(Giorgos Efthimiou) Seeing the lonely otherworldly figures of your films sail slowly through your dichromatic landscapes, under the sounds of atmospheric ambient music, I feel as if your films always refer to something you’re nostalgic about. What’s the power of nostalgia in your films?
(SJ. Ramir) Well, I always find other people’s interpretations of my work interesting. But for me, there is no nostalgia in my films. There were originally, two predominant themes I set out to explore in my body of work. The first of which was the concept of ‘belonging’. What does that mean? What do you need to feel a sense of belonging? Is it shared beliefs and values? What about human connections; family, society – are they an anchor – something that grounds you for the good, or a weight to be dragged? Personal experiences are often rooted deep into the soil of a geographical place. How much of this, plays a part in where you feel a sense of belonging?
So, in my early films I used the motif of a lone figure moving across remote, geographical landscapes in a quest, a journey, to find a destination, a place to belong. But the figures were seemingly unsuccessful in finding any fulfillment in that regard and they were certainly devoid of any geographical origin. But the further my filmmaking went on, to me, it was almost as if ‘origin’ and ‘destination’ were becoming irrelevant in these films, in my process. Except they weren’t – or weren’t supposed to be, but they became a peripheral, because for me the films purpose slowly evolved and became more about actual forward momentum between A and B. A = the origin, or a question asked; in my original case, what is this human state of ‘belonging’? B= the destination, or the answer to a question. So, this is where it became interesting for me. What starts out as a series of films about the concept of ‘belonging’, by sending these figures off on a journey to find a place where they belong, the films slowly diverted away into a completely different area. A more universal area. They became films about the actual concept of ‘questioning’! So, you ask a question. Any question. You search for an answer. These early films are about what happens in between.
The second predominant theme that I explored later in films such as My Song Is Sung and In This Valley of Respite, My Last Breath…, was existence – specifically, it’s relationship to, and occupation of, ‘physical space’. Whereas in my earlier works, the wandering figures would come across looming structures that were to be questioned and considered from the outside (representing options – societal, religious, only to be rejected in the end and the journey continued), in my later films the viewer actually enters these structures and examines the vacant, unoccupied physical spaces.
(GE) Even just looking at the titles in your filmography, My Song Is Sung, No Place To Rest, Departure, Our Hands Are Empty, In This Valley, My Heart Is Buried Deep…, some or maybe even all of them seem to refer to something that’s been lost. A loss. After the films end, does this loss grow or diminish?
(SJR) Not a loss, but a deprivation. That’s what I was getting at when I wrote about my film Our Hands Are Empty, “To understand life, is to know that much of it is lived in the dark – there is very little daylight in our understanding or comprehension. To find truth, we need to reach out for it, but most often when we pull our hands back to examine what we have found, our hands are empty.” Using these figures in my films – these figures that are caught in an endless, exhausting treadmill of passage across heavily distorted geographical landscapes, is suggesting that there is no clear path in life for the questions we sometimes ask.
For full interview go to: https://pugnantfilmseries.blogspot.com/search/label/tv