Active on the Swiss and European art scene for more than fifteen years. His work as a video artist is mainly reflected in hybrid fictions. Deliberate oscillations on the very theme of form and on the perception of the image, on the mise en abyme of established codes of perception, his films are as much cinematographic objects as constantly mutating experimental creations.
Over the last three years, he has collaborated with Natacha Atlas, BOHREN & DER CLUB OF GORE, Josh Werner & Bill Laswell, Seven Eyes, Matei Visniec, Kid Chocolat, Nicolas Nadar ( FAUVE ), La Cie De nuit comme de jour, Robert Garieri aka “Roccobelly”, Asia Argento, and has presented four experimental fictional feature films in targeted and demanding arthouse cinema halls and festivals, like the Green Hours, Reduta and Clubul Taranului / România. Arsenic, Grütli, l'Usine PTR, Zinema, Sputnik, SAS, City Club, Théâtre 2.21, La Datcha / Switzerland
In September 2022, his total project, SLEEPER HITS: TROPICAL ABSTRACTIONS, will be presented as an augmented cinema in the prestigious event venue, the Rolex Center, in Lausanne.
In summer 2016 he took part in the RAC, a residence for contemporary art in Brasov / Transylvania.
In September 2017 his cinema-total project SLEEPER HITS: TROPICAL ABSTRACTIONS closed the avant garde festival AMURAL / Transylvania.
Tell us about you. How did you start your career and how did you enter the world of cinema?
Alright, I'll start with a short anecdote.
At the end of my childhood, around my ten years, living under the communist dictatorship in Bucharest, all access to Western cinematographic works was forbidden to us, and their viewing was punishable. Having always had an immoderate taste for transgression, I succeeded in infiltrating a small network of moviegoers, managed by gypsies, who secretly screened these famous "banned" films, in the cellars of the capital, to a cent. I remember, in these basements there were a few wooden chairs, a television, the film projected on barely visible VHS media (because of the wear of the magnetic tape), and… a translator who endeavored to transmit to us live, the words of the actors.
We mainly discovered American exploitation films from the 80s. My heroes were then Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who vulgarly burst the screen, without the slightest restraint. When I left these sessions, I went directly to tell my friends, who were waiting for me impatiently to find out everything about the films. They asked me to tell them everything down to the smallest detail, in expressions, facial expressions, sounds. It was like evening fireside vigils, but down in our communist blocks instead of the forest and its spirits. I took a crazy pleasure in being the messenger, the counter of these adventures lived in secret, animated by the desire for cinema.
That being said, at the fall of the communist regime, arriving in the West, from my adolescence and for a good decade, I devoted my study exclusively to painting.
It was a deep and tumultuous encounter with this medium, and at the time, I firmly believed that I was destined for this path. Investors bet on me, I had a multitude of exhibitions, I participated in contemporary events and the public was there.
However, something was definitely missing. Painting and its origins, the study of which I have exhausted through my practice, was no longer enough for me in itself, and seemed to me too often emptied of its perspectives. I was also missing the direct relationship to other channels of expression, mainly sound and movement. The precise moment when I know I have switched to the side of "cinema", is part of a trip I made in ... September 2001!
Out on the Greek island of Rhodes, camera in hand, simply walking around to capture the atmosphere, with one of my former lovers by my side, we arrived completely by chance,
on the foreclosed premises of an ancient site opening onto the sea. In this place I felt for the first time an impulse, charged with deja vu and a kind of aesthetic coherence, pushing me to inscribe the moment in a video creation, close to abstraction. There was a cosmic silence there, an immemorial sensuality that called in me to construct a cinematic and sensory object. I captured this moment, in situation, in a short film prepared urgently, the same day, with the dying light of the sun on the sea, until nightfall. By I don't know what providence, I was able to shoot, with my friend turned into an actress for the occasion, without anyone ever disturbing this moment. I think that a kind of evidence changed at that moment in me, my relationship to the making of images.
