Sep 17, 2014
Eliot Rausch is a filmmaker from Los Angeles. His short documentary LAST MINUTES WITH ODEN won the Documentary Award and Grand Prize at the 2010 Vimeo Festival + Awards. Eliot has since created films for organizations and brands including The Red Cross, Vans, the Veteran Fairs of America, Nike, Lincoln Motor Company and Duracell. Of recent, his socially conscious work, in partnership with Starbucks, Google and Expedia have led to national recognition.
For direct link, click below for Facebook Event page
To see more of Eliot’s work, click photo below to view his website
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Sep 16, 2014
Where matters of faith are concerned, everything is remedial.
I have become a pilgrim of sorts. I never imagined myself taking this road. Though the destination is not new, the road is new.
I can easily say that meeting God on a regular basis has been a habit I've fostered. The mystery, the wonder, the practice—I'm all about it. In my best moments, I suppose I thought I had already arrived. I thought I was there, sipping mai tais with God on a white beach somewhere, palm trees waving in the warm tropical wind. In my worst moments, I thought I'd at least be boarding a plane to get there.
That I'm on foot and taking this ancient road comes as a surprise. This road is dusty and wide. It can be lonely. Sometimes I don't see another soul for miles. In the heat of the day, the road of Orthodoxy is arduous and beautiful. In the calm of the night it is expansive; the moon and the stars provide company, promise, and revelation. But where matters of faith are concerned, everything is remedial. The word comes from the Latin, remedialis, meaning "healing, curing." Everything about faith is this. Everything.
- Excerpt from Nearly Orthodox: On being a Modern Woman in an Ancient Tradition by Angela Doll Carlson
Whenever anyone would ask me about being religious, I would say, “I’m Catholic.” No matter that I had not practiced Catholicism for 20 or maybe 30 years. No matter that I had visited in pretty much every other version of Christian denominations in that time. I was born into a Catholic family and in part I felt that perhaps I’d return there one day when I was ready.
But sometimes we don’t go home again. Sometimes we wander off and then when we turn around we realize that perhaps we belong another place. Perhaps another place is also “home.” Orthodoxy was this for me. I spent about three years pursuing it and I spent a great deal of that time writing about it, talking about it, struggling with it. This book, “Nearly Orthodox” is an account of the struggle, but not simply the struggle to convert to Orthodoxy, but rather, the struggle of living out our lives in the tension of the now and the not yet, the remembrance of our history, the immediacy of the present and the fear of the future.
I am now two years into my journey as an Orthodox Christian, walking in community with fellow travelers at Christ the Savior Orthodox church (OCA) in Chicago. Sometimes, I’m asked why the book and the blog are called “Nearly” Orthodox rather than “finally” or “becoming” or “being” Orthodox. It’s a good question and while I believe the book answers it far better than I can in this short space, I will say that my journey began long before I stepped foot into an Orthodox church and continues long after the oil of my chrismation. It’s a long road. I anticipate curves, bumps and construction along the way but I also hope I take time to appreciate the beautiful scenery, the company of fellow pilgrims, the feel of the air on my skin and the cool, clear water that comes when I find I am most thirsty.
Nearly Orthodox: On being a modern woman in an ancient tradition is available now in print or eBook format from
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Sep 15, 2014
OFA blog is proud to promote the upcoming event of Orthodox composer and musician, Anastasia Pahos.
Performing her work entitled, Troparion, this is part of a series of concerts for new orchestral works presented by the Sydney Contemporary Orchestra.
Verbrugghen Hall, The Sydney Conservatorium of Music
19th September 2014
It's inspired by two modal settings of a Greek Orthodox hymn dedicated to the Virgin Mary and may also be viewed in the context of Hieromonk Damascene’s book, Christ the Eternal Tao (2004), which examines the relationship between particular ideas of Lao Tzu and the words of Christ. The second section of the book is compiled of newly composed poetry (directly influencing my piece), which provides insight grounded in the Tao Te Ching and Christian Orthodoxy as practiced in contemporary China.
