , yet your film of strives to be full of emotion: what was your preparation with actors in terms of ? First of all, I found that the lead actor, Chris Kim is a brilliant actor who has a remarkable capacity to perform very different roles. At first sight at the audition, I had a good impression on him but I was worried that his real personality might be quite different from the lead character Junkyu. Luckily, he was open to dig out his past experiences that allowed him to connect himself to the character as well as to share those experiences with me. I reckon that people have multiple sides although it is sometimes easy to define one’s own self in a simplified


manner as it superficially appears. Chris also understood this aspect and tried to find Junkyu inside himself. We together talked through how Junkyu would feel like in each scene in details at the rehearsal. He surprised me with his amazing transformation to Junkyu.

could be considered an : how does your fuel your creative process to address your choices regarding the stories you tell in your films? We dare say that effective allegory of

I am fond of observing others and listening to others. This became my habit, and often times, I find myself having strong empathy with them as if I am them. I enjoyed making a story that reflects my process to understand people. For instance, in the case of Ambience, I naturally sensed the same feelings that I could not express in words over and over by observing and listening to others. I also found myself having the same feeling, which became stronger under my own circumstances where I was living alone in a strange city. I set up myself as Junkyu and I started to make a story by reconstructing/transforming what I’ve seen and been told. I hope the audience walked through the story as I did.

We would like to introduce our readers to , a five-part dramatic series written and directed by Elisa Sofia Fioretti: centered on the story of an an ItalianAmerican widower who lets technology into his life  initially to stay connected to his granddaughter and, with a little practice, to find a long-lost love. As remarked in the director's statement, this film aims at giving to the spectator a closer look at the people we innovate for and

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Women Cinemakers an opportunity to see how what we do matters – especially through their eyes. While walking our readers through of , would you tell us how process was? Any interesting stories from the set? I am pleased to introduce miniseries Through Your Eyes directed by Elisa Sofia Fioretti which I produced last year. The story is loosely based on Elisa’s relationship with her grandfather. She has pretty close relationship with him, and because of some life events that shook him she decided to approach him with iPad so they could stay closer while she was living in the U.S. and he was in Italy. When Elisa saw this opportunity of talking about this topic and wanted to open a small window on something which is not really talked about in the main stream. She made sure to speak about something that was close to her and something she knew could be genuine. After she was offered the funds to bring this story to life, she started a personal research on how technology actually affects elderly men and women and where it sometimes has amazing results, even to patient with Alzheimer. This brought us to speak about something a little bit bigger than just the main topic of technology, but also about love, friendship, family and second chances. It was a challenging shooting, but we had a lot of fun. I think the funniest memory of the shooting is when we had a break after shooting the Bocce game, our crew actually decided to have a small tournament of bocce during our lunch break. It turns out Bocce is more entertaining than we actually thought.

Your work has received positive feedbacks and was selected for a number of festivals, including and : how much importance


has for you that you receive in the festival circuit? And how do you feel previewing a film before an audience? Screening Ambience at international film festivals is an invaluable opportunity for me to communicate with others. Even though we’ve never met before, a film makes us connect to each other and talk about what we saw and felt in the film. For instance, Ambience makes me communicate with others about human’s emotions, whereas few people are willing to discuss it if I just grab one of my acquaintances and try to talk about it out of the blue since it is hidden and difficult to express. I believe a story that each film has is so powerful that it can naturally open up conversations among strangers about any subject around the world. I especially think that a film festival is a bridge for connecting passionate filmmakers with an audience to exchange their thoughts. Even when I cannot attend the festival, the conversation among the audience after the screening would be valuable and may have a significant influence on each other.

Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in cinema. For more than half a century women have been from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on ? I have dived into filmmaking since 2014. Comparing these days’ filmmaking sets to those at that time, there appears to be a significant change in women’s roles. First, the number of women

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Women Cinemakers directors and producers rapidly increased. It was not difficult to find women filmmakers in the independent film market in New York when I studied there, but the ratio of women filmmakers in Korea was quite low at that time. Four years later, I came back to Korea and participated in several independent film productions as a crew. At some sets, women took up the majority. The number of women directors’ features that won a fund/support from the national agency is also increasing rapidly. I expect that in the near future, the commercial film set would also end distinguishing men and women, and allow talented individuals to really collaborate regardless of their gender, race, etc.

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Ji Hyun. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? After Ambience, I directed two more shorts, Tess and Helen. All the three shorts have been invited to and screened at multiple international film festivals. For example, the latest short Helen will be world-premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival this August. I am now working on a feature script with a female writer, Julia Yu, based on the last two shorts. In addition, I am participating in several independent feature projects, including ROOM FOR DOUBT under pre-production with an Asian American director Will McCord. I believe that this project is one of the good productions where talented individuals collaborate regardless of their gender, race, etc. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Lydia Janbay Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, USA

Ambitiously constructed and marked out with refined cinematography, What You Done is a captivating short film by Los Angeles based director Lydia Janbay: walking the viewers through an insightful inquiry into female identity, this elegant film offers an emotionally charged visual experience, inviting the viewers to heightened and multilayered visual experience: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Janbay's captivating and multifaceted artistic production.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

Hello Lydia and welcome to : to start this interview we would ask you a couple of question about your background: you have a solid formal training and you graduated from the prestigious UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, with a concentration in Cinematography: how did this experience direct

the trajectory of your artistic research? Moreover, could you tell us your biggest influences and how did they affect your filmmaking style? Thank you. I really enjoyed UCLA’s program. It was an inspiring time. We had great faculty, a vibrant curriculum, and all of my classmates were weird and wonderful. It was also a humbling time. I learned how much calculation, heavy lifting, and patience goes into the craft of cinematography. Those two years were quite an expansion.


We worked with light in terms of color, temperature, shape, texture, and movement. It’s really another language. Now, when I plan a visual project, I can articulate the ideas with more precision. My biggest influences span across media, including: Claire Denis - Her work is incredible, especially in the edits. She brings a subtle physical awareness to the screen. Her film Beau Travail is like a ballet of the male body. You learn to really see the human body: how it moves and rests, how it resists tension or releases it, how it carries aggression and desire. This interplay of energies influenced my editing style. David Lynch – What can I say? His command of conscious experience through sound design. His complete dedication to mood and abstraction. He’s my favorite. That “In Dreams” scene in Blue Velvet makes me sob every time. Kubrick – All filmmakers are indebted to him somehow. The intentionality of his work can be frightening. And on top of that, I find him hilarious. Just look at how many times he includes something grotesque, whether it’s a line of dialogue or a piece of furniture. I love him, I definitely would’ve tried to marry him. The photographer Alexa King – I’m a big fan of her work. She has these sexy, cinematic snapshots of women. Her love just comes through. It really

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Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers influenced this project in terms of embracing Americana tropes. The guitarist Anna Calvi - Her stage presence is dramatic and masculine at times. Her outfits inspired one of the characters in the music video. For this special edition of we have selected , a captivating film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. We have been fascinated with the way your clear and effective approach to narrative provides the viewers with such an emotionally intense visual experience, enhanced by elegant composition. While walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? My best friend put me on to Lera Lynn’s music. Her whole Resistor record has a cinematic quality and easily conjures up visual worlds. Everything is subordinate to the song, and is there to give expression to the song. And it’s a wonderful, sultry song. I was interested in Americana and nostalgia. The idea that there was a constellation of characters, images, places, and beliefs that were irrefutably “American” was fascinating. It led me to think about Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” painting. At that point, I began to wonder about timelessness and nostalgia. What is that relationship? So I chose three genre characters – a showgirl, a cowgirl, and a businesswoman – in order to try and deconstruct them as nostalgic, cinematic entities. My


Women Cinemakers

A still from What You Done

costume designer Rocky Avalos and I did serious research to make sure the costumes reflected this.

particular, what was your choice about camera and lens?

Elegantly shot, features refined cinematography and a keen eye to details: what were your aesthetic decisions when shooting? In

I wanted it to look warm, dark, and slick. We shot digitally on a Canon C500 connected to an external recorder. Aside from some inserts, we tended to stay


Women Cinemakers

A still from What You Done

with a 35mm prime lens, and we kept a Tiffen filter on at all times (Glimmerglass) to soften the look incamera. As far as lighting, we often included a colored backlight, such as bright pink or lavender, in order to

separate the actors from the background and bring a glow to their costumes. In post, I brought down the blacks and lifted the highlights, basically intensifying the contrast. I also pushed the saturation to bring out the textures of the set.


We have appreciated the mix between sense of freedom and reflects rigorous approach to the grammar of body language: how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of your performative gestures and the need for spontaneity? How much importance does improvisation play in your process? Each character arc was established ahead of time. My actors knew exactly what their characters’ interior struggle felt like and looked like. This allowed all of the actors’ movements to strike the correct note regardless of how they moved around on set. We did full takes, dollying back and forth, to allow their performance to run the length of the song. I always leave space for actors to do their thing. This was especially true for the showgirl – her makeup runs when she cries, so we could only do that take a few times. We did a master shot and used it as a template for consistency once it came to inserts. I also knew which details I wanted to capture from the beginning. Having a precise shot list allowed us to capture those quickly and left time to play and experiment. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your work deals with identity and how a sense of Self can be created, lived, transformed, abandoned, and

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers recreated: what are you hoping will trigger in the audience? In particular, do you think that your artistic research responds to a particular cultural moment? I’ve always been interested in the ways we represent ourselves and how appearances can betray us. That’s why I chose three characters who are more like archetypes or symbols than real people. I wanted to document how they embody their physical stereotypes, and how they fail, too. How a woman fails. In the history of western art, this has always been a classic fixture. I hope that the music video gives expression to the music in all its richness. I do hope I can give voice to a handful of sensations that I view as characteristically female: shame, rumination, terror, and loneliness. Not to say that men don’t feel these too; I’m just more interested in the female version of them. Another interesting work that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled and we have appreciated the way it leaps off the screen for its essential still effective mise-en-scéne and its hypnotic suspension of time: how did you structure this video in order to achieve such powerful visual impact? Thanks. I am the one performing in this one. The tone was inspired by a dream I had. I was also inspired by a vintage variety show called “Window on the World.” It


Women Cinemakers didn’t have a host, which is spooky for a variety show. I took cues from its unusual rhythm. My awesome gaffer Nima set up some hard light and suggested we soften the focus in-camera. I added more layers in the edit to further soften the look, overlaying a film grain as well as desaturating the color. Over the years your works have been screened in several occasions, including the Chicago Underground Film Festival, the ArtSci Gallery at UC Santa Cruz and the Little Gallery at UCLA: how much importance has for you the feedback that you receive in the festival circuit? And how do you feel previewing a film before an audience? Well, it’s always fun to share work with non-filmmakers because their reactions are straightforward and generally helpful in illuminating the simpler truths about your piece. Like, if it’s boring, you’ll know right away. It’s important to have honest critique from people whose taste you trust. People who can infer what you’re trying to achieve and meet you halfway with suggestions. I’m lucky to have a small circle of friends and collaborators who do this before I present a work to larger audiences. Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the


A still from


Women Cinemakers future of women in cinema. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? Do you think it is harder for women artists to have their projects green lit today? The future of women in cinema looks incredibly exciting. I’ve seen some mindblowing new work by female directors in the last few years. In the film world as in many others, there are disparities in representation and who holds power. This is certainly changing. I know that female experiences are truly special and unique, and as the creative voices of women proliferate, they will be celebrated with even more nuance. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Lydia. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Thank you. It’s always a blast to work with actors, so I’m planning to take acting classes myself. It would yield some great insights into directing, but more than that it’s just really fun. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Carol Rodrigues Doll and Silence, is about the loneliness of Marcela, a a 14-year-old girl who decides to interrupt an unwanted pregnancy. In a country like Brazil, where abortion is illegal in most cases and still a huge taboo, the weight of laws will crumble on Marcela. This story is told from the point of view of Marcela, how she sees it and not how she is seen by the world. A narrative where fantastic elements materialize and her memories mingle as a river that flows and flows into the sea. When Marcela makes the decision, under the materiality of blood, she joins her destiny with women from other times worldwide. A counterpoint to the loneliness that seemed to be the only way of life. Perhaps, Marcela's only mistake was thinking that she was alone.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com Featuring brilliant cinematography and effective storytelling, Doll and silence is a moving short film by Brazilian director Carol Rodrigues: inquiring into social taboos and the consequent sense of loneliness that affect people, she demonstrates the ability to capture the subtle dephts of emotions, providing the viewers with such heightened and captivating experience: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Rodrigues' captivating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Carol and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. Are there any experiences that did particularly inform your current practice? Moreover, does your cultural

background inform the way you relate yourself to art making in general? First of all, I would like to express how thankful I am for being one of the selected people to make part of this WomenCinemakers edition. Not only it is as a space of visibility, this interview is also a space for a reflection about our artistic paths. Both of these questions that you ask are fundamental, but also captious. After all, my story, just like for everybody else, is the result of a nonlinear and discontinuous long process. It’s easy to create a coherent and artificial meaning, but it’s very hard to tabulate one or two experiences that allow unveiling or even getting to know my current practice through them. What I can say is that I come from a hard-working and middle-class family in the suburbs of Sao Paulo. The most part of my childhood and adolescence I lived with my grandmother, a black and indigenous woman. My mom is black and my father is white. Both are


