ENYA BELAK ALBA MORÍN KRISTEN BROWN ADALI TORRES SARAH BETH WOODS DASCHA ESSELIUS PAULINE PASTRY HEIKE SALZER FUMI GOMEZ CRISTIANA FORTE
INDEPENDENT Enya Belak
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Contents 04 Enya Belak
138 Dascha Esselius
Sarah Beth Woods
Hear The Glow of Electric Lights
La limite élastique
Women Cinemakers meets
Enya Belak Lives and works between London and Ljubljana
A life is made of moments, pieces of a puzzle engraved in a world of senses. You shall now meet Zoe, a beautiful flame divided through the darkness of her addiction. The film will be constructed as a puzzle with missing pieces in the same way that its main character Zoe, a young woman struggling with drug addiction, remains a puzzle for the people crossing her path. Each piece of the puzzle will be a moment in Zoe’s life seen through different perspectives. It is through the eyes of her father, sister, daughter and a chance encounter that we will come to know her. Without dismissing the difficult and ambiguous relationships with those closest to her and also the internal struggle she is faced with, our main goal is to portray her as a human being rather than someone who has no place in society. We do not want to explain or judge, simply remind the audience of the beauty and love that Zoe possesses despite her flaws.
An interview by Francis L. Quettier
exploring a broken relationship caused by heroin
and Dora S. Tennant
addiction. This captivating work addresses the
viewers to such heightened and multilayered
Luminary is a captivating short film by London based
experiences, and to an insightful and cliché-free
artist, choreographer and director Enya Belak:
exploration of the concepts of memory and love.
Women Cinemakers Featuring a brilliant approach to composition and sapient cinematography, Luminary is a successful attempt at creating a captivating allegory of the human condition. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Belak's multifaceted and stimulating artistic production.
I learnt the discipline of shooting a film just by watching him at work. It was the best film school I could ask for, but I wanted to find my own way in the cinema world. I followed my dreams of being a dancer and choreographer. I have always been inspired by different forms of art, so filming
Hello Enya and welcome to
my dance projects was inevitable. That is how I
: we would like to invite
our readers to visit
order to get a wider idea of your artistic production and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you graduated from Goldsmiths University of London with an MA in Directing Fiction films: how did this experience influence your evolution as an artist?
learnt the basic techniques of filming and editing. It was like an endless field, a playground where I blended film and dance. I later decided to enrol at Goldsmiths to do an MA in Directing Fiction as I wanted to further explore filmmaking. I think every school is like an empty canvas and it is up to you to find the right colours to complete the painting. It was the experience of moving to London, meeting new like-minded and diverse
Moreover, how does your cultural substratum
people and artists that helped define me and my
due to your background in contemporary
dance and choreography direct the trajectory of your artistic research?
Movement and dance is my primary language. I feel that words hide the truth, whilst the body is
I basically grew up on film sets since my dad is a
always honest. I fell in love with movement
Steadicam operator and Director of Photography.
choreography on the film set. It is always thrilling
Women Cinemakers to see the synthesis of the elements that come together on the screen. To me this is dance. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers , an excellent short
we have selected
film that our readers will have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. We are thrilled to announce WomenCinemakers' exclusive online premiere of
You can enjoy the film and the trailer at the following link
What immediately struck us about your insightful inquiry into Zoe's epiphanic journey is the way you have imbued the results of your artistic research with such refined aesthetics, inviting the viewers into such a multilayered experience. While taking our readers through
journey battling with his addiction to heroin and
the genesis of
he decided to end it by taking his own life.
, would you tell us
what attracted you to this story and how you
Growing up, I have always wondered what that
developed the initial idea?
bond is between life and death, and what leads you to the brink of existence. I will never forget a
I dedicated Luminary to my uncle Miha, who
story that my mum told me as a kid that
passed away when I was a child. He was on a long
A still from
dynamics around you, by witnessing the hopelessness of my family, falling apart. I tried to deal with the pain in my way. I have wonderful The film is inspired by my memories from my childhood and how addiction impacts the family
memories of my uncle Miha. He was a dreamer with a beautiful soul.
The idea of making ‘something’ and dedicating
memories I had. I developed a movement method
something to him has been brewing in my head
called ‘editing choreography’ which impacted my
for many years. It was like a constant dream
final choreographic decisions. At first, I would film
merging with reality. Before
myself improvising with various states of mind or
about, I was commissioned to create a dance solo, . In this piece I explored the theme of addiction through blurred and broken
emotions, then I would edit the movements in random order, and lastly I would re-learn the moves and create a new choreographic sequence.
Women Cinemakers Featuring ravishing and elegant cinematography by Aadhar Gupta, is brilliantly composed and we particularly appreciate the way your sapient use of close ups allows you to capture moments. What were your when shooting? More specifically, what was your choice regarding cameras and lenses? I worked very closely with the cinematographer. Each shot was carefully planned, allowing us space and time to be more creative on the set. Because
was a graduation film at
Goldsmiths, we were limited with the choice of equipment we had available. However, we knew we wanted to have some Steadicam shots in the film. It was a great privilege and pleasure to Similarly, I continued working with the scriptwriters
work with my father, Aleš Belak, professionally
for the first time on set as he provided the
to shape the narrative of the film. Life
is never a straight storyline. It always surprises you with twists and turns. We created a new story, with a slightly different perspective on the topic and that’s how
magnificent steadicam shots. We deeply appreciate your approach to narrative and your meditation on the elusive concept of
Women Cinemakers memory: how did you structure the storytelling of
and what were your
decisions about editing in order to achieve such powerful results? The creative process was very intuitive. At times I would dream about it. And at other times it would be a stream of consciousness which impacted some of my decisions. There were times when we explored an emotion or state of mind. The editing was a collaborative process. I recall that I wanted one scene to feel a certain way, but I couldn’t describe it with words, so I asked my editor to lay on the floor. By exerting a certain pressure and using some body manipulation, I tried to bring her into the state of body and mind I wanted to convey through the editing so that she could understand how I wanted it to
to an audience. The structure
changed quite a lot in the editing room. It was
time to edit the film, leaving little time to reflect on
especially important to work with the sound and
the decisions we had made.
music from the start to develop the first ideas. This dynamic process has strongly impacted the editing. Furthermore, we had a limited amount of
A still from
We greatly appreciated that, although your inquiry into the personal sphere of the character
seems to be
, your film
nevertheless strives to be full of emotion.
How did you prepare with the actors in terms
At the heart of making this film, I wanted to
focus on the body. I wanted to explore how the
? What were the most relevant
body changes through the key narrative shifts in
experiences about addiction and what it meant
the story. I had many discussions with the main
to us personally and how we could convey this to
actors. It was a great pleasure to work with Elif
audiences with sensitivity and empathy. We also
Knight, who diligently delved into the depths of
listened to the stories of people who had direct
Zoe's character. We shared personal stories and
experiences with addiction. During the process
Women Cinemakers We incorporated our understanding of these detailed stories into the scenes in the rehearsal process. However, I wanted to keep the moments fresh and alive so as not to cling onto one way of expression in the rehearsal space, so that the actors could feel the connection with their characters. The actual shoot was one great unified experience. There was a huge amount of trust in each department. The combination between sound and visuals is crucial in your filmmaking style and we love the way the sound tapestry by Anser Soomro provides the footage of and slightly
with such an atmosphere.
How would you consider the role of sound within your filmmaking practice and how do you perceive of developing ideas and characters, we had some
of the most valuable conversations with people
The sound is one of the most significant elements
from all walks of life: a psychiatrist, the ex-
in this film. We were researching and listening to
boyfriend of a girl who was an addict, an actual
various sounds and trying to define what
addict, and so on.
emotions they conjure up. We would listen to
Women Cinemakers some very specific sounds until we found the one that felt right for the gesture, moment, situation or scene. It was compelling to play with the awareness of being immersed in such soundscapes. It allows you to lose yourself and then one tiny sound or noise could bring you back into consciousness. Something very similar happens with the movement. Sound and movement are so abstract so talk about, yet so concrete and easily understood. I love to experiment with them, finding ways they complement or contrast each other. We daresay that your film could be considered an effective allegory of : how does everyday life experience fuel your creative process to address your choices regarding the stories you tell in your films? Interesting question. I like to take everyday moments and personal journeys as the leading source of my inspiration. I think it is vital to be honest and open minded. I have always been
Behind the scenes photos by Jani Peternelj
Behind the scenes photos by Jani Peternelj
Behind the scenes photos by Jani Peternelj
Women Cinemakers intrigued by memories and dreams. Memory is an interesting phenomenon. Sometimes we remember moments and situations differently or, we remember parts of what happened, like missing parts of a puzzle, and we try to stitch them together. Sometimes we remember something that didn’t happen or sometimes we just don’t recall anything at all. Other times we are left only with some sensations, such as a feeling or smell. I like to be reminded of those untapped parts of our psyche and explore the gaps that reflect different realities. Over the years, your films have been screened on several occasions, and
selected by the Underwire Film Festival / BAFTA and received the Prince of Prestige Academy Award. How important is feedback from the festival circuit to you? Do you consider
being a crucial component in your decisionmaking process?
