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27 C
Hanoi
Tuesday, July 23, 2024

‘Trans Memoria’ Director Victoria Verseau Interview: KVIFF 2024


Swedish artist Victoria Verseau, born in 1988 and based mostly in Stockholm, explores themes similar to physique, reminiscence, id and social buildings through a spread a media, from sculptures and installations to efficiency artwork and brief movies.

“The works are sometimes based mostly on her private experiences of being trans and a brand new lady,” her web site highlights. “Based mostly on her personal story, she examines bigger existential questions; who we’re, how we exist and who we need to be.”

Verseau’s characteristic movie debut, Trans Memoria, is especially private and intimate. The documentary diary sees her returning to Thailand, the place of her transition in 2012, navigating uncertainty amplified by her shut pal Meril’s suicide, and exploring challenges confronted by trans girls, together with problems with id and which means.

The movie, which received the Hiventy Submit-Manufacturing Award, a €5,000 ($5,375) grant for post-production companies, at Cannes Docs 2023 when it had the working title Meril, had its world premiere on the 58th Karlovy Fluctuate Worldwide Movie Competition on Saturday.

Verseau talked to THR about why she needed to relive and share her transition expertise and her struggles together with her pal’s loss of life in film kind, her ideas on the depiction of trans folks in movie, in addition to potential future initiatives.

You by no means made a characteristic movie earlier than. Why did you need to share your expertise on this format? How a lot was your purpose to work via your individual challenges and the way a lot was it about explaining transition and its influence to different folks?

From the start, I believe it was the shock of figuring out that my pal Meril had died. It was principally, I believe, a therapeutic approach for me to attempt to digest what had occurred. I’m additionally an artist, so that is one thing that comes very pure to me. I needed to try to perceive how issues unfolded and why and who I had change into.

When did you determine to go for a transition?

I had recognized since I used to be three years previous. Rising up in a small metropolis within the Swedish countryside within the Nineteen Nineties, noone even knew what a trans individual was. I might say that I made a decision to transition after I bought to find out about it after I was an adolescent. And I went to Thailand again then when it had world-leading surgical procedures on gender affirmation surgical procedure. So I went to this very particular metropolis that I’m attempting to additionally depict within the movie. There, I met Meril who was additionally there to do the operation. So we actually supported one another earlier than this very unsure, and a bit scary, time that was forward of us. And we very a lot each longed for a life that will be higher and we actually yearned to seek out love.

We had been very heteronormative again then. We needed to discover a man to stay with. After which we went again to our properties. She was from France and lived in Paris. We saved involved, and I visited her in Paris as soon as. And after I went to go to her the second time, I couldn’t attain her. Fairly quickly I spotted that she had ended her life, and my world fell aside. She was the one trans pal I had, and I mirrored myself in her. So I used to be questioning if I might finish the identical approach as she did, and I went into a really, very deep melancholy.

How did you meet Athena and Aamina who journey and focus on points with you all through the movie? And the way did they affect the movie?

It’s actually been a curler coaster. Initially, I needed to make a fiction movie about me and Meril. I forged Athena and Aamina to play me and Meril. And once we went to Thailand, we really filmed each fiction scenes and documentary reenactments. I used to be a bit like: will this really work? Can I ever? It’s like nothing turns into what you thought it will be – and the movie didn’t change into what I imagined it to be in any respect.

The 2 of them are very outspoken, and so they challenged me lots. And it felt I couldn’t draw back from that, and so they actually needed to have their views within the movie, which felt so essential. So, it’s slightly bit in every single place. I really like that it form of has its personal kind.

What additionally performed a task right here is how trans girls are depicted on movie. For Aamina, it is rather essential to not be sensationaled or exoticized as a trans lady. I actually am pleased to see that as a result of life is complicated. It has each darkness and light-weight. I believe it’s a movie of contrasts – it has cinematic, meticulously framed photographs and likewise shaky digital digital camera realism. It has humor and disappointment, a touch of humor. So distinction is essential.

As a result of I’m a visible artists, I additionally felt I’m there to let the method lead me by some means, and so the movie is simply very free and doesn’t obey that many guidelines. You would say it’s trans. I like that expression.