Carol Rodrigues (Photo by Julia Zakia)


Women Cinemakers government employees. I have two sister and a brother. All of them much younger and funny than I am. The racial issue in my family is more complex and contradictory. Thankfully to the debates that my siblings and I bring to our home, there’s a better acceptance towards blackness and a search for our history. I was raised Catholic and Spiritist, although I always went the folk healer, while my grandmother attended the candomble house. Today, I’m atheist. When I was a teenager, I used to fight a lot with my parents about religion, but I kept my sexuality hidden. I officially came out of the closet at the moment I told my parents about my marriage. Both of them laughed telling they already knew. My family always treated my wife with lots of affection and warmth. They were also the ones who encouraged me to have critical thinking and to not accept humiliations… I had a scholarship in a private Catholic high school. It was an odd place, where everyone thought they were better than me. In order to be accepted I lied a lot. I created numerous stories, trips, relationships… It was the first time that I realized that fiction could save lives. I lived a few years in the countryside while I was studying Social Sciences at The University of Campinas (Unicamp). I was the first in my family to attend a public university. After that I came back to Sao Paulo, but I moved to the city center. I thought that here I would suffer less from homophobia and I would have better access to work and culture. It didn’t work very well at the start, so I ended up going back to live with my grandmother for two more years, when after that I came back for good to the central city. When my father was 15 years old, he worked at the central part of Sao Paulo as an office boy. Sometimes he took this opportunity to go to the movies. He watched many films during his teenage years and always talked about them with me. The video rental shops near my home didn’t offer many interesting options. But I used to rent lots of movies and watch many others showed on the open TV. When I was 14 years old, I kind of mistakenly watched Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. I found myself disturbed by it for a long time after that. It was the first movie that I watched that contradicted me, that made me rethink about my own values when I was presented to a hateful character, a rapist, in such an affectionate way. I started going

after movie titles that had the same affect on us. That challenged us, that dislocated us from our comfort zone, that transformed us… When I was around 15 years old I found the Paulista Avenue region in Sao Paulo. A friend of mine presented me the local independent movie theaters, where still today concentrates the most part of the city’s alternative programming. So, I used to live in the suburbs. To get there, I took from one hour and a half to two hours, depending on the traffic. The Carol at that time had a very peculiar way on seeing things. I used to think that if I took at least three hours transporting myself, this meant that I had to


stay at least four hours inside the movie theatre to make my trip

development, because more than just feeding my hunger for new films,

worthwhile. It was a time when a movie ticket wasn't too expensive as it

the desire of making films had awaken in me...

is now. I chose to study Political Sciences because I thought that I wanted to So I watched two, three or even four films in a single day. Between

become a documentary filmmaker. I was 17 years old and I thought

1999 and 2000, I watched more than 200 films in the movie theater. It

that the only way to recreate the world and to bring the topics based

was the first time I followed up film festivals, such as the Sao Paulo

on my point of view would be through the documentary. Although I

International Short Film Festival (Kinoforum), or the Sao Paulo

have watched lots of movies, I haven't watched many with stories that

International Film Festival, for example. This was very important to my

looked like mine. There were brown characters, almost no blacks and a


very few lesbians that were always white. The families were very different from mine. Colorism wasn't discussed and it seemed like there was no racism in Brazil. Just in the United States. The affective violence nor our cordial racism were discussed... The Political Sciences course didn't lead me to making films. I had to go back to the university, and just a few years after I finished my second undergraduate course, Audiovisual, at the University of Sao Paulo, that I took the filmmaking path. However, the Political Science course lead me to something more important, which effectively transformed me and

sealed the way of how I view and act over the world: the political activism, the social activism within the feminist, the LGBT and, later on, the black movement. It changed my life, because I discovered that mostly of the suffocation that I felt was shared by other people like me. The activism brought me a collective perspective of transformation. It taught me that it was necessary to know how to build bridges so that people could understand your point of view. It taught me empathy and offered an infinite horizon of dreams.


Women Cinemakers

When walking our readers through the genesis of Doll and silence, could you tell us what did attract you to this particular story? First of all, it is valid to state that like a gesture of resistance and selfaffirmation, all of my projects portraits colored women (black or brown) as protagonists. Therefore, my stories always shows the subjects of gender and race on the spotlight. I come from a background very connected to the social and political movements, in which the strive against the discrimination of abortion is constant and fundamental. Despite being illegal in most part of the cases in Brazil, it is estimated that at least one million of abortions are made every year, resulting in one of the principal causes of death among Brazilian women, specially the poor and black. In most cases, these women don’t have the means or conditions to pay for an abortion at a “reliable” clandestine clinic, and so they end up taking desperate actions, in which can result in real damage to their bodies or even death. The law of silence reigns over these deaths. Just as if the lives of these girls and women don’t matter. They are viewed as criminals, monsters, assassins of children, and for that they don’t deserve any kind of forgiveness. Most part of the Brazilian society thinks that way. However, everyone knows someone close that has already had an abortion and no one wants that person to be arrested. When you know the person, their story and their motives, it’s much more simple for you to comprehend their decision. Or at least it makes it difficult for the establishment of a moral judgement. That is precisely why I decided to write “Doll and Silence”, so that we follow Marcela while she makes the decision to interrupt an unwanted pregnancy. Her point of view, what she feels, how she sees herself, and not how others see or judge her. A choice that turns into an unbearable pain that she carries just to herself… Of course, with numerous contradictions, but they were fundamental lessons to the person I am today. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected Doll and silence, a captivating series that our readers can view directly at https://vimeo.com/113716921. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the loneliness of Marcela who decides to interrupt an unwanted pregnancy is the way you address the viewers to such emotionally charged visual experience.

Solitude is one of sexism’s most perverse aspects. Isolation weakens us, destroys us. Our biggest strength is on our relations and how they help us to realize that many violent situations are repeated and that sexism is a structural and structuring element. The only counterpoint to the isolation that Marcela feels is in her final moments, during an instant of evocation of support, caring and collectivity. A glimpse of a perspective that, to her, is denied. Ravishingly photographed, from a visual point of view, Doll and silence is elegantly composed and we have particularly appreciated


Women Cinemakers

the way your sapient use of close ups allows you to capture emotionally charged moments: what were your aesthetic decisions when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? My conversations with the director of photography Julia Zakia started from the concept that structures the film: Use of the naturalist representation with extraordinary moments of oddities, but without changing the form. We were looking to create an atmosphere of strangeness, of something out of place. The naturalism was evoked by the lighting and the color temperature. On the decoupage, in almost all of the shots we bet on the use of the diagonals for composition: - on the architectonic elements of the location in relation to the frame, like, for instance, the master shot of the park were everybody observe Marcela; - on the disposition of the furniture, like in the kitchen, when Marcela covered in blood talks to her father while we can see the blood dripping from the sink behind them; - the position or the movement of the character's bodies, just like Marcela's body shrunken on the bed right after being assaulted by her boyfriend; or - the scene objects, the close-up shot of the scissors occupying the whole frame. About this last one, it's valid to highlight that it's a very powerful image of menace, that has its effect magnified by being presented with the amplified sound of the metal blades closing against each other. The image is uncomfortable and distressing, and it announces a story that will be interrupted, cut off.

way to create multiple areas into which we established the relation between the characters.

For the composition, we also made use of the golden triangles in certain shots, like for instance the medium long shot of Marcela sewing on the couch, in which the vanishing point is located by the left. Another fundamental aspect is that we filmed on the aspect ratio of 2.39:1, which is a wonderful format for a film constructed from the point of view of a character. The Cinemascope aspect ratio allows us to make silence zones with expressive effects, dividing the visual field in a

Therefore, by the choice of proportion of the screen and the emphasis to the diagonal composition of the shots, we chose the Cooke mini s4 lenses. These are prime lenses that distort expect for the diagonals, and give more tridimensionality to the image, highlighting the character on the background. We also wanted to work with low light at the abandoned building, and we needed clear lenses of perfect crystal, just like the Cooke, which it worked very nicely with the aperture f/5.6.


In the internal shots, the lenses that we most used were the 50 mm and the 85 mm, with low depth of field so that we could use the focus and defocus with a dramatic effect. For the camera, we used a Sony F55 that, in 2014, was the one which had the best system of filming that was accessible for our production. In addition, it filmed in raw mode, which meant the less possible compression for the color correction, with a bigger scale of colors. This allowed an extensive manipulation of the image in postproduction.

The dialogues of your film seem natural and spontaneous, and give the viewers the sense they are watching excerpts from real life: how did you structured the script of Doll and silence in order to achieve such energetic narrative structure? I believe that was the hardest part of the process. Because it is such a controversial subject, in which by its own reference already causes the most visceral reactions, it was as huge challenge to find a way that permitted highlighting the internal contradictions of Marcela, whereas, at the same time, it was shielded against any possible interpretations of an


anti-abortion idea within the film. This was a concern since the beginning

We follow Marcela’s pain and strength in a narrative in which her

of the script, after all, it was about a girl whose death was led by her

concerns are materialized into fantastic oddities. Just like in the magical

attempt of practicing a clandestine abortion. There was the possibility of

realism, but without the ancestral mythology, it is more subtle, within a

the film be interpreted as a moral fable of blame...

more intimate aspect. There’s a naturalness between what is real and

However, the film builds up from the point of view of Marcela, not giving

what is fantastical.

much of a chance for simple judgments. The script intersects fragments of

Marcela doesn’t surprise herself with her mother, neither with the sudden

Marcela’s memories along with the execution of the abortion with almost

presence of the women around her. Right after the violent gesture of her

no ellipsis.

boyfriend, she lies down as a woman and wakes up as a child, meeting again with her mother’s affection. Marcela pierces with her finger a piece


Women Cinemakers characters miss the topic, they don’t finish their thoughts, they say one thing instead of saying what they really mean to say, and they also show unexpected reactions when directly confronted. In other words, they are humans in all its complexity, beauty and perversity. It may sound a bit obvious, but there's still a great lack of this kind of complexity being portrayed by black characters in the Brazilian audiovisual sector... We have particularly appreciated your insightful inquiry into the personal sphere of the character of Marcela: your approach seems to be very analytical, yet your film strives to be full of emotion. What was your preparation with actors in terms of rehearsal? In particular, do you like spontaneity or do you prefer to meticulously schedule every details of your shooting process? I have to reconcile both of these paths. In one hand I try to organize the details of the filming, structuring the decoupage, creating the storyboard and establishing the floor plan in order to anticipate possible issues. At the same time, I try to let the film permeable to the reality that the film locations may provide, or to the actors' improvisations. But, honestly, this is something that I would rather anticipate during rehearsals and have time to amend with the actors. However, this is not always possible. For the "Doll and Silence" film, we've made four rehearsals of six hours each. In the first one, I dealt only with Morgana Naughty (Marcela). We've talked in the most part of the time, getting into the initial discussions in a profounder way. We've talked about subjects related to the personal life of the actress, such as her love life, sexuality, her plans for the future, pregnancy, abortion etc. We've also practiced a few relaxation exercises. At the time, Morgana was 16 years old and a very few experiences as an actress. I felt that this first dialogue we've established at that first rehearsal was very important in order to make her feel more at ease towards the topics. of dead meat, which bleeds to a point that her dress gets soaked. When she talks to her boyfriend at the park, everybody around her stop what they’re doing to observe her. In terms of dialogue, I believe what’s most important is to work on the subtext of every scene. When I write a script, I always face the difficult battle between the revelation and the subtlety. One scene that everything is very explicit, turns out to become shallow, banal. Part of our job is to make everything more subtle. Create a scene that has a whole other meaning than what’s being discussed. The

On the second day, the rehearsal had the presence of Morgana and the actor Giovanni Gallo, who played Joao, Marcela's boyfriend. Together we discussed the essence of both characters. In case the actors had any doubts, they could always go back to that essence as their safe haven. Marcela wants to get rid of the blame in order to free herself. Joao wants to overcome the insecurity to prove himself as a man. We've created stories and improvised about the couple's relationship history, since their date till the brake-up at the park. We've practiced a few exercises aiming the trust and intimacy between Morgana and Giovanni. I emphasize that


