Annett Stenzel’s g ́(Silence Song)
German filmmaker Annett Stenzel’s sixteen-minute episode g ́, made in the framework of an eight-part short-film series “Silence Song” (127min), is as intriguing in its form, images, and soundtracks as in its narrative. In fact, Stenzel’s short film inspires us to engage in some very philosophical and anthropological reflections. More specifically, we have come to reflect, upon viewing the short film, on a certain “centrism”, or even several centrisms, as well as on the problematic of understanding experimental productions. As we understand it, which we hope would not seem pretentious to our readers, this film directed by a western artist who experienced life in Iran maintains a close relationship with the idea of cultural exchange. This ties in with our intention to offer a way of seeing the short film that would be, to a certain degree, less “centric” or at the very least a bit more “multi-centric”.
Classifying this short film g ́(Silence Song) in the category of “experimental film” in some sense renders it less pertinent to introduce it in the form of a synopsis. In fact, introducing a film by presenting its storyline could correspond to a certain western or western-originate need to reconstitute the logic and the structure of a film. We would like, however, to also introduce the short film in a fragmentary way by highlighting certain details without taking the overall logic into account. We consider this fragmentary way of viewing a film to reflect the practices of the “Cantonese lower class.”
First, to introduce the short film in a conventional manner, with a paragraph based on its synopsis, we can say that the short film features the mise-en-scène of a young lady playing the C major on the piano in different octaves, with her own original song settling into the spaces between the octaves. Through the variation of the piano’s keys, patterns of relations and collective ways of being that are both creative and liberated are developed, suggesting new perspectives on the feminine figures in the short film, who in turn offer their own gazes.
Looking at the particular details of the short film, what seems most remarkable to us is the association of anime images with the black-and-white scenes showing exotic Japanese sceneries. Another potentially interesting association with the “Japan of the short film” is found at the end of the first third of the short film, which features three women positioned in triangles. These scenes are evocative, in this context, of the triangle compositions recurring in Akira Kurosawa’s films, although their origin is to be found in western art, in which it is often used to represent the Christian Trinity. These kinds of images resonate with our personal and profoundly anthropological obsession with identifying the mechanisms of exoticization in audiovisual productions. In the very first scene of the short film, the brief appearance of a huge snake and a young man from an anime extract seems to us to also reflect the importance of folktales and the imaginary among different cultures, and particularly in this case, in the Japanese and German cultures.
These two details from the Japanese scenes brought up in the previous paragraph bring us to the discussion of the problematic of understanding the “experimental.” It is natural to pursue an understanding of what one sees, and each culture possesses its own logics and ways of understanding that differ from one another. Experimental films, in that they attempt to tell a story in an alternative
and unconventional way, allow viewers to be freed from their own culturally constructed mechanisms of understanding and thus gain another way of perceiving things. In addition, experimental films, in that they are particularly open to interpretation, encourage exchange between viewers with differing perspectives, who thus enrich themselves by absorbing other ways of viewing.
These discussions generated by Annett Stenzel’s experimental film and the enrichment that these discussions allow are part of what we call the multiplication of “centrisms.” A film is often supposed to be a means of communication, and following this principle, it seems interesting to gather different understandings in order to broaden one’s own vision, and that is precisely what the freedom of an experimental visual production can offer. This act of collecting is all the more interesting as it clusters understandings coming from viewers of different cultures. It is in this sense that the director, who has studied oriental languages - notably Persian - and has a great interest in Japanese culture, fosters the creation of multi-centricities, in this case a German-Nippon-Persian-tricentrism, into which viewers can immerse themselves and come out more enriched.
by Cheong Kin Man and Mathilde Denison Cheong
Cheong Kin Man is a Macanese visual anthropologist and Mathilde Denison is a Belgian artist. The couple lives in Berlin and writes articles together in Chinese Mandarin, English, French, German and Portuguese.
in Into the Cloud - New Media Art 2021, Publication CICA PRESS, Seoul, Korea
Interview With Winner Filmmakers of Cinefern Film Award and Competition. 2021.
Interviewee Name: Annett Stenzel
Film Name: Ladyjerks
LADYJERKS is a short documentary flm about the female ba
nd collective from Denmark, called "Lady Jerks Collective"
Ladyjerks Collective was founded at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen to build up a musical open space for female musicians to experiment with their skills getting started from new, most unknown points, playing experimental with for the members unknown instruments and their voices. It has an open structure where other musicians and artists may join in various performances.