The result was a first video object, charged with a deaf, occult and erotic force, which I entitled KALITHEA, from the name of the ancient site, and which confused the identity of the actress with that of the place, melting them together. into each other. This experience and my conviction led me to present the film in the form of an installation according to my exhibitions. Its public reception was so immediate and encouraging that it changed the whole nature of my work, of my destiny.
Gradually, over the next fifteen years, video and experimental cinema came to replace my practice as a visual artist. This is how my films, since these events, have kept a hybrid character, oscillating between art installation and cinematographic creation.
The other revealing trigger was, as for many directors, the meeting of my images with the sound. The peculiarity, already from these first steps, was that my films, during their screenings, were systematically accompanied by professional musicians live. And that those adapted, and adapted their musical game to the place and the atmosphere of the moment (to inject each time an impression of direct experience into the visual frame). This specificity later became one of my creation and production tools. I immediately adhered to this way of presenting a film, old-fashioned, referring to the origin of something and yet, targeting contemporary and less identifiable issues. The sacred image-music union has become the cinematic structure of my films today, see SAG MIR, WIE LANG!
At the beginning of each project I search, often from the moment of writing and creating a story, a universe, the symbiotic relationship between the images to come and the musician capable of feeling them to the point of transcending them. These matrix events allowed me to develop a series of main motifs, which haunt my productions: the place as a character, the woman as the vital fluid of the story, the acoustic image (the sound) as a reflection of the invisible. It is their combination in multiple aesthetic variations constantly renewed that has defined my films of the last ten years.
What projects and collaborations did you work on before "SAG MIR, WIE LANG"?
I have created and produced all styles of formats, but from there two feature films stand out more specifically to answer your question.
The first, BLACK SEA COAST, an arthouse film in variable format (between 2 and 3 hours depending on its projection), with my wife as central actress (another portrait of a woman), told the story of the quest for a western character, find the trace of a lost love, along an initiatory journey leading her to the edge of the Black Sea. All the Pitch of the film was held in a phone call. That the woman, called Lux, received during the foreground, and of which the spectator heard nothing, but which as the film progressed, let him predict the intentions of the character.
However, nothing in the film was ever going to confirm it. The real existence of this man leading her on her initiatory journey was never going to be proven by the film.
His entire odyssey remains in this film a visual and sound dive (accompanied by two live composers) towards an unknown territory in contact with archaic forces, emerging ghosts of Romania's communist past, in a sensory and hopeless ballet. The woman, Lux, ends up blending into the place of the call, organically, into the Black Sea.
The second, the most significant as a particular idea of cinema, is called SLEEPER HITS: TROPICAL ABSTRACTIONS. Very difficult to put into words, this film is an evolving project, made of fragments (autonomous short films) and whose duration varies according to the constantly renewed arrangement of these fragments and according to the creation of additional segments. The film has been shot and presented for more than five years in different film and art venues. Its principle is a total show combining live vision and sound.
It is interpreted and produced jointly, with an exceptional Swiss composer, my sound double in a way, Nicolas Nadar. To try to summarize (I say try), the general idea of these different fragments constituting the film would be: the occult return of forces, of specters, embodied by characters coming to avenge the disappearance of ecosystems destroyed by the hand of man.
Each of the fragments allegorically "does justice" to a destruction done to nature, by the return of its vengeful ghosts. It is a film that is in permanent shooting, in the four corners of the tropical world. Once again, it is a ballet of forms that cannot be strictly qualified as a cinema film. It's hard to put all of this into words. My films are objects of images and sounds and not of words. Words never contain the blood of my films. Hence also the silence of the film that interests us here SAG MIR, WIE LANG. It remains to be emphasized that none of my films speak. There is no literature in my projects.
As a filmmaker and artist, what are your influences?