Women Cinemakers It is crucial to know your audience, but at the same time, I feel it is equally important to produce work you want to make and create something genuine and close to you. It was great to share
the various festivals, but it was even greater when I had a chance to talk to the audience about the film and the subject matter. Sometimes the Q&A discussions became a place for sharing experiences. I love that. It was more valuable than anything else. Before ending this conversation, we want to take the opportunity 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. Do you think it is harder for women artists to have their projects green lit today? What's your view on ? I think it is a thrilling time of many changes. I am very hopeful for more equal opportunities in the world of cinema and art. However, the real shift will only happen when we don’t need to label our art
Women Cinemakers with titles such as
Some of the highlights are the music videos,
in Cinema. I often feel that the market is almost
making a new genre which shouldn’t be the case.
an analogue songwriting duo featuring
We simply want to have equal opportunities and
Macedonian born vocalist and lyricist Jova
make good work. There are so many platforms
Radevska, and London-based musician Mark
and networks that support women in cinema,
by YOVA. YOVA are
there’s great diversity and many different communities which are great as more people can
I have been regularly collaborating with a
gain visibility and recognition. At the same time, I
singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist
wonder if those divisions are making the core of
Calista Kazuko, who is known for cinematic genre-
the problem even more rooted in the system of
bending and controversial boundary-pushing. I
society. I believe that anyone with a strong vision
also joined Calista’s Voice of Aiko, a creative
can make it. The biggest obstacle we have is fear.
collective of musicians, filmmakers and artists
Once we women are able to see ourselves out of
joining forces to campaign for change, supported
the shadows, we will move mountains. And I can
by Arts Council England. I have directed ,
tell it is already happening!
Each music video tackles and focuses on different Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your
key issues that need to be talked about more.
thoughts, Enya. Finally, would you like to tell our readers something about your future
One of the greatest pleasures was a collaboration
projects? How do you see your work evolving?
with one of the most famous Slovenian rock bands, Siddharta. I directed two music videos for
In the last few years, I have directed various music
is the one that still
videos, which are always creatively rewarding.
resonates with me. It was a thrill to work with
Women Cinemakers such a stunning cast, Sarah Beck Mather & Jack
Last year I also started working on a documentary
about Aerowaves, one of the most important
Last year, I also directed a TV commercial for the Slovenian Paralympic team to promote their participation at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. It was a very new approach to filming and capturing movement. The project was inspiring. My mission
European contemporary dance networks. The documentary will reveal some insights into the organisation that has been the leading force in discovering new and emerging artists for the past 25 years.
was to highlight that Paralympians are people and
I am exploring several narratives which will
also outstanding and very professional athletes.
hopefully lead to something bigger: my debut
In the future, I would like to explore more of the body presence on camera. I am also researching the relationship between the body and camera and the different ways of filming movement and dance. I am developing a short dance film which is based on the dance performance Blue Ink which I choreographed a few years ago. It questions the borders and absurdity of
feature film. I am always eager to work with new collaborators and it is thrilling to use any opportunity to invite like-minded artists to get in touch with me for new collaborations. I would like to thank the readers and WomenCinemakers for this extensive overview of my work. It is exciting to share
bureaucracy, which ties beings in the space
My wish for everyone is to be able to use their
between. It is a reflection on a current personal
creativity to overcome this unsettling time. I
and political imbalance: a state of unknown,
would like to close this interview with the words
unworthiness, fear, isolation, fragility and power.
of Albert Camus.
Blue Ink addresses the topic of borders: spatial, physical and personal.
Women Cinemakers meets
Cristiana Forte My career as director is just starting and the film you saw was my graduation thesis in the University of Tallinn, Baltic Film and Media School, Estonia. Since this is my first and only film I guess I still don't have a style or a subject that can define my work. Even though I believe that films have to be made for people and about people. They have to show us how is to live in other people shoes and make you more empathetic to their decisions, actions and problems. So if you want to tailor the interview I guess you can focus more on the experience of making the film about and in a foreign country. The film was based on my first impressions of how it is to live and grow in a country like Estonia, more particularly Tallinn. I liked the ideia of transforming something that doesn’t belong to us in something that could. In the film case it was not only about the list of affairs of the lady but also their country, their way of living.
An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant email@example.com
Sapiently constructed and marked out with brilliant cinematography, SHE.TEMA.OH is a captivating work by filmmaker Cristiana Forte: shot in Tallin, Estonia, it tells the story of a 14
year old girl who lives with her alcoholic dad in the Russian suburbs, who is confronted with a beautiful woman on her way to Tara. Shot with elegance and inventiveness, SHE.TEMA.OH offers an emotionally complex visual experience, demonstrating the ability to capture the subtle depths of emotions and creating effective intimate narration: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to
Forte's captivating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Cristiana and welcome to WomenCinemakers: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would ask you some questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you graduated from the University of Tallinn, Baltic Film and Media School, Estonia: how did this experience 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? Thank you, it’s really nice to be featured in your magazine. Well, I started my degree in Portugal at The Catholic University of Porto, where I completed the first two years. Then I felt that the school wasn’t really fulfilling my needs so I found out about the Erasmus program that they had with BFM and I applied there. I was there for only one year and I graduated with this project. This year was one of the most important years of my life so far. I learned so much about filmmaking, teamwork and engaging with other cultures. I met amazing people there who helped me with the project like it was their own. Two of those people were Arvo Iho who started as my teacher and later became my supervisor and Kertu Viira, the producer of the project,
Women Cinemakers someone who is very responsible for the success of our project. Regarding my influences, I guess I’m still very obsessed with social realism in European cinema. When I first started to watch films I fell in love with Goddard and later on even more with Truffaut because of his Antoine Duhamel Adventures. Eventually, I watched one of the Dardenne Brothers’ film and a whole new world opened up before me. I was so amazed with the themes, the narrative, the cinematography, the way they build the emotional pact with the viewer… basically everything in every film. In Estonia I met the work of Veiko õunpuu, which was also a very big influence for the film. When it comes to Portuguese cinema, I guess “Mutantes” by Teresa Villaverde and all the work by João Salaviza really inspired my work, specially the way their characters are built, being intensely dramatic with their actions rather than dialogue. Nowadays, I am fascinated with Lucrecia Martel and her complex narratives full of details. Her movies are masterpieces in which every sound and gesture matters. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected SHE.TEMA.OHA, a captivating film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at https://youtu.be/dVErbGMT3sI. What
has at once captured our attention of your clear approach to narrative is the way it provides the viewers with such a multilayered visual experience. While walking our readers through the genesis of SHE.TEMA.OHA, could you tell us what did attract you to this particular story?
your own. With the help of a classic narrative and the stimulation of what surrounded me, I started to build this story in which a girl would live in someone else’s shoes during a whole day. This multilayered visual experience was also necessary to have the viewers feeling themselves in someone else’s shoes, even though they are conscious that
The film started with the idea of taking something personal from someone else’s life and making it
they are the audience and that this is just a film.
