Meet Indie Filmmaker: MIND DANCE

Mind Dance, a recent submission to the Student Film category, is a moving portrayal of grief and memory loss.

By Sophie Nellis
(Interview partially edited by Geoffrey Hughes)

Q: Could you tell me what inspired you to make this film?

While studying abroad at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), I started to explore the concept of loss. I began to realize that in our lives we are constantly forced to deal with many types of losses. Sometimes we lose something trivial, a possession, perhaps, and we are barely affected, we are confident that we can replace it or that we might somehow get it back. What interested me were the situations where a loss is more profound. I especially wondered what it would mean for my identity if I were to lose my memories. For me, everything we feel is the projection of our own understanding. Then, nothing is really real. What really matters are the feelings we keep within each other. Maybe it ends up with grief, or maybe it ends up with happiness. We have to believe something will always be there even if we will eventually forget it. I feel that making a film is always my self-portrait. I just tell the story through different characters.

Q: I was particularly touched by the image of the hairbrush that recurs throughout the film. Could you tell me a little more about this?

Brushing another person s hair is very intimate to me. And with such an elderly couple, I feel that it is one of the last outlets for intimacy that they have left. It is a selfless show of love and unconditional caring. People won t remember everything but a tiny moment or movement will keep us in mind forever.

Q: What is the significance of the dance that we see at the beginning of the film and towards the end?

Well, it s a bit of Chris s film. It is abstract imagery celebrating a particularly beautiful and personally meaningful image that has been preserved on film only. It was alive once in Chris s mind but its true significance now is only as a beautiful artifact charged by loss. In many ways, it s the central metaphor of the film.

Q: The narrative is punctuated by memories, flashbacks and also extracts from a somewhat academic lecture about memory. Why did you choose to include these scenes in the lecture theatre?

The lecture scene was an improvisation that I feel extremely lucky to have captured. When we set up the scene, I had no intention of having Harvey lecture the way he did; after getting the basic footage, I spontaneously asked him to share his understanding of the project. My friend Kaleng and I rearranged all of his dialogue while editing and selected what I felt were the most honest excerpts. I feel as though I got something very genuine out of him, something that it would have been impossible to script.

Q: Which films and/or filmmakers have inspired you the most?

Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Hirokazu Koreeda, Will Hindle, and Stan Brakhage.
However, for Mind Dance, I tried to find my own visual by letting the work lead me and not imitating any style or film.

Q: Are you working on a new film? If so, could you tell us a little about it?

Mind Dance is actually a part of a longer feature length film I am working on now. The feature s visual style won t change much, but I plan to further develop both the characters and the plot to make it more complete and complex. In the longer one, Chris goes on a road trip in a vain attempt to refresh his memories before his alzheimers becomes intractable. On the way, he meets a group of people trying to forget their past.

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