Ok, I'll tell you one more anecdote: I remember just now, one autumn evening in 1997, when I went to one of the most legendary cinemas in my city, Lausanne, to discover a film whose title had bewitched me; LOST HIGHWAY. At the time, I had a vague idea of who its director was, a certain David Lynch, and I wanted to discover his work. It was my first cinematic shock. A telluric wave took hold of me little by little, throughout the projection.
The fantastical, poisonous, anti-chronological atmosphere of the film, sublimated by a sound between free-jazz and dark-metal, its racy and crazy dynamics at the same time, as well as its nostalgic tone of a cinema is consumed in the endless night, before our eyes... An experience that transformed the way I looked and defined what I expected from cinema.
I still remember that Lynch had designed his film in such a way that during his half, when the schizophrenic character (Bill Pullmann), suffered his splitting, the film stopped.
On a tense musical note, as if frozen, the spectators were invited to go down to the main hall for a fifteen-minute intermission. The musical note continued to travel through the space of the cinema throughout the break. Back in the room, when the screening was resumed, the character previously played by Bill Pulmann had been replaced by another actor. And his universe had metamorphosed with him. From then on, all the characters had their double. It had bowled me over. And mostly because of the murky identity of his wife (Patricia Arquette), at the pinnacle of his cinematic portrayal, made totally totemic by Lynch. From then on, she and her double literally possessed the screen with their ostentatious and indecipherable beauty. She was the dream of cinema embodied. She embodied all the movie actresses and their doubles, their ghosts, in a single secret and outraged body at the same time.
Francois Truffaut said: "Cinema is the art of making pretty women do pretty things". I can't say if "pretty" is the right term to describe the films that have marked my life, but one thing is certain: from then on, the films that transported and influenced me, were films of forms, bodies, and women offering themselves to the gaze by performing acts as abstract as possible. Sensualist films tending towards the inexplicable.
I could quote, out of order; ELEVATOR FOR THE SCAFFOLD by Louis Malle (another aesthetic shock at all levels). Jeanne Moreau, in the rain, at night, in Paris, to the stratospheric music of Miles Davis, is a founding scene of my sensitivity and to which SAG MIR, WIE LANG makes extensive reference.
Otherwise, BODY DOUBLE by Brian de Palma, an object of pure fascination, inexhaustible in the cinema's magical resources, a film that combines the improbable with the unacceptable and yet works like a drug.
A WOMAN IN A LIZARD’S SKIN by Lucio Fulci, for its sick and refined plastic beauty, for its secret references to the History of the Arts, melted into a bloody Giallo.
TENEBRAE by Dario Argento, pantheon of erotic, atmospheric and electric Giallo, with undecidable and obsessive stakes.
I adore THE ASSASSIN by Hou Hsiao-hsien, for its perfect pictoriality, for its courage to remain silent, for its essential slowness, precision and sensuality. Film charged by the symbolist beauty of its actress Shu QI.
What is your vision as a filmmaker? How do you find inspiration for your projects and what steps do you take to maintain a fresh perspective as an independent filmmaker?
Today's world is in crisis. But this crisis remains a mystery, today more than ever in history. And that's nonsense. Because obviously, with all the technological development and the means of information that we have acquired, we should be able to find many answers to this mystery.
Yet if we stay honest with ourselves, real satisfying answers, there are none. The identifiable hierarchical pyramidal structures of yesteryear that structured our lives, our environment, gave way to a protean entity, an "It", which generates identities that can define it to hide better. Today's world advances by systematically invoking its need for transparency, behind which reality remains opaque. It is a great frustration of our time.
I am not a committed filmmaker, but I am sensitive, and I react in my creations to the pulsations, to the moods of this sick world, which surrounds my daily life by the superficiality of its proposals, by its vanity. Everything is artificial. Hence, an archaic need for sensory authenticity, for cinematographic contact with the original forces of this art. I need its organic, erotic power, passing through fragments of reality captured in situ.
