February 4th, 2013
Experimental film. Feature film. Art film. Fashion Film.
Greek, English, German, French, Turkish.
For her latest project, director Athina Rachel Tsangari lets neither labels nor languages get in the way.
Rather, she encourages pandemonium, while unleashing discipline on her 7 international actresses, and the 7 goats which co-star with them in “The Capsule.”
As a special envoy for The Stimuleye, René Habermacher spent some time with them and the biggest diva on set: Bekos, the star goat.
The headmistress unleashes the beast: Ariane Labed, French but Athens-born actress known from "Attenberg"
and her favourite: Bekos, the beehive-tressed star-goat. Photo by René Habermacher
The sun’s first hot rays glisten over the aquamarine waters, parted by the approaching speedboat.
The destination: a barren island in the Aegean sea, named Hydra.
Hydra once harbored pirates but now hosts the “classy” summer retreats of wealthy Athenian families, low-profile expatriates and not-so-low-profile socialites.
Between dark needles of cypress trees, remnants of other times, splendid historic mansions are scattered up the amphitheatric hills framing the town.
Built in hard labour over generations, the city-island-state of Hydra exceptionnally paid tributes to the Ottoman empire in exchange for a dose of freedom, which they turned into wealth and influence.
A sphinx above Hydra: Ariane Labed in midday heat on the terrasse of Tombazis manor. Photo by René Habermacher.
It is here that one of the island’s generous patrons, art collector Dakis Ioannou, owns a townhouse and runs a project space in the town’s old slaughterhouse through his Deste Foundation. This translates into a yearly invasion of the art world glitteratti to celebrate projects by Maurizio Cattelan, Mathew Barney or Doug Aitken, to name but a few of the guest artists.
As the boat approaches, on the far right of the jetty sits the island’s most impressive building, the Tombazis Manor, long abandoned by its family. A short but steep walk uphill through narrow stone-laminated alleys opens to the building that once housed Marc Chagall: an array of arcades, corridors and rooms, intertwined as the set of a wicked dream, its cool obscurity glacified in time. An unusual activity disturbs this idyl.
Between fortified walls of the mansion, shadows of the past and present terror of besetting obsessions:
young actresses Isolda Dychauk, Aurora Marion and crawling: Evangelia Randou. Photos by René Habermacher
By invitation of Dakis Ioannou, a film crew under the helm of Greek movie director Athina Rachel Tsangaris is attempting to interpret the egregious, violent universe of Polish artist Aleksandra Waliszewska in multiple frozen frames.
The starting point to this project : the Deste “Fashion Collection”. After collaborations with M/M, Juergen Teller, Helmut Lang and Patricia Cavalli, it seemed to be time to work with a Greek, and who better than film maker Athina Rachel Tsangari, who has stirred some waves internationally with documentaries and fictions alike.
The commission’s unique approach to fuse art and fashion from a art-curatorial perspective led Athina to set filming on the Island of Hydra. Not to be confused with the other Hydra, the ancient serpent-like water beast bearing several heads, with the ability for each cut off head it grew two more…
Clémence Poésy in expectation of the headmistress. Photos by René Habermacher.
The last member of a cast of women just arriving from Bruxelles, unsettled and wide-awake after a sleepless journey, French actress Ariane Labed is speeding to join the set where work has begun some days ago. The role she is hurrying towards: the headmistress. Lecturing pupils in a drill of discipline and demise. They are her victims and possible trigger for her final surrender. But this not clear.
The preparations for a key scene at the mansion’s bel étage have her co-stars lining up on the black and white checker marble floor, confessing to the mythical yet vulnerable character of their dominatrix that sit them facing, dressed in her armour. A piece by Sandra Backlund knitted from human hair.
Routine at the boarding house: The line-up of disciples, top right Evangelia Randou, lower right: Sofia Dona.
Each one of her disciples is to kneel in a black boarding school uniform, with neat white “col claudine”, to receive punishment or absolution:
French actress Clémence Poésy, Russian-born ginger-haired actress Isolda Dychauk, dancer Evangelia Randou, actress Aurora Marion, director Deniz Gamze Ergüven, architect Sofia Dona, and finally Aleksandra Waliszewska, the artist inspiring this slipstream of scenes for what is going to be a trip called “the capsule”.
Between the walls of the ancient building, a world of secluded women, whispers, secrets and violence:
“ich will sie alle töten. Ich möchte hier alleine bleiben mit ihnen,” confesses Isolda and gets away unpunished, unlike the others.
Their faith lays at the clicking thimble-clad fingertips of Ariane. But does it really?
Clémence Poésy confesses: "J’ai eu envie de mettre des bris de verre dans les chaussures d’Isolda."
while her dominatrix is about to get more creative with punishments. Photo by René Habermacher.
Fragments of scenes linger like particles in the still air, lit by rays of distant light. Emotions whirl and loop in repetition.
As the sun wanders and fades multiple times, filming continues to ever later hours and let the fictions fringes blur. The crew becomes hostage to the ancient mansion, a surreal, yarn-spinning fairy tale. Roles and reality intertwine in the fabric of a captivating Greek Gothic mystery.
Somewhere in the mansions underbelly glows Ariane’s gown, a creation by Canadien artist Ying Gao. The ruffles of the sheer fabric move in slow motion, animated by fine tuned micro-robotics, the dress is adorning her floating silhouette in the pitch black of the vault.
Ariane at the onset of darkness, wearing a micro-robotic geared gown by Canadian designer Ying Gao,
for which Bekos the goat developed an immense appetite. Photo by René Habermacher.
Ariane’s last scene ends with the day, the private speedboat waiting at the quai to take her back to Piraeus.
Its a wrap. As the crew departs the set, the deserted mansion continues to stare over the empty promenade under an anemic moon.
Alone, Bekos, the star-goat, pet to the headmistress, remains; saved from being served for the Easter feast, and hopefully living happily ever-after.
One of Bekos's caprices: an endless hunger for attention, and bits and bites of the costumes. Photo by René Habermacher.
“The Capsule” continues its journey to festivals, after Sundance the next stops:
25th Angers Premier Plans Film Festival, France, 2013
48th Solothurn Film Festival, Switzerland, 2013
36th Göteborg International Film Festival, Sweden, 2013
Posters for The Capsule: Design by Ania Goszczyńska with artwork of Aleksandra Waliszewska
EYE CANDY | tags: Athina Rachel Tsangari, Aurora Marion, Cinema, Clémence Poésy, Dakis Joannou, Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Deste Foundation, Evangelia Randou, Fashion Film, film noir, Greece, Isolda Dychauk, marc jacobs, Sandra Backlund, Sofia Dona, Ying Gao
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