To learn more about Anastasia’s work or inquiry about commissioning a piece, go to her site:
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Sep 14, 2014
|In Communion, Theosis|
This podcast discusses remodelling 20th-century Surrealism into 21st-century Orthodox Surrealism. A new arts movement combining Orthodox phronema with mesmerizing imagery.
To listen to this podcast, click the show’s logo:
Podcast Transcript #4
At the beginning of the 20th century a new theory was brewing. Discussed and contemplated in the cafes, cinemas and carnival freak-shows of Europe, these groups of artists developed a new method of creative expression: Surrealism.
This new thought-process looked at the world with very different and bizarre eyes. It challenged convention and greatly divided the art world, yet Surrealism found its home in every artistic medium. However, like so many rebellious ideals, it has become a servant to commercial enterprise, the elitist tyrants it despised. Although diluted, Surrealism has evolved to take its place in 21st century media, especially in music videos and advertising campaigns.
Going against the grain of convention, Surrealism claims to go deep into the psychic to reveal our true selves. However, caution and guard yourself, for Surrealism says it’s many things but refuses to be true to itself. So before we venture down the rabbit-hole we need to take a torch for the tunnel runs deep and dark. But despite this warning there’s some potential benefit. Just as revolutionary as Surrealism, I wish to put forward the possibility of a ‘remodelled’ version: Orthodox Surrealism. This concept removes certain aspects that are hazardous to both our spiritual and mental well-being.
But firstly, what is Surrealism?
To set the scene, it’s World War I and Europe is in peril. The terrors of organised, industrial-scale warfare were in full swing and the people were plunged into great fear and depression. The populace was swept up in a cloud of parotitic propaganda which conflicted with their notion of common humanity. Artists tried to make sense of this chaos as they watched the ‘civilised world’ destroy itself. It was in this atmosphere Surrealism was born.
The movement is based on several core principles. Firstly, Surrealism is anti-art. It’s totally against preconceptions of what art is as forged by social convention – bringing about the term avant-garde, especially in fashion. Secondly, it seeks to challenge social, sexual and moral conventions – Surrealism is highly critical of authority including religion. Thirdly, Surrealism is based on the personal morality, experiences and obsessions of the artist which are only known to them – for example, Luis Bunuel often depicted insects in his films because he had studied entomology. Fourthly, Surrealism does not follow conventional linear narrative structures, frequently jumping time and space. A good example is David Lynch’s Lost Highway. Fifth, the artist creates work which reflects their unique signature, their auteur, where their personality shines through the work’s technique, style and language. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, merging reality and dreams making it almost impossible to distinguish. So the overall outcome is to reveal the ‘truth’ about reality and ourselves in order to make the world a better place.
However, as I mentioned early, everything is not what it seems. The very foundations of Surrealism were built on self-destructive and manic elements – perhaps a neurotic side-effect of the First World War.
One of these elements is how Surrealists greatly rely on dreams. They believe through dreams, which are supposedly linked to the subconscious, truths about the individual and society will be revealed. This is where Surrealism gets it bizarre themes, such as in Salvador Dali’s paintings. However, the dreamscape is not a place to let your guard down. It is a teaching of the Orthodox Faith that we should not put our trust in dreams. Although examples of Divine dreams appear in the Old Testament; however, it was only for a very select few. When The Ladder was revealed to Jacob, God did so through visions as he slept, just like the Prophets Samuel and Isaiah. Then there are dreams which are directly inspired by the Devil. Finally, we have dreams which are from our thoughts whilst we sleep. The recently canonised St Porphyrios was recorded telling a lady who asked how to interpret a dream she had about a fish, his response was ‘fry the fish and eat it!’ – implying that it meant nothing and could have been an evil thought designed to mislead her.