I like working with pure visual material, modeling it in ways that are still recognizable. A camera, a character, a situation sculpted and sensualized directly from the film. The promise of sensory enjoyment deprived of false explanations. That's my target; make a clean sweep of too much literature, too many effects, too much technology (I hate technology).
Currently, Western and especially European cinema is too orderly for me. Subordinated to the expectations of a public motivated by entertainment, and by the strict territory of an explanatory art (precisely, compulsive need specific to the nonsense of our time), which reassures it in its need for consumer culture.
I have the feeling that over the last decade cinema has been delivering worried films. Worried about their own legitimacy, and who, even when they venture elsewhere, constantly tend to find in their problematic a dialogue, able to deliver the validation of the spectator.
There is too much prose, too much discussion, too many pointless answers to everything all the time.
Whereas for me cinema is art above other arts. And art is an enigma. Cinema is above all a dialogue between images and sounds, a symphony. A symphony does not need explanations does it? We listen to it, that's all. We no longer allow the cinema to give us its enigmas, we are in a world sick with its need for control, which prevents itself from making the cinema of its time. For me, a film must be an assumed risk-taking. An experimental research constantly renewed in the moment, working the intelligence and the emotion of the spectator by connecting it to unexpected universes. Who endanger his expectations, sending him back to his presentiments, to his instinct.
My films are filled with signs that confront the viewer with deliberately abstract questions.
This participates in the process of endangerment: perception wavers, an unknown and sensual terrain emerges, exploration can begin. Exploration allows the individual to decide, to make choices, throughout the projection. The point of view is individualized. That's what I like.
In parallel with my work as a filmmaker and producer, I have been directing for more than ten years a section that trains in the aesthetics of images and contemporary art. Art, in the broadest sense, is my main source of inspiration. For me, life imitates art and not the other way around. Art seeks the sublime, and for me, the quest for the sublime is non-negotiable. Unlike beauty or prettiness, the sublime is not always acceptable, is not always universal, which makes it more difficult to explore. This requires more cold blood, more relentlessness and abandonment.
In my films, above any other theme, I question the notion of the sublime. And this goes through all the springs of cinema. Even if it means deceiving me, failing, losing myself. The sublime is often born of an aesthetic accident, of a philosophical or formal digression... This is why my work as an independent filmmaker will never be conventional. Because I do not comply with any rules of consumption or production. I prefer to self-produce and continue to dig into ecstasy, without definition.
These are the steps I take on a daily basis, hoping never to create boring, useless work. There is too much useless creation around us. In the context of cinema, an idea must be deeply desired in order to have the right to exist. Same for images; today an image should only exist if it is absolutely necessary.
SAG MIR, WIE LANG has quite a visual style, meaning that the images, the colors, the lights, the effects, the shots, they all become integral parts of the film/narrative.
Please tell us about the film itself and the themes you wanted to reflect upon.
You said it very well, it is a visual film, perfectly visual (and that at all levels, even sound)! In SAG MIR, WIE LANG, the vision itself as much as the object on which its desire is focused are embodied. The two become a single body, that of the actress, who, evolving in the film and saturating the frame with her presence, becomes a "body-image"!
SAG MIR, WIE LANG, is above all a desire for cinema transposed into a film whose images as well as the vision in itself are the seminal substance. Here, all the building blocks of the shots (as you correctly described); colours, lights, effects, sounds… come alive with the essence of the viewer’s desire for the cinematic object. Otherwise nothing!
The body of the actress (Michelle Suter, a sort of fetish in my latest films), voluntarily sign and mute totem, constitutes the erotic and abstract screen, on which the spectator projects his own characters, or the ghosts of cinematographic characters that he exhumes and summons to bend them to the story. Let him permute into the actress fatally!
