17th ÉCU
The European Independent Film Festival 2022 

8th - 10th April 2022 
Interview

Arturo Bandinelli (Director)
Viscera: Autopsy of a (non)human body 
Section: Experimental Film 
ecufilmfestival.com

Like a decaying body; you look and see just the remains… a shell… a worn, corroded entity. But in this autopsy of a once grand Hotel, we catch a glimpse of the past; a storage place for lost memories. Viscera: Autopsy of a (non)human body is an experimental dance film by Celina Liesegang (Producer/Choreographer) and Arturo Bandinelli (Director), exploring the relationship between time, memory and trauma.

 

Hey Arturo, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?

 

Thank you for having me. We live through a very difficult historical moment, where a renewed sense of precocity is taking over the social sphere at a global level. But all things considered, at least on a personal level, I cannot complain too much.

 

Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration or opportunities?

During the pandemic, I had more time to study, read, research. This eventually led to the project I am currently producing, another experimental dance film, which we will be shooting at the end of April.

 

Congratulations on having Viscera: Autopsy of a (non)human body part of the 17th ÉCU Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be screening your film in Paris?

Paris is the city of cinema par excellence, and ÉCU represents the best that independent filmmaking has to offer in Europe. Also, this is the third time a film I made is being screened at ÉCU, something that I am extremely proud of. So yes, I am looking forward to attending the festival in person after last year’s remote

edition.

 

Can you tell me how Viscera: Autopsy of a (non)human body came about, what was the inspiration behind this experimental film and what was the message you wanted to convey with this film?

 

Celina Liesegang (the choreographer and producer) told me about this incredible abandoned hotel in the middle of the ocean that she had once visited. She said that, as soon as she walked in, she could see a dance film being made there, and asked me if I was interested in a collaboration. That’s how it all started. As for the film’s message, I am not sure that there is one in particular that we want to convey.

I am personally more interested in raising questions, for the simple reason that I have more questions than answers myself. With "Viscera", we wanted to explore the relationship between time, memory and space, on the one hand, and identity, subjectivity and body, on the other. More specifically, how time and memory materialise through space, and identity and subjectivity through the body. This may all sound very abstract, but I hope that through the film these questions become more concrete, more relatable.

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"I first became interested in psychoanalysis, in particular in its Lacanian orientation, during my undergraduate studies in film."

When working on a film like this once you start filming do you allow yourself much flexibility or do you like to stick to what you’ve planned to film?

 

It really depends on the film. With "Viscera", we allowed ourselves to be inspired by the location, this enormous, dilapidated building. As a result, much of the creative process actually happened during the week we spent in the Azores. In a way, Celina and I re-wrote the film as we were making it.

 

This open process was made possible by the formidable contribution of the dance artists involved, Antonio Branco, Riccardo Tarocco, Olivia Brown and Klaudia Wittmann.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced bringing Viscera: Autopsy of a (non)human body to life and looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

The biggest challenge was making the film relatable despite its lack of a linear narrative. The risk with experimental films is that they may not “touch” the audience, that they may only speak to themselves in a solipsistic manner. My biggest fear is always that people will come out of the cinema thinking “So what? I got nothing out of that”. Avoiding being self-referential or elitist is always a challenge when one tries to experiment with the medium. The temptation is to think that if the audience didn’t get it, it is their fault, but I don’t think this is the right approach. No matter how abstract or conceptual a film might be, for it to be a successful piece, it must shake something in the audience, and produce a form of questioning on their part.

What was the experience working with your producer and choreographer Celina Liesegang on this film?

It was a great experience. We are friends before collaborators, which always helps too. But what made working with Celina an absolute pleasure is her openness to others’ ideas and insights. She is someone who genuinely trusts the process, and, most crucially, someone who genuinely trusts people.

Where did you passion for filmmaking come from?

Very early on in my life, maybe six or seven, when my parents bought me a little digital camera. Since then, for better or for worse, I have always found it easier to experience life through a lens.

How much has your background as a psychoanalyst helped inform how you approach your filmmaking and how much has your style and approach to your subjects evolved since you started out?

Film and psychoanalysis, which are my two greatest passions, have always influenced each other. I first became interested in psychoanalysis, in particular in its Lacanian orientation, during my undergraduate studies in film. Psychoanalytic theory became crucial both to the development of my dissertation, and of my graduation film "Otto Floss: Freelance Watcher", which was screened at ÉCU back in 2014. In 2018, I finally decided to start a psychoanalytic training here in London.

Alongside working as a filmmaker – which is my day job, so to speak – I practice at a London-based charity offering free psychoanalytic therapy to people suffering from psychosis and racial trauma.

As for the ways in which my style has evolved, I think I am at a stage in which I care less about fitting in a particular category or genre. I am more open to cross contamination and experimentation than I used to.

Do you think filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the stories they want to tell?

Absolutely, one should never stop pushing boundaries. Experimentation is ultimately what keeps any artistic medium alive. 

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For anyone out there thinking about getting into filmmaking do you have any tips or advice you would offer them? 

I am not very good at giving tips. The only thing I would say is, make films you would want to watch, not matter how awkward or weird they may be. A lot of filmmakers think far too much about what is likeable, which is ultimately dictated by market logics. But truly amazing filmmakers are those who manage cut through the ideological constrains of a given social discourse to offer a unique perspective on the world. Finding one’s own singular voice is a difficult task – indeed it is borderline impossible – but it is worth a shot nonetheless, I think.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Viscera: Autopsy of a (non)human body?

I hope that something within them will be shaken, however briefly. And that they will leave the cinema with a few questions to chat about over a glass of wine.