From a visual point of view, SHE.TEMA.OHA is elegantly composed and features sapient cinematography and keen eye for details: what were your aesthetic decisions when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? When I was planning the film, I was very inspired by the way the Dardenne Brothers shoot - the way the camera walks with the character like a
shadow. In this film, I wanted that to happen when we were alone with girl, so we could get to know the girl better and better throughout the narrative. Whenever there were more characters I felt the need to step back, let the image breath and see how the audience interacts and reacts to it. Just like I said before, I pay a lot of attention to gesture, even though gesture is just a complementary element in many films. Since there is not a lot of dialogue, I wanted the small
gestures and reactions to speak for themselves. Technically speaking, we used the most flexible gear adjusted to shots with a lot of movement that was lent to us by the school. We have deeply appreciated your approach to narrative and the way you have balanced analytical research of your characters and the emotional aspect of the storytelling: 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? After casting Teele, we started rehearsals right away. We almost had two months of rehearsals, about times a week. We focused more on rehearsing the main scenes (without props) in which there were a lot of details. This period gave us time and space to build the character and her smallest details, creating all her idiosyncrasies. Through the repetition of the scenes Teele found herself comfortable in the character, making her memorize every move so that when we were shooting, she had space to be more spontaneous. On set, I barely gave her any directions, and I was amazed with the way she dived in the character and gave so much to her without my intervention.
Women Cinemakers As you have remarked once, SHE.TEMA.OHA was based on your first impressions of how it is to live and grow in a country like Estonia, more particularly Tallinn. Would you tell us something about your being a foreigner has influenced your writing process? In particular, how important was for you to make a personal film, about something you personally experienced? Tallinn is a very special city and I was very lucky to end up going there. I wrote the script in my first couple of months living there. Being a foreigner in the city and not understanding what people were saying gave me the opportunity to observe more and interact less with what surrounded me. Basicly the film is based on my first impressions of how it is to live in that city. I saw how different people were from the Europe that I was used to and how two different cultures live parallel to each other (Russian and Estonian). This parallelism inspired me to write about this identity crisis which impacts an adolescent that is trying to find her place in society and living between this two worlds. Through the naiveness of her eyes I builded a metaphor where not only her is passing by a identity crises but also the country and city where she lives. SHE.TEMA.OHA has drawn heavily from the specifics of the Russian suburbs of Tallinn 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 story: how did you select the locations and how did they influence your shooting process? Considering I wrote the script in the first couple of months I lived in Tallinn, I wrote imagining the only places I knew, the places that I visited first. I chose this area (Lasnamae) because it is located in the borders of the Russian suburbs and the Estonian capital. Most of the locations were in the center of Tallinn, where people pass by everyday when they go to work or to school. I think when people from Tallinn see it they may have some kind of emotional bond because it’s a place they deal with on a daily basis. Addicionaly I chose this two different scenarios, where she lives and the city center, to make a contrast and to highlight the parallelism that I mentioned in the previous question.These days, it is nostalgic to me to see those locations on the film. We like the way your intimate close-ups created entire scenarios out of psychologically charged moments to communicate effective empathy: in SHE.TEMA.OHA you leave the floor to your characters, highlighting their mutual interactions and finding such brilliant ways to create a channel of communication between their epiphanic journey
A still from
Women Cinemakers and the viewers’ emotional sphere. What are you hoping SHE.TEMA.OHA will trigger in the spectatorship? First of all thank you that is one of the best complements I got about the film! Compassion. My main purpose in filmmaking so far as been showing that people always have a reason to be like they are by showing them the character background. I guess all the close-ups lead the audience closer to character and with help of her naive gestures, it shows that she like anyone else was just was trying to escape of her life for one day. 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 cinema. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What’s your view on the future of women in cinema? I think its bright! I thank everyday to be born on this century, I think women are gaining power bit by bit, not only in cinema but in every other place or job in the world. We live in the age of image, were image
takes the place as as the main form of communication and I’m glad that women are finally coming through with another point of view, the feminin point of view. I know that know we are a small percentage of that but if women keep on doing audiovisual material for the media other women will empower other to do it. Of course I’m talking in a positive way, because I’m white and I had the possibility to pursue my dream. But I believe that films should not be directed or done by white privilege women but by all that consider themselves as one, and this is a much bigger struggle that just being born a woman. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Cristiana. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Well, I’ve been working mainly with this young director called Tomás Paula Marques. I’ve been assisting him for his next short film called “Cabra Cega” that will be shot in January. It’s an amazing film full with questions about how young girls deal with the activist nowadays. And also I’ve been working on my next script. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant firstname.lastname@example.org
Women Cinemakers meets
Fumi Gomez Lives and works in London, United Kingdom
Trapped in a room. There is a box inside the room. The box is theroom. Inspired by "Shoredinger's Cat" thought
An interview by Francis L. Quettier
you tell us what are your biggest influences and how do
and Dora S. Tennant
they affect your artistic research?
I’m mixed race, and I come from a diverse background. All my
Brilliantly constructed and marked out with captivating dreamlike cinematography, Box is a captivating short film by London based director Fumi Gomez. Inspired by the well-
cultural references, TV, films, literature, represent people who never look like me, or like my family. Growing up, I would spend hours watching films and television and feeling as if I
known thought experiment Schrödinger's cat, this captivating
were a spectator of a world I didn’t belong to. People and
short film triggers the viewers' perceptual categories with
families like mine seemed like they didn’t exist. When I was
such a stimulating tapestry of images and sounds, to inquire
older, living in either of my parents’ home countries, I realised
into the thin line that links fantasy to reality: we are
that being mixed race made it impossible for me to fit in with
particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Gomez's
the local culture. I learned to fill in the gaps and to adapt. I
captivating and multifaceted artistic production.
ended up thinking that I played with an advantage: I know
Hello Fumi and welcome to WomenCinemakers: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we
their stories but they don’t know mine so there’s space for the unexpected and unpredictable!
would ask you some questions about your background. Are
My love for French films took me to ask for a scholarship to
there any experiences that did particularly influence the
study in Paris, where French New Wave (Nouvelle Vague) was
evolution of your practice as a filmmaker? Moreover, could
born. Truffaut, Godard, Rivette... I was finally there. However, I
wasn’t... I was living at the campus of Nanterre University, also known as the University of the Immigrants. There was no French New Wave, there were people who were just trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. I lived in the “banlieue” outskirts of Paris with foreign students and French 2nd, 3rd generation who constantly suffered discrimination. Eventually this frustration would be visible during the Paris riots of 2005. I am a theatre director and, for the past decade, this is what I’ve mainly done. I love spending time with my actors, brainstorming ideas with my creative team and cast. In theatre, there is always a sense of being part of a working family. The company becomes more than a team, and everybody works really close to each other. I try to bring in those dynamics into film, and make the set, and the production meetings, a creative family. My experience as a working class immigrant in London inevitably defines my work. Because I do not have a budget and all my work is shot on a zero budget I have to counterbalance the lack of money with creativity and gathering extremely talented people for my projects. I usually shoot everything in one day. It’s intense, but professional filmmakers and actors often embrace this type of challenge, and give their very best. I choose stories that do not require expensive locations but that are worth telling for their relevance, diversity, originality and innovation. My biggest influences are Björk, Yayoi Kusama, Maya Deren, Ridley Scott, Katie Mitchell, Tamara Rojo, and Maya Angelou for their insatiable hunger for creating and discovering new narratives, and for surprising us and making us question reality. When I get stuck or when I’m not sure about what the next step is I become audience. I allow myself to visit other universes, their minds,
their narratives. Travelling since I was child has made my creative process all about travelling around different universes. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected Box, a captivating experimental short 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 narrative and your inquiry into the nature of human psyche is the way it provides the viewers with such a multilayered visual experience. While walking our readers through the genesis of Box, could you tell us what did attract you to this particular story? I have been working with writer/actor Juan Echenique for a whole decade, both in theatre and in film. One of the things that draws me to his work is that he is always looking for new storytelling formats, for unusual sources of inspiration, and for ways to break traditional narrative structures. Back in November 2017, we started a new path in our work together, with the film
. He approached the script
with one single condition in mind: the protagonist was not to be seen until the very end. I immediately felt captivated by the story and the characters: two incredibly shy followers of a crazy UFO cult, who can't gather enough courage either to confess their love to each other, or to honour their suicide pact, all under the attentive gaze of their invisible and very real alien deity. The film was cute, original, and unique. It combined the best of both world: the writer's nuclear idea, and my creative vision of that idea. That film put us in a whole new artistic path. A few weeks later, Juan came to me with a new script:
. It is
probably the shortest script we've ever worked on. Barely half a page. A genuine headache in about twenty lines. The more I read those lines, the more I got trapped into the story itself. A box in a room.