Women Cinemakers I presented all exercises as optional, meaning that they could be interrupted at any time in case someone felt uncomfortable in some way. As matter of fact, in the conversation I had with Morgana's mother, I emphasized that I had no intentions of traumatizing or to cause any discomfort to her daughter. Even the scene in which Marcela use the needle to make the abortion, the camera avoids the emphasis of the violent act, diverting the gaze and showing the blood running on the floor. On the first half of the third day, we worked their bodies through dance, and also by blindfolding and guiding them verbally, by sound or even by the corporal interaction between the two of them. On the second half of the rehearsal, we focused on the scenes of the bedroom and park, working with the actual script. With the absence of Giovanni, the last day was divided between the investigation and record of the inventory of possible gestures for each one of the scenes, and the rehearsal over the reunions between Marcela and her mother, both in the bedroom and final scene. In these moments, there was also the participation of the actress Naruna Costa, who was invited to interpret Marcela's mother, and Rebeca Kethely, in the role of Marcela as a child. We weren't able to rehearse with Eduardo Silva (the father) due to his agenda. We just discussed about the film and the nature of his character. It was an intense process. I reckon that one of the most important elements of this whole preparatory work was gaining Morgana's trust so that she would permit herself to expose fragilities and vulnerabilities, and also overcome the initial judgment and condemnation that she had of her character. Morgana was a teenager and in her own view she believes that she has become a woman right after this experience. After a few exhibitions of the film, we've performed debates and group We like the way you created entire scenarious out of psychologically charged moments: what are you hoping Doll and silence will trigger in the audience?

conversations. In more than one occasion, women took advantage of those

I reckon that what I would most like to trigger in the audience is empathy. That people would show being more displaced from their common sense and easy judgments in order to assume a different perspective. At least recognizing another perspective as equally true. I would very much like that people felt the film with Marcela.

realize was the safe and trustful atmosphere that the exhibition of the film

opportunities to talk about their own abortions and the loneliness they felt for not being able to talk about their experiences with anyone. What I came to created, in which women felt confident to share their experiences without feeling as they were criminals or as they were somehow being judged. I believe that the Cinema has this vocation of creating connections. A film can give expression to certain feelings and restlessness that we bring within


ourselves and that they are shared, public, but we're not always aware of

the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re living

that. Through Cinema, we can realize that we are actually not alone.

under": what could be in your opinion the role of artists in our unstable, everchanging contemporary age? In particular, does your

We can recognize a subtle social criticism regarding the taboos that

artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment?

affect our patriarchal and male-oriented society, and it's also important to remark that you are currently developing a feature film

I believe that the role of the artists are to push the boundaries of our

about colorism and racism inside a brazilian black family called

perception beyond to what our society impose us, creating a world where

Criadas (Made to be maids). Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once

all existences are possible, and not only of the white heterosexual man

remarked that "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of

and cisgender. Art must be free, but we a have an enormous


responsibility to produce films to dispute the imaginary racist and sexist

Cintia Maria, Joyce Prado, Keila Serruya, Lilian Solá Santiago and Sabrina

world of the present. Films that helps us to build ourselves as new types

Fidalgo. These are just a few of the black women who are bringing a

of subjects and therefore, permit ourselves to find out who we are - as

whole new perspective to our history by producing a counter-memory.

said by Bell Hooks.

I would dare make a small change at Orozco's phrase. I reckon that the role of the artist also modifies according to the position that he or her

It's a huge ambition, but at the current historical moment that Brazil finds

occupies in a certain society.

itself in, it's a great responsibility that many filmmakers have taken into

All of the themes that I work with are related to who I am in the world,

action. Renata Martins, Jéssica Queiroz, Safira Moreira, Glenda Nicácio,

the location and historical moment I find myself in. I'm a bisexual black

Everlane Moraes, Larissa Fulana de Tal, Viviane Ferreira, Jamile Coelho,

woman with lighter skin, who came from a working family, grew-up in


Women Cinemakers different experiences, solitude was the feeling that has accompanied me throughout my whole childhood and adolescence. Both the short film "Their Happiness" and the feature film project "Made to Be Maids" brings a reflection about the chase for perspectives, for ways to get out from inside a context of violence and suffocation. In "Their Happiness" (A Felicidade Delas), two girls deny the bitter reality of submission and claim the power of their sexuality in an absolute way through a metaphor of libertation, which is the symbol of destruction and potency of life. "Made to Be Maids" (Criadas) is built from the game of brutal and affectionate power between two black women with different experiences in regards to the blackness and history of their families, striving for a form of conciliation. The project has as theme the violent construction of the black identity in a racist country, and the difficulties of understanding and accepting its own blackness. On the other hand, despite being a project that I was invited to co-direct and co-write with Vaneza Oliveira, the short film "Mother Doesn't Cry" (MĂŁe NĂŁo Chora) brings a fundamental aspect in my work: the moral judgments and the social obstacles that are diluted into subtleties of the daily life. The protagonist is a woman looking for support and interaction. A woman who doesn't see anything beyond maternity. As a matter of fact, the matter of the gaze is present in all of my projects. Gazes can be claustrophobics, violent, confronting and gestures of resistance. In addition, I feel like we need to show more affection, empathy and love. Also with all of its contradictions, within a context of individualism, barbarism and violence.

the suburbs and now lives in the city center of a big city of an underdeveloped country. Each piece of who I am is expressed somehow in my projects... In "Doll and Silence" (A Boneca e o SilĂŞncio), for instance, all of Marcela's closest relations are with men, who she cannot establish a communication with. The boyfriend doesn't listen to her, either he offers a true support, or he even respects her wishes. The father is a material provider, but emotionally empty, who confuses vigilance with love. Marcela's path is filled with solitude. Despite living the most

We would like to introduce our readers to a new short entitled A felicidade delas (Their Happiness), that you just filmed and that will be shortly released. Would you tell us something about this new project? Would you tell us how did you come up to this idea? "Their Happiness" presents two black girls that together run from the police. Despite the context of violence, they seek to find a way to live their desire. With no dialogue whatsoever, the film explores the dramaturgy of both bodies inside the scene, in constant movement of approximation and distance. The project emerged from my desire of approaching the homosexual experience in a positive and natural way, through a story built from the subjectivity of characters that historically


Photo by Agnis Freitas


Women Cinemakers were silenced and invisible in Cinema. Lesbian black women that interact with each other, creating a space of resistance and empowerment towards a world that seems to insist on ceasing us. According to an official census, 54% of the Brazilian population is colored (black or brown). However, this demographic majority is not very much represented in our Cinema, which is predominately white and male, leaving a very few space for the representation of varied sexual orientations. Even when we encounter homosexual characters, in the majority of times they are white men. Furthermore, there's a very contradictory context in our country, in which the young people are "coming out of the closet" more and more at a younger age, also where we have one of the biggest LGBT Pride Parades of the world, and have won the homosexual marriage and LGBT parenting rights. On the other hand, the homophobic and transphobic violence grows up, it's not criminalized and Brazil stands as one of the top countries in the world in LGBTs deaths. We daresay that your films could be considered allegories of human experience: how does daily life's experience fuel your creative process to address your choices regarding the stories you tell in your films? It makes me really happy to hear that you see my films in that way. My creative process is very much related to the images that rise from the tension between my experiences (my own and from people around me) and the way that I think of them. I think too much, all the time. I am what they call an overthinker. But when I try to structure certain feelings that emerge from determined themes, in many cases the words aren't enough, and appeal to other forms of expression, such as images and sounds. Solitude, desire, exasperation, pain, absence, the search for affection... it's hard to translate in just a few words. But they are great raw materials to powerful images, which probably won't respect the physical (or moral) boundaries of our reality. That is the reason why I need to make use of the symbolic language. I work with allegories and metaphors, because I reckon that the pure realism is not enough to express the complexity of our experiences in such violent and oppressor world.

Through symbols we can subvert the physical laws and the social and historic boundaries, creating gaps of caring and refuge or, for instance, perspectives of liberation to the characters. I also believe that we have to think about other ways of expressing violence without needing to explicitly ravish or destruct female and black bodies on the screen. I reckon that many movies, instead of creating and nourishing some kind of indignation, they actually corroborate to banalize violence. We can talk about rape without having to show a single woman being violated. We can talk about the


genocide of the black community without the need to show a single dead black body. The Brazilian movie from Jessica Queiroz, PeripatĂŠtico, for example, showed an interpretation of the death of a young man killed by the police by showing children instead of the police man and the victim, a red balloon popping instead of the gun shot, and ketchup representing the blood. The scene doesn't diminish its potency or the pain of death. Jessica, a black director, has made this choice because even if she

wanted to discuss about violence, she didn't want to show one more motionless black body on the floor. The creation of images is a huge responsibility and cannot be taken without its proper seriousness. Being a film doesn't mean it lacks power to cause real consequences in the real world. Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in cinema. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are


signs that something is changing. Do you think it is harder for women artists to have their projects greenlit today? What's your view on the future of women in cinema? There's no doubt about changes happening in the last decades. In Brazil, for example, despite being still a small number and disproportional when compared to men, there's much more female filmmakers today that, differently from a decade ago, find themselves going beyond their first feature film. We have considerably advanced in terms of our organization and in the way we intervene in debates regarding representativeness, or

the harassment that were the normal standards inside a film set. We look for alternative ways of production and distribution. We have a permanent focus about formation, fostering debates, social gatherings and festivals that amplify the receptivity of the public towards certain themes or points of view expressed by our productions. I imagine that WomenCinemakers is certainly a result of an aspiration towards that same direction. Another juncture element that I think it’s worth highlighting is the expansion of our presence within the audiovisual media as a whole, in You tube Channels and in the series that have taken on the lead in the


Women Cinemakers don’t have the same access to the same advances or don’t have the same visibility as white women have achieved in the media or market. In a recent study in Brazil that aimed tracing the gender and color profile of actors, directors and scriptwriters of the Brazilian feature film blockbusters released from 1995 to 2016, it showed that our Cinema is still white and masculine, inside and outside of the screen. From the 219 analyzed feature films, 85% were directed by white men, whereas 2% by colored men. The remaining percentage of 13% corresponded to the ones directed by women, in which doesn’t include any colored women, black or brown. Within the 411 script writers involved in these same films, only 22% were women and, once again, none of them were colored. On screen, the numbers aren’t any different and the study shows that colored women represents only 4% of the characters portrayed in the films. In other words, what this study shows is that the vision of the white heterosexual male from the high society is still predominantly the only voice and form of representation that gains relevance and visibility. A depiction by which tends to produce one type of Cinema that reassures their own values of class, gender and race, and disseminates stereotypes and representations skewed from the other social groups. Despite having a very defined class, gender and race within this kind of Cinema, it is not seen as a high society white male Cinema. It’s viewed as universal, as “the Cinema”, the quality standard criteria of Cinema and of what deserves to be watched and considered. On the other hand, the other types of views are considered minorities and defined by labels such as “Black Cinema”, “LGBT Cinema”, “Women Cinema” etc. As a matter of fact, it’s quite common that these “other Cinemas” are pointed out as being politically motivated, pamphleteer, precisely because they bring a whole other perspective than the white heterosexual male one. It’s quite a very fragile and mediocre attempt to demoralize our films. cultural debates. By the way, the internet as a whole, and the social media in particular have been essential tools to amplify silenced voices and to experiment new languages. Also, some people that are now today producing films and series have actually started out producing web series. I include myself on this. Apart from my Cinema projects, I’m a script writer for streaming and television series. However, I believe that what’s most important is to highlight that these changes don’t occur in the same way to all women as a whole. Like in other debates and achievements of the white feminism, black women still

Every film is politically motivated. The neutrality is impossible, because the facts come from a social and historically determined point of view. The myth of neutrality is a political and ideological construction that are precisely used to erase race, gender and the class of certain facts, opinions etc. We are now in a moment, precisely, of seeing the race and the gender of all views and realize, in many cases, how the selfproclaimed “neutral view” is actually a white and masculine one about the world, and this kind of view wouldn’t be a problem… If we have an effective diversity of access to the means of production and distribution…


Women Cinemakers

If we have access to the profits of our productions… If we are allowed to make as much mistakes as they are allowed to... If we can experiment as much as they can… If we don’t need to deal with the harassment and the sexual violence… If we are paid and valued for our work… If maternity is not a barrier for the career of a woman… If the obstacles of the sexism and racism are taken into consideration during the hiring process and curatorships… That is if the white male view was just one within a whole spectrum of views, and not the only one. In other words, if there wasn’t the monopoly of representation or oppression. If our differences didn’t back up structural inequalities and dissimilarities over access to resources in our society. I am aware that the procedures are not linear or progressive. They are contradictory. When we least expect, there may have some kind of shift in our reality, in which everything that has been achieved until now is suddenly lost. But we need to be optimistic. I believe that pessimism is always reactionary. The Cinema still can present itself as an association of white men, but we are coming full strength and hungry for transformation. And the future belongs to us. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Carol. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? About my future projects, as I said before, I'm finalizing the two shortfilms: "Their Happiness" and "Mother Doesn't Cry", which I plan to release in film festivals between the end of this year and the beginning

of the next. In addition, I'm developing "Maid to be maids", my first feature film, which will be a great challenge in terms of dramaturgy and staging, as all scenes will be played inside a house, and there's only black women in a movie about racism and colorism (or pigmentocracy). Since "Doll and Silence" I realized how I've been growing my posture as a director and also becoming more confident, secure about the type of language and narrative that I want to evolve, as much as the themes


that I want to dive in. The progress in the geopolitical scenario in the debates of genre and race helped a lot in that sense. As well as my articulation with other women directors and script writers, specially with other colored women. Our constant conversations strengthens me. Finally, once again I would like to thank for the invitation, and to say that you make a very propitious magazine in relation to our current historical time, as a platform of visibility for directors, as much as a space of

narrative language debate, which many times are commonly made invisible. Thank you.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Madeleine Spivey Lives and works in in the UK and the USA