Let me explain. In my opinion, cinema has always been haunted by two things. The first, tautological, being the fact that it is by nature the art of ghosts. It stores in itself the images of all the bodies having crossed it. Some of them become canonical and then become part of the collective imagination for eternity. But this principle participates in a double movement. Since in what motivates it, curiously, cinema is the art of anticipation. Ineluctable fact, linked to time and therefore to the idea of the desire for the image that is going to come, which is not yet there. Who will replace the previous one, swap it, right?
Participating in this paradox, is added the second inseparable characteristic of cinema: voyeurism. By definition, cinema maintains a relationship with reality, whose bodies it captures to feed its optical drive. It is the art of the desire to imprison the image, and that of the desire to see oneself looked upon imprisoned thus, as a work in the image. This characteristic is also composed of a paradox which maintains its flame and agitates it: the film shows what the image demands, in order to hide itself better. Each image called its shadow. In the cinema, each image pre-exists and desires its other. Time demands it. From this inexhaustible desire, because by nature impossible to satisfy, is born the cinematographic tension and with it the optical drive of the spectator. This dynamic, fluid coalescing with the movement of bodies in the film, describes for me the identity of cinema.And knowing that SAG MIR, WIE LANG precisely pursues the desire for cinema, his images attempt to create this perverse and poetic impulse, in the dialogue shot-spectator.
In the cinema, to show is to learn not to see! The image, the real one, attached, bound to the one that is before our eyes, hides in the folds and folds of the latter. The sublime in cinema is found in what we do not see, in the missing image. To come back to your question dealing with the themes of my film, this would be the main one: the ghost image, the spectre of images coming to haunt the law of the story. In SAG MIR, WIE LANG, it’s all about ghosts. The film itself seems to summon the memory of another film that belonged to him, resembling him or to come.
I believe more than anything in the primitive but fundamental entity of this image stronger than any other shot: "the image-spectrum"! This is what SAG MIR, WIE LANG, "spectrum-images" is made of. In fact, working on the same paradox as that of desire in the cinema, this film summons its double, which is projected onto the viewer's mental screen simultaneously.
Nothing is there by chance since, in my way of constructing the film, I produced this double there. But who is not there. In any case, not for the one who looks (and who seeks that the images bring him the answer to what he sees), but for the one who summons him! Here is a key, to see my film again: Every shot is ajar because it has two poles: one being who it claims to be, the other being who it would like to become. These two forces excite him from within and charge him with an indisputable invisible presence. They create the erotic dynamic that cinema maintains with the viewer and the performance space. It is the big or the small arena where everyone can become a voyeur of an event that is always renewed because it is incomplete. The shots of SAG MIR, WIE LANG, are slots through which one can slide towards other planes, themselves reflections of others and so on.
What made you want to make this film and tell this story?
What made me want to tell this "story" was the music. Here I come "the acoustic image"!
The birth of SAG MIR, WIE LANG is linked to an intimate collaboration with the legendary dark jazz band Bohren & Der Club of Gore. This secretive but hugely influential German band, founded in 1992, has transformed the way we listen to music for the past two decades. In the same way that certain filmmakers have changed the way we perceive images in the collective unconscious, Bohren & Der Club of Gore has transformed the dynamics of sound. To me, Bohren & Der Club of Gore is a perfectly cinematic band. And their sounds systematically refer to cinematographic references.
My initial intention was to take the listener on a journey through their music for the first time, to subtly lose them in the spectrum of their references, and those that this music appeals to in me. I discussed it with Christoph Clöser, the saxophonist, and the band followed suit. They were enthusiastic about the idea, and I ended up self-producing the short film, in association with their label PIAS, which acted as a distributor.
In fact, the main reference (and so to speak the starting point of my film) was the Giallo. This transalpine genre was born in the fury of the 70s in Italy. In appearance, SAG MIR, WIE LANG, is a mannerist gesture, which anamorphosis in the space of a musical composition all the motifs dear to this coded genre: criminal plot centred on female characters, fetishism of bladed weapons, indistinction between enjoyment and repulsion, secrecy of the stakes. That's for form. Which obviously takes up a lot of space here.