However, dream interpretation is taken one step further. Surrealists were greatly inspired by the work of psychologist Sigmund Freud who developed the therapy of psychoanalysis, where memories, thoughts and dreams were interpreted so as to uncover traumas from the subconscious. Surrealists believed dreams were the key to the subconscious and could unlock ‘truths’ and deep-seated desires which were repressed. The Parisian Surrealists called this ‘liberating the subconscious’ It is worth noting this theory is relatively new, early 20th century, so it’s not discussed by the saints or Church Fathers, yet it may have been examined in other ways. However, if the idea of the subconscious was put before the Church Fathers I’m sure they would have a lot to say. But at this stage, until it’s fully assessed by the Church, the subconscious should be viewed with a great deal of caution; even psychoanalysis is disputed by many in the psychiatry profession. So, what has been some of the outcomes by Surrealists in using dreams?
The filmmaker Bunuel greatly valued dreams. He once spoke to Dali about a dream where ‘a cloud cut through the moon like a knife though an eye’. He used this dream in his film Un chien andalous where he cuts a women’s eye with a knife. Other than being shocking, which is another goal of Surrealism, what is the benefit to the audience? If psychoanalysis interprets dreams so as to tap into the subconscious and reveal ‘truth’, then is it these images that will ‘advance’ our society?
In challenging social and moral conventions Surrealists seek to impose their own sense of ‘personal’ morality. It’s worth noting most Surrealists had strong ties with Communism. They relied on Surrealism to criticise the various establishments, including the upper-class and Church. So, in dictating their self-prescribed morality they were also pedalling their own social-political philosophies as the solution to all of society’s problems. So, what were their answers?
In Bunuel’s The Phantom of Liberty there’s a dinner scene where the guests carry on a conversation around the dinner table whilst sitting on flushing toilets. The characters would then excuse themselves and enter a private cubicle in order to eat. Bunuel’s aim was to mock what he considered the absurdity of proper social convention and etiquette. Some more recent examples are seen in David Cronenberg’s films. Although ahead of it’s time, Videodrone explored the relationship between humans, pornography and technology – prophesising the Internet. In another film, A History of Violence, Cronenberg seek to examine how violence is rooted in every aspect of society and its inescapable hold. Now, years later, has the world changed for the better? As for Bunuel’s Liberty film, other than being somewhat comical, what good is meant to come of this exploration? From an Orthodox perspective, instead of advancing society, these works encourage the passions. The goal of the spiritual-life is not to dwell on the passions, but, like the Incarnate Christ, become, through Grace, transfigured, purified and perfect like God. This was the purpose of Christ coming into the world – to unify with God and achieve Theosis.
Now after learning about the nature of Surrealism how can Orthodoxy have anything to do with such a potentially ‘evil’ theory? That’s why a great deal of remodelling and in-depth analysis is required to ensure that this is the right path for Orthodox artists.
So how would Orthodox Surrealism work?
Due to the mystical nature of the Faith, Orthodoxy can provide a rich and endless source of surreal imagery. Even our long tradition of iconography can be described as surreal. Unlike Western Christian art, Orthodox iconography was inspired by the spiritual elements of ancient Egyptian and Greek art, including symbolism and the non-realistic representations of divide beings and events. As ‘windows into the divine’ iconography’s spiritual messages transcend this world speaking a language between the viewer and the holy person depicted. For example, the 6th century AD icon of Christ the Pantocrator from the St Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai, Christ’s face is of two halves – one half stern and in judgement, the other half loving and welcoming – the overall effect on the viewer is to remind them of their sinful state yet that God is love. This art transcends the earthly mind.
If one is to become an Orthodox Surrealist the only way to ensure it does not lead them down the wrong path is to maintain an Orthodox phronema both when working and in daily life. A cornerstone principle for an Orthodox Surrealist is to set their creative mind into a constant state of prayer. Just like an iconographer who prayers and fasts throughout the icon writing process, an Orthodox artist should maintain a prayerful state of mind. Praying unceasing the Jesus prayer, reading Scripture and spiritual books will help guide them from straying into dark thoughts and clinical madness. Prayer also provides an endless source of inspiration looking at the world with eyes that the Surrealists could never fathom. But an artist must have a spiritual father or mother, a guide they can regularly seek advice and clarification. Just the same as we regularly visit the doctor, an experienced eye will see illness even when we feel fine.
