SPIRITS AND ROCKS: AN AZOREAN MYTH
SWITZERLAND / PORTUGAL 13 MIN, 2020
On a volcanic island, inhabitants are caught in an unending cycle: the threat of impending eruptions, and the burden of past traumas loom over them. Some draw upon myth and religious beliefs to interpret their precarious situation, while others demonstrate resilience, rebuilding their villages from the volcanic rocks. Mirroring the ethereal atmosphere of the island’s landscapes, the film gradually takes on the appearance of the stories it recounts.
Swiss-Turkish filmmaker who holds a B.A. in Arts from Lausanne University and an M.A. in Documentary Filmmaking from the DocNomads program. She is an alumna of other prestigious programs, such as the Aristoteles Workshop, the Salzburg Summer Academy of Fine Arts and the Zurich Film Festival Academy. Combining documentary and experimental approach, her works revolve around themes of memory, imagination and landscape, and have been screened internationally. In 2020, she founded «A Vol d’Oiseau», a production structure dedicated to the development of various Swiss and international projects. She is also a contributor and co-curator of the Docs in Orbit podcast.
«Spirits and Rocks: an Azorean Myth» is the latest of a series of projects that I made about the relationship between humans and landscapes. Looking for an example of a symbiotic, but also conflictual cohabitation of people and nature, my choice naturally fell on Pico and Faial. These two Portuguese islands of the Azores archipelago were formed by the eruptions of multiple volcanoes, some of which are still active like the majestic Pico Mount, shown several times in the film.
Before the 15th century, sailors wouldn’t dare to venture in what they believe to be the «end of the world»: the fire and lava erupting from the islands made them think that it was where Hell was located. Eruptions and earthquakes continue to happen to this day and have made hundreds of victims and homeless people, which caused a massive exodus. However, some chose to stay; one of their main reasons is an agriculture favored by the richness and fertility of volcanic soils. I decided to represent this ambivalent relationship of people with an island that nurtures them while posing a constant threat to their lives.
In the Azores, the weather can go from one extreme to another in a matter of seconds; islanders often say that they experience four seasons a day. The light is constantly changing, the sun plays hide and seek with the clouds. This, in addition to the omnipresent risk of natural disasters, engenders a strong instability. A feeling which can also be found in the inhabitants’ personal lives: an island is a place of transit, people continuously come and go. Most of those who leave never return; because of the geographical distance created by the ocean, and the emotional distance created by the passing of time. I wanted to convey the weight of their absence in my film. Lastly, I used mythology and archives to represent an abstract, invisible level of reality: the collective memory of Azorean people.
- Locarno Film Festival / Switzerland
- Sundance Film Festival / USA
- Go Short International Short Film Festival / Netherlands
- Vilnius International Film Festival / Lithuania
- True/False / USA
- Trento Film Festival / Italy
- Full Frame Documentary Film Festival / USA
- Akbank Short Film Festival / Turkey
- Solothurner Filmtage / Switzerland
- Festival International du Film d’Aubagne / France
- Ashland Independent Film Festival / USA
DOKer 2021 — Short Competition
The screening is supported by the Embassy of Switzerland in Russia, Moscow