Women Filmmakers Triumph At Sur-REEL & Uncanny Film Fest, London
At the first-ever UK festival dedicated to the surreal and uncanny, filmmaker Rocio Rocha from Argentina wins the trophy for Best Film as her experimental short The Inhabitants Of Me wows the judges. Lisa Battocchio from Italy wins the coveted Best Director category for her beautifully shot and surreally-woven short film Cochlea.
This festival promised to entertain with short films and features that fit the category of surreal and uncanny and there were also talks of an uncanny new genre emerging from the confluence of the two. There were a wide variety of films under this banner; from the dream-like Rhapsody On An Apple (dir Carlos Calvar) which won Best Cinematography and Best Editing, to the classically ‘uncanny’ Moth Night (dir Nicolas Toniollo) which won Best Screenplay.
We interview BEST FILM winner Rocio Rocha about her background in filmmaking and the driving forces behind her creativity.
Rocio Rocha (dir. The Inhabitants Of Me)
Congratulations on your win Rocio. Tell us more about your background in filmmaking
My background in filmmaking outside the academic curriculum is quite narrow. I have worked as an art director for a couple of local videoclips, director of photography in a documentary about tango, and some video pieces for theatre plays. Nevertheless, my most personal works have occurred during academic life, always revolving around “strange”, occult and philosophical subjects (either explicitly or in a veiled form).
Do you remember what first inspired you to become a filmmaker?
I think of it more as a process, it happened organically. My mother was a librarian and my father a classical musician and composer, so I grew up in the corridors of a library, reading Ray Bradbury and hearing my father’s explanations on how instruments or melodies can represent the material and onirical worlds. As a child I took part in a well-known lyric theatre’s children’s choir, and had the opportunity to be onstage in several operas. I also had a major interest in plastic arts.
As I grew older I moved towards photography, scenography and costume design, and eventually filmmaking. But I’m always looking for new crossings between materials that surround me (either physical or mental), technology and different art forms. For me, it’s in the unlimited experimentation of art that the most interesting ideas come to light, things that otherwise would be hidden, even from the artist themself.
What inspired the concepts in “The Inhabitants Of Me.” Is it based on a single source of inspiration or is it purely experimental and abstract?
It first started as a direct representation on the loss of my father and my process of mourning. Actually the name came from a dream he once had (he, like me, was an avid dreamer). In the dream some men are chatting around a table, then suddenly realize the dreamer is watching and turn to camera, leaving the frame saying “let’s go, he’s almost awake”; after this, my father woke up. He titled this dream Los habitantes de mí (The inhabitants of me). This event always fascinated me.
Back to the film itself, it eventually evolved to a wider theme: nature as both creator and corruptor, and the circle of life and death. I chose to shoot it using Instagram as an experiment, since all my references came from the film world and I only had access to video, but wanted to try something different. I also challenged myself to do as many roles myself, to make it the most personal possible. Having represented three different characters, the title gained an even stronger meaning.
Do you have any creative influences – not necessarily creative-based themselves?
Everything influences me. I love wandering through the city listening to horror movie soundtracks, it radically changes your view on the world. But in a more specific way, I’d have to say filmmakers Maya Deren, Ingmar Bergman, Carl Theodor Dreyer, David Lynch, Takashi Ito, Kurt Kren and a number of horror and experimental films. In terms of photography, I always come back to Francesca Woodman, Brittany Market and Ben Cauchi. The worlds created by both Nicola Samorì and Francis Bacon in their paintings and sculptures are also amongst my top daydreaming images.
Also a huge influence in this film and my curiosity for uncanny subjects are the podcasts Weird Studies by Phil Ford and J. F. Martel, and The Magnus archives by Jonathan Sims and Alexander J. Newall. Regarding music the list would be far too long, but let’s say the Impressionist Movement has a special place to me.
Also artists such as Burial, Disasterpeace, Nine Inch Nails, Boards of Canada, Philip Glass and Agnes Obel. As for writers I’m very fond of Ray Bradbury, since he was my loyal companion growing up and also has a taste for the “strange”. I am also inspired by the magic realism of Haruki Murakami and poems by T. S. Eliot and Percy Shelley… my mind could wander forever, so let’s part here.
And here is the festival’s first-ever trophy won by Rocio Rocha for The Inhabitants Of Me.
In the background of the trophy is the Houses of Parliament and a sculpture by Rodin (Westminster)
Sur-REEL & Uncanny Fest Best Film & Best Director Winners Below:
Trophy winner – The Inhabitants Of Me (Rocio Rocha)
Silver Award – Cochlea (Lisa Battocchio)
Bronze Award – The Wandering Soul (Camilo Baquerre)
Gold Award – Lisa Battocchio (Cochlea)
Silver Award – Camilo Baquerre (The Wandering Soul)
Bronze Award – Matilda Friman (The Last Picture Show)
Full list of winners at surrealuncannyfestival.com