Secondly, instead of relying on dreams of unknown origin, an Orthodox Surrealist should find their inspiration and subject matter based on their own experiences. This is similar to the Surrealists, whose work was very personal, but the difference is being able to reveal the true meaning behind the experience thereby building a stronger connection with the audience.
So what could be some surreal Orthodox imagery? I will use some of my own experiences from the Divine Liturgy, though the same process can be applied to worldly experiences. One example is of a church here in Melbourne where their
iconostasis has unusual deacon doors which did not open inwards, but would slide along a track and very quickly. I was always transfixed by these doors as for one moment I would see Archangel Gabriel then suddenly an altarboy would be standing in his place. It was as if he ‘transformed’ at the threshold which was the ‘portal’ between the outside world and the holiest place on earth.
Another time, I remember standing on the left-hand side of the church with mum. Being a small child, I was surrounded by taller adult women wearing long black coats because it was winter. I remember feeling snug and warm as if in a forest of woolly trees. When the Great Entrance began, I couldn’t see anything but I knew the priest was going past because the forest of women gradually turned and bowed, just like the trees did to St Irene.
My last example is of my stay at the Vatopedi Monastery on Mt Athos. It was during Matins, as I stood in darkness with the only light coming from vigil lamps and a few candles. Then a priest came out with a censer on a chain but there was something very unique about this one. As it swayed back and forth the bells made one of the most beautiful sounds I’d ever heard. It’s almost impossible to describe but the resonating chimes felt like ‘golden butterflies’ fluttering around me – I was experiencing sound, visually.
Using the essence of these personal experiences, I could portray them, visually or written, in very surreal ways with whatever technique. Like Jan Svankmajer’s Alice, he used puppetry, animation and live action. Orthodox Surrealism can be just as creative. There’s so much to use from these experiences, perhaps moreso than dreams, because real-world experiences are happening in the five senses – and can not the Truth of God be revealed through these images, experiences and sensations?
However, it must be stressed there’s a very real danger in relying on personal experience. My ‘golden butterflies’ or ‘forest of women’ were positive experiences to me, but does everyone feel this way during Liturgy? To another person the bells may have been a piercing siren or the crowd of women claustrophobic. A personal experience is dependent on one’s spiritual & mental state. So potentially, an artist could produce anti-religious art based on their experience of ‘truth’. A great deal of discernment is required; however, very few of us have this quality so it is essential to have access to a spiritual guide to avoid venturing off the path and into the dark wildness. If someone has such negative feelings they should cease their work and seek spiritual advice, for the Church is perfect like Christ who is the Church. As in Proverbs (Ch 4: verse 23), "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" We need to be careful not to became like the guideless Surrealists inventing their own self-centred truths but instead purify ourselves through life in the Church because "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew. Ch 5: verse 8). Just as St Porphyrios said, ‘If you don’t see Christ in everything you do, you are without Christ’.
Just as Surrealism talks about blurring the lines between dreams and reality does not our Faith provide similar inspiration? By combing personal experiences with our doctrines, the Faith offers endless possibilities for surreal and thought-provoking art. When one examines the lives of the saints and their daily struggles with the Devil, such as Elder Paisios, it boggles the mind how ‘realities’ – the real-world, evil and the Divine – clashed. Throw in a non-linear narrative structure and the types of spiritual messages would be profound.
Just like Surrealism, Orthodox Surrealism challenges current social & moral conventions, that is, conventions of the Fallen world. Christians are not archaists, but Christianity does go against the grain on a theological level to reveal the folly of materialism, hate, greed and hedonism. Our Faith is unconventional to this world – love your enemies, forgive those who hate you, turn the other cheek – things taught by the Saviour but are considered illogical and crazy by the standards of this selfish, Fallen world. If such spiritual messages and experiences can be expressed through Orthodox Surrealism then, just like the goal of Surrealists, can we not make the world a better place?
