One-on-one with Filmmaker Alex Anna - “Believe in your stories.”
Alex Anna is a director in love with cinematographic language and words in all their beauty. A queer and feminist filmmaker, they directed their first short film "The Fruit of Our Womb" in 2017 (as Laurie Mannessier), and their second short film "Scars" in 2020 (Premiere at TIFF 2020). They use art to give a voice to silenced subjects.
iFilmFestival: Tell us a bit about your most important film so far.
Alex Anna: “ “Scars” has been a turning point for me and my career. It took me some years of studying cinema and arts to realise how much can we create from our personal stories, and how universal they could get. And that's what changed my work drastically - what used to be surely imaginative but hollow became authentic and meaningful. When "Scars" was selected as part of TIFF's Short Cuts 2020, and then curated as TIFF's CANADA's TOP TEN 2020, it opened the door to many festivals, talks, and meetings.”
iFilmFestival: What were the key challenges making it?
Alex Anna: “Because "Scars" is so personal to me, it was very important that it stayed a secret project as long as it wasn't finished. For two years, only the technicians and artists who worked on it knew about it - keeping any unwanted comments and external pressure at bay. But this also meant that I had very few feedback, and the idea that the film might not be noticed at all in festivals was very stressful, as I had poured so much of myself into this work. The animation was also one of the most challenging parts I've had to deal with as a director - although the film only lasts 10 minutes, the animation process took over four months and required full-time dedication, yet still keeping it all a secret. I'm forever grateful for the work of the key animator, Clément Natiez, and all the technicians that helped us in this process.”
iFilmFestival: What’s one aspect that you’re particularly proud of?
Alex Anna: “I love how we made self-harming, a rather complicated and violent subject, meet poetry. It is truly the result of every aspect of the film - cinematography, editing, animation, sound and music and it has exceeded my expectations in many ways.”
Trailer: Scars (2020)
iFilmFestival: How did you get involved in filmmaking?
Alex Anna: “I have always been a creative kid, for I've always needed arts to feel complete. Literature, theatre, poetry, music... These naturally led me to study cinema and become a filmmaker.”
iFilmFestival: What new projects are you working on or are you hoping to work on in the future?
Alex Anna: “I am currently working on three projects: a short drama film about trans identity in childhood, a short documentary about depression and social medias, and another short documentary about women's sexual health. I hope to be working on writing a feature soon.”
iFilmFestival: What role do film festivals play?
Alex Anna: “Film festivals allow films to be seen, for sure, but they also play two bigger roles: they allow filmmakers to meet up with their public, which is for me the most precious thing we can hope for, and through their thorough work of selection and award-giving, they allow producers to trust us for developing new projects.”
iFilmFestival: What is your advice to filmmakers tackling the festival circuit?
Alex Anna: “Believe in your stories.”
iFilmFestival: How do you see the future of film?
Alex Anna: “I think the future of film is plural - cinema, TV, VOD, VR, museums... We are developing more and more ways to tell stories through filmmaking and they all open up hundreds of possibilities. I hope we get to explore all of them without letting any die out.”
iFilmFestival: Which filmmaker do you admire and why?
Alex Anna: “I find my inspiration and “fuel” in the empowering art created by other female, non-binary and queer filmmakers. My favorite film is Julie Taymor’s “Across the Universe”. It’s a fascinating journey exploring dozens of different art styles without ever losing its own tone; everything ends up forming a wonderful symbiosis. I grew up with Céline Sciamma’s “Naissance des pieuvres” (Water Lilies) and remain a huge fan of her work; I love how bold, queer and powerful her films are. She explores human’s moments of life and stories that are rarely represented, and she does so with an amazing subtlety. And who wouldn’t fall in love with the poetry and extremely skilled cinematographic language of “Le Portrait de la jeune fille en feu” (The Portrait of a Lady in Fire)? I am also ever-inspired by directors who are able to intertwine personal stories and History with a great dose of humour and no fear of experimentations; such as Marjane Satrapi or Taika Waititi. The expression of both creative and funny minds will never stop to amaze me.”
iFilmFestival: What film have you recently seen that you have admired in one way or another?
Alex Anna: “I have recently been bewitched by "Belfast"'s cinematography and ability to never lose its child's point of view throughout the entire film.”
iFilmFestival: Thank you Alex for answering our questions!
Interview by iFilmFestival on 11/04/2022.