Madeleine Spivey is an award winning filmmaker who was born in Australia but grew up in Tanzania and Senegal. A graduate of the international school in Dakar, Madeleine attended New York University's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts where she completed her BFA degree in Film and TV Production. Her nomadic lifestyle then brought her to England where she studied for two years to receive her MA degree from the National Film and Television School. Madeleine has worked for various film and television production companies, including the BBC, in a wide rage of roles. She has steadily made several short independent films and television pilots over the past 5 years and hopes to direct her first feature within the next 2 years. Madeleine loves to tell a great story and has a great many yet to tell. Not one to settle for what has already been done, Madeleine hopes to push the boundaries of what storytellers are capable of doing in the film industry - never being tied to a specific genre, Madeleine wants to make all kinds of films and television dramas. One of her biggest dreams is to direct a movie musical with songs written by Taylor Swift. With her optimistic outlook on life, she firmly believes that this is within the realm of possibility.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com La La London is a captivating short dance film by writer and director Madeleine Spivey: inspired by the film, La La Land, it gives life to a brilliant allegory of human condition and expresses the resonance between human body and urban environment, providing the viewers with a

multilayered experience. Particularly interested in musicals, Spivey demonstrates the ability of capturing the emotional value of movement and we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating artistic production. Hello Madeleine and welcome to we would invite our readers to visit in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production and we we

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would like to start this interview with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your BFA degree in Film and TV Production from the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts in New York City, you moved to England, to nurture your education with an MA degree, that you received from the National Film and Television School: how did these experiences influence your evolution as a director? Moreover, does your multifaceted direct the trajectory of your artistic research? I was born two months before my due date and nearly on an airplane - so I don’t think I was ever destined for a normal life. My parents were world travelers, so from a very young age my family and I were traversing the globe in search of adventures. I was 9 years old when my parents moved my siblings and I to the jungles of Sumatra, Indonesia for a year where I would routinely come face to face with snakes, monkeys, scorpions and wild boars but strangely it felt normal. Just before my 10th birthday, we moved again but this time to Arusha, Tanzania, the place I still consider my hometown, because it’s where I spent my formative years. Tanzania is a stunning country and I had many wild adventures in my youth - especially with my best friend whose parents own a safari lodge in the middle of Tarangire National Park, so we often spent weekends out on game drives, fascinated by the elephants, giraffes, zebras and lions we would regularly spot. It wasn’t until we moved to Dakar, Senegal did my life feel “settled”. It was the first place where I was encouraged to think about what I wanted to do with my life and where I would want to go

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Women Cinemakers to university, something I hadn’t ever really thought about before. I’d always had a strong connection with movies, having filmed all of my family’s home videos since I was old enough to know which buttons to press on the camera, and it was a high school media class that made me realise that making films was an actual option for my career. I knew I wanted to live in New York City as I had spent several summers in the city as a teenager, so my best option of film schools was NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts, a highly prestigious and extremely competitive program. I was anxious for weeks leading up to the day that I was accepted, convinced that I would be rejected. I spent 4 years fully engrossed in everything to do with film. Going in, I had no experience at all with directing actors, but I could craft a story - so I took writing classes, producing classes and every directing class that I could so that I could have a wide range of skills once I graduated. Once I did graduate, I took jobs as a videographer, filming events for a Broadway website and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, but I struggled to move into film, so I decided to get a MA degree. After living in New York City for close to 6 years, I was ready for a change and I had spent some time in England so I figured I should try and find a directing MA somewhere close to London. I’d heard of the National Film and TV School because it has consistently been named one of the top international film schools and many of my favourite directors, cinematographers and writers were graduates of their distinguished MA programs, so on a whim, I sent in an application which was accepted two weeks later and a month after that I was packing up my Upper East Side apartment to move to the sleepy town of Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.


I studied at the NFTS for 2 years, graduating in February 2017. When it comes to what I got out of these programs, I’ve often said; Tisch laid the foundation, but the NFTS built the house. I wouldn’t be nearly as confident a director as I am today without the guidance and teachings of both of these schools and the friendships I formed while attending and I don’t think I would have be accepted to either of these schools if I hadn’t had such a unique start to my life.

video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at . What has at once impressed us of your insightful inquiry into is the way you have provided the results of your artistic research with such captivating aesthetics: when walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea?

For this special edition of we have selected , an extremely interesting dance

La La London was made for the ADCAN Awards charity commercial competition. I had been speaking to legendary


cinematographer and head of the NFTS’ Directing Commercials course, Stuart Harris, about directing opportunities in the commercials world (something I didn’t have much experience in) when he told me about the competition and urged me to apply.

Having read through a packet of 8 different charity briefs, the one that I was immediately drawn to was a charity called, WERK For Peace who were asking for a vibrant dance film to inspire people to join their cause.

For those who don’t know, The ADCAN awards are for unsigned filmmakers and animators to make a commercial that fits one of their charity briefs. If your commercial is chosen as a winner, then the filmmakers are invited to mentorship meetings with industry leaders, workshops in all areas of production while also providing charities with content to promote their cause.

Now I should say that I’ve been a fan of musicals since early childhood when I had The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz and basically every animated Disney Princess movie on a constant loop. I had also seen pretty much every single musical on Broadway while I lived in New York, so it’s safe to say that when the Damien Chazelle film was released, I saw it the day it


opened in the UK and fell in love immediately. It was vibrant, fun, exuberant - everything I could ever want in a musical. Therefore when I read the brief for WERK For Peace, a mental image of the opening sequence from La La Land popped up and I knew it was an idea I had to pursue. is reveals a keen eye for Elegantly shot, details, and demonstrates the ability of orchestrating realism with intimate visionarism: influence your aesthetic decisions when shooting? In particular, how did you structure your editing process in order to achieve such brilliant results? I knew quite early on that we would only have 1 day to shoot this commercial because I hadn’t read the ADCAN briefs until less than a month before the submission deadline - so my main priority was structuring the actual shoot in a way that the edit would be quick. It started with the first person I called when the idea came to me, my incredible cinematographer, Samira Oberberg. I explained what my idea was and that I wanted to make the commercial look as close to the original source as possible, with only a tiny fraction of the time (and BUDGET!) of the actual film and she helped me figure out what it was about that opening scene that really resonated with me in the first place, then we worked out how we could replicate those elements with what we had to work with. Hilariously that meant instead of a stunning crane shot of a sunny Los Angeles highway, we had my tiny cinematographer sitting on the shoulders of my tall, muscular choreographer, Ashley Nottingham, for a DIY crane shot which ended up working out so well in the edit. The other major factor in the edit was the musical track the dancers were performing to. Lindsay Wright, a highly-

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Women Cinemakers accomplished composer I met at the NFTS was the next person I contacted for this commercial and as soon as I said the words “I want to make a musical inspired commercial in the style of La La Land” she sent me a track she’d started for another project that ended up being scrapped, that she had composed while listening to the La La Land soundtrack and it fit so perfectly with what I had in mind that everything started coming together very quickly after that, paving the way for a smooth shoot and a quick, seamless edit by another of my talented NFTS friends, Rachel Roberts. We have appreciated the way your approach to musical conveys sense of freedom and reflects rigorous approach to the grammar of body language: how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of ? How much choreography and importance does play in your process? Ashley Nottingham and I met very early on in the process of developing this commercial. I had been researching top choreographers in London who taught the style of dance I was wanting to use for La La London, and Ashley’s name popped up. I sent him an email through his website, not really sure if I was aiming too high but considering it was for charity, thought I should be a little bit jammy and just go for it. I was thrilled when he agreed to meet me for a coffee to discuss the project in person and as soon as I played him the track that Lindsay Wright had composed, he was onboard. It also turns out that he’s one of the loveliest people on the planet, so working with him on this was an absolute joy. Ashley teaches dance classes at Pineapple Dance Studios, a hotspot for dancers who are either already performing on the West End, or heading that way. So Ashley had access not only to rehearsal space, but also to a host of immensely talented dancers who were willing to give up a few days to work on La La London.


From our coffee conversation, Ashley knew exactly what I was looking for in the choreography, so he went to work coming up with a routine that while structured, was also adaptable depending on factors like weather conditions (we were shooting outside in England!) or incase a dancer dropped out or godforbid was injured. Ashley and I only had a day in the rehearsal room with the full group of 11 dancers before we shot the commercial, so it was crucial we had all of the elements as close to nailed down as possible before we got to set. It certainly helped that Ashley had spent 20 years as a professional dancer, so could take my direction easily. Between the day in the rehearsal room, and the actual shoot, we lost our location, so the actual shoot took place on a street just around the corner from where I was living at the time. The choreography had to be tweaked at the last minute and elements of the dance had to change entirely to fit our new environment, but we made it work without any drama. More subtle details were spontaneous, for example one of the dancers closes a car door because there was a nice car that was going to be in our shot, so we decided to use it. I also think it’s important to be adaptable as a director, so allowing for improvisation is a key part of my process - even when working on something as choreographed as this. Featuring refined and well-orchestrated choreography by Ashley Nottingham, involves the audience into heightened visual experience: what were your aesthetic decisions when conceiving this stimulating work? In particular, were you interested in providing your that reflect human performance with an condition? I had never worked with a choreographer before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from Ashley or know what I could ask him to do,

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Women Cinemakers other than show him the opening scene from La La Land and ask him if he could come up with something that looked like that but also had a powerful message about inclusiveness and LGBTQ+ rights. But he and I talked through my ideas and the rough story I presented to him really resonated, so together we were able to come up with a way to express this story that we hoped would reflect the human condition. We needed one dancer to feature who would drive our narrative and that’s when Ashley suggested one of his students, Toyan ThomasBrowne, a young man with tremendous talent and passion for performing. Once we had a face to centre our narrative around, the rest of the story came together organically with Toyan’s wonderful performance to anchor the plot. It's important to remark that was made for made for the LGBTQ+ charity WERK for Peace. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once remarked that " ": what could be in your opinion in our unstable, everchanging contemporary age? In particular, does your artistic research respond to cultural moment? The charity WERK for Peace was formed as a response to the 2016 terrorist attack where 49 individuals were massacred while dancing at Pulse Nightclub, a gay bar in Orlando, Florida. Their mission is to use dance to promote peace and equality - often through huge, loud, glitter filled, dance parties masquerading as protests. As soon as I read about the charity, I knew I wanted to get involved. By turning a horrific event into a joyous celebration of life, love and the pursuit of equality for all - it’s so inspiring. We are living in crazy times. I can feel myself becoming more and more desensitised to news headlines which would have been


completely shocking just a few years ago. I’ve lived in some of the richest 1st-world countries as well as some of the poorest 3rd-world countries - I know first hand that some problems are universal, and some are culture bound. As a filmmaker, I tend to gravitate more towards the issues that are universal because sometimes I feel that I don’t really have my own culture because I was raised in so many so I treat my films the same way I treat meeting new people - I find common ground. With La La London, I knew that everyone at some point in their lives have felt like an outsider, so taking that universal truth and applying it to the larger issue of LGBTQ+ equality was my way of responding to the slow shift in that cultural movement. As an independent filmmaker, I know that my work will reach an audience, even if that audience is just a couple of people on their mobile phones - I still feel a responsibility to use this platform to promote causes that I feel are important, if not for the betterment of others, then for my own piece of mind - to know that I’ve made some effort to create social and/or cultural change. has drawn heavily from and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such powerful resonance between urban environment and choreographical gestures. How do you consider the relationship between environment and your creative process? I believe that environment can have a massive impact on the creative process. When I’m looking for inspiration, I love to sit and people watch in busy public places - train stations, museums, coffee shops, as long as I can sit and watch people going about their day to day lives, my mind will start creating stories.