Orthodox surrealism can offer an ancient yet fresh approach towards creativity, with Orthodox artists developing their own auteur.
But where are some examples?
One Orthodox artist is Angelica Sotiriou whose artwork takes on a unique approach to expressing the spiritual life. Angelica regards her work as, I quote, ‘an outgrowth of her personal prayers and contemplation with images often inspired by the Divine Liturgy, scripture passages, the Holy Fathers and the Saints’. Her expression of spiritual concepts takes on a surreal nature, engaging the viewer. Her work, ‘In Communion, Theosis’ depicts what looks like a supernova, but quoting Angelica it, ‘drew [her] into a deeper understanding of [her] Orthodox faith and prayer life’. The piece is a visualization of two worlds colliding into one: God and the Nous. In Angelica’s words, ‘[it was] a galactic birthing...a melding into one...Theosis’. During the creative process this work took on another form, becoming "chalice" shaped – the mystery of the Eucharist. So to Angelica, the painting is like looking at the ‘seed of "creation", a birth beginning in a womb’.
In another piece entitled, ‘Noetic Prayer’, we see what appears to be a bright sun in the middle of the canvas with three golden-arrows pointing to it from above and one arrow from below, surrounded by shades of blue. Angelica wanted to comprehend the prayer of the heart and the Nous on the way to achieving Theosis. The images relate to the need of a pure and clean heart, achieved through living a Christian life and in prayer, cleaning the heart in order to see God. According to Angelica, it is an image of the Nous in its brightest moment of pure prayer.
Another Orthodox artist is Michael Lujan, a photographer whose work includes digital and photomanipulations artworks. Michael is obsessed with finality, his auteur, which features in his piece, The Last Thing You Remember, where a hand stretches out to a tree within a picture frame. To Michael, the very act of reaching out to grasp something, to hold it, means at the same time to define it. The tree, God's creation, is the sum total of all experience everywhere and at all times. Thereby, to know God is to know Him through His energies, as taught by St George Palamas.
|The Last Thing You Remember|
Another of Michael’s work is the Science Fiction Romance series, an attempt at grappling with the most obvious evidence of the infinite around us, including the night sky and everything we've projected into it, either by imagination or theory. The series deals with humanity’s obsession with knowledge, especially the Universe. Where we romanticise the objects above us before we even set foot on them and how this may ultimately influence our experience once we get there. Fact and fantasy collide generating the human response of wonder – that never-ending conversation with our Creator.
|Science Fiction Romance series|
In both Angelica and Michael’s art we see contemplative works based on personal experiences incorporating the idea of Theosis expressed through imagery of the comas, birth, creation and emotion to create abstract and mesmerising art work achieved in a prayerful state. These examples can be prototypes for Orthodox Surrealism.
So where does that leave us?
I think this remodelled version of Surrealism is ripe for Orthodox Christian artists. It offers artists the ability to express spiritual messages based on their own unique experiences from living the Faith. Orthodox Surrealism has much treasure to offer the world. Yet, Surrealism in its original form, is nothing more than a continuous loop of self-destructive, misleading morality created by secular artists.
If we establish this new movement on the said values we are creating a form of artistic expression that is based on living in a prayerful state grounded in reality communicating with the Divine. Compared with the values of Surrealists, at least Orthodox Surrealism allows the individual to contemplate the spiritual and maybe stir a change deep in their heart and soul. I believe Orthodox Surrealists have a greater chance of changing the world than the inward-thinking Surrealists.
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* Permission obtained from artists to post work on this site.
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Sep 12, 2014
Byzanfest is the world’s first Orthodox Christian web short-film festival. Festival Founder and host of THE MOVING ICON, Chris Vlahonasios, offers a brief review of each film and talks with some of the filmmakers.