The box IS the room. What I had in front of me was the chance to do something new, and that's one of the most exciting opportunities any director can get. The idea was to create an impossible space, a room without windows or doors, where the only exit is a small box, that happens to contain that same room. The main character is divided in two, a man and a woman. They are the same person, as the box is the same room, only they look, sound, and feel different, the same way the box and the room don't look alike. All dressed up as a "Quantum Horror" story. I started thinking about
, and in the
saga. A very strange marriage. I knew from the beginning that this was not meant to be an "easy" film, and that explaining and underlining the story would only detract from it. The goal I put in my mind was to create a memorable piece, full of inspiring images and tense pacing, where the audience could experience the same uneasiness and the same curiosity I felt when first reading the script. At some point in the process, I realised that my greatest challenge was going to be taking a very intellectual and abstract concept, and transforming it into something emotional, visceral. A story you need to feel with your skin, rather than analysing it with your head.
shooting? In particular, what was your choice about
That was the moment I understood I was trapped inside
camera and lens?
the box. That's when I decided I really wanted to make this film.
The film talks, at some level, about the dualities of the human being. The idea of the Yin and the Yang popped into my mind
Brilliantly shot with sapient use of whites, Box
very early on during the pre-production stage. Black and white.
features essential cinematography and a keen eye for
But the world inside the box is different from our own. Things
details: what were your aesthetic decisions when
get muddled there. The character is male and female, and they
can interact with their two natures in many different ways. The
Many films focus on telling the story by showing the audience
neat divide of the black and white is muddled, blurred. That's
details, objects, facial expressions, and other clear and concise
why I started working with a palette of different shades of grey.
pieces of information. In this case, however, that was bound to
The story gave me something else, an intrinsic weirdness,
be a challenge. I could only play with a featureless white room,
something deeply uncomfortable.
a cardboard box, and two actors with identical costumes. The
With that in mind, we twisted all the desaturated colours we
only solution here was to take a different approach; instead of
had, and shifted to green, looking for an alien, unearthly
playing with "content" (props, locations, and wardrobe, for
example), I decided to play with angles, with distances, with
framing. Whereas in a traditional story I could show a detail of
to research about the gear our DOP had so I knew our
the location, here I decided to show the action from different,
limitations. It gave me the perfect degree of dynamism and
freedom to experiment on set, and to decide when I needed to follow the plan I had in my head, and when I needed to
Using the Sony A7S II with a DJI Ronin stabiliser and Sony 28-
135 F4 and Sigma Art 20mm F1.4 was what we had to work with. I don’t always have the luxury to choose the camera I want,
With its elegantly structured storytelling Box imparts
however, I adapt my vision to what is available. In this case I had
unparalleled psychological intensity to the narration, to
Women Cinemakers In this case, the structure is mostly the writer's concept. Juan Echenique is obsessed about structure, and about destroying it. His script, even though it was remarkably short, was detailed to the letter, explaining clearly what was happening at every twist and turn. We had quite a few conversations about this during the process, and one of the ideas that appeared most frequently was about Russian dolls. A doll that contains a smaller doll that contains a smaller doll, until there's an incredibly small doll at the end. The problem with that idea is that it becomes predictable, and that disengages the audience. The question here was how to tell a cyclic story, one that involves a degree of repetition, keeping it interesting and fresh. That's the point where artistic expression diverges from science: where science tries to approach experimentation with an identical clean slate every time, art needs irregularity, diversity, and certain degree of chaos to be interesting. In other words: We had to break the neat structure apart, in order to rebuild it in a more effective way. I worked very hard on finding ways of making the repetition contained in the story look like something new, even though it isn't. That way, the twist at the end becomes more shocking, as the audience is more engaged with what's happening in front of them. unveil an ever shifting internal struggle. We have
There's something I always want my audience to take away
particularly appreciated the way the ambience of your
from my films and my plays: questions. I feel like I've achieved
film seem both natural and surreal: would you tell how
something when I hear the audience discussing the film after
did you develop the structure of your film in order to
watching it, asking each other different questions. There's
achieve such powerful results? What are you hoping Box will trigger in the audience?
nothing more satisfactory than knowing that you've awakened somebody's curiosity.
We like the way your intimate close-ups created entire scenarios out of psychologically charged moments: in Box you leave the floor to your characters and your inquiry into their personal spherez 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, how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of a scene and the need of spontaneity? How much importance does play improvisation in your practice? With a background of theatre, I think rehearsals are essential for actors and for myself. I usually schedule a day or two for rehearsals with the actors so we can be clear about intentions, plot, character development, etc. I come into rehearsals with a few ideas to throw at the actors and they share their ideas about their character. We think “outside the box” and try different things. The majority of the times, they are so familiar with their character they come up with brilliant ideas that end up in the film. For
there was this idea of both actors being the same
person. I didn’t want to go for something literal. Your vision of yourself is completely different from the vision people have from you. The actors have different genders and ethnicities, which is something that is clear, but they are dressed exactly the same. We searched for movements that were similar in essence but not identical. They came from identical emotions but not identical gestures. I also do rehearsals because actors have 100% of my attention during the session. They’ve been able to ask questions, suggest
Women Cinemakers new ideas, talk about the film, and are clear about what I want them to achieve during the shoot. This way during the shoot I can dedicate more time to my crew. I think there is always space for spontaneity. During a shoot things can constantly go wrong or just in an unexpected way. From issues with the weather, lighting, cast, crew, anything can happen in a way you weren’t prepared for. I know what shots are essential to telling my story, but I like to allow some space for “magic” to happen. For
, the day we
arrived to the location there had been a concert and the space was in “post-concert” mode. I was planning on using all the space but ended up only being able to use a corner. On the spot, I made the decision of making the narrative more claustrophobic, closer to the horror genre. That genre had been there since the beginning, but I decided to fully embrace it the moment we arrived to our set. I had to adapt all the lighting, and the camera angles immediately. That resourcefulness is something that becomes second nature, when you work the way I do. During rehearsal we do a lot of improvisation, I love what actors can bring to the table! If I see an idea I like during rehearsal we transfer it to the shoot. However, not all scripts leave a lot of room for improvisations, and some improvisations, no matter how brilliant they are, don't really contribute to the story. Even though they may look great as something independant, my job is to keep my eyes on the big picture. Does this scene contribute in any way to the story or the vision? Often, the greatest sacrifices I do in the rehearsal room are the ones that have the biggest pay off when shooting the film. It's a constant balancing act, trying to get the best out of everybody's creativity, while being level-headed enough to evaluate what I receive in the context of the whole story.
Marked with captivating minimalistic quality, the soundtrack by Fraser Maitland provides the footage of Box with such enigmatic and a bit unsettling atmosphere: how do you consider the role of sound within your practice and how did you structure the relationship between sound and moving images? Fraser did an amazing job with the brief. We had so little time, and I wanted an original soundtrack. Initially, the brief I gave him was more electronic-classical but after shooting at location I asked him to turn it all into horror which he did very well. Sound is as important as the camera work, actors, lighting; composers are at the nucleus of the team. In my theatre work I use a lot of live music, so actors and audience are in constant communication with the musicians and feed from it. The majority of my films have original soundtrack. I work with composers, so they can make something specifically tailored to the story, they receive the same mood board as the DOP and are one of the first ones to receive the very first draft. We build the story together. The music and sound can heighten an emotion, or slowly reveal a plot twist, or it can be a key instrument to shock your audience. The relationship between sound and moving images should complement and enhance each other. Box was inspired by the concept of Schrödinger's cat: French anthropologist and sociologist Marc Augè once suggested the idea that modern age creates two separate poles: nature versus science and culture versus society. As an artist interested in the theme of perception, how would you consider such apparent dichotomy that affect our contemporary age?