In reality, the real subject would rather be to look for the themes that I have discussed previously: when we analyze the progression of the narrative frame a little more precisely, certain shots seem to have existed then, to have escaped from it. And if we focus on the chronology of the situations, the film ends up closing in on itself like an optical trap, which keeps us prisoner, as long as we seek to recreate the images of which the film has been deprived. This is where Bohren's music comes in, and plays a decisive role, inseparable from the invisible. She tells what we do not see. It becomes the active presence of the mental framework, and recomposes the abstract thread of the story: the acoustic image!
To conclude, SAG MIR, WIE LANG is in this sense a mannerist gesture because it voluntarily uses an aesthetic regime which is that of the Giallo, to compress it, twist it and make the actress follow exactly the same path as that of the spectator trapped in the body of her own character, in the space of the eight minutes of sound that the film lasts. My desire was to make the spectator feel the pleasure of being trapped, in this antechamber (which could be that of the cinema), with this character.
Similarly, can you discuss the production and post-production stages for your film? The challenges you faced and any unconventional techniques or ideas that you have utilised to capture such a unique visual style.
As mentioned above, SAG MIR, WIE LANG, scenography thanks to the aesthetics of the Giallo, the idea that the actress (her character if you prefer) is gradually locked in an optical trap with the spectator "by her side". Therefore, in terms of post-production I had to face two major challenges that delimited my research, for a little more than four months following the shooting, during the studio:
The first was to create the visual identity that could translate the memory of the Giallo and in a certain way contextualize it, give the illusion of it: era, tics of visual composition, arrangement of scenes, appearance, etc. So I decided to build a visual regime by filters, close to Super 8 / 16mm film cameras. To support on the one hand the allegorical idea of this time of the Giallo, and on the other hand, to be able to build a coherent thought linked to the second problem. Where does the view come from? Who sees, who films what we discover? This question is the center of SAG MIR, WIE LANG. And as you can see on the screen, there is a panoptic system that is rapidly being put in place, with images that confuse, that reconfigure themselves, and that ask this question: Who sees?
On the one hand because of the Super 8 camera object present in the space of the film, on the other hand because it is manipulated at several times by the girl herself. And above all, because the identity of the film on the screen gradually confuses formats, in unframing, frames, split-screens until the image becomes compulsive and permutes the meaning of the story. Ultimately my love for form, and this search for aesthetics on these two levels has brought the film to its current style.
For me, the form is sovereign in art in general and in cinema in addition. The excitement is in the form. It is by finding in me and around me the codes of a new form to explore, that I find the subject. Often the music, the invisible, brings me there. In the case of SAG MIR, WIE LANG, this sensation of dated film, imprisoning the gaze, crossed me each time I listened to the musical composition behind the film.
Over the years, I no longer believe in the law of storytelling which predetermines a form. Moreover, the law of forms is more coherent than the chronological history of the arts. To be in the moment, in the now, you have to master the forms. A film can be very inventive at its creation and seem instantly dated because of poor management of the form, and the inability of the filmmaker to represent the aesthetic issues of his film in the present, and for posterity. For me, a highly intelligent cinema (a sign of the contemporary) is a cinema that does not use the classic laws of storytelling to convince us, but which bends the story to its shape to make us captive.
What role do you believe independent filmmakers play in shaping the future of cinema (and media)?
Ok, at the risk of repeating myself a bit, here is my impression: Cinema is the art of waiting for what must happen but will never happen. The cinema is the expression of this expectation of the impossible, which would end up digging a plan elsewhere, to give us what we hope for. And therein lies its beauty! I am not opposed to popular and industrial cinema, but I do not believe in the one of now. Today's "great" films are not cinema, precisely because all of their devices work to destroy all forms of expectation. They persist in anticipating and giving the viewer what he wants as soon as possible, so as not to disappoint him. This cinema agitates images, sounds, in a stroboscopic way in the eyes of the observer, hoping to trigger his orgasm by the escalation of means at his disposal. And that he must justify financially. We are very far from the idea of a cinematographic creation. It is technical mastery spread out in talent, in the service of an optimized result.
