Oana Ghera: I know that OUR DAYS, ABSOLUTELY, HAVE TO BE ENLIGHTENED started as a piece of performance art, a concert you worked out with the inmates, but I was curious to know how did you go from that to the experimental documentary that is Our Days…?
Luciana Dumitru: Michel de Certeau writes about the experience of a French travel writer, Jean de Léry, in Tupi, using the term “remainder” for that which couldn’t be translated (into words). In Léry’s case, the overwhelming (subjective) aural and visual pleasures, from the language he couldn’t understand and strange sounds to the visceral experiences of being surrounded by naked bodies. De Certeau says “proximity is presence without possession.” In your experience of living within the community of Saramaccan animists can you talk about “remainders” that you wanted to pin down? If so, how did film help you? More importantly, what are the “remainders” of this film – RIVER RITES (which is different from the lived experience)?
Luciana Dumitru: NOT EYE drew my attention in two directions: looking (and being looked upon) and the gaze in cinema. Some philosophers think of identity as fragmented, non-unitary, non-essentialist, unfixed. In looking and being looked upon, there is an undoing of each other, in a certain sense. You’ve said the character has a problem finding her own identity,“she sees it fragmented” because of the others’ look. Can you say a few words about the relation between the other’s look and the fragmented identity?
Oana Ghera: You were inspired for AS THE FLAMES ROSE by Cocteau’s “La voix humaine”, a monologue written for theater whose theatricality you expose in various ways, from revealing its source (by posing the book on the character’s nightstand) to the expressionist play with the lighting (to name just one of your techniques). Yet, it seems to me, AS THE FLAMES ROSE is also a declaration of love for cinema as a medium, what with all the rear projections and TV footage, for artificial as they may be, still manage to expand the enclosed space of the studio in a deeply cinematic way. Where do you stand regarding the long theorised relation between cinema and theater? Where did the influence of the play end and where did that of cinema begin in your creative process? Or are they intertwined? And also regarding the matter of theatricality, how do you relate to Fassbinder’s work?