Women Cinemakers We live in the era of the contradictions and the paradoxes. Politically, the world hasn't been this polarised for decades, yet the opposites are set in obtuse angles. Not fifteen years ago, young liberals were marching on the streets of London, protesting against globalisation and its impact on working class people's economy. Conservatives, on the other hand, kept on talking about the global market, and how it benefited us all. Fast forward to the present time, and we have a new batch of conservatives who preach nationalism and localism in the name of freedom, and a new wave of liberals who advocate for global trade as the solution to all of the world's problems. I've seen Catholic bishops marching on the streets of Madrid against the government, and Tory leaders in the UK madly pursuing an independence process based on a fantasy of a better future, rather than on facts and figures. There's contradiction between the people who rule the world, and the labels they have on their sleeve. The most important elected leaders in the world can blatantly lie on social media, in the press, and anywhere they see fit, yet their image as trustworthy men of the people seems unscathed by any fact checker. The dichotomy is more present than ever. We have evolved socially to the point where we are starting to see gender as something irrelevant, still we have to explain over and over again why gender inequality is one of the greatest failures of our society. We see over and over again how some of the most brilliants intellectuals of our time fail to grasp why the salary breach between men and women is a problem, and why it needs to be changed now. It's like seeing an Olympic runner exhausted after a walk in the park. Our everyday lives are now plagued with contradictions and dichotomies. Take for example our phones. They are computers I can hold in my hand. It gives me access to more information than what I could find in the greatest library on Earth. However, our writing skills decrease as we use them, replacing full words with abbreviations, and
Women Cinemakers complete sentences with just verbs or nouns. How can all the knowledge in the world be a source of ignorance? While scientists have been trying for a long time to get closer and closer to nature, to understand how we are a part of it, instead of being an external influence, the effects of the scientific advances of the last two hundred years are having a devastating impact on our environment. There's a beautifully tragic story right there, about people destroying the source of their sustenance just by trying to understand it. That ties directly with Schrödinger's thought experiment: the observer is always a part of the experiment. That's one of the fascinating things about
. The audience is another
character of the story. The film changes depending on how you perceive it. Your work offers a female, diverse perspective, in a way that is clear, political and most importantly, entertaining: do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value? The industry is starting to become aware of the lack of representation and female voices. There is an interest in watching films made by women which is a step forward.
mother, grandmother role? Is gender relevant at all to the story
However, being a working class, non-white, immigrant, female
in this industry reflects on all of my work.
I like stories that break pre-conceptions, probably because what currently exists doesn’t represent me. Each of my films is, in one
My work is, in some senses, charged with this frustration,
way or another, a way to give the middle finger to people who
anger, energy, unconventional tenderness and sense of
don’t believe there is a space for filmmakers like myself.
humour which translates into surrealism, magical realism, and punk. I pay special attention to how female characters are
We have appreciated the originality of your artistic research
portrayed. Do we have a classic meaningless girlfriend,
and before leaving this conversation we want to catch this
occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of
As an unconventional filmmaker I make films in insane
women in cinema. For more than half a century women
conditions. Zero budget, one day shoots, final cut in a month. I
have been discouraged from producing something
don’t do it this way because I want to, or I think it helps my
'uncommon', however in the last decades there are signs
creative process, I do it because my only other option is just
that something is changing. How would you describe your
complaining about not having funding, and not telling my
personal experience as an unconventional filmmaker? And
what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field?
A few years ago I really wanted to start shooting films on a regular basis. I bought a DSLR camera that would shoot in 4K
and started making films. However, I found a lot of people who
me understand why some big budget productions have such
kept on telling me that the first step was to look for a producer,
huge issue. There’s no emphasis on original storytelling.
secure funding, hire a great camera, start raising funds so I
This lead me to a period of being incredibly angry and
could recruit people and pay to take part of the festival circuit.
frustrated about the absolute lack of opportunities. Being a non-white immigrant woman was already limiting my chances
The amount of information was overwhelming and basically all
of being able to share my vision.
the paths required a lot of money: there was barely any
Now, being broke was apparently the greatest problem. One
emphasis on storytelling, and that was just shocking. This made
more thing to add to the list!
Women Cinemakers The uniqueness of our challenge is that actors and crew pitch directly to the writers. If they want to be part of the short film as an actor/director/camera/etc. they have to pitch why and how they will make the short film in a month. Writers decide based on who can actually get the project done. This gives a lot more power to everyone and it becomes a collaborative project, it’s all about of completing a film. Instead of the standard structure of having everyone waiting beside the phone. If you want to make a film you just make it! Making Films has become a bi-monthly film festival. What was initially supposed to be a small group of filmmaking friends has grown overwhelmingly. Since November we’ve curated and screened over 30 short films. We organise a networking session at the beginning of the challenge in London and once the challenge is completed we screen them. We do not make any profit out of this, but we’re stronger as a collective than as individuals and it’s a statement we make about filmmaking. Making Films has a 50% of films made by females and non-binary, 30% are made by BAME, 90% of the filmmakers consider themselves working class. Just by opening the door to more people diversity comes naturally. My experience as an unconventional filmmaker has made me create I created a Facebook group called Making Films where filmmakers are challenged to make a film in one month on a zero budget. If they reach the deadline I screen their short film no matter what. All the films we screen can be shot on a
an entire festival and recruit over 1000 members to be able to screen my work because there was no place for people like me. Sometimes it’s been a frustrating and angry path, some other times it’s been inspiring and magical.
mobile phone, a digital camera, a tablet, or an Arri Alexa,
The more female filmmakers we have reaching the top, the more
anything really. Our focus is original storytelling.
visible they become, the more opportunities will be made. I hope
Unexpectedly we’ve already had international collaborations
that the generations after mine will see filmmaking as something a
happen within our challenge. This is all organised by two
lot more accessible than what I’ve experienced. I hope they are
people, Juan Echenique and myself.
treated equally as their male colleagues. I hope they feel free to
Women Cinemakers express their vision without the worries of failing because their
In 2019 we will re-start Making Films. We’ve had to pause for the
work will be judged based on their gender.
summer as we were working and this whole festival is run by just two people. We’ll looking to bring in more partners and
Being a women in the industry makes you be a lot more persistent, and forces you to think outside of your comfort zone. The very few women who are making a path for themselves are incredibly driven and self-sufficient. The industry hasn’t given
collaborations with institutions to continue our work so hopefully we can help make more films and showcase their work. If any potential partners are reading, get in touch! I’m on social media @fumigoation
them space so they have just created it for themselves and have become so visible they can’t be ignored anymore. I can’t foresee the future, but I can talk about the present. Women are challenging standard storytelling. Fairy tales are
Until then, I’m directing mainly theatre: a piece for East 15 Drama School from September and I’m working on a show for the Gate Theatre that will open in spring 2019.
sexist and some classic films we’ve been brought up with are
I don’t really think of my work as a whole. I go step by step and
racist, misogynistic and homophobic... we have no option other
think about trying new things in each film. I am never in my
than to break with these stories and come up with something
comfort zone and I challenge myself in each film to do
different, incessantly make films and not load our shoulders with
something I’ve never done before. Each film is a universe, and
the weight of representing the female voice. It’s too much of a
when I’m finished with one project I’m on to the next one as
burden to carry. We should have the freedom to create things
soon as possible. Ideally I’d like to be able to do theatre and film
without any other responsibility than original, relevant and
side by side and solely focus on directing. Instead of directing
and producing. I know how to make a film on a zero budget, my
Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Fumi. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?
much of my creativity and storytelling has been determined because of always adapting and working with what I have without even thinking of what I could have. I would love to have that range of opportunities, I dream of what it would be like to
I’ve just shot a feature film in one day on a zero budget. It’s my first feature film and it’s called
next challenge is to make a film with a budget. I wonder how
, we’re currently
editing it and hopefully we will be able to screen it in autumn. We had a cast of 11 actors and 8 crew team members, now we’re in post so there’s a lot of professional filmmakers involved who
not have to carry all my gear, props, wardrobe, on the bus and just be able to concentrate on directing 100%! To be honest, I just want to be able to make films full time, every day.
have worked with us before and have agreed to make this crazy
An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant
dream come true.
Women Cinemakers meets
Heike Salzer Lives and works in the South of England
Krummi is a video installation based on the Icelandic poem Krummavisur-The Raven’s Song. The Nordic story tells the hard life during the cold Icelandic winters. Flying high above the landscape against the crisp sun, the ravens float above ice, rocks, steam, and bubbling geothermal water; a poetic visual dance.
Choreography from the University of Leeds (GB) /
An interview by Francis L. Quettier
Fontys Dance Academy (NL), how did these experiences
and Dora S. Tennant
influence your evolution as an artist and a videomaker?