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Women Cinemakers I find small spaces that are devoid of life incredibly constricting and one of my worst nightmares. If I can’t find something inspiring about an environment, I can feel myself being drained of creative energy which will inevitably make me miserable. I actually just moved out of a flat for that reason and it feels wonderful to be free and feel creative again. you sapiently mix choreographic In gestures with the ordinary qualities of the ambience, and we have appreciated the way such coherent combination addresses your audience to a multilayered experience. Art historian Ernst Gombrich once underlined the importance of providing a space for the viewer to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the illusion: how important is it for you to trigger the viewer's imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? I think as filmmakers, we have a responsibility to not only entertain our audience but to evoke an emotional response from them. There is nothing I love more than watching a film and coming out feeling like I’m somehow a slightly different person than I was before I watched the film. I think it’s so important to create art that evokes some kind of response, even if it’s not necessarily a positive response - to be able to ask yourself what it was that inspired, or moved you in response to what you’ve just watched, it’s so powerful. I would love nothing more than for someone to see something I’ve made and to come up to me and tell me that it made them


feel something because of their own personal association to the subject matter. I do find it quite fascinating when people see things in my work that I may not necessarily have consciously intended but can fully appreciate how they’ve responded to what I’ve put out there, so I would say I am very open to interpretation from others. Another interesting film that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled and can be viewed at . With its simple and the same time brilliantly structured storytelling, imparts unparalleled to the narration: we have found it particularly moving and we have appreciated the way it gives to the viewers the sense they are watching : would you tell how did you develop the structure of your film in order to achieve such moving authenticity? Moreover, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value? Being a woman in the arts can be really difficult. I sometimes feel that we have to work 10x harder than our male counterparts which is why we tend to over-prepare, over-analyse and overresearch everything we do. I put a lot of time into researching the different sign languages from around the world and story books for children that could be translated into British Sign Language. I find it a normal part of my process because I want my work to be as authentic as possible. Authenticity is a key-word in my life. In everything that I do (not just film) I strive to be as honest and authentic as possible. I don’t like playing mind-games. I rarely have ulterior motives. I 100% believe in karma. When I write stories, even stories that are

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Women Cinemakers not grounded in reality, I want them to come across as authentic as possible. I think a big part of that comes from the actors which is why I cast the wonderful actress Patricia Loveland as the main role of the grandmother - because she has grandchildren in real life and knows exactly what it’s like to work hard at something for the sake of making your family happy. It’s also why I cast Evie Mitchell to play her granddaughter, because Evie had never acted before and I wanted to work with a child who really was a child and not a “child actor”. She was naturally curious and a little bit nervous which was exactly the performance I was hoping to get. The storyline itself is so simple, I wanted to put a positive spin on the old saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” which is how I came to write a short story about a grandmother learning sign-language to read a bedtime story to her very young deaf grandchild. It’s the combination of the performances and the beautiful piano piece composed by Adam Orridge that allows the film to tug at the heartstrings in an authentic and moving way. reveals your ability to capture the expressive qualities of human body and has reminded of Gerhard Richter's quote, when he remarked that " ": as a director particularly interested in musicals, how do you consider the relationship between moving images and sound within your practice? Coupling songs with moving images has the ability to define reality and cement an action in our minds to shape our memories and evoke emotional response. When I was still learning about filmmaking, my favourite subject to shoot was my Godson, Hugo. Starting from when he was just


a few weeks old, I would film him weekly and as the months went past, I had hundreds of hours of footage of him that I decided to cut together to give to him (or his parents really) for his first birthday. I spent days deciding on which song to use as the audio track because I wanted it to be fun and upbeat but also serve as a heartwarming reminder of those days we had spent together. He’s 9 years old now and still loves to watch the videos I made of him when he was a baby and the songs that I chose are still so special between us. Anytime I hear one of those songs, I am transported back in time to those wonderful days spent with such an important person in my life. As a person who loves musicals, Sweet Dreams was almost the exact opposite of La La London in terms of sound and energy. Sweet Dreams is quiet and warm, a reminiscence of being put to bed as a small child. The piano piece feels woven into the story not the main focus as it was in La La London. It’s amazing how the tone of a film can be completely changed based on the music or sounds that you choose. Before leaving this conversation we want to use this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in cinema. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing: what's your view on the future of women in cinema? Do you think it is harder for women artists to have their projects green lit today? I think it’s incredibly difficult being a woman in cinema, but I do think things are changing. There are so many incredible women I look up to who are paving the way for directors like myself, creating opportunities, saying Times Up to predators

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Women Cinemakers who take advantage of women, even starting initiatives to get more female diversity into film criticism so that it more accurately represents the culture we live in. Getting projects green lit is a struggle, especially for women, but I’m optimistic for the future of women in cinema and truly hope that there will be a shift in the diversity of stories that make it to the big screen, preferably with women at the helm, and I hope to someday be one of those women. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Madeleine. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? At the moment I am working on two extremely different short films, one is an animation project that involves a musical number (of course!) the other is a dramatic short film set in Senegal. I’m extremely excited to make them, but both are in need of funding, so I’m working on securing the funds at the moment, which is never easy. I’m hoping my work will progress to making feature films that inspire people and tell beautiful, authentic stories. I was raised on Disney films, they shaped who I am as a person, so my dream is to one day be a director at Walt Disney Pictures, making films that will inspire the next generation of dreamers. Every project I make now I hope is a step in that direction. Walt Disney himself said “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” so that’s what I’m doing. Thank you for having me, I’ve loved getting stuck into these insightful questions! An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Andrea Goldman Lives and works in Los Angeles and New York City

As an artist, I’m dedicated to creating intimacy of the soul by opening new spaces, inspiring and sharing the truth of being. I focus on work that asks questions which open up uncomfortable spaces and places. Most of my work as an artist pushes the boundaries of form, genre, style and relishes in juxtaposition. I’m the cofounder of Viscus Film (www.viscusfilm.com) with my partner Marem Hassler. Viscus has garnered numerous laurels and festival recognition for its slate of shorts. We are currently in production with our first feature: Pen Pals. In 2010, I established the box collective (www.thebox-collective.com) as an artistic collaborative to promote a new kind of experiential theatre in the New York art scene & beyond. Original work has premiered in New York, New Zealand and throughout Europe. I believe in exploring provocative themes that hit the audience right in the gut--evoking visceral sensibilities and leaving a lasting imprint on the psyche. For more about my performance work: www.andreagoldmanweb.com

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

Captivating and refined in its balanced and effective storytelling, is a stimulating short film directed by Ayasylla Ghosn and brilliantly performed by Andrea Goldman: featuring gorgeous

cinematography and keen eye for the details, this captivating film offers an emotionally charged allegory of the human experience: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Goldman's captivating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Andrea and welcome to : to start this interview we


would like to invite our readers to visit

in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production. You have a solid formal training and you studied at New York Stella Adler Studio Conservatory and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, England: how did these experiences influence your artistic evolution? Stella Adler became my artistic home in the crazy busy city. It was a beautiful and inspirational experience. Studying at Stella Adler really emphasized the growth and evolution of the human being as the artistic being-fostering curiosity, ensemble and a true environment for risk-taking, and going beyond the comfort zone. A tremendous focus was on cultivating the imagination, discovering the artistic voice and heartbeat. One of the most significant events for me at Stella was meeting Marem Hassler, who became my best friend and creative collaborator. We now run Viscus Film together. I remember we had an assignment in one of our classes from the Kahlil Gibran book, The Prophet, where we were meant to create a performance piece from one of the sections. I chose the piece on Love. At that point, and probably still, I was obsessed with bathtubs and the filling and draining of bathwater as a metaphor for love. So I wrote this piece and shared it with her that involved me stripping naked in her living room. She said she knew then that we would be collaborators for the long haul. We went on to create a many experimental pieces in our

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Women Cinemakers free time, and this was the beginning of our filmmaking collaboration. I decided to go to England because I wanted to deeper understand the classical tradition and especially Shakespeare. A lot of my original work is more deconstructed and experimental in nature, but I believe understanding the building blocks and the most traditional forms is essential to deconstruct. Working at the Bristol Old Vic was challenging with a tremendous focus on technique and moving from a form and then filling it. I worked with some incredible teachers and directors. I think the combination of Stella Adler and the Bristol Old Vic gave me the tools to move both ways—outside in or inside out, and I’m grateful for that. Also, while I was over in the UK, I a performance started developing piece that we went on to do in Berlin with my company the box collective, and that was a life-changing experience and a step on the journey of finding my artistic voice. In particular, how does your cultural substratum as a creator of experiential performance direct the trajectory of your artistic research? I’m not interested in linear narratives. Most of my work is about challenging notions of time and how we experience emotions. It’s always interesting to me how time can extend and contract—how one minute waiting in the doctor’s office can feel like eternity, but kissing a lover who is leaving never to return can feel much to short. I like to explore narratives that deconstruct or new ways of telling stories, pushing up


against the traditional forms or genres and questioning

For this special edition of

them. I’m not super-interested in strict-realism. I enjoy

have selected

the exploration of where reality and the subconscious

that our readers have already started to get to know

collide, thus the language frequently ventures into the

in the introductory pages of this article. What has at

poetic. I enjoy charting the landscape of dreams and the

once captured our attention of your sapient

imagination, places where memories exist in the present.

narrative is the way it provides the viewers with such

New spaces, new places, new definitions of self and time.

we

, a captivating short film

. While walking our readers through the genesis of

, could


you tell us what did attract you to this particular story? This story was a serendipitous creation. I had to go to San Francisco for a meeting to see a performance space, and we thought let’s shoot something, why not. You can’t go to San Francisco and not think about the Golden Gate Bridge. So that was lingering in our minds. On the way up we crafted the story, the character, the

concept. It was very free-wheeling. Suicide is such a taboo subject in our society. It’s hard for people to talk about, it’s hard to think about, it’s skirted under the rug. I volunteered on a suicide crisis hotline during college and I would listen to the callers’ stories and feelings and try to help. So the challenge to really explore the psychology of a woman and her last moments and what she might be going through was riveting to us. In


my work, I’m focused on the creation of intimacy. How to create an intimate connection with myself as an artist and therefore with the viewer/audience. If I can open up spaces inside, then hopefully, spaces inside of whoever is watching will also unlock or unravel. Charting this journey, while uncomfortable, is also something that might be buried deep inside so many people who are scared to talk about it, or share their fears or thoughts. Just by bringing this portrait to the surface, I hope that it creates a dialogue on both a subconscious and conscious level. And those who may be in need of someone to talk to might indeed reach out and feel less alone. is elegantly From a visual point of view, composed and features stunning cinematography, with a keen eye for details: What were your when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? I threw this question to Ayasylla Ghosn, our director, who chose to shoot with the Sony A7S because it performs particularly well in low light conditions. “Since we were shooting entirely on location, we needed to have the freedom to move around darker areas and still get a clean image. As far as glass goes, we almost entirely shot this film with a 50mm 1.2 (Canon). Shooting at 1.2 allowed us to have the shallow depth of field I was looking for to create this dreamlike, surreal, hazy and almost claustrophobic visual style. We opted to shoot the Golden Gate Bridge scenes in the early hours of dawn to use the marine layer as a natural

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diffusion for sunlight. This gave us the very soft and diffused light we were looking for as we were trying to avoid harsh shadows and direct sunlight to properly shoot this dramatic scene We like the way you created entire scenarious out of : we have appreciated the way you created between your character's epiphanic journey and the viewers' emotional sphere. How did you develop your character and would you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of a performance ? How much importance does play in your practice? In this case, we wrote a script and then threw the script out and focused on the character living and breathing in the now. For me it was about finding this woman at the edge of her world and what she might be feeling, what thoughts were running through her head. Then Aya Ghosn and Marem Hassler would ask me questions and that’s how we created the dialogue. Ching Casanova-Tapia art directed the world and made sure it was vibrant and alive throughout. The shoot was very in the moment, very spontaneous and improvised. There was something so immediate about this character and her circumstances, that whatever came bursting through felt so much more palpable and necessary than what we had previously scripted. Depending on the work, it’s always a dance


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Women Cinemakers between the skeleton you’ve created in terms of script and what happens right there in the moment. I find building the infrastructure allows me the total freedom to twist, bend, contort and sometimes completely break it and honor what is happening in the moment. You have to have a team that you completely trust and have incredible communication with to work in this way-- and I’m so grateful for these women. Featuring essential and at the same time brilliant storytelling, escapes the boundaries of usual narrative, to inquire into an ever shifting internal struggle: as an artist particularly interested in exploring provocative themes that hit the audience right in the gut, what are you hoping will trigger in the audience? I don’t really like to put an expectation on what an audience will specifically think or feel. Across all of my work, I mainly hope that the audience feels something, that the breadth of their emotional spectrum is extended or something new opens up inside of them. In our current society, so many people are not living the full-extension of their humanity, shoved into cubicles, the breadth of their human emotional spectrum is narrowed and cut short. If this work holds up the mirror, gives breath and opening to something new to a part of themselves that is uncomfortable or unfamiliar that is the goal. It’s not about putting a name to that feeling or that space. I’m looking for the work to create an openness and allowing for the intimacy of self to flow.