The role of independent filmmakers is to transcend this state of affairs. We have the task of believing deeply in what we do and risk head-on collision with this "cinema" of nonsense. We have this responsibility of honesty, the only one that can penetrate the flaws of a system managed by the power of money, to change it little by little from the inside. The possible jouissance is found nestled inside the unsatisfied, in what deafens inside a story without ever overflowing it by demonstration. Not so long ago, independent filmmakers were able to seize this value to impose it until they transformed it into popular cinema.
Let's take the example of the Giallo again. Cinematic system shamelessly using the trivial codes of guilty pleasure, of the vices buried in everyone, this underground genre has succeeded in revolutionizing cinema as a whole, thanks to the intelligence, culture and extraordinary know-how of its finest representatives. From the start, he aimed for the skillful construction of narrative frameworks, playing on this paradox: what I see, what I hear, makes me a little more deaf and blind with each shot. So I know it, I have to project myself into the material of the film to find clues that would free me. I must find in this matter the answers that the images and the apparent sounds do not provide me.
Take for example Dario Argento's animal trilogy (70s), THE BIRD WITH CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, FOUR FLIES OF GRAY VELVET, THE NINE-TAILED CAT. In each title, there is a key, a clue, that the viewer could use to dig into the material of the film and beyond. Or for example, the famous PROFONDO ROSSO, by the same director. This film, a tribute to the first of the masterpieces that questioned the image in depth, BLOW UP by Michelangello Antonioni, uses the same actor as that of its reference to make it prolong a metaphysical and dead end interrogation.
Let's see: in BLOW UP, a famous fashion photographer in London, sinks into anguish because of a shot he took in a park a little by chance. And which reveals to him during his development, the presence of a corpse, hidden in his own photo. Consequently, upon triggering the lens, his professional eye was unable to see the essential frame within his own composition. His anxiety about this blindness will lead him to enlarge the print indefinitely, until this fatal detail ends up becoming abstract, and thereby losing him in his drive to want to understand.
Ten years later, Dario Argento signed with PROFONDO ROSSO, another masterpiece, and probably the last Giallo in the strictest sense of the term. In it, the same actor (David Hemmings), witness this time of a real murder, will carry out an obsessive investigation to find the assassin. Until the mythical scene where, in an old Italian villa, he will discover an image, a decisive clue, hidden under the layers of plaster of a redone wall. He will persist for long minutes compulsively scratching the surface, wishing to reveal the image as a whole in order to understand. Creating in the spectator this hopeless expectation, delivering him to himself and this, despite the clues, which are always incomplete. Until the end of the film which will reveal to the character transformed into an investigator, that the famous image he was actually looking for, the key to the enigma, was not concealed behind these layers of plaster, but pre-existed from the beginning of the film, in the moment of the murder itself, which he had witnessed.
The image hidden in the material of the film (therefore in the image) and the desire to make it emerge, will have held the spectator in suspense for more than two hours, whereas in these two works, this image was already there. So, therefore, the right question here would be: But then what were we waiting to see?
As Roland Barthes said: "Cinema is the art that tells you: - Patience, it will come!"". But the image that would finally embody what "must come" will never happen. Because it is in the spectator's impulse and in his expectation. And the nature of the drive is never to be satisfied. This is the cinema! The spectator knows all that, and that is precisely why he comes back again and again.