Moreover, how does your Hello Heike and welcome to
would like to invite our readers to visit in order to get a wider idea about the multidisciplinary nature of your practice and we
the trajectory of your artistic research? My training as a dance artist has taken place in several countries, in vocational as well as academic environments.
would start this interview with a couple of questions
This exposure to different aesthetic perspectives and a
regarding your background. You have a solid formal
range of practical skills have allowed me to develop a
training and after having graduated as a certified Anna
practice that draws from many sources.
Herrmann Gymnastic teacher in Germany, trained in
A key element for me is space and place, and the
dance at ArtEZ-Dance Academy (NL) and received an MA
interchange between myself and the environment. Growing
Photo: Ingi Jensson Heike Salzer, Hellisheidi, Iceland 2014
up in the rural South of Germany and spending my youth outside, in the woods and fields has shaped my relationship with nature. There is a dialogue that takes place between ourselves and the place we are in, and ultimately this engagement informs most of my practice. In that sense, I consider myself a nomadic artist, not only from the point of view of spending time in different geographical locations, but also as somebody who is fluently moving between different practices, finding ways to communicate via interdisciplinary investigation and collaboration, for example the fusion of dance making and cinematography. From my formal training, I see that traces of the German Ausdruckstanz tradition and Gymnastik education with their humanistic perspectives and focus on authenticity and the belief that body, mind and soul are an interlinked unity are always apparent in my work. No matter if it is live or on the screen. we have
For this special edition of selected
, an extremely interesting a videodance
installation that you created in collaboration with Ingi Jensson and that can be viewed at . What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the hard life during the cold Icelandic winters is the way it offers to the viewers a heightened and multilayered visual experience, to create an unparalleled vision of past and future. When walking our readers through
you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? The idea originated when I received an invitation for an artist residency to create a piece for Merge Dance Company, at Texas
Women Cinemakers State University in San Marcos, USA. I wanted to choreograph a live performance including video projection. San Marcos has a humid and sub-tropical climate, it gets very hot and the Icelandic Nordic winter, an absolute contrast, felt an exciting theme to explore and bring to Texas, where many might have not experienced such cold or seen these amounts of snow. We travelled for one week through Iceland during February in the arctic winter, and filmed the moving elements of this untouched landscape, sometimes by temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius. was our guide for capturing footage: it
talks about the harshness and difficulty of survival during wintertime, and we wanted to capture this sense of existential fear that overcomes us, when nature is very demanding. Although the poem served as the initial inspiration we did not expect to be able to capture ravens, however we were very lucky when we encountered a group of them spiralling around a church tower. Inspired by the Icelandic poem Krummavisur-The Raven’s Song,
sapiently intertwines elements from tradition
and contemporary sensitiveness: how do you consider the relationship between tradition and contemporariness? Do you think that there's a conflictual relation or is there a synergy between this apparently opposite aspects? In particular, how important was for you to make , about a theme that you know a lot about? I think that the contemporary and tradition can be an enriching partnership. In fact, I often find elements of folklore very inspiring to the making of art.
, which is a poem by Jón
Thoroddsen from the early 19
century, communicates the
exceptional situation of winter via illustrative nature metaphors. The ravens in the poem are searching for food in the snow-covered landscape, a task that has little hope for success, however finally they find a dead sheep which they can scavenge on, securing their survival. This is a strong symbol that I found intriguing. It provides an image
on his own experience when viewing this impressive landscape. Audience members have told me that they became aware of the vulnerability of the earth, thoughts about climate change and ecocriticism occur. In that way I believe, more than it being about my own connection, the work offers a surface to the viewer to reflect on their individual questions that arise.
of the absolute desperation we can find ourselves in, when
life circumstances are exceptionally testing.
cinematography and a keen eye for details, capable of
orchestrating realism with
does not necessarily portray a personal
experience, but offers the viewer an opportunity to reflect
what were your
features gorgeous landscape : when shooting? In
particular, how did you structure your editing process
American tectonic plates meet and form the Mid-Atlantic
in order to achieve such brilliant results?
Ridge which runs across Iceland from the southwest to the
Iceland has the largest area of untouched wilderness in Europe which means that you can still find landscape that lacks human interference, such as buildings, electrical posts, road networks etc. which usually are constructs that
northeast. The island is new compared to other areas of the world and is still forming. The steam and hot water that can be seen in
are movements of this active
nature. There is a big contrast between the freezing ice
need to be negotiated when framing landscape. There is
where almost no movement can be seen, and the bubbling
an expansiveness of the views which is most impressive,
of the extremely hot springs that are coming directly from
and which we tried to capture via long shots, and subtle
deep within the earth. This underlying power is hidden
panning. Furthermore, Iceland has strong volcanic and
beneath the calm snow landscape, and yet there is the
geothermal activity; here the Eurasian Plate and North
possibility of geothermal forces exploding at any moment.
Oppositional states of calm and turmoil. It is this unimaginable strength and unpredictable activities of nature that are fascinating and I tried to portray via the contrasting features of the expansive and still landscape, to details of the moving elements of nature. For example, the long one frame landscape shots of the snow-covered field with very little movement in the beginning scene, which almost looks as it is a still, to the gradually increasing dynamic by overlaying footage with movements of the landscape in different directions, for example the clouds and the ravens. To then climax the ‘volume’, by using a triptych split screen with oppositional directional moving elements of water, steam, clouds and rocks and kinaesthetic camera movement, in addition to an ever-increasing development of the sound. When composing the edit, I use the memory of my embodied feeling of the places we filmed, the kinaesthetic awareness of being at the place. This sensitivity informs the way in which I compose the frames in relation to each other, and the dynamic and the overall structure. Deviating from traditional filmmaking, we dare say that your artistic research
the notion of
elaborated by French anthropologist Marc Augé, to highlight the ubiquitous instertitial points and between human interaction with environment. In this sense,
draws heavily from
the specifics of environments and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such powerful
between the location and the atmosphere that pervades the film: how did you select the locations and how did they influence your shooting process? The process that I use to develop my screendance work, is what I call the
. We go on a journey without a
pre-formed agenda, and stop at places that catch our attention, for example a view, expansiveness, light, colour, movement or simply an intuition. We were filming at places that viscerally intrigued us. That means that the choices for
driven by our emotional responses to landscape rather than rational decision making of ‘getting a good shot’. Although we travelled by car, and we were not wandern (hiking) by foot, our expedition felt like a hiking trip; spending time in nature with the chance to ponder about ourselves and world. This kind of self-reflection echoes themes of the Wanderlust movement of the Romantic era in the late 17
th and early 18
century in Germany, which describes the strong desire of artists to explore the world. The experience of nature and the subjective emotional responses formed the stimuli for German romantic art, which was a reaction to the industrial revolution, and the concerns for humanity in that new technological era. Furthermore, the enlightenment period with its rationalisation had left little space for the transcendental and unexplainable. Romantic art today seems to me as relevant as it was then. These themes of the longing for deceleration and space for the unexplainable is something I am interested in. Also, today we live in a busy digitized environment, in socio-political
frameworks that are driven by rational judgement, productivity, and success. There is little space for contemplation and calmness in our lives, and spending time in nature is a way to re-connect and get grounded. Austrian-British historian E. Gombrich, writing in , talked about the importance of providing a space for the viewer to project onto, so that they can participate in the illusion: how much important is for you the viewer's perceptual parameters in order to ?
address them to elaborate
The personal association and the ‘placing of the viewer’ is indeed a key element in my work. Being in nature allows me to be in dialogue with a place, finding ‘myself’ in the world. Framing landscape in such a way that positions the viewer into the frame and editing the film rhythmically that suggests the dynamic of the movement of the space, the viewer might be able to connect kinaesthetically, feeling as being there himself, and through this embodied experience reaching moments of self-reflection. As much as the film is a work that portrays our experience, it also offers the viewer to enter his own imagination. There is a three-way dialogue here: We as artists encounter a place, the viewer of the art encounters our experience being in that place, and the viewer has an individual encounter with the landscapes in the artwork. Sound is a crucial component of
and we have
appreciated the way the sound tapestry that you created in collaboration with Jack Laidlaw provides the footage with
A still from
Women Cinemakers such an
and a bit
atmosphere: how do
you consider the role of sound within your practice and how ?