We daresay that that you explored in , could be considered an effective allegory of human experience: how does your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process to address your choices regarding the stories you tell in your films? I’m constantly working towards as much transparency in my being as possible. Becoming quiet and still in order to hear the deeper vibrations of the universe and how we are part of an inter-connected system of energy. Long walks, long baths, meditation, spending time with trees, learning to listen, is all part of hearing the stories that I share. Right now, I’m very focused on the cultivation of joy. Falling in love with something everyday, whether it be a leaf or a wave or the way someone smiles. Also, trying something new all the time. Constantly being a beginner. Right now, I’m playing with watercolors. Being a beginner and that state of mind is all about living in the unknown, and that’s where we have to be to create without judgment. Traveling around the world is one of my largest sources of inspiration. I (co-created spent time on an original work, with Julia Watt, Christopher McElroen and Troy Hourie) in New Zealand. Before heading there, I was in the bathtub and I leaned forward to turn off the water and was completely paralyzed. It took me 40 minutes to crawl from the bathtub to the bed of my apartment to call someone. I laid on my back unable to move for 6 hours and finally called the ambulance.


I went to the hospital but all they wanted to do was give me drugs and knew I needed a deeper kind of healing. I had one week before having to get on the plane to New Zealand, so I went to various natural healers, energy workers, and a shaman. This deep excavation of self began a new journey for me, which is currently inspiring much of the world I’m creating. I traveled the South Island and the vibrations of the rivers and the seas and volcanoes were so loud and so vibrant. As artists we are shamans, transforming energy, telling stories, but we have to be open, we have to be able to hear the different languages, the unfamiliar, the new, the old vibrations, in order to share them. Marina Abramovic once remarked the importance of not just making work but ensuring that it’s seen : as an artist particularly interested in , how is in your opinion online technopshere affecting by the audience? Do you think that today is easier to a particular niche of viewers or that online technology will allow artist to extend to a broader number of viewers the interest towards a particular theme? I’m very old-school in many ways, but I do think that technology is allowing more visibility for less-mainstream work. There are so many artistic communities online, and technology allows easy access to finding those who vibe with your work-- sort of creating a tribe. So in that way, I

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Women Cinemakers think it’s effective for getting the word out, sharing work, creating a dialogue. I’m drawn to live performance because it’s about an experience in the now. With film and digital technologies it’s about how to create that now again and again. I sometimes think the reason we keep watching films we love is because each time we experience them something new in us is open or opening, which allows us to see something new in the work. All of the new digital platforms, like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are incredible for emerging filmmakers. The amount of original content being produced is amazing. You don’t have to wait for someone to make your film, you can go ahead and do it. And that is liberating. The moving sound tapestry by Dani Campos provides with a sense of intimacy as well as with an enigmatic atmosphere: how did you choose the audio commentaries for your videos? And how would you consider ? Dani Campos (http://www.danicampos.com) is my songwriting husband. We’ve worked together on the development of numerous theatre pieces. I write the lyrics and he creates the music, and it feels like a marriage of souls. For this piece, I knew he was the person to do the music because he composes from such a deep intuitive knowing place. I never tell him what to do..He instinctively knows. It’s such a beautiful collaboration we have. So in this


case, it wasn’t any different. We sent him the cut of the film and he worked his magic. Women are finding their voices in art: since Artemisia Gentileschi's times to our contemporary scene it has been a long process and it will be a long process but we have already seen lots of original awareness among women artists. Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in cinema. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? Everything is changing, especially given the movement. Women are stepping into the light and are now empowered. Female directors are garnering more and more recognition, and the numbers in the box office show how audiences want to see more work from a female perspective. For so long, the male lens has been directing what stories look like, what romance looks like, and sex. And it’s so important, which is what we are all about at Viscus Film and the box collective-- to create work that expresses the feminine POV. And it’s not always pretty. It’s about the exploration of the surprising, beautiful, but also perverse and unexpected facets of the feminine. At the box collective, we always say “we tell dirty stories” because it’s about embracing what society has dejected and deemed the “ugly” sides of women and rediscovering the beauty for

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Women Cinemakers ourselves. And at Viscus, it’s about the guts, the viscera, and not being afraid to delve deep. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Andrea. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Currently with Viscus Film we are working on our first feature, , that Marem Hassler wrote and is directing. We’ve already shot some very juicy scenes with Angela Rockwood and myself. I play a performance artist whose very being is about the orgasm and in this case with Octopuses. But overall the piece is about sex and intimacy from a female POV. It’s not always pretty nor is it covered in rose petals, but it’s gritty and it’s real. I just had the opportunity to work as an actress with one of my film director heroes, Nicholas Winding Refn, on his new series , coming soon to Amazon. His focus and passion was inspiring. I’m currently writing some new pieces, inspired by my travels to New Zealand and the shamanic journey. I’m actually writing it as a book, and it will translate into a film called As my work evolves, I hope it continues to raise the vibration, inspire breath, depth and curiosity. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Hale Ekinci Lives and works in Chicago, USA

Pictorial histories, identity, gender politics, and traditions from my Turkish upbringing form the basis of my visual vocabulary. My work can be compared to my main influence, indigenous textiles - colorful, pattern-based visuals derived from merging symbols with myth from which they acquire hidden significance and esoteric symbolism. Similarly, I explore my heritage, my alien status living in the US, and the rich history of “women’s work” through non-linear narrative videos and mixed media paintings that are juxtaposed with craft. Historically, textiles and photos are used as a place for recording information and telling stories - like a language, at times hard to decipher. As a foreigner, I’m fascinated by language, especially idioms, systems of communication, and approaching the indigenous visual patterns as a form of typography. I transfer collaged photos of collectives and families onto paper and fabric surfaces; figures painted atop the works act as focal points. Framed with crochet edgings, these pictorial scenes are presented like tapestries and headscarves, telling my sometimes-cryptic personal folklore of mixed language, politics, and spectacle. Applying techniques of collage to the moving image, my multi-layered, animated videos explore immigrant identity as seen from both Turkish and foreign perspectives. Using a combination of field video, green screen, still images, and drawings, I craft non-linear narratives where relations, identity conventions, rituals, and women’s issues result in tense scenes that reflect the universal bizarreness of traditions and stereotypes.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

couple of questions regarding your background.

and Dora S. Tennant

You have a solid formal training and you hold a

womencinemaker@berlin.com

MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media, that you

Hello Hale and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would like to introduce you to our readers with a

received from the prestigious Columbia College Chicago: how did this experience influence your


evolution as an artist? My MFA was a turning point for my body of work. A lot of my process and things that I do started from the experiments I did and the classes at Columbia College. Until then, I had never dabbled in creative writing. I started to write absurdist short stories at Word and Image class with Sherry Antonini, which then became the basis of my video work. I continued to take some other creative writing classes at their prestigious Creative Writing MFA program which helped me develop my writing voice and produce a group of text to work from. I developed my collage-like video style during an independent study with Paul Catanese. Using the green screen and After Effects were all things I started to do at Columbia. In other words, the style of video work I do today is based on my days at grad school. You are an eclectic artist and your versatile practice reveals the ability of crossing from a media to another: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit http://haleekinci.org in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: would you tell us what does address you to such captivating multidisciplinary approach? How do you select a medium in order to explore a particular theme? I come from a truly interdisciplinary background. In high school, I was a science focused student. At undergraduate, I double majored in Art and Computer Science. Most of my network are non-artists from all kinds of disciplines like sociology and economics to finance. As a curious person, I

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Women Cinemakers find it hard to do the same thing over and over again. So I often teach myself new techniques or take workshops to add to my process. For example, the most recent embroidery painting series started from a very short workshop I took at ACRE, an artist residency in Chicago and Wisconsin. That being said, I have some go to processes for certain things. Because it is very time consuming, video is something I go back to mostly in the summer when I have time off thanks to my full-time work in academia. I use these to tell more detailed stories, make commentary on topics important to me, and use humor. Video work allows me to be specific and playful at the same time, I feel like it is the closest I get to relay my voice in full. In my 2D work, collage is the basis of everything. The rest of the mediums are dependant on the themes I work with. For the portrait series, I wanted to go really big to be able to show a mosaic of a large selection of collective photos. The embroidery series is very personal and thus uses techniques from women’s work to emphasize that personal connection to my heritage and family. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected Almanci Bride, an extremely interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/218166764. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into Turkish traditional ceremony of “asking permission to marry� is the way it addresses the viewers to such unconventional and multilayered experience. While walking our readers through the genesis of Almanci Bride, could you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? A lot of my video work touch on traditions and rituals that when seen from outside seem absurd. I focus on such a


tradition in each video, add my own twist to it, and push it to a level of bizarreness that I hope reflects the complex human condition. Almanci Bride was created at an artist residency, MOMENTUM, in Berlin. I actually wrote the story, filmed, and edited the whole thing while I was in Berlin. When I arrived there, I knew I wanted to do something about the large Turkish immigrant population. I started to write about all the stereotypes that I knew and researched about them and the immigrants that I knew myself. The neighbor character is actually someone I knew growing up that would come visit his sister and mom who lived across from us. As I said earlier, I always have a main action/ritual that things revolve around. The sister brother relationship made me think of the ceremony of “asking permission to marry”. The neighbor girl did not have a father, so the immigrant brother would be the person to lead the ceremony. So I started to explore what this scene would be like and the rest came from my imagination. Almanci Bride is centered on exploration of the stereotypes of Turkish immigrant identity as seen from both Turkish and foreign perspectives. How does the relationship betwen your cultural heritage due to your Turkish roots and your current alien status living in the US direct the trajectory of your artistic research? Theorist Homi Bhabha describes the condition “inbetweenness” as the focus of art about displacement on the journey itself, the condition of being in transit between places with different languages, customs, material culture and ideas. My work utilizes the experience of “inbetweenness” in order to create a new hybrid identity that

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draws on the physical surroundings and cultural climate of the new place. So when I look at a Turkish tradition that I grew up with, I no longer see it as an accepted “normal”; my vision is muddied with the Western gaze and I start to see it differently: more absurd, more nostalgic, more creative. I approach these rituals as almost a creative cultural anthropologist as well as someone that participated in them. So I am both the owner and the observer of the practice. Besides the experiential access I have to these traditions, I do research into their origins and also am inadvertently embedding an outsider’s perspective as I refer to them in my work. I often mention that if I was making work in Turkey, it would probably be exploring the American culture based on my experiences here and being away from it. Almanci Bride has drawn heavily from the specifics of the surrounding, incorporating both realistic abstract environment as background and and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such insightful resonance between space and movement: how did you select the locations and how did they affect your video? That was a very DIY project. I actually set up my green screen in the apartment where I stayed at the MOMENTUM residency and all the actors were either my friends that lived in Berlin or the other artist residents. Some of the scenes were filmed outside in Berlin where there was a heavy Turkish population. In other words, I had to make do with what I had access to, which I believe is a good challenge to have; creative limitations usually result in more refined outcomes. A lot of the images were found imagery or drawn from things that I had. I don’t usually represent scenes as they are, I believe that things are much more multifaceted


and complex than they appear. I try to reflect this using layers of imagery in each scene. Therefore the green screen actors sometimes becomes silhouettes that reveal the scenery. So the scenes that I filmed in real life Berlin got obscured with the layering of silhouettes and multiple blended videos. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re living under": as an artist particularly interested in social issues, cultural stereotypes, and political unrest, how do you consider the role of artists in our unstable and globalised contemporary age? In particular, does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? I am very glad that you brought up this quote from Gabriel Orozco. I absolutely agree with him. As I briefly mentioned, the reason why I am focusing on my Turkish heritage is because I live away from it and if I went back to living in Turkey, I would probably look at the American culture that I have been living in for over a decade now. My work used to be more about traditions and memory, but in recent years it has become more and more political due to the particular cultural moment as you said it. 2013 Gezi Park protests was the beginning of my inclusion of politics into my work, partially because I was so frustrated being away from it and reading about it and hearing from friends there. Besides being angry at Turkish politics, I realized, as a “global” citizen, I was also frustrated with the approach of the outside world toward it, how shallow

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Women Cinemakers the coverage was and how devoid of the intricacies of the situation the explanations were. Putting myself in the “inbetween” position again, I started to embed the protests in my work in different ways. This resulted in discussion of Turkish politics whenever I presented my work. I do not intend to be a Turkish ambassador or the representative of Turkish politics, but I believe as a global artist that I have an advantaged position of being able to deepen the conversation to point out diverse perspectives of the moment at hand and problematize our understandings of global issues to be more vigilant about our approach as informed individuals. We like that way through your work you invite the viewers to question the way women’s identity is constructed through the perception of others, in our globalized still patriarchal and male-oriented age. Not to mention that these days almost everything, from Maurizio Cattelan's 'The Ninth Hour' to MartaMinujín's 'Reading the News', could be considered political: do you think that your artistic practice could be considered political, in a certain sense? In particular, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value? This actually came up at a panel I participated in at Kolaj Festival in New Orleans last week and someone mentioned that in this day and age, the mere act of making art is a political stance. I find this a charming idea. That being said, I think making art especially as a woman, especially as a migrant in the US, especially as someone from the Middle East region makes it even more political. By simply putting my name in exhibition lists, I am adding something that


Women Cinemakers

would otherwise be unrepresented to the discourse. Considering how the world is still so patriarchal and maleoriented as you mentioned, I don’t know if being a woman provides “special value”, if anything, it probably makes it undervalued. However, personally, I find it valuable to be the “minority” in the field; it makes me work harder, strive for more, and share my successes as not only a personal benefit, but a positive for all women in arts. It’s almost like besides your personality, you have an identity that is beyond you.

