ISOLATED EXPERIMENTS-Ana Mouyis
During this period of global public health-sanctioned isolation, Millennium Film Workshop, like many other organizations has sadly had to postpone many of our planned events for the Spring season. We’ve decided to continue to showcase in the meantime, great work from great artists here on our own website, in a new weekly series we’re calling “Isolated Experiments,” accompanied by comments from the artists themselves. Sign up for our mailing list via our contact page to get email updates about new films as we post them weekly.
This week, we are featuring “Cambi Tutto“ a five minute photo-animation piece made by artist Ana Mouyis.
MFW: So, How was it that you came to make this film in Italy (and where in Italy, and what is that place/your connection to it?)
AM: I was born in New York, but grew up in Cyprus (an island in the mediterranean, where Greek is spoken and we share a lot of Greek culture). My mother’s family is American, my father’s Cypriot, we moved there when I was 9. I returned to NYC for college and stayed there afterwards for about 13 years before moving down south [to Louisiana]. We found ourselves in Italy because my partner Fox and I were brainstorming ways to travel and work on a project together. A friend from Cyprus (currently living in London) tipped me off about a residency opportunity in Italy. It’s run by a family – basically you just get this big beautiful old house to stay in and work in and that’s about it. They wanted whatever we did to have some connection to the small town the house is in, but other than that it was pretty open ended. It was a small village just at the edge of the alps, and we were so struck by the scenery of it all, we kind of just wanted to make a contemplative piece that took the viewer there.
MFW: Oh, Cyprus, like Angie Bowie! Can you talk a little about bringing an animator’s sensibility to a photographic piece, what motivated you to make it the way you did?
AM: Yep! A lot of it had to do with the circumstances – if I were just animating traditionally, I’d be stuck inside drawing or working on a computer. Working with replacement animation and hyperlapse allowed us to get outside and be fully immersed in the environment. One thing that became clear to us conceptually as we worked on this piece was that we were interested in building a portrait of this town through small/often-overlooked details. Photography (rather than video footage) allowed us to zero in on all these tiny details. For example, taking hundreds of pictures of different flowers from all over the village, we can put them together into a longer mesmerizing sequence, which would be different than just filming some flowers swaying in the breeze (not that there’s anything wrong with that hah). In a general sense, both Fox and I, in our work are interested in the sort of life and vibrancy that come from the imperfections of hand-made/manual processes. Embracing some of the shaky/jittery processes of this kind of animation appealed to us for this project, so the viewer could get a feel for the human element that goes into making something like this-sort of like how a smudge or a fingerprint on a drawing can add a playfulness and a charming imperfection that can sometimes make it more textural and almost tangible.
MFW: Whose voice is it on the soundtrack?
AM: The voice is Wilma Andrighetto, the mother of Paola De Martin, who is one of the residency organizers (and owners of the house we stayed in). Wilma and her husband Ruggero were kind enough to get us all set up when we arrived. Wilma has lived in that town her whole life. We wanted to have a human voice in the piece and we also wanted to get a little bit of context and backstory, so we set up a little mini-interview. She doesn’t speak English, nor do we speak Italian on any kind of conversational level, so her other daughter Rosali De Martin was there also to help translate. Her view on how the town has evolved over the years became central conceptual element to how we put the film together. It was important to us to have some local perspective to keep it from just being a kind of travelogue.
MFW: Getting to take in the details of this lush Italian countryside feels almost pornographic for those of us stuck staring at the walls of our meager apartments. In light of our current situation, and how the Italian struggle with coronavirus predicted and mirrored our own in its early days, what does this film (and its title, translated as “Everything’s Changed”) say to you viewing it now, in the midst of all this?
AM: We worked on this film for a while after returning home and the current situation began unfolding as we were promoting and applying to film festivals. As things progressed (especially in Italy) we felt it was a good time to put it online and share it freely, rather than have it tied up in the usual film festival premiere process. It’s been gratifying to share it with our friends and family and broader networks and hear that it’s helped people’s cabin fever in some small way (maybe a reminder to get outside and take some pics of flowers or clouds hah). It’s struck a bitter-sweet tone (more than it had already!) as the idea of “Everything’s Changed” has morphed in a way that we never could have foreseen.
MFW: Time has a way of taking the art’s meaning out of our hands-as a final comment, would you like to add some thoughts on that idea?
AM: It’s interesting to think about how time changes things in ways that are out of our control – that’s a pretty central idea to the film itself. We dropped ourselves into what we thought was just a sleepy old little town and we learned it used to be a hub of culture and community and industry. In a way, time changes the meaning of everything, not just art – but we can use art to highlight and examine these changes. Meta!
Ana Mouyis is a Cypriot-American animator, filmmaker, and educator currently based in Lafayette, Louisiana, where she is an Assistant Professor of Computer Animation at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Since 2009 she has worked as a freelance artist specializing in illustration and animation, some clients have included: The New York Times, The Boston Globe, EMI Records, Pepsico, and The Atlantic. Her self-directed animated films draw on her personal experiences and relationships, and explore difficult topics through poetic, metaphorical narratives. Her short films have screened at film festivals all over the world and have received recognition from the Art Directors Club Awards, AI-AP International Motion Arts Awards, Adobe Design Achievement Awards and Vimeo.