do you see
Sounds play an integral part of my work. It communicates a sense of space in a direct sensory way. Rhythm is inherent in images and in sound, and this interlinked dynamic play between image and sound enhances the other. Jack Laidlaw and I worked closely together to develop the accompaniment. He used the harmony of the traditional song for the composition and the dynamic development of the whole is inspired by the above mentioned subtle quietness with the underlying forces of nature; from a serene calm atmosphere to a powerful chaos, and a gloomy yet hopeful end, when I imagine, that the lonely raven continues flying above the landscape. It's no doubt that collaborations as the one that you have established under the name of
are today ever growing
forces in Contemporary Cinema and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project... could you tell us something about this effective synergy? By the way, Peter Tabor once stated that " ": what's your point about this? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between artists from different disciplines? I have experienced the collaboration with artists from other
disciplines or cultural backgrounds as a very enriching one. The exchange of ideas and practices, which sometimes can be a challenging process due to different vocabularies or approaches, ultimately pushes my own boundaries further and the work becomes more than I could have achieved on my own. It demands a detailed reflection on my practice, which in one way helps to identify priorities and ‘musts’ but also questions the elements that might only be there out of habit and can be lost. Screendance, under which I like to categorise my films, aims to merge choreography and cinematography and as such the synthesis of different disciplines searches for new ways of making. When working in teams, it is important to me to identify working practices of openness, honest dialogue, curiosity and respect for ‘the other’, empathy and general positivity towards the process. Then I think collaboration can be an inspiring and satisfying experience. Under the name of Salts she collaborates with international artists and her screendances, installations and choreographies have been invited to numerous international venues and festivals such as the International Videodance Festival Burgundy (FR), Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema (US), Bang-VII Barcelona Videoart Festival, (SP), Athens Video Dance Project (GR), ATLAS Institute (US) among others. Over the years your works have been exhibited and screened in a number of festivals and venues, including the International Videodance Festival Burgundy (FR), Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema (US), Bang-VII Barcelona Videoart Festival, (SP). We have really appreciated the originality of
Women Cinemakers your artistic research and before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on
n the contemporary art scene.
For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something '
', 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
interdisciplinary field? I think women have always had strong voices, especially coming from a dance and movement background, such as the early Movement and Gymnastik practitioners Elsa Gindler and Anna Herrmann in the beginning of the 20
century who were
standing for equality and feminist ideas within their practice in Germany where I come from, or modern dance icons such as Mary Wigman, Pina Bausch or Martha Graham. Personally, I have never been discouraged and always been able to ‘do my thing’. However, I think in our current political and socio-economic environment, art in general is discouraged and under attack with less and less space and financial support been given. Networking and collaborating seems to me key for any art form now, to not lose ground and to build greater acknowledgment. I would hope that the arts, for example in schools instead of being cut, are going to be recognized more, since it is creative skills, the ability to look outside the box which will help to solve many problems that society and the earth as a whole will be facing in the future.
Women Cinemakers Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Heike. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I like to continue collaborating with the inspiring artists that I have strong relationships with and plan new expeditions to places that I have never been. It is rewarding to be able to sophisticate a shared practice which has grown over years and is based on common understanding and aesthetic vocabulary. Furthermore, I am about to collaborate with an artist I have not worked with before. We each will make a piece with the other as the dancer. I am looking forward learning about somebody else’s screendance making practice from an experiential perspective. I am also interested to explore technology further, recently we have worked with a drone which was very interesting as choreographic parameters completely change. Equally, as attractive high-tech filming with a drone was, I am interested in exploring spontaneous ways of capturing material, by for example using small gadgets such as a steady cam for my iphone and see how technological possibilities can offer new ways of ‘dancing with the camera’. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant
Photo: Ingi Jensson Heike Salzer & Ingi Jensson, Hellisheidi, Iceland 2014
Women Cinemakers meets
Pauline Pastry Lives and works in Angouleme, France
Pauline Pastry is a French artiste living and working in Paris. Her work is between documentary and experimental, and questions the place of the contemporary working class. She uses mainly photography, video and recently started sculpture. She graduated from l'EnsAD in June 2017. Since several years, I have been interested in the industrial environment and in particular in the evolution of the work of the contemporary worker. I mainly use distant and technical imagery, which can make one think of commercial brochures used by companies as a means of communication. I connect this imagery with the technical vocabulary of the industry and with the body of the worker who tends to industrialize and optimize him too. Notions of gesture and choreography are present in my work, I use video for its handy character, it allows a reactivation of the gesture. Whether in my photographs or my videos, I combine the organic with the mechanic, without putting aside the social character in my work.
An interview by Francis L. Quettier
ing your background. You have a solid for-
and Dora S. Tennant
mal training and you graduated from the
prestigious , in Paris: how did this
Hello Pauline and welcome to : we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regard-
experience influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your direct the trajectory of your
Women Cinemakers artistic research? Hi WomenCinemakers and thank you for inviting me. I started with a BTS in photography at Auguste Renoir high school, in Paris. It is a technical certification which taught me solid skills in photography and gave me the will to enlarge my practice in video making, and sculpture. It's mainly while I was studying at ENSAD that I could go deeper into video work. A teaching crew was guiding us through with advices and personal thoughts about our practice during the whole program. We also had theoretical courses which allowed us to develop a critical eye on what we were doing and what we were studying. Thanks to this school I got a wider and stronger artistic knowledge. For four years, we were inquired to make some long-term personal works, which lead us to build our own thoughts so as not to rush ourselves. There, I chose to go more in depth into video. I's during my graduation year that I put traditional photography to the side to orientate myself more into the body language and the industrial area. I wanted to escape classical
photography and not be related to it anymore. I did not want to be seen as a photographer. I started to do sculpture after my graduation in 2017. I wanted to give another materiality to my work and consider it differently. I wanted to see objects, shapes, and work with my own hands. I began two sculpture series that are still in progress, and . is a series of three sculptures that I conceived in 3 dimensions from industrial curves/charts/technical drawings found in magazines. Theses drawings represent the evolving states of materials depending on the temperature or pressure that they are exposed to. It's more for me a way to morph the change or the attrition of a material, leading me to which means We could say that my work declines into itself through different aspects (video, photography, editing, sculpture) towards a same subject. For this special edition of we have selected , an extremely interesting video that our readers have already started to get to know in
Women Cinemakers the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at . What has at once captured our attention of your brilliant storytelling is the way it provides the viewers with such an intense visual experience, by a sapient composition. While walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? My interest in the industrial area started through photography in 2011. The more I would go into this path, the more I wanted to approach the worker’s condition without going to the documentary aspect. The body naturally came into my work. Also, because I practiced ballet for many years and have always been interested in dance since then. Before I had already made a video mixing dance and factories. It was a first draft that I wanted to follow for my graduation. I really wanted to enlighten the worker’s body and the way it is conflicted by working conditions, such as multitasking.
Obviously, Modern Times from Chaplin was at the back of my head, mechanical gestures, working routine, Fordism, work at the chain etc.… But I also wanted to approach new technologies and the cohabitation between the bodies and the engines, which are more and more present and have the tendency to mimic and replace the worker’s gestures. This is where the title of the piece came from, that I explained earlier on. It is a way to give importance to the body attrition as would be a material or manufactured object. It is at first a technical term, I found some poetry in it. This title is evoking. Most of my titles come from old factory magazines. The willing to go deeper into video making was also supported by the writing of my thesis, , in which I approach the perception of gestures through video. I think that video has some kind of behavior that has the power to « reactivate » the movement of the body. I had also made my researches on Pollock, Jean Rouch, and Yvonne Rainer’s work, where the body operating is really present.
I wanted to show industrial moves, or these two dances (my dad’s and the robot’s one) as performances. Collaborating with a modern orthopedics school also made clearer my intention to work with the body. There is, to my opinion, in ortho-
pedics, this same vision of a utilitarian and technological body. It is made to support or replace a missing or damaged body part. This will of optimization of the body is also a kind of performance.
This collaboration allowed me to link prostheses, orthotics, with robots and exoskeletons. Even in the design (aesthetics, and shapes), I found some resemblance to the mechanisms, they both aim at humanity in some way. It was also interesting to work with students
that perceive the body on a scientific and technical side. I built with them my first torso in overalls as a worker effigy. As we can see in my book then chose to destroy this resin torso.