To emphasize the ubiquitous bond between everyday life's experience and creative process British visual artist Chris Ofili once remarked that "creativity's to do with improvisation - what's happening around you". How does everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? Whenever something makes me laugh, especially if it’s a cultural habit, I always stop and think if I could use it in my work. I often take notes at random places throughout the day, take photos of cultural patterns, and write down


Women Cinemakers

anything that could one day inform my work - like a quote or someone’s behaviour. So conceptually, I am constantly observing my surroundings to excavate potential material for art. Physically, my process is very influenced by domestic labor, women’s work (especially crafts), and mundane tasks. All of these are overlooked and undervalued, presumably because they are practiced by women in a patriarchal society. My work often uses these undervalued practices either literally like in my use of embroidery or crochet or conceptually like in my videos. My most recent videos Making of an Amulet

http://haleekinci.org/making-of-an-amulet/ and The GĂźn (a.k.a. Gold Day) http://haleekinci.org/gold-day/ revolve around these chores associated with women and giving them more worth. An interesting aspect of your practice is the fact that you are concerned in making the viewers aware of your process: we find this decision particularly interesting since it seems to reveal that you do not want to limit yourself to trigger the audience perceptual parameters, but that you aim to address


the viewers to evolve from a condition of mere spectatoship. Are you particularly interested in structuring your work in order to urge the viewers to elaborate personal associations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? I often worry that I am revealing too much and not letting the viewer have enough agency to have their own interpretations. I do not want my work to be didactic or spoon-feed them everything. The feedback I receive seems to reveal that this is luckily not the case, especially since some of my topics are so familiar to me but not to my American audience. I want the audience to interpret my work based on their own context and life. That being said, I of course have certain hopes for what I achieve in my audience. I hope they see that we are all so connected in our humanity no matter where we are from. That we all live similar traumas, excitements, and experiences even if they manifest in different ways. I hope that they get fascinated with a culture that they are unfamiliar with and feel intrigued to explore. Finally, I hope that they laugh and feel warm inside, because at the end of the day laughing is the best individual act that we can all do against this life that can be harsh and out of our control sometimes (not to mention that I laugh a lot myself and enjoy doing so!). We have appreciated the originality of your artistic research and before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in the contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been

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Women Cinemakers discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades women are finding their voices in art: how would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? As an unconventional artist, I often find myself confused about where my practice belongs. We don’t notice this, but a lot of the artistic venues still use traditional disciplines as they represent art. I rarely find art calls that disregard the discipline. It is too common that exhibitions revolve around painting, photography, or sculpture, and too often my work is never one or the other. So oftentimes, I feel like I miss out on opportunities merely because I don’t know where I belong, but sometimes it becomes an advantage, especially when the approach is more on the concept rather than the medium. If the call is about the concepts that revolve around identity, culture, politics, globalization, then I find that I belong. On the broader topic of women artists in general, I hope that one day soon people “put their money where their mouth is”. It is great that the art world has been more reflective of its sexist and racist tendencies, that there is more awareness of inequality of representation, that there is more emphasis on women artists and artists of color and decolonization. However, in practice, it is still nowhere near the level it needs to be. Major exhibitions and film industry still heavily rely on white males. I hope that one day the trend will be reflected in the numbers. Unfortunately, I think a future like this is not very near.


Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Hale. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I just got back from another artist residency where I created fiber based participatory installation http://haleekinci.org/your-haint-blue-is-my-evil-eye/ and a video inspired by the process of making them http://haleekinci.org/making-of-an-amulet/ as an exploration of adding “value” to domestic labor. It is still very new, but I am interested in continuing to explore this by adding different iterations where I physically make objects using traditional women’s work and expand the work by turning the process into a magical realist video. I plan to push the presentation of these into projection mappings of videos onto the sculptural fiber works. I am also playing with the idea of incorporating American culture into my cultural heritage exploration. I recently got married and my husband is from Indiana. Being personally involved in the traditions of my new family located in the “crossroads of America” (this is the motto of the State of Indiana), I think I am starting to feel comfortable in playing with the representation of American culture as an element in my “hybrid” cultural identity and exploration of traditions. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

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Women Cinemakers meets

Spela Francic Lives and works in Bristol, United Kingdom

People often ask me what my religion is and my answer always leads to their confusion. I believe in Truth. I swear by honest communication and authentic expression of my inner self. I tend to paint, draw and capture all that resembles the depths of my mind, which enables me to connect to the world around me on a deeper level. "As within, so without" is the most accurate representation of my artistic creations. I experience the process as a spiritual practice and use it as a necessary tool which helps me achieve mental balance and happiness. I also like to offer myself up as an open book and shamelessly lay out my dreams, views and insecurities in the hopes of encouraging others to feel safe to do the same - my purpose is to seek out brave souls with whom I can enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of human imperfections. Unleashing creativity helps me heal negative perceptions I hold of myself and enables me to abandon all the boxes that society has placed me in so eagerly over the years. My art is a reflection of life lessons disguised as a tea party with Madness and Individuality as the guests of honour. This occurrence is where light, love and life are celebrated in the most quiet manner, with occasional sparks of powerful rave-like excitement. And, of course, everyone's invited to join in.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

Alone is an intimate portrayal of one woman's healing journey from unnerving isolation to total acceptance of life as it is: through a sapient narrative style, London based artist Spela Francic has created an experimental allegorical film capable of

drawing the viewers to question the relationship between memory and experience. Unveiling the resonance between gestures and environment, this brilliant film draws the viewers to a multilayered and heightened visual experience, to encapsulate the notion of self identity: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Francic's captivating and multifaceted artistic production.


Hello Spela and welcome to : we would like to invite our readers to visit http://spelafrancicart.com and we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training and after having gained experience at the local amateur theatre group in your native country, you moved to the United Kingdom to nurture your education at the Contemporary Theatre and Performance at UCLan in Preston: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum due to your Slovenian roots direct the trajectory of your artistic research? As a child I would always find a reason to perform anything I could think of to my friends and family, and I was the one that knew all the movies, actors and directors. What really gripped me from an early age were the bloopers and behind the scenes excerpts, from which I got that exciting glimpse into the world of film production. I was fascinated by actors breaking out of their characters and seeing all the cameras and equipment. It envoked a strong longing in me to be a part of the filmmaking process, I just wasn't quite sure in which way. As a teenager I wanted to study acting at AGRFT in Ljubljana, but something didn't feel right‌ I wanted to approach performance in a different manner to classical acting. I was looking for something that would sweep me off my feet and ignite my artistic passion. My dad's an artist, so I tried fine art. My mum's a Slovene language teacher, so I tried poetry. I became a teenager predominantly occupied with the arts (ignoring everything else, including school and all the boys that came with the package), but couldn't find my thing. Good thing about life is that most of the inspirational quotes we so passively scroll past on Facebook actually make sense. In my case, good things came to those who waited. I must've been around 15 years old when I stumbled across an open rehersal in Koper's town square while on holidays with my family. Seeing TomaŞ Pandur in action as this amazingly passionate and visionary theatre director brought along that gush of fresh air that I've been waiting for. Since then, I became slightly obsessed with Pandur's Theatre of Dreams. It gave me the same excitement as all those bloopers that I used to watch over and over again by (sometimes

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Women Cinemakers manually) rewinding the video tape. This was no ordinary theatre, I never saw anything like it, and I desperately wanted to be right in the middle of it! Pandur was responsible for triggering my great love of theatre and was the reason I joined my local amateur theatre group in  renťovci to gain as much stage experience as possible. It just so happened that my sister was studying at UCLan in Preston at the time, and after a quick flick through university's course catalogue, I had found the right course for me that definitely didn't exist in my country; Contemporary Theatre and Performance! As I started my studies I was immediately able to draw many parallels between Robert Wilson and TomaŞ Pandur and concluded my course with a dissertation on surrealism in visual theatre. I have also developed a strong interest in circus arts and physical theatre, with DV8's performance films high on the top of my favourites list. As an only foreign student on my course I faced a lot of inner shame concerning my Eastern European accent, seeing it as something that would compromise my performance. That shifted my attention to expressing myself with my body rather than words, and pushed me to start experimenting with theatre directing. The great part about my course was the devising process, which enabled me to try myself out as both a director and a performer. I found myself finally being able to express my creative ideas and bring them to life on stage. As years passed I became more accepting of my origin and started incorporating aspects of it in my performance art, such as folklore dancing and poetry. I originate from the Eastern region of Slovenia called Prekmurje, that used to be separated from the rest of the country by river Mura, and that fog of separateness still hovers over us to this day. It's a farmer's region with a peculiar dialect that the rest of Slovenians find extremely hard to understand. I've always felt quite different from my environment the same way Prekmurje feels different from the rest of the country. Slovenia broke off from Yugoslavia a few months after my birth, and I feel like we grew up simultaneously, both of us looking fiercly for our identities. Complete acceptance of my Slovenian roots came with my emotional maturity, and only now I am able to see it as a part of me. I see my region Prekmurje as my basis for everything I do, as a place where my strong foundations were laid down in the past. I find it essential to be connected to my roots to be able to live a happy and balanced life in other parts of the world. People of Prekmurje are deeply connected to


nature, and this appreciation is always going to be a huge part of me. I feel completely at home in nature and a few places around the world, especially Bristol. At the end of the day I cherish the fact that I borrowed my body from Earth and that one day I will have to return it. I strive to portray this appreciation on film and in my photography. we have For this special edition of selected , an extremely interesting experimental film that our readers have already started tog et to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at https://youtu.be/auYvvNYld4s. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the relationship

between memory and experience is the way the results of your artists research provides the viewers with such an intense visual and at the same time multilayered visual experience. , While walking our readers through the genesis of would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? I believe that the most mesmerizing pieces of art are born from intense pain or a memory of it. Everyone can relate to this emotion, as we've all experienced mental anguish at some point in our lives. Mine came from a deep heartbreak at the end of summer of 2017. To contradict myself slightly, I experienced a surprisingly positive break-up, everything about it was very respectful and loving. It felt like two people that really loved


eachother came to an agreement to part ways, as there was too much compromise that had to take place, resulting in unhappiness. The whole situation might have been amicable, but it felt like a huge piece of me has been ripped out of my chest and I couldn't even scream. Sounds like a cliche, but people say that for a reason (and they're really not over-reacting)! Despite the pride inducing fact that me and my ex were so alarmingly grown up about the break-up, someone still had to get dumped. I guess I pulled the shorter straw, which destroyed my ego. I wore the title of ‘Never Been Dumped Before’ with my head held as high as possible before it got taken away from me so unexpectedly. I remember being constantly sad and crying for a good few months. I hit rock bottom and left London to live with

my parents in Slovenia. “26, dumped and broke” could've been written on my gravestone for all I cared, but there was one highlight that I had to look forward to: a meditation retreat in Thailand. I spent seven days sitting in meditation (I slept as well) with the most unusual creatures crawling over my motionless body in Dipabhavan Meditation Centre deep in the jungle of Koh Samui. I experienced a great amount of healing, which lifted my creative block that lasted for nearly a decade. After the retreat I was expressing myself creatively in any way I could think of. I didn't need anyone to keep me company and ate purely for survival reasons. My creative outpour and the need for emotional healing had turned me into an ultimate hermit! Alone was born as a vision when walking my dog in the stillness of the woods


close to my home. I started seeing individual scenes play out in my mind while going over my most painful memories. I first tried to paint and draw what I was seeing before realising I could simply make a short film with my DSLR camera. The process was the most enjoyable (but definitely not the simplest) thing I've ever experienced, which pushed me even further into my self-imposed isolation. The visions kept on coming, and I started getting to know the deepest parts of myself, which shifted my own perception of self. I came to see myself as a powerful independent woman that could thrive beautifully without being in a co-dependent relationship with a man. Alone was laid out to be an ode to female empowerment, but gained a lot of depth throughout the filming process by uncovering old emotional wounds that I never knew existed. This film pushed me to embark on a self-healing journey, with a sole purpose of accepting everything as it was. It showed me I wasn't as powerful as I thought I was. I was lonelier and more fragile than I was badass, and that was perfectly fine. Positivity and hope helped me emerge on the bright side of the process. When I finished editing the film I felt a tonne lighter, ready to conclude my isolation and experience life with all its mistakes all over again. Elegantly shot, features minimalistic still effective landscape cinematography marked out with keen eye for details, capable of orchestrating realism with intimate visionary: influence your aesthetic decisions when shooting? In particular, how did you structure your editing process in order to achieve such brilliant results? First and foremost, I wanted to portray the meditative stilness that comes with complete solace and its power to simplify over-bearing thoughts. As I stood amongst the trees silently and completely present in the moment by focussing on a single spot in the woods during filming, I wanted to share that experience with the viewer. My aim was to bring them to my own personal sanctuary, a place where noone can see them, hear them or judge them. Just them, exactly as they are, stripped of all the masks that make them fit in with the rest of the world. Complete acceptance. I used handheld camera

