For a fortnight we ran a film masterclass with Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine at The Berlage Institute.
Discover the 10 films made in a fortnight by the 10 students of the masterclass.
The problem is not to invent space, even less to reinvent it (..), but to question it, or, even more simply, to read it; because what we call everydayness is not evidence, but opacity: a form of blindness, a way of anesthesia. It is on the basis of these basic observations that this book, a journal of a user of space, developed.
—Georges Perec, “Foreword,” Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, 1974
The trying months of successive lockdowns have drastically reduced our vital space to the partitioning of our homes, imposing an experience of unprecedented intensity with our “interiors.” In spite of ourselves and with various degrees of consciousness, we were led to deeply question our relationship to domestic life in the urgent need of adapting homes to our new confined condition. Suddenly, the normal spatial allocation of our daily routines and the traditional boundary between private and public blew up when apartments had to be shifted into connected offices. We all suffer from solitude and isolation, if not from the complex dynamics of cohabitation which are undergoing severe testing. We have never been so much domestic beings as in these times of sanitary crisis. This is the new domestic life in which we all feel bogged down, exhausted, depressed to the point of developing a difficult and even conflicting relationship with our living space, which necessarily reflects and embodies all our frustrations of interrupted social life and restriction of movement. It is precisely on this highly sensitive and irritable ground that this workshop is positioned, in order to transform this relationship of enclosure into a playful and exploratory dynamic of our domestic space in a state of crisis. As a methodological model, we propose to revisit one of the first examples of a literature of confinement: A Journey Round My Room (1794) by French writer Xavier de Maistre. Considered to be one of the well-known references of eccentric novels, which in the eighteenth century mocked the clichés of the travelogue—a genre in vogue at the time—this humorous short text led to a long posterity of “still travels” and other fantasists travel diaries.
In the legacy of De Maistre’s domestic odyssey, this master class proposes to transform the proximity and familiarity we have with our daily domestic environment into a wild territory of exploration in order to reconquest astonishment and surprise in the way we look at our immediate surroundings. This will be achieved through the refining of the student’s observation and listening skills towards minute and overlooked details of their domestic space as well as through the deconstruction of their behavioral habits in relation to their homes. The master class aims to explore what cinema can bring to our experience, understanding, and narration of space that other kinds of representational media (such as plans, sections, elevations or even photographs) cannot. We will investigate this territory of blurry boundaries where film can convey a limitless quantity of topics that go beyond a mere informational representation, conveying the complexity of our sensorial, psychological, and emotional relation to space.
Students will go through all decisive phases of filmmaking, from the elaboration of an initial synopsis all the way to postproduction. They will also be familiarized with production issues, mainly focused on learning how to adapt intentions to technical means. The main effort of the master class will be oriented towards quality and relevance of ideas, and singularity of point of view. In other words, innovative and thought-provoking positions should be the focus, instead of a search for technical and aesthetic perfection. Technique will be seen as a tool—not a goal. The final output of the master class will be a short film of 3 to 5 minutes, which manifests each student’s ability to produce, in a strong narrative and visual form, a highly personal, sharp, and critical interpretation of his/her relationship to domestic space.