Little identified within the Anglophone movie world (though a latest ebook in Edinburgh University Press’s ReFocus collection would possibly recommend an impending course correction), Antoinetta Angelidi is without doubt one of the most artistic and distinct administrators of the final half-century. Raised in and round Athens, Angelidi discovered solace in artwork in her adolescence after a traumatic childhood rape left her speechless. Though she initially took to portray, she was an avid moviegoer and, later, after a dream through which a Magritte-styled work exhibited a tiny motion, she turned to cinema. A pupil activist, she fled Greece for Paris with simply the garments on her again in 1973, in the course of the seven-year junta. Though the movies that will observe emerge from recognizable cinematic establishments—Paris’s IDHEC college, the second-wave feminist movie students and psychoanalytic movie principle, and the avant-garde—they continue to be, of their considerate incorporation of portray, their dazzling use of sound, and their visible magnificence, one-of-a-kind.
Since 2001’s Thief or Reality, Angelidi has collaborated along with her daughter, Rea Walldén, a movie theorist in her personal proper, and Walldén directed Angelidi in her documentary Obsessive Hours on the Topos of Reality (a title incorporating the titles of Angelidi’s 4 options), which had its worldwide premiere on the 2024 International Film Festival Rotterdam. The movie is easy to explain—in a single room, Angelidi recites and interprets key occasions in her life and creative profession—however deceptively wealthy: its considerate use of sunshine and coloration, the assuredness with which it reveals extra and fewer of the filmed area, the understated however deliberate dealing with of sound and the gesticulations, repetitions and perception of Angelidi herself made for one of many competition’s highlights.
Over a protracted brunch, I had the pleasure of discussing Obsessive Hours and Angelidi’s life and work with Angelidi and Walldén. Walldén pulled double obligation, serving as each an interview topic and a translator
Filmmaker: From the documentary, I get a fantastic sense of the work that you just like and the poetry that you just like, however a bit of bit much less in regards to the cinema. I’m questioning if you happen to see your work in dialog with Greek cinema, with avant-garde cinema, and with feminist cinema of the time.
Angelidi: I began watching movies on the age of 13, initially with my father after which the remainder of the household, once we returned to Athens. It was three years after the rape. I used to be very glad to be within the large metropolis and had a form of outburst of creativity. I began portray and watching movies. It was a very fertile interval for Greece, the start of the ’60s. It was very artistic and a number of issues had been occurring. A variety of worldwide movies got here to Athens. I went, in fact, to the Russian avant-garde movies, Eisenstein and Vertov; then Bergman; then the movies of Nouvelle Vague. I actually favored Resnais — Hiroshima Mon Amour and Last Year At Marienbad. I used to be not an enormous fan of Godard, not at the moment, not less than And I had an actual obsession with Ugetsu and was enchanted typically by Japanese cinema. I might paint work impressed by it, obsessively, many times. I bought impressed by cinema to color, and by work to make cinema.
But earlier than I went to Paris, probably the most feminist movie I had seen was Dreyer’s Day of Wrath. I nonetheless really feel that it’s a really feminist movie. however till Paris, I hadn’t seen some other feminist cinema. But the choice to make movies got here to me earlier than going to France, towards the top of my research in structure.
Filmmaker: In the movie you talk about the dream you had involving the Magritte portray.
Angelidi: What is essential for the Magritte dream isn’t just the choice to make cinema, however that it gave a view of the form of cinema I wished to make, a form of cinema that I hadn’t seen. It is a cinema of deconstructed portray and introducing timing into portray. Later on, I discovered affinities with different individuals, however on the time, it was simply the dream that taught me methods to do it.
The different essential factor that occurred then was that I visited Documenta in Kassel. There had been a number of issues there which widened my horizon of what artwork could be. One was environments: it was the time the place artwork grew to become spatialized, environmental. There had been references to structure and areas, and issues like Stonehenge. I used to be learning Roman structure, and it confirmed structure that communicated with the universe. It additionally had an enormous retrospective of Art Brut, artwork made by individuals with schizophrenia and in establishments; it was a form of obsessive artwork, which very a lot to me.
These issues opened up the horizon of artwork. As you realize from the documentary, on the finish of my research, I wanted to flee Greece as a result of my comrades had been arrested, and I used to be in peril of being arrested. So I fled with out something and arrived in marvelous Paris. In the primary 12 months, I went to Vincennes, the free college after May ’68, the place issues occurred. It was psychoanalysis, semiotics, feminism; everybody was there. But it was additionally a form of estrangement. I didn’t communicate the language, not less than that nicely, for the second. It recalled the interval after I had misplaced the power to talk. I couldn’t categorical the complexity of my thoughts. Then I noticed after a 12 months that there’s a movie college, IDHEC. I went there in the midst of the second wave of feminism, which I joined enthusiastically. I discover the concept that the private is political crucial. Left-wing politics had been lacking feminism, and I wished to handle that with my movies.