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Women Cinemakers technique to bring them right in the middle of the woods without trying to make it look too much like the Blair Witch Project, which was a hard thing to do with an eerie abandoned house as the main focal point. The house itself, although intriguing, was used as a reminder that even though the isolation has been self-imposed it's still perceived as extremely uncomfortable. The shaky camera technique was also used to film the close ups of the bodies, especially the eyes, which have been my main motive in both photography and fine art. I try and look people deep in the eye when communicating with them, because I feel I can get to know their true selves better that way. I'm infatuated with honesty and eyes are that beautiful organ that are too pure to carry lies. I added a grainy effect to close-ups in post-production to achieve a resemblance to a hazy memory, extracted deep from the mind, yet still clear enough to notice those quirky little details on a person's body. I find it amusing how many people view them as imperfections and attach a lot of shame to them. I strive to highlight these details and portray them as what they actually are: beautiful! Female form has been making an appearance since the very beginning of my experimentation with art and has helped me appreciate my gender as incredibly strong, sacred and inspirational. My sister and my mother both appear in this film, and if my grandmother was alive, I'd include her too! Filming their bodies (and mine) deepened our connection and shed a light on the bond that links two generations of women. We come together and support eachother in the battle against all the shame that the society has been imposing on us concerning our position, sexuality and our bodies. To touch on the production side of the film, it started by transferring my visual ideas into storyboards, but I ensured a lot of space for improvisation during the filming process. I have never edited a film before, so I decided to trust my sense of aesthetics. I had a general idea of what kind of shots I wanted: short close-up inserts (memories) that resembled straccato in music with the power of focussing the viewer's attention to a single motive and then cut abruptly back into the Now. I played for days with various combinations to achieve the most striking effect. Soundtrack was


one of the most important components in the process. I've edited the scenes according to the beat and the flow of music, similarly to the way my ideas were born; by hearing a piece of music and playing out the entire scene in my head. The dance (dream) scene was left extremely dark on purpose to resemble one's inner mind when facing isolation; it's dark, full of void, yet inhabited by hope. By keeping the scenes dark and blurry at times I wanted to create an intimate and extremely vulnerable space, to which the spectator has access, but only to a certain degree. White underwear provided a contrast to the dark surroundings and brought innocence into the equation, building parralles with symbolism so often present in visual theatre. leaps off the screen for its essential still effective mise-enscĂŠne and its hypnotic suspension of time: we have particularly appreciated the way it creates unparalleled visions on : what do you hope will trigger in the audience? In particular, how much importance does play for you the chance of inviting the viewers to elaborate personal associations? As mentioned before, my aim was to make Alone as intimate as possible. It was initially made for a private showing to a close circle of family and friends, but instead became an opportunity to overcome my shame and fear of criticism by submitting it to the bienniale. That's the most vulnerable I've felt, but knowing that I laid my authenticity and honesty into the film kept me strong and believing in myself. I'd like that to be my message to the viewers. I'm hoping Alone can trigger that vulnerability in people and encourage them to open up about their insecurities. It horrifies me to think how many people wear masks and are too scared of showing their true selves because they fear criticism and want to please others. I was one of them not even a year ago! This is the way we've been brought up in this society and it does not suprise me at all that so many of us find ourselves truly alone even when surrounded by people. How can we feel connected to others if we're too afraid to show our true selves? This is a growing problem, especially in the younger population. The fact is, we can't avoid feeling lonely at some point in our lives, so it's

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Women Cinemakers a highly beneficial we learn how to make peace with being alone, as scary as it may sound. Alone is an invitation for viewers to think about what they find unsettling about solitude and how they can address it in a constructive manner. As discussed previously, the process of making the film has forced me to face my own fears and gave me no other choice but to accept them as a part of me, which strangely set me free. I am certain many viewers have felt the same way at the end of their relationships, and such experiences connect us as humans. Hopefully it will remind people that they're really not alone and that we're all in this together. Even though this film was created as a mean of self-expression, I'm really hoping it will bring light to anyone undergoing isolation. Afterall, life is just a game of our own design, so what could actually go wrong? draws heavily from the specifics of environments and as you have remarked once, over the years you have developed a strong interest in abandoned buildings: we have highly appreciated the way you have created such powerful resonance between the location and the atmosphere that floats around the story: how did you select the locations and how did they influence your shooting process? Abandoned buildings have played a great role in my childhood. I found growing up in a sleepy rural village extremely adventurous. That's where the differences between boys and girls became irrelevant. We, the street kids, as we called ourselves, all played football, built tree houses in the forest and erected bridges over what seemed to be the widest streams. The biggest part of our adventures were 'expeditions' to abandoned buildings that brought our inner Indiana Jones to the surface. Our most commonly visited sites were an abandoned school nearby and at least a couple of houses left behind in a hurry by their previous owners. One of these became an inspiration and the setting for Alone. I have a heap of memories that tie me to that house, and it fascinates me to think how many memories the house holds from the times long before I was born. I like to imagine how it was like when life inhabited the building, which fills me with an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia. Just like nature, there is something calmingly still about such buildings. They remain my main focus in photography and inspire me to travel the world in search of abandoned


buildings waiting to be documented on camera. Visiting such places gives me an opportunity to bathe in solitude, ponder life and receive artistic inspiration. The setting for Alone is a little sneak peek into my roots, my past and my solid foundations that make me a strong person now. Deviating from traditional filmmaking, we daresay that your artistic research subverts the notion of non lieu elaborated by French anthropologist Marc AugĂŠ, to highlinght the ubiquitous instertitial points and mutual influences between human interaction with environment: how do you consider the role of direct experience as starting point for your artistic research? In particular, how do the details that you capture during daily life fuel your artistic research? I have never been able to create something I didn't feel strongly about. On some level I believe everything I create is derived from my personal experiences, mainly because I use my artistic expression as a medium for healing emotional traumas, changing negative self-beliefs and reprogramming limiting patterns of thinking. The locations of my filming or the motives in my photography hold an emotional attachment and have held an important part in my personal and spiritual development. Spirituality (not to be confused with religion) and mindfulness have been strongly present in my life since a very young age, and I've always been seeking out ways to better myself and spread more love and positivity. It's quite interesting to see how my art's evolved throughout the years. Teenagehood was my darkest time and consequently most of my painting and drawings consisted of dark colours and heavy linework. The older and more balanced I got by practising yoga and meditation, the lighter and more vibrant colours seemed to have made its way onto the canvas. Making art enables me recognise the sorrow and pain that follow us in our human experience, accept it, and transform it into light. It's how I see life; it may be hard, but it's fantastic! We have highly appreciated the way Alone challenges the spectatorship's perceptual parameters to explore the struggle between reality and dreamlike dimension, your film provides the viewers them with a unique multilayered visual experience: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination within your process?

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Women Cinemakers I am the sort of person that when asked to draw a chair in realistic proportions will draw an Elven throne from a parallel universe instead. It's why fine art school and I were never meant to be. My imagination has always run wild and free to the point where I'd struggle to determine the line between dreams, spiritual experiences and reality. I wanted to bring these blurred lines into my film and expose the viewers to my train of thought. Such mental process brings a magical tincture to life, and makes everything a lot more exciting! I'm keen to explore the concept of reality and how others see it. I find it to be highly subjective, and therefore impossible to define. Imagination and dreams often influence someone's waking life, for example, have you ever dreamt of your partner cheating on you and being angry with them the following day? Or being upset by someone in waking life and punching them in the face in your dreams? Robert Wilson's managed to recreate that dreamlike state purely by creating a surreal theatre full of symbolism and dream state visuals. Slowing down time plays an important role in his process, and drawing from that I wanted to experiment with the idea of dreams and memories spinning out of control and taking over reality, resembling a panic attack. The mask present in the film serves as a reminder of the dreams that have come to pass and acts as a symbol of shame that's been shedded for good. Sound plays an important role in your film, providing the footage with such a both ethereal and dramatic quality capable of challenging the viewers' perceptual categories: how do you consider the relationship between and sound and the flow of images playing within your work? To continue with imagination and its role in the creative process, my mind would always create music videos when listening to songs. I find it important as well as beneficial to equip life with a brilliant soundtrack that gets the juices flowing, and that's what I tried to do with my film as well. I played with the idea of adding a single song to my short film, making it a sort of music video, but abandoned it after realising that the mood changes in the film needed to be accompanied by corresponding pieces of music. I've been on a mission to seek out good quality music since an early age, which made me appreciate most genres. I found a number of artists that I resonate with the most, one of them being Tom Waits. His music has become my signature in devising theatre, and it felt extremely appropriate to re-use Green Grass


(covered by Cibelle) in the film. The pain and sadness that the song emanates really gripped me tightly and summed up my experience of love. I decided to counteract it with Billy Idol's Dancing With Myself, as a celebration of finding my peace with the solitude. As discussed previously, music acts as a basis for my film and gives tempo to the story. I learned how to read music in piano school and wanted to transfer that knowldge to the dynamics of the film by thinking of it as a piece of music. The film's plot intensifies and fades out with the soundtrack. I also felt like it was important to provide an opposite effect with live sounds captured during filming to accenuate the silence and the feeling of solitude that I was exposed to at the time. Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing: what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? It appears (and appeals) to me that women have started cherishing their own sensuality and more recently, that we're shaking off that ever present shame that's been forced upon us throughout the evolution. Women speaking up their minds have made a massive difference to the way females are perceived by men, but there is still a lot of progress that needs to be done. Such happenings around the world have influenced women to open up about their experiences, affecting the way in which women use their art. It seems to be an ongoing trend to share exactly how you feel, and I must say I am a big supporter of such blunt honesty. 'Uncommon' art is an authentic expression of how we see the world. It's not concerned with pleasing the audience, and it's a direct result of women starting to please themselves over others. It's a powerful place to come from both artistically and emotionally. Contemporary art scene nowadays and in the future is looking to be more concerned with being a statement rather than relying solely on its aesthetics. I'd like to stress again that in vulnerability lies true power. The most fascinating people that I look up to have this amazing and contagious energy about them. I believe that's a consequence of perfect balance between their inner feminine and masculine energies. It's exciting to

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Women Cinemakers see women coming together by covering eachother's backs and abandoning the old mentality of seeing eachother as a competition. I believe sisterhood and compassion will be highly present in contemporary art scene in the future, as well as bluntness and erradication of censorship. Now is the time when we can be loud and proud about how it’s really like to be a woman. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Spela. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I'd like to express my gratitude for this opportunity to be open about my work, it's been a plasure. After I've finished Alone, I moved to Bristol and have been living life to the fullest. I'm currently working on my new short film called Alive, a continuation of the series of short films that I've been making under The Madhouse Collective. As the name suggests, Alive will be an ode to life that can be found in simple pleasures, such as taking in all the lovely colours of the grafitti on the way to work, the excitement of finding a little nature oasis in the middle of a lively city, or being in awe of that magical twinkle in the eyes of the person you love. I intend to focus on bodies in their natural state and in their natural habitat, as well as paying homage to my roots by using poetry from my region of Prekmurje. And, of course, there will be plenty of inspiring music to wrap it all up. I am hoping to enrol into a Filmmaking course in the next few years and continue to experiment with my art. I'd love to try myself out in creating unusual music videos for the bands I support and play with stop-motion technique, as used by Billy Corgan and Yelena Yemchuk in the music video for The Smashing Pumpkin's Thirty-Three. I also aim to bring creatives around the world together – it's what The Madhouse Collective was established for. It started off as a household of creative (and unusual) people that collaborated on art projects in Liverpool a few years ago. Since then, the original members have been dispersed around the world but I'd like to take this opportunity to invite new potential members from all around the world to join us in future collaborations. The Madhouse Collective is a safe space where everyone is encouraged to share their artistic ideas, thoughts and feelings. We want our members to feel connected and appreciated, and offer them a platform for emotional or artistic support. It's good to enjoy solitude from time to An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

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