Are you able to share a bit in regards to the timeline of if you determined to start out work on the movie and if you completed it?

We did the surgical procedure in 2012. She handed away in 2015. After which I, fairly instantly, began simply writing our story for myself. I didn’t share it with anybody. After which I felt it was so essential to speak about it as a result of her mother and father condemned her resolution to transition, and so they threw her out of the home, and her Fb profile disappeared. So it was nearly like she had by no means existed. It form of felt like this movie wanted to be form of a testomony of her that she really existed as soon as, a commemoration.

I had movie materials from 2012 and even from the ’90s after I was a child. I went to Thailand to movie in 2019, and I used to be actually depressed. So it was actually a problem to work on the movie then. After which we filmed the final scene final 12 months. It’s me and Athena, and we’re a lot happier. And we’re nonetheless right here at present. And Aamina can also be right here at present.

What position did making the movie play in getting you to this happier place?

I believe the movie saved me. As a result of when it was at its worst for me, the movie was my solely which means. I felt I wanted to inform this story, and I can’t disappear like Meril did. And so in a approach, it saved me.

The identical can also be true for Athena really. She won’t be right here if she didn’t have this undertaking to work on. She actually expressed that. it’s wonderful to listen to that it helped her a lot. Aamina, Athena and I had been like slightly group. We helped one another once we labored on the undertaking, but it surely was additionally very, very difficult. They had been at first of their transition once we began filming. And at present, they’ve gone via it – if there’s ever an finish to a transition. And I used to be actually in a melancholy. So we actually had lots of arguments through the making of the movie. And it felt crucial to handle that, in addition to having their views, and to point out the difficulties of creating this sort of movie about trans girls as trans girls your self.

I’ve lived fairly an eventful and dramatic life, and I felt burned out by that. And now I’ve entered one other period. Now it’s the time to inform folks about it.

Generally the movie appears like a ghost story, such because the lodge in Thailand the place you and Meril stayed and a mall that’s now deserted. You also have a dialog when one you tries to take a photograph and says “go,” however you perceive “ghost” or “ghosts.” We even see you below a blanket wanting like a ghost. I heard you’ve got additionally finished exhibition with a ghost theme or title. Why does the ghost theme resonate with you?

It form of has many meanings. Ghosts may, in fact, be recollections that hang-out you. And so they linger, they by no means abandon you. But it surely additionally could be very a lot me having a tough time accepting that issues disappear. I miss my grandmother a lot. I miss Meril a lot. And I miss issues that I’ve misplaced, and locations and buildings that may have been torn down.

I went again to Thailand to this similar metropolis in 2023, and the lodge had been closed right down to be demolished. And the shopping center, as you say, had actually decayed and been full of water. It’s scary seeing how issues fade and disappear. But it surely’s additionally breathtaking.

I join it to desires as properly – recollections and desires. I dreamt lots about Meril and town. After which there are not any folks there, it’s not just like the Thailand you normally see full of tuk-tuks (three-wheeled motorized automobiles used as taxis) and seashores. It’s extra this empty, bizarre in-between area. I really feel I get near one thing in that area. I discover lots of which means in not figuring out every little thing additionally. You possibly can’t ever converse to somebody who handed away, regardless that some would say you may. In the course of the movie I additionally tried to speak about that muteness. When somebody dies, there’s a transparent boundary – you may by no means attain that individual. However on the similar time, I hope that it will be attainable.

I generally imagine, and I additionally doubt. So there may be this fixed shifting between positions – ambivalence. The integrity of telling my story has additionally felt very ambivalent.

‘Trans Memoria’

Courtesy of Karlovy Fluctuate Worldwide Movie Competition

Meril is a giant presence within the movie regardless that we don’t actually see her. Did you ever think about exhibiting her in some kind, for instance, via photographs all through the movie or did that really feel not respectful?

It was each respecting her, as a result of I couldn’t ask her if she needed to be a part of it, but additionally respecting the household, regardless that they did one thing horrible. I didn’t need to form of reveal their id.