Filmmaker: I’ve additionally learn that you just had been on the Paris premiere of Michael Snow’s La Région Centrale?
Angelidi: Yes, I used to be there. This notion of how this motion of the digital camera incorporates actual time, and the conclusion that fiction can embrace actual time, was one thing that I additionally tried to do in my first characteristic movie in a while. This was the one experimental movie that was most significant to me. The first shot of my first characteristic movie is a really lengthy shot, and though the composition of the body could be very strict, it’s a very very lengthy one exactly to include actual time and the modifications that occur, incorporating the randomness of actuality. It is the modifications of the sunshine you will note, the shadows altering, the motion of the leaves. All this randomness of actuality was impressed by Michael Snow.
Filmmaker: I wish to speak in regards to the sound design in your movies, which is extraordinarily attention-grabbing. The breaths, the varied different sound results. There was a shot that caught my consideration yesterday in Topos the place music initially seems non-diegetic, however the digital camera ultimately pans and we see a musician. Do you understand how you need pictures to sound once you’re taking pictures, or does that each one come later?
Angelidi: I’ve sounds in my thoughts, however I’m taking pictures silent. Nothing in my movies, even the speech, is synchronously recorded. I at all times had a distance from speech; It is as if it isn’t a part of the physique, doesn’t belong to the physique, however as an alternative goes by the physique after which will get out. And I don’t use reasonable foley when, say, characters contact the objects. I by no means do this. I don’t distinguish the three buildings of sound heterogeneity—speech, music and noise.
Sounds by no means symbolize actuality, however they’re chosen from actuality. For instance, one night time I used to be within the metro station, and on the other platform was a mom with a bit of child that was doing [tongue clicking sounds]. I mentioned, “I want that sound,” so I used it. In Idées Fixes, I collaborated with Gilbert Artman, a minimalist musician—Urban Sax was his group. We determined even the sound of the cicadas could be from phrases. We put phrases collectively, sped them up, and created the cicadas. In Topos, sound wanted to create an uncanny juxtaposition with the picture. The pictures come from the early Renaissance—not solely, you possibly can see trendy artwork—and the selection of earlier Renaissance is critical as a result of perspective was not but totally achieved, so the pictures are fertile. But the sound wanted to be uncanny. I met with Georges Aperghis earlier than the taking pictures of the movie, and Aperghis advised me, which I used to be very accepting of, “we shall start from silence.” In the movie, there’s actual silence—such silence that you just really hear the sound of the digital camera taking pictures. This is an important a part of the sound design.
When I met with Aperghis he mentioned the closest factor he has is recitations, so he gave me the rating of recitations. So, within the last movie, the recitations are used on the final a part of the movie for the singing. The relaxation is improvisations. Martine Viard and I had been in entrance of the movie, and he or she was making sounds. It is her voice that created even the sound of the objects. and many of the characters communicate with the voice of Annita Santorinaiou, with some very particular exceptions. So two girls’s voices are every part.
As an instance, There is a second the place there’s each an inside the development, and an inside and the surface within the shot. And you see what’s occurring outdoors, and you’ve got this very [tongue-popping] sound, then you definitely see my tongue, very shut up, making the sound, revealing the development, however the subsequent shot we have now the identical sound and the ladies say, “ahh, the rain, how it falls.” It turns into the rain. So the identical sound has a special perform inside and out of doors, and it’s wrapped up on this revelation that’s self-referential. So the tongue is just like the tongue of the movie, the voice of the movie.
Filmmaker: I’m questioning if you happen to studied John Cage and musique concrète as nicely?
Angelidi: I take into account him crucial. I had examine him earlier than Idées Fixes however I hadn’t heard something. We examine attention-grabbing issues and concepts within the magazines, and we had been impressed by the descriptions of attention-grabbing issues. Between Idées Fixes and Topos, I heard him, however I actually took to him throughout my educating. I might at all times have my courses cease for 3 minutes of silence. Whatever they hear is the music.
Filmmaker: So what made you wish to use phrases this time?