The short flm documentary focus on the members Tania K. Ballentine, Gertrud Hjelm Kongshøj, Bess Barkholt Andersen, Ida Duelund Hansen and Maja Westman,
Filmmaker / Interviews Bio:
Annett Stenzel is an award-winning international working in Germany- based flm artist with a focus on music and feminism. She has a diverse education in arts, with a high interest in gender, language, culture, and philosophy she has studied Picture Room Object Glass at the Burg Giebichenstein in Halle, Painting at the KHB Weißensee in Berlin, and Film at the HFBK in Hamburg as well as at the Beaux-Arts in Paris and Media Art at the Royal Art School in Copenhagen. She had fellowships by Erasmus, Hamburger Kulturstiftung, and Promos, 2021 the Cine Fine award and 2011 the award operare of Zeitgenössische Oper Berlin (ZOB), Exhibited her work in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Denmark, Germany, Korea, Poland, USA, and showed flms at Film Festivals in Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Actually, she
works and lives in Hamburg, Germany.
Q1 What is the basic Idea Behind the film?
The idea started on one hand with the engagement to transport the picture of a female musician as a common situation in the music business scene, so that girls and young women can increasingly connect to being musicians themselves.
On the other hand, I wanted to create a view on the fascinating Band collective as an idol character of feminist power creation as a helpful tool to show others the importance of coworking spaces for women.
Although I wanted to thanks the members of the collective, which shared their songs for and played a role in my music flm Silence Song, which I started to shoot in 2017 and shoot with some of those in the flm mentioned Ladyjerks members in 2018.
Q2: How do you handle the Pre-Production, and Post Production?
The shooting for Ladyjerks started with BESS, I had to travel to London and could not plan much only know the time of a few days I would spend there. But I had no idea about possible surrounding areas for a picturing and had to trust to fnd something well-ftting. BESS lived at this time at a beautiful former public space -a former pub, with an interesting surrounding. That shoots became the idol of meeting all the other Ladyjerks in public spaces which they could choose by themselves, somehow it was a fnding together because we fgured places out. The interview was made spontaneously, in reacting to the answers they gave on my questions all by the direction to get to know about the background of Ladyjerks Collective.
The postproduction was made all by myself. I heard and watched the material and decide very quickly, what ́s in and interesting. Yes, there are still interesting facts not in the flm...I got directed by the pictures to set priorities. The idea was to show the diversity of backgrounds and personalities the women in the band collective have, - that it is not a homogenous group and can be besides connected with conficts, as
between self-will and interest in the other, within one person, which I wanted to show as an arising feeling in the editing itself arisen by jump cuts.
Q3. What do you do to stay calm during Production of the film?
As a director in a movie scene, I learned you have to be very much on your own on the set, you are the leader, even if you have a great team, you have to have your own strength. But you can learn while doing so. Take a good breath and a calming new perspective to get calm, when things get diffcult, focus on concentration on the subject.
In the documentary flm, it is a general concentration to open the room for what is happening or has to happen. You just be attentive all the time.
Q4. What sort of stories excites you?
I personally like intellectual uncommon stories, stories that resonate with my personal family stories. I surprisingly actual tend more and more to be interested in funny stories.
Q5. Do you think all the good stories have already been made into films?
No, of course not! We see nowadays how many new themes of society are getting on the table and are created openly. There is a need to show all that perspectives, even about themes we nowadays even not yet think about and the younger generations may bring them up and tell them to us.
Q6. While casting for your film you prefer to cast a well known face or any new face which fit the character?
In the case of Ladyjerks it was clear because I already knew those women by seeing them and get in contact with them and sharing their songs for my flm Silence Song. So that actually was the reason that I focused on them as my personal view on Ladyjerks, giving something back. For my art flms, I cast mainly unknown faces and people, because I have a very visual idea of the character.
Q7. What is the most enjoyable thing about Production of the film?
The most enjoyable is for me creating something together and the energy fow within that work, the things which get created through that which you could not plan before – it is just coming through that – the very new.
I love although learning new things, is great within flm making you never are done with learning something new, there is always a new subject, the theme you have to learn about even in production and postproduction how
to realize something you have in mind!
Q8. What is the best possible way to promote your film when you are on a tight budget?
When the flm is recognized and shown by a festival it creates more wonderful resonance for an audience, very much joyful and helpful are as usual social networks and networks of flm members, too. And all flm lovers have a high impact of support to the promotion of the flm in general, I am very grateful to.
Q9. When your next film is coming and what is it about?
My Longflm Silence Song which I worked on for 4 years will hopefully be fnished this year and can come out in 2022. Next to it I fnished shooting a short flm called Ophelia recently and start already the casting for the flm Ophelia II. They shall come out in 2022 as well. I ́m curious which flm will come out frst - The Ophelia-short flms are about how women drift into homelessness by alcoholism and guilty feelings for the death of her sister and what it needs to feel safe in the world and society while as homeless she got infamed ill. Silence Song focuses on women as well. It is showing a kaleidoscope of relationships.
Q10. What advice do you want to give to the new and upcoming filmmakers?
Believe in yourself and in your work - it is worth doing - and then do it! There are always people who love to help you to create your vision, loving to be a part of the vision! Never believe someone who says no or it is not possible.