Toronto International Film Festival 2020
Short Cuts
Alexandra Ramires

TIE / ELO

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Two figures with different physical impairments find their way to one other under a hazy sun. They have nothing to hide from each other: one’s shortcoming is the other’s strength.

Hi Alexandra thank you for talking to TNC, how are you held up during these very strange times?

During the lockdown it was very important to learn to listen to myself more and start thinking about what I want to do in the coming years. A precious time of reflection. 

But now that we are in this middle stage, that seems to have no end, it scares me to realize the fear we have been creating of the warm gestures, the dread we have of hugs, or even of a person we just met. 

I will never be able to normalize this feeling of fear. That's why I try to take the opportunity to execute other projects so that when we can be together again we can have the raw material that will take us to a movie theatre, watch movies together, and we can hug! (probably utopia), but I need this belief.

Has this time offered you any new creative?

Not really, in the studio where I work we are in the middle of producing several short films and, unlike the live action case, the animation work has many steps that can (but should not) be done at home and isolated. I felt that it was a fertile time for ideas, but for lack of time I couldn't develop them as much as I liked. 

You are a founding member of BAP - Animation Studio Cooperative, how did this studio come about?

In our studio we are a group of animation film directors, some of whom I have worked with for more than 10 years, here we found a unique environment and it has to be preserved. We have a vision of cinema that unites us. We try to work on each other's films, which keeps us learning as well as helps us to have work in a continuous way, and keeps the debate about films alive! 

Previously we were a studio part of a bigger production company - Bando à Parte - which includes live action films, features, shorts, documentaries... and the current BAP Cooperative was the animation studio of that company. However, because of the kind of production that animation requires, as well as the strong relationship we have between us, we started to form our own vision about making animated films. So it made sense for us to be independent, having as a member of the cooperative the owner of the company where we were before, who gave us all the support in this process.

Your latest short film Tie is part of TIFF Short Cuts, how does it feel to have your film a part of such an amazing lineup of short films?

TIFF was one of the festivals where I liked to go most (with the previous film Drop by Drop that I co-directed with a friend Laura Gonçalves) Maybe because it was the most eclectic I've been, as well as because I felt a human side where there is an effort to bring the directors together and encourage dialogue. There I found very different films of several types, nationalities as well as a very diverse audience. This brought us very different reactions to the same film. Being in the festival again is a bittersweet sensation. I am very happy to have a film at TIFF again and very curious to know this year's selected films but sad for not being able to go.

"I think of animation cinema as paintings or drawings that can move."

As a graduate from the Painting degree in Fine Arts in Lisbon, how much did this experience prepare you for entering into animation?   

Prepared a lot, I like to look at animation as a painting with the upgrade of time and narrative. I think of animation cinema as paintings or drawings that can move. If I had taken another course like animation, I don't know if I would have this vision 

My painting degree was quite open. There I developed a strong relationship with drawing, both in theory and in the techniques I learned, more specifically engraving. This contact with various techniques improved my ability to communicate through drawing, which I hope to have time to explore to the fullest in animation. 

Can you tell me a little bit about Tie, what was the inspiration behind this film? 

Tie brings together many references, it is difficult to summarize. However I can say that it is a kind of parable about the ability we have to adapt to others and the world around us. With a dark environment, and bizarre characters, it's a film with an optimistic view of the world where the power of cooperation overcomes any handicap. 

What was the most challenging part of making this film for you?

 

3 main things: 1: To direct it alone, something I've never done before. 2: Moving from documentary to fiction3: Being able to explore one more new technique 

What would you say has been the most valuable lesson you've taken away from making Tie?


With this film I felt that it was possible to materialize an idea that I didn't even know how to substantiate with words myself. I think I've always tried to rationalize a lot of the work I've been doing. Having made a documentary before, the reality I talked about in the films was concrete and real, it was easy to describe it and create a vision about it. In Tie, being a poetic fiction, where the characters and even the space itself are invented and with a very surreal tone, I have difficulties in talking about this universe. Here I allowed myself to move forward with the film in a freer way regardless of why I was making this or that decision. I feel that the film has not lost coherence for this and communicates feelings that I really cannot find words. 

"...the good part of making short films is to be able to experiment, while it's possible I want to experiment as much as I can..."

Where did your passion for animation  come from?

Maybe the expectation would be to say animations that I saw since I was a little girl. But the fact is that I don't remember seeing so many of them that stayed in my mind. What always fascinated me a lot was the drawing itself. The drawings in books, newspapers, graffiti on the streets, drawings on the walls of people's houses. Later I found the cinema, and I realized that there was a form of expression that combined the two, animation cinema, and it made me think: I like this! I want to do this. 

How much has your style and the approach to your films changed since your debut film?

In fact I've only made two films yet. Which are very different, visually and thematically. Each idea asks for its own style. 

The previous short film was a co-creation and TIE was individual just because of that they already reflect very different results and I believe that this difference will continue to exist in the films I make, the good part of making short films is to be able to experiment, while it's possible I want to experiment as much as I can, both in my approaches to films and visuals. 

Is there any advice you would offer someone about making their first film?

It helped me a lot to think "it's just a film"!

The more weight we put on the film the more we castrated ourselves. 

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this film? 

It's very beautiful to see how different people read from the film almost like the Rorschach test. Each person takes something different and that makes me happy, however, for me this film is many things but mainly a compliment to cooperation, adaptation and of course love.

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