Angelidi: My mentality, my psyche, for a very long time, was nurtured by pictures, portray and a really sturdy bodily ingredient. Despite the truth that I used to be a Marxist and a feminist and had learn a lot, I used to be very image-oriented and body-oriented. I had a form of distance from actuality, and I used to be making an attempt to open up an area, and on this area was the chance to make artwork. I gave myself utterly to artwork, and when a piece was completed, the area was closed up once more. And after I wished to make one other paintings, I needed to open it up once more. I needed to reinvent the smallest factor from the start. Nothing was going with out saying every part. It was as if I hadn’t realized something from my dad and mom, as a result of I had repressed, after the rape, the power to cope with on a regular basis life.
My first step towards the surface world was after I determined to show, after the age of fifty, after the dying of my mom. In educating, I began to understand that I had unconsciously already included all this principle into my movies, so it was the second the place a form of principle of my movies grew to become acutely aware, by educating the scholars and discussing them with Rea, who by that point had grow to be a theorist. Toward the top of this era, I began going blind. This was a gradual course of; firstly I didn’t notice what was occurring, however it grew to become worse and worse, and by the top I had all this angst and anxiousness and alongside got here most cancers. First was the most cancers operation. It went nicely. And then the primary transplant to the primary eye, after which lockdown begins.
So in regards to the time that the primary transplant begins being included by my physique and I begin seeing once more, a wierd, inner silence and tranquility involves me. It was then that I advised Rea I wish to communicate. Through the generosity of the donors who gave me sight, the world, which till that second was too slim for me, expanded. It acquired a kindness and unity; humanity grew to become one thing variety and unified. All of a sudden, I might communicate with phrases. At that second I wanted to do one thing. Up to that time, so as to categorical myself, I needed to do my very own constructions with pictures, however at that second the phrases got here out. I had beforehand believed that speech was not as in a position to talk in addition to different kinds of communication. Verbal communication was a decrease type of communication. It was my gratitude in the direction of these individuals, the donors, that made her consider humanity as being one household, as if we’re all associated from the start of time.
So at that time, I began a form of preparation. I didn’t say in my thoughts that I used to be making ready, however I began making ready to talk for the movie, one thing that altogether took about one-and-a-half years. It was a strategy of remembering but additionally discovering what was most important among the many issues I wished to say.
Filmmaker: How did you go about making ready for the shoot?
Walldén: The strategy of taking pictures was very a lot Antoinetta’s efficiency. We had determined collectively on the blackness of the background, as a result of, you probably have seen, three of her characteristic movies are like that, so it appeared very applicable, particularly given the notions of seeing, sight, blindness. And the notion of cinema, in fact—cinema is mild and darkness. So we made this quite simple setting inside our flat, and all of the taking pictures is in the identical room. For the black pictures, we have now an enormous velvet fabric, and we lined our library—mainly, our flat is only a library. Antoinetta spoke with no script, with none course. We bought the lighting proper after which she began talking. We have many hours of her simply talking. And the purpose is that you’d by no means be capable to repeat that, as a result of she will’t be taught something by coronary heart, not even a phrase. It was a one-off factor.
At some level, you’ve the room and also you see chairs, and that was not premeditated. We thought, “ah, that’s something that’s interesting, let’s work with this.”
Angelidi: [Interjecting in Greek]
Walldén: This is a enjoyable one: Antoinetta desires to notice that a number of the objects you see in our flat come from the movies. Some from Topos; the massive desk that we work on is the Thief or Reality desk. And the chair is one she painted, whereas the drawing of the plant is without doubt one of the vegetation that she had saved from her childhood.
Filmmaker: And a few of these sequences are black-and-white and others are in coloration. When did you make these choices?
Walldén: All that got here after we had accomplished all of the taking pictures. The coloration is when she speaks about her personal filmmaking profession. So, we have now black and white with childhood traumas of various varieties. When she speaks about how she made one thing, it’s coloration.
Filmmaker: And the movie appears to happen in very outlined segments because the digital camera placement and the staging modifications.
Walldén: Yes, there are teams of pictures. The teams themselves had been premeditated, however how they had been composed was not. So, there’s a whole group of pictures which might be face-to-face, the place she comes out of the darkish. There is one other group of pictures, which was initially her concept, the place I sit over her shoulder and he or she opens up books of her work. She was opening it up for the world, however for me too. In this group, the way in which that she exhibits the fabric creates, in a way, transferring pictures out of static pictures. There are a number of methods of making movie with out movie, even her efficiency. Think of the truth that she speaks about pictures on a regular basis that you just don’t see. She makes the pictures along with her phrases within the motion of her physique, however she makes a non-existent movie along with her phrases, whereas the prevailing movie is her efficiency. Initially, the thought was that we might have extra materials from the archives, however it turned out that her personal efficiency was much more attention-grabbing. There is a number of visible artwork that doesn’t seem in any respect; she doesn’t even talk about it.
