Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
The initial idea was to explore some of the themes about narrative I was interested in at the time, such as identity and its construction, sense of belonging, global history. The images of the two countries are interspersed together with stereotypes constructed by the mass media. Beginning with old images projected by an old 8mm film, the young woman is going through her childhood memories. A phone rings and the answering voice replies (as if carrying on an ongoing conversation) “no, I’ve said it already. I’m not coming back” in a foreign language. The young woman is talking to her mother who is at the other end of the line and is asking, an all too often repeated question: “When are you going to come home again?”
X Isles is a highly personal work, produced during a period of intense questioning and inner search. I was at the end of my first degree and this was to be the final project. It was not produced with an audience in mind and I myself wasn’t clear about the outcome: I never claimed to want to make it for other people. I was searching for something and wasn’t interested in thinking about audiences! The process of creative filmmaking in itself was the thing that really mattered. Besides, it was a time for experimentation in the craft of storytelling on video, as well as a period of profound identity crisis. I had my head full of fascinating theory which I absorbed and debated in a foreign language for three intense years, an experience that totally change me and left me with an excruciating yearning to find my roots again –through language, through images, through stereotypes, through sound, music, memories, food. But it felt like trying to grab hold of water: I could no longer find what I was looking for in my Italian heritage and in the process I ended up wondering what were there to be found anyway.
This is what X Isles is about, the internal struggle one ends up fighting when one loses perspective of the process of growth and tries to resist change. It can be very messy and one is left feeling raw and vulnerable and, indeed, exposed. Looking back at all this obviously gives me perspective on that period and I can say that, despite the mess, it was all very enjoyable and even therapeutic. Now I’m left with a tangible memory of what was going on in my mind at that time. As I mentioned already, X Isles is a highly personal narrative, at times obscure and even amusing perhaps. It’s an inconclusive narrative that goes in circles and cycles and that’s how I see life. Those who have watched it have been able to enjoy it perhaps because of its innocence and rawness.
I will always look upon X Isles with fondness as it contains memories, my personal memories and images from childhood with people who are no longer with us. I urge anybody to do the same, to use the medium of video as a tool for expression, and I’m keen to help others piecing together their stories through a visual narrative. That’s my aim now, to build awareness of the benefits of writing one’s story on video and offer a new vehicle for video production and consumption as a tool in coaching, through Visionwell ©
X Isles - Part 2
Mana - Lives In Brief
On video biographies.
Mine is not a traditional type of writing although it is gradually becoming more established. I write journals, but not on paper. I keep a diary, though not only with a pen. I use words, but express myself with images. I am bilingual and live in that strange place between two languages and cultures. I use video to describe the way I see the world, to record my memoirs and tell the stories of other women. The digital medium is my paper and the lens is my pen. My writing has grammar, rhythm, punctuation, rhyming and stanzas. It contains more than just words and speaks my languages at the same time.
Indeed, behind every production there is a lengthy preparation and a script that forms the spine of the narrative. In fact, some established conventions can provide a useful structure to those who wish to explore this medium in more depths. Some of my favourite video productions were mere study of such conventions. They were experiences that allowed me to exploit and observe the dynamics of mediation in making video biographies about the other subjects. One such example was Mana, a short about a Japanese contemporary dancer, which was commissioned as part of a series called Lives In Brief.
As the name suggests it was to be a very short documentary in the style of video diary, which described the essence of someone’s life.
I stumbled across my subject almost by chance, after doing pre-production work on another person who had to pull out at the last minute! There I was, in
Talking to her was so enlightening. It was impressive to learn how she dealt with her life, including the overcoming of her disability and her way of being so candid about it on camera. The important thing for me, as far as the piece was concerned, was not to make her disability the central focus of the narrative: Mana was not a last minute substitution, she really was an incredible subject because she a was a strong individual who chose to leave a constrictive culture and emigrated to a place where she felt free to express herself and her individual talent. I felt an affinity with her for choosing to challenge her role as a woman, imposed by her own culture and move to a new country where she could start defining herself in hero own terms.
What happened afterward in her life, namely the tragedy of losing her sight, contributed to add strength to an already remarkable person. Her disability had not only made her stronger but it had become a catalyst in her commitment to her art. For space reasons I cold not include all that was said during the whole interview, but I can say that I was truly humbled when she explained to me that her blindness became an eye opener in her life, especially with regards to her calling: it was then that dancing became a vocations. For research purposes the piece could not exceed the three minutes and this forced a strong editorial control from my part, but I believe that with integrity one can refrain from sensationalising a subject for the sake of manipulating the audience emotional response, whilst at the same time putting across the message on an inspiring story that will stir the viewer in a positive way.
We are a well of vision. We contain all the answers we usually seek outside. If you look into the mirror of water you will see within the well of resources you actually contain. Coaching can guide you like the water reflects. Life is an act of creation that we influence day-by-day, thought after thought. And as we are mostly made of water, we are all susceptible to the vibrations that the water carries, whether positive or negative and whether or not we are conscious of it. A well of vision suggests a playful way of working, a joyful and personal way of teasing out apparently inexistent information, a celebratory way of bringing life out of our being.
The well has a constant supply of water that produces bucketful after bucketful of it for as long as one is willing to pull them out. It suggests co-operation because, though the water is there, we must make the effort to throw the bucket in and pull the rope. The water is also a mirror of our own ‘imperfections’ which can become our own greatest assets. As the coach guides you to your own clear water, you will bring about the vision that will reflect your own true destiny and legacy. Our reality begins as a vision.