Alessandro Mavilio: On Audience & Lived Realities
Alessandro Mavilio [AM] is a cinematographer, writer, photographer, and video artist based in Kyoto.
Interview with Markuz Wernli Saitô on November 2, 2005.
Tao refers to The Way. Not only to achieve immortality but to live fully and become an integral part of the universe. I make this Way literally the essence of my work by sticking to the streets. With an emptiness embracing the moment I like to walk the open streets. That's where I can feel best the flux and confluence of life. In houses, schools, and indoors life it is not really happening for me.
Why do you film and what is your process?
AM: My media is film because it is time-based and the closest way to witness and depict life. The lack of script and preconceived idea frees me up to take in life fully. The mere presence of things around me provides me with plenty of convincing sequences. Usually after a warm-up the sensibility of my eyes and gut feel transcends onto the camera. Making Taoist movies is like filming animals in the wild. I have to introduce myself and the camera to the situation in a very subtle way: through waiting, assimilating, and observing.
In this equilibrium I am getting fully receptive and the audience begins to be my teacher. Learning how to better read people and recognize natural behavior is important to become an empathic and convincing film director. Ideally film production enables the cast to carry on with their own lives. That's why I think that cinematic direction and script are violent methods. Since I participate fully in life while filming I walk on a fine line: I am witness, performer, and influencer in one.
What about the audience watching the Taoist Movies...
AM: A few people who became unassuming collaborators of my "camera performance" get further involved. As part of a wider audience they watch the edited movies which adds another layer of connection. My movies are generally perceived as fictional productions. The viewers are surprised to learn that its source is real life. Observing and fully partaking in our lives offers the fabric to weave the most convincing stories.
As a film maker documentation is inevitably part of your work. How do you go about this?
AM: Making the flux of life into a documentary entails film editing. Besides weeding out and shortening my footage, I keep the sequences chronological to sustain the original progression. I want to lead the protagonists in my movies gradually into the ultimate culmination and out if it. The editing is an intimate process, where the protagonists seem to talk. Since I was in that very moment I am able to easily reconnect to them. Sometimes I am getting so involved that I cry or fall for the people in my footage. In this context I write subtitles and dialogues respectful to the cast, introducing a plot or narrative to the movie.
What is the challenge in your work?
AM: It is the power of framing reality. Every frame I chose makes a statement. That burdens me with a big responsibility. As much as I want to place myself right into live while video-taping, the frame tends to remove and distort aspects of that very life. I guess I have to live with this dilemma.
Momentarium creates situations where our very presence becomes the catalyst for shifting experiences we can integrate into our lives by fusing reality with co-created artifice.