Filmmaker: Can you elaborate a bit once you say the teams are premeditated however the compositions will not be?
Walldén: So we have now these teams, we have now some fragments from her movies, a really brief shot of one of many visible artworks. All at the hours of darkness. Then this area seems. She climbs onto the desk that she was behind earlier than. She’s three dimensional, there’s area, and we have now sound within the background for the primary as a result of we had taken off the microphones. This is a proper determination, as a result of at this level the world comes, as a result of it’s the second within the movie the place she says “they gave me my new sight.” Cut. And then you definitely additionally hear my voice for the primary time. Before that second I used to be solely the digital camera; you can perceive my existence by the modifying, the leap cuts, and issues like that, however at that second you hear me asking her questions. So you hear me, you see the area, you hear sounds of the surroundings, you realize there are vehicles–we really made them louder.
In this course of, there are some vital moments. One is the second the place the digital camera strikes and goes up and divulges what’s behind this occasion, the clock, and there we added one synthetic sound, within the second the place it’s alleged to be probably the most pure. We put within the alarm. Then there’s the second, a collection of pictures the place it was once more her selection, the place she sits within the rocking chair. There is a second afterward, a really symmetrical body, balanced between darkness and light-weight, the place she’s first in entrance then goes behind it. And then is the shot the place she speaks about her mom, and that’s the solely shot the place she stands. It was simply her desire at that second; there’s nothing premeditated there. And the final shot of the attention, which is her saying thanks, you’ll discover that it’s the attention from Topos, as if upfront it knew that it might thank the world. That’s the one different place the place we introduced in sound; we put within the sound of the surface world, as a result of the world had come to her.
Filmmaker: How a lot footage did you shoot? How many hours, and over how lengthy?
Walldén: It was loads, however every part that we use was taken within the final 4 or 5 days.
Filmmaker: And was there something that you just shot on these 5 days that had already been carried out, or tales that had been advised earlier within the taking pictures?
Filmmaker: Before we go, I’ve to ask in regards to the man in Topos cracking open the nuts, throwing out the nut and preserving the shells. Why solid [Greek avant-garde filmmaker] Stavros Tornes?
Angelidi: So, we have now to have a look at what was within the script and the way it developed. Before arriving at this character, we have to talk about the sorts of males we have now on this movie, which is mainly populated by girls. So we have now a totally silent agent, the person who’s romantically sitting underneath the window of the lady and by no means speaks. Then we have now the juggler, who’s in love with the useless physique of his spouse and speaks with the voice of a lady. Then we have now the group of males, the one place the place males communicate with their very own voices. They say a number of nonsense. They communicate critically and so they suppose scientifically however they don’t know what they’re speaking about, which is the thought of probably not realizing a lot about girls. The last male determine is the one which Tornes performs. The inspiration is from a Japanese movie—I don’t bear in mind which Japanese movie—the place there’s an outdated man who’s a Peeping Tom. The concept bought caught in my thoughts—movie and voyeurism, that was attention-grabbing. That was the preliminary concept. I knew Stavros and favored him, so he ended up taking part in a form of wizard or magician, a form of ritualistic, magical determine. And he throws away the nut and retains the shell, which is an inversion.
Filmmaker: Like the musician taking part in with out strings.
Angelidi: Yes, the opposite magician determine is the musician. You see her play the bass. These two are the personifications of artwork. Her instrument doesn’t have strings, however she performs music with out strings. The musician can be each a person and a lady. It is a lady who wears the garments of the male lover. The important character, the little lady from the De Chirico portray, when she’s an grownup, the actress Jany Gastaldi, wears the identical garments as when she’s a lady. It’s as if childhood is to be regained. This is the actress Jany Gastaldi. She’s an grownup who has regained management. She has a sphere that travels along with her, and he or she doesn’t give it to a person, and he or she doesn’t give it to both mom determine. She provides the ball to the musician on the finish. This ball that travels all through the movie comes from the Carpaccio portray “The Legend of Saint Ursula.” In the portray, it represents the selection of sainthood, however within the movie it’s the selection of artwork. She is positioned within the mattress of Saint Ursula, and we have now many pictures within the room of Saint Ursula. Outside, the angel of the portray of Saint Ursula, who’s the lover, and the garments of the lover at the moment are taken by the musician and the lady provides the ball to artwork. The identical means that Saint Ursula chooses sainthood, she chooses artwork.