Watch the entire Byzanfest 2014 program
To listen to this podcast, click the show’s logo:
Podcast Transcript #3:
In today’s episode I will be talking about the recent Byzanfest, the world’s first Orthodox Christian short-film festival that was entirely online. I will discuss each film, giving a short review, but not revealing too much, spoiling it for those who have yet to watch them.
In its first year, 12 films were selected to screen on the Orthodox Filmmakers & Artists YouTube Channel. Viewers had one week, known as Screening Week, to view each film, interact and pick their Audience Favourite. The Channel received thousands upon thousands of views from around the world giving filmmakers the chance to be seen and appreciated. But the films can still be viewed even now and will remain on the OFA YouTube Channel indefinitely.
The aim of the Festival was to promote films with Orthodox themes, culture and values. Although not all films contained a direct Orthodox spiritual message, but what they all had in common was the filmmaker maintained an Orthodox phronema when making the film.
The Award Nights of the first annual Byzanfest occurred on the 22nd February 2014. It just so happen to coincide with Melbourne’s White Night, the world’s largest multimedia and arts event, which attracted over half a million people, making it quite appropriate to host the Awards on this same night. The winners for 2014 were:
Audience Favourite was won by Holy Fire & Pascha
Best Screenplay & Best Film went to Power of Dogs
Best Direct was won by Bevreti
And finally, Best Youth Film went to The Last Stonegrinder. You can also view each filmmakers’ acceptance speech on the OFA YouTube Channel.
As part of the judging panel it was extremely difficulty to choose a winner as the quality of submissions surpassed all expectations. Each exhibited skill and a unique style making them all intriguing to watch. The films were a true reflection of the Orthodox filmmaker, demonstrating creativity that was both organic and insightful, just like the Faith.
The first film to kick off the program was the Australian, Dance for Two – a tribute to classic Greek cinema from the 1960s. Having screened at several Greek film festivals around the world, this fun and energetic film by Nondas Poulos takes the audience on a nostalgic musical journey. Starting off as a black-and-white dance-off we soon burst into a vibrant world of colour, sound and movement. A stylish, joyful and memorizing experience. Well directed and perfectly choreographed, watching Dance for Two makes you forget about your cares and want to dance.
The Desperate Wife Hunter was one of the most off-beat films in the program. Set in the head of a young man, we get to learn what criteria makes up this man’s idea of a perfect wife. This film was effective at drawing a reaction with its odd-ball and at times creepy sense of humour. A simple film with a lot of kookiness and hammy acting making it fun to watch.
I now come to the winner of Best Director, Bevreti – a heavenly experience about a nunnery in Georgia of the same name. If one feature stands out it has to be the cinematography. Masterfully shot, the relationship between Orthodoxy, the seasons and the monastery’s buildings are interwoven to reveal the spiritual essence in all of God’s Creation. Using panning and tracking shots, the filmmaker was able to capture the beauty of the monastery and its nuns. There’s a lush vibrancy and a deep understanding the mystery of the Faith. You will be transformed by this place and transfixed by the beauty of candle-lit naves and swaying chandeliers.
From the sublime to the warm-hearted, a man opens up in A Husband’s Love. The film’s effectiveness rests in its simplicity and honesty. A highly emotional film A Husband’s Love explores the private lives of two soul-mates, still together after all of life’s hardships. I found the filmmakers’ vox-pop style insightful and engaging. The essence of this story is about true love which is a great theme considering the film was made during Pascha, also capturing the joy of this great feast.
The documentary, Holy Fire & Pascha, was the winner of Audience Favourite. It tells a personal account of the trials and struggles of witnessing the Holy Fire. Although there are many films about this subject, I think what made this film unique was the fact that just like the experience itself, each story is as different as the individual thereby providing a fresh perspective. This film brought this annual miracle to life in a fascinating way allowing the viewer to experience, even for a brief moment, this remarkable spiritual event. However, I would like to leave Justin Daniel to say a few words about his film…
Perhaps one of the most unusual films was SUPERGIRL, an experimental piece dealing with suicide and hope. The main character, Josh, has lost his family in a tragic fire and his will to live. Yet, in the background a mysterious girl using the power of prayer is there beside him. SUPERGIRL explores the perimeters of fear and its ability to destroy those who’s Faith is only skin deep. Interesting use of lighting and dream-like sets makes this a surreal viewing experience.