To conclude, try to imagine the following situation: A few days ago, I was on a beach by a lake, near where I live. Evening was falling. A woman arrives on the beach, walking a few meters from me. As she moved, the woman's feet kicked up sand and dust, the visual effect of which was amplified by the last rays of sunlight against the light. I thought to myself this: Cinema is like that! Each shot raises golden, orange sand, vibrating like a ghost for the duration of its duration, which stirs for a time on the surface of the film. Then, falls back into dust in matter calling the next step, then the next shot. The sand still rises, excites our retina with its fragile and fleeting beauty. And so on, as the sun dies behind the horizon, the floating effect of the sand becomes more and more vibrant and magnetic with every plane, every step. A sensual melancholy invades me, the light disappears and the crackling of the sand with it... Night! I will come back tomorrow.
That's cinema for me (independent if you prefer). It's this kind of film that can save the world, right?
How was the film received at film festivals? Please tell us about your festival run. Additionally, what role do you think festivals can play in helping independent films?
SAG MIR, WIE LANG has found a very nice echo in its festival career. So much so that for two months, not a week has gone by without one or even two festivals contacting me and asking me to include the film in their selection. It was well received in Tokyo, interviewed, and twice won Best Cinematography and Best Music Video.
I was also contacted by Rome. Which is funny since in the end, it could only end there. Knowing that it pays homage to the Giallo, and that Rome was one of the hotspots of this genre. So yes, I'm satisfied and I think that festivals play an important role in the promotion and visibility of independent cinema. These are beautiful platforms stretched between the director and his audience. Like there, in these lines.
Finding a distributor is often one of the most difficult things for independent filmmakers. Could you tell us about the distribution plans for your film(s)? Do you think it has become easier or more difficult to find distributors today, especially with the rise of streaming services?
I let you imagine the difficulty of my cinematographic creations to find a distributor. If a film of my own production were to exist to comply with current distribution criteria... It probably wouldn't exist! My cinema is not radical in the strict sense, but because it uses forms as well as formats which knock out the principle of profitability linked to the objective of the distribution of a film. Who are my films for, in what form, in what contexts should they be screened? This does not make anyone agree with the current situation related to the cinema industry so… I do with the means at my disposal: by my own production, ZEROSTOCFILM, and with the support of people interested in my projects. Case by case.
I make smuggler's films, therefore necessarily outside the circuit. With SAG MIR, WIE LANG this was unexpected because the PIAS label (distributor of the musical group to which the film pays tribute) took care of the distribution.
What will you work on for your future project(s)?
My cinema is a filmic hyperspace, made up of creations that use amnesia as punctuation and as a binder. Each shot, each occurrence could belong to another dissociated narrative, of which we have lost track, and which must be considered as existing somewhere in this hyperspace. These are off-screens that become active subjects in other of my films and so on. To acclimatize to my cinema in general, it is necessary to consider my productions as being a single film crossed by actors, places, and situations which mutate and communicate at the same time.
I am currently filming the second episode of the selected film, SAG MIR, WIE LANG. As I explained above, my shots, sequences and images are reflections, double ghosts of other images. In the specific case of the episode in progress, it will indeed be an inverted spectrum of the aforementioned film. This ghost film was already planned during the shooting of the first film. So that in the end, images from the previous shoot, in 2022, will be present in this new part. Once again, this film will be a tribute to genre cinema, but this time in a visual language closer to the Midnight Movies of the 80s.
At the same time, I am working on a substantial medium-length film, very important to me, which will be integrated into the permanent flow of my deja-vu images, and whose subject will be the assassination of an “island-princess”. Allegorical fact, inspired by the real story of a fabulous island called Ada-Kaleh, destroyed and then sunk by the Romanian communist power, at the end of the 60s, for ideological reasons.
This film will be called ADA KALEH, from the exact name of the island itself (which currently lies at the bottom of the Danube), and from the name of the central character in the film, princess who has become a ghost, specter of the memory of images, returning to testify to the submerged existence of this little Romanian Atlantis of yesteryear. The music for this film was composed and performed by my faithful musician Nicolas Nadar, as well as by the famous oriental jazz singer Natacha ATLAS (whose music has toured the world and accompanied many famous films).