Additionally, I believe I’ve two footage of Meril, I don’t have any voice recording, and I all I’ve is my recollections and this vacancy. That vacancy, I really feel, was essential, that void. Absence was essential for the movie.

You additionally discuss lots about hope, loneliness, and the way you and Meril had been hoping to seek out love within the movie. How have issues performed out for you?

Yeah, I’ve a companion. I discovered that cis man like me and Meril wished to seek out. We’ve been in a relationship for 10 years. I really like him very a lot. However perhaps Meril and I had a bit unrealistic desires once we struggled a lot and fought a lot and imagined what we might get and didn’t get that. And I really feel a lot, significantly better at present. Ending this movie was essential as a result of it was form of one thing that saved me from transferring on in life.

Athena has additionally discovered the love of her life. In order that’s very good. I’ve which means at present, and I hope it is going to final. I believe I discovered a approach, and Athena additionally did very a lot. I believe the movie helped us by some means.

What would you want folks to remove once they see the movie?

The movie has this fairly distinctive voice and a mixing of various codecs and it doesn’t actually obey the principles that a lot. However I additionally want that individuals would really feel that they’ve been capable of get a glimpse into hidden wounds that haven’t been seen earlier than. And perhaps they’ll discover one thing about these extra existential questions, similar to which means, mortality. It’s a really sincere movie. I really feel I don’t censor myself.

I ponder if one takeaway for folks seeing the movie can even be that transition is just not a fast bodily change, however takes extra…

Yeah, it’s actually a course of, each very bodily, but additionally psychological. And the invisible interior journey is essential, what’s happening inside. That’s certainly very a lot part of the movie.

Do you’ve got any ideas on the depiction of trans folks in movie, on TV and even within the information?

I heard someplace that there was this trans revolution, and so many tales about our lives have been made. However normally they had been made by folks with out that have, and likewise folks with out that have are taking part in us.

I additionally agree with the group that there have been lots of tragic narratives. That’s one thing I actually struggled with when making this movie. I wanted to inform my sincere, true story, my expertise, however then additionally Athena is asking me within the movie why I’m making this darkish movie.

However I believe there’s a distinction when the creator of the movie is trans herself and telling folks about her personal story. And in addition, there may be humor in it. The movie ends with this scene the place we managed to complete this loopy undertaking after eight years, and we really feel higher at present. It’s essential that Athena and I are nonetheless right here at present. We didn’t disappear like Meril sadly.

However I couldn’t disguise actuality. I want that this dialogue would additionally come up after folks see the movie as a result of I really feel what I’m seeing hasn’t actually been depicted on movie. Life is complicated. It has each darkness and light-weight in it. I perceive the necessity for extra constructive narratives as properly to determine with. However I needed to make a extra sincere movie about what I’ve been via. Some moments are happier and you’re discovering your approach, some moments are darker.

May we see extra movies from you?

I’ve new concepts and am writing many various concepts. However I can’t actually say a lot about them but. I’ve this superstition that, if I inform an excessive amount of too early, it’s going to not occur.

There’s an previous movie concept that I really began earlier than Trans Memoria. I’m going to attempt to end it. However I’ve different initiatives which might be newer and which may be extra consultant of what I do at present.

Anything I haven’t requested you about that you simply wish to spotlight?

You actually requested superb questions. One different factor I needed to discover when making the movie was id and if you obtain your biggest dream, what comes after that. You must relate to normality and the life after. I got here to a degree the place I used to be form of completed, regardless that you’re by no means completed. After which I noticed that my id was part of the battle. I form of misplaced slightly bit who I used to be after the transition. I wanted to seek out out who I used to be, once more after the transition. And this movie is part of that. It actually doesn’t have to try this a lot with the precise surgical procedure, however is about discovering your id.

We’re all particular person inside, however it may be scary if you get labeled. It’s the identical with being trans. I believe: am I actually trans or am I only a human being that has this expertise? And what’s trans? After all, I’m, and I’m a lady, however I used to be additionally slightly boy sooner or later. You are able to do many issues throughout a life and undergo all these phases and have all these totally different experiences alongside the way in which. So everyone seems to be in a transition.

Interview edited for size and readability.

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