The only web series in the Festival was ‘Coffee with Sister Vassa, the Christmas episode’, is the work of an Orthodox nun living in Vienna, Austria. Her weekly show explores various aspects of the Orthodox Faith through kooky humour and plenty of caffeine. Sister Vassa’s style removes any preconceptions one might have of a theological-based show, instead being entertained by her warm personality and off-beat comedy.
The Key and the Frame is a drama composed of characters from a yet-to-be-produced trilogy film project by the filmmaker, Derek Power. The film reveals the deep, psychological undercurrents of each character giving the audience an insight into their faults and fears. The Key and the Frame is a film that says a lot about people who struggle to truly understand who they really are.
We then had the shortest documentary in the program, The Last Stonegrinder. In less than 5 minutes, the film efficiently and effectively tells the unfortunately reality of the last stonemason who grinds stone by hand in Romania. The film beautifully captures the elements of this artist’s world. We see how the work, tools and environment have shaped this old man’s personality and sense of being. The cinematography is just as beautiful as Bevreti, revealing the awe of a lonely world where a man seems to face the end of an era, and even his death, in good faith.
Moving onto the winner of Best Screenplay and Best Film, Power of Dogs is an example of great Orthodox filmmaking. I was inspired by the multi-layered story and fantastic acting by the lead role. For much of the film very little is said but volumes are spoken about Orthodoxy through gestures and composition.
However, I would like Joachim Vesely to say a few words to give us some greater insight into his film:
I thank Joachim for his film and hopefully inspiring many other Orthodox filmmakers to follow his example of visual storytelling.
The experimental Prometheus by Californian film student Enus Arau retells the ancient Greek tale with a slight Christian edge. Set in the present, Enus’ Prometheus portrays man’s desire to control Creation giving rise to our modern electrified world, yet he is unable to handle this power. Repenting, he returns the light back to the Heavens, restoring order. I thought this version added more layers to the original story, making it more relevant to our current state of being.
The final film to screen was Lucky Girls, a documentary about the Theotokos Orthodox Girls’ Orphanage in Kolkata, India. This was a powerful and awaking film, taking us to a world where gender condemns you. Abandoned and forgotten, we see how this orphanage and the dedicated people, including Sister Nectaria, give these girls a sense of purpose and most importantly love. A poignant and touching film from start to finish.
So after this viewing, what does this reveal about the state and outlook for global Orthodox filmmaking?
Judging from what I’ve seen, and the trend in the last few years, I think Orthodox filmmaking is on the clasp of a very exciting emergence. All these filmmakers were able to blend their Orthodoxy into their work, producing original and beautiful films. The emotional impact of each film varied greatly from the heart-felt A Husband’s Love to the multi-layered Power of Dogs.
Due to the mystical nature of our Faith, which has been contemplated for centuries, gives us a dynamic and all-compassing approach to understanding the world and how to express it. Through professional cinematography in films like Bevreti, The Last Stongrinder and Power of Dogs, the filmmakers were able to capture an essence that cannot be explained, but needs to be experienced.
If such Orthodox creativity is encouraged, hopefully it will bleed into the general multimedia sphere giving us a voice and greater influence.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch Byzanfest 2014, all films can still be viewed and will remain online via the Orthodox Filmmakers and Artists YouTube Channel.
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Sep 9, 2014
Congratulations to Orthodox textile artist, Kyriaki Fuss, who won three first prize ribbons and one second prize ribbon at the prestigious Adelaide Show in South Australia.
Listen to Kyriaki’s interview
Read about Kyriaki’s inspirations
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