AWFJ EDA Award @ DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Clara van Gool on VOICES OF FINANCE

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van gool smallerDutch filmmaker Clara van Gool’s short dance documentary takes us to London’s bleak financial district, where traders, bankers, and hedge fund managers describe an atavistic society, blood red in tooth and claw. As they move through the city streets, bodies become a metaphor for the extremity of an industry that twists and bends human nature into torturous form. Read what Clara van Gool has to say about making the film, dance as metaphor and her career.

How and why did you encounter and commit to the subject/theme of your film and the main characters in it?

The film is based on a series of blogs by Joris Luyendijk in The Guardian. These were interviews with all kind of people working in the City in London after the credit crunch. As these were turned into anonymous monologues they give a very personal and also unique insight into the Banking Elite. What inspired me as a filmmaker was their angst in such a stressful environment as a matrix to choreography and the classical theme of Hybris, as the background of these stories.

What did you learn about the subject/theme from making the film?

The banker’s sometimes mathematical jargon dared me to translate them into movement, as a way to get grip on rather abstract material. While the world of finance may seem drift apart from reality, this world is still ruled by humans, with everyone having their own anxieties.

What did you learn about filmmaking from making the film?

In this film I have explored the combination of documentary-dance-acting-text. I have been looking for a right description for a long time. Maybe you can call it a docu-dance-film or a choreographic documentary… All my previous films are purely visual stories – without dialogues. This time it was the first film with choreography through and with texts.

van gool doxa voices still

What were your biggest challenges?

The various portraits in the film are performed by dancers and 1 actor. Each style of dance (classical, modern, acrobatic, Indian..) matches a different banker’s position. It was a challenge not to simply play types of bankers, or to make fun of them, but to establish them as truthful characters. Therefore it was essential that all performers had to be really excellent in their technique. Some of the performers never used text before, so it has been a challenge to direct them.

Do you think that being female gave you a distinct perspective and/or way of handling the filmmaking process?

No, but I do think this film could only have been made by me, as a result of my previous work – and I happen to be a woman. On the other hand – on the subject of finance – there are studies claiming women in general are taking less risks in finance. And thus, if there would have been more women in the top of banking, maybe the financial crisis would not have been as deep…

What are your plans for the future?

I am working on a feature film now. This is not a documentary but it is also a combination of movement/dance/acting and dialogue. With Voices of Finance I have been able to show how this can work.

Who are the Filmmakers whose work has inspired/influenced your own?

In terms of other films using a choreographic mise en scene I am inspired by a various range of directors: Scorsese, Hitchcock, Osseliani, Assayas, Losey, Antonioni… In my view a classic decoupage contributes to the credibility of the dance. It helps the abstract to become narrative.

What advice do you have for other female Filmmakers who are trying to make their way through a still male-dominated industry?

Avoid pigeonholing!

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