Women Cinemakers Featuring such stimulating enriched with references to the real design process, balances captivating storytelling and refined editing: how did you structure the editing process in order to achieve such brilliant results on the narrative aspect? I had already recorded and collected a lot of industrial pictures for a few years. I edited them and recorded new images. I got into contact with a factory in Nantes which sells some exoskeletons, robots and cobots. I had the chance to sit in factory meetings that were working on exoskeletons conception, by following the marketing agent. It is from a dialogue recorded during one of these meetings that I built the narrative line of my movie. Thanks to this dialogue, I could clarify my purposes and intentions. I was looking for a representative and universal conversation in industry and modernday factories. Then I worked on sound and dialogues to make a logical following. I kept the parts dealing with investments, time and movements and I put my images together according to these conversations but also according to the track that I built myself. I wanted three screens interacting with each other. I already had an idea of the industrial area at this time, I read some books, articles and magazines but
this meeting really focused on all the elements that I needed to elaborate the bases of my video. We appreciated the way you combined images from the digital realm as the screenshots from computer aided applications and footage marked out with such a surreal quality: in this sense, we dare say that seems to walk the viewers to the point of convergence between reality and imagination: how much important is for you in order to address them to elaborate ? I found this as a way to go out from the classical documentary narration. I wanted to make my own fiction, my own vision of this subject with fake or staged images. I simplified explanations, it is almost a synthesized and analytical movie. For example, to understand that I scanned my father in order to get a 3D material, I put some red lasers on him as if it was actually the process that I used. I actually used several techniques to scan him. I created images to simplify the path to the
viewer’s mind, so it could click more easily and go faster to the purpose of my research. Due to the different types of images and their many origins, the interpretation stays open and variates through the viewer’s background according to the way he/she perceives the images. The different possibilities to approach technologies, robots and industries are fascinating to me. We all have an idea from what we see from movies or television. It's important to remark that was also inspired by your father's experience as a worker, that you have sapiently interpreted, capturing both the banalization of robotization and the of vulnerability of the body in contemporary chains: how important was it for you to make , about a theme that you know a lot about? And how did your personal experience as an interpreter of your father's daily one's fueled your creative process? It is, a really personal movie, I start from something which is close to me then move away from it to widen my subject. I see the factory as a micro society. It is always evolving, and it is the
first in line concerned with society changes. I take this microcosm as an image of our society. I have always been skeptical towards the status of the labor in daily life and how the human body becomes a strength as a human capital. I don’t know if I agree with the working area as it is now, I know that there are some problematic elements that will cause trouble in a few years and there is also an issue with unemployment. I come from a worker and farmer’s family, so I have been raised into an engaged environment, I have, of course, been influenced by my family’s experience. Industry is a real target into movie making. I think of movies that I loved such as from Lars von Trier, or from Laurent Cantet, from Pedro Pinho. These three movies are really different from each other but what I liked about them is how the workers are involved in their job. , I wanted a poetical movFor ie from the structure to the image aesthetics. I wanted unexpected elements such as my father’s dance or the robot’s one, while still keep-
A still from
Women Cinemakers ing the documentary look of the film. It was my way to highlight my sensibility to the worker’s body and its social condition. I learnt and saw the state of the industrial area. I don’t make things up, I just create my own interpretation through books, conversations or movies. I also looked over some factory reports and the magazine called . Then, it has been a lot of talking with my father. He has been the first model in my photography and in video works, it was difficult at the beginning, bashfulness I guess. The camera is always scary, we always want to show ourselves from the best angle while I was looking for sincerity and authenticity. It took a while for him to understand and accept what I wanted to say about the industrial area. He really understood while he saw the actual movie. I made an edition relating to my movie called . It is an object that brings together the creative process of but also some private conversations with my dad and I. We find in this book some web, archives pictures, and some that my dad shot himself, portraits, mails and text mes-
sages. It is like a sketchbook that I split in five different parts leading to the construction of a working body. I start from the fact that the factory was a furnace for working bodies, mechanical bodies. We have really appreciated the way engages the viewers to question Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once remarked that "
": as an artist particularly concerned with the industrial environment and with the social conditions of contemporary workers, how do you consider the role of artists in order to raise awareness about social issues in our unstable and globalized contemporary age? In particular, does your artistic research respond to ? I think the engagement in an artistic work must be overriding even if it is transparent or unconscious. There are no less important sub-
Women Cinemakers jects than others to me, we just need to feel how the artist is involved and sensible about his/her work. We have the chance to be able to express our vision of the world as we see it freely and with different manners, no road to stick on, we still have this freedom. The subject that I deal with in my work is really actual, it deals with the erasing of the worker’s human body to the robotized one. Technology is our daily topic, I feel that my generation is sensitive to it in a way or another. I wanted the format to fit the content of the subject. I am fascinated but also a bit scared by technology, but if we could have a robot that could replace us to go work for us, I would not be against it. It would be a good way to enjoy our hobbies but moreover to live and work for ourselves. But it is quite a utopic vision. Not to mention that these days almost everything, from Maurizio Cattelan's ' to Marta Minujín's ' ', could be considered : do you think that your artistic practice could be considered , in a certain sense? In particular, do you think that your being a
woman provides your artistic research with some ? I wondered my vision as a woman changed the view I had on the industrial area. I have been asked this question many times and I think I am well-grounded to be concerned through my familial context. I had some readings that comfort me in these thoughts, women that have been involved in workers labor or factories, such as Simone Veil or Leslie Kaplan. I think it helped me to be a woman in a mostly male environment. The workers that I met were less suspicious, I could quickly establish relationships and explain to them what kind of information I was looking for. Of course, I had some remarks, but it was never serious. Now when I come back to my father’s factory they tell me « You again! You’re working here right? ». The workers helped me quite a lot for my last sculptures. They are maybe more sensitive to what I do since they are understanding more my intentions. Marked out with sound plays a crucial role in
Women Cinemakers , providing its footage with such an capable of challenging the viewers' perceptual categories: why did you decided to include such audio commentary? And how would you consider ? As you said, sound plays a major part in my work, it must come from my ballet practice. I have trouble to discern what I hear from what I see. The musical parts of my movie bring some kind of dynamics that I was looking for in the gestures, they come at very specific moments. The music has been made by Jules Cassignol, a musician that I appreciate the work of very well, he understood straight away what I was looking for. Nowadays, we have a really oldish vision of French factories. I have the feeling that our generation is not as involved into the worker’s condition as it used to be. It is fair because it is so far from us now. The youth coming from a modest background used to go work in factories, it is less common now. The sound base of the movie was made from captations in the factories, or noise made from my own body and objects. I wanted to mix mechanic and organic together, these are essential terms in the movie, since I am dealing with a body always in pro-
Women Cinemakers cess, that must be more and more effective and technological, I had to give this feeling through sound. I really looked for the immersion of the viewer into this environment from the interpretation that I had from this experience. 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 contemporary art scene. For more than half a century woman have been discouraged from producing something ' ', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. 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? I don’t know if I am or not conventional, I just want to stick to my thoughts. I did not want to do something to please people, or do something beautiful, at least it is not my first goal. I think that we should do something that moves us, be true to the viewer and they will feel it, as a woman or not. I think that there are more and more women artists that assume their work, and
Women Cinemakers more and more institutions, festivals dedicated or open to women and I think that this is really positive. I am quite optimistic concerning women in art in the future. We are lucky to be in an openminded and sensible area in a lot of things. My work is quite masculine. All my models are men, I did not start with the easiest way, but I did not feel uncomfortable about it either. So yes, I had some thoughs because I am a young woman, but I think it comes more from the audience. I am often asked why I have so much interest in the industrial area. We just need to believe in what we do and impose ourselves. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Pauline. 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 my new movie called « Opus ». It will be a 20-minute-long video installation on three screens. This will be a dance video between fiction, documentary and performance.
Women Cinemakers The movie’s speech is: « Three employees from a foundry end up in a lost stone-pit in the Charente region. Marked by their work, they recall themselves the routine moves that they used to do on a daily basis ». On the side of this I just made my first solo exhibition at the in)(between gallery, in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris. My movie was projected there and so were my last sculptures ( and ) and some photographies ( ). Once my movie is done, I want to focus back on photography for a bit. I feel that this medium starts to miss in my practice, then I am going to continue working on my sculptures, I already made some sketches: cf 3D pictures. I am also thinking about new ways to show my movie and photographies. Focus more on the setting, how my sculptures and movies can interweave more between one another. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant email@example.com