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EXCLUSIVE: ENSEMBLE wraps post-production


- The collective audiovisual work was directed by 42 film professionals, all of whom were alumni of Berlinale Talents 2021, scattered around the globe and meeting only virtually

EXCLUSIVE: ENSEMBLE wraps post-production
A still from ENSEMBLE

“From a ghostly presence in India, a dystopian, peaceful world, an exploration of Mars and memories of childhood in Jerusalem, to restricted social life in New York.” This is a brief introduction to ENSEMBLE, a collective audiovisual work directed by 42 film professionals hailing from 32 countries, which has wrapped post-production and is aiming to have a festival premiere in the coming months.

All of the members of the collective are alumni of the 2021 edition of Berlinale Talents, and since the event was launched online, they seized the opportunity to initiate a cinematographic dialogue across the continents in a time of global pandemic, without actually meeting each other physically. For more than eight months, their collaboration evolved organically into a mosaic of places, stories and reflections on subjects resonating within each of them.

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Regarding the original idea for the project, this came from German director-screenwriter Anne Thieme and UK distributor Jacqueline Wang. The professionals’ work was based on their manifesto “For an Animistic Cinema. Filmmaking in Pandemic Times” (read more here), which was first suggested by Belgian film critic and director Matthias De Groof but was finalised collectively, and then they tried to work as one, collective mind but at the same time preserve enough space for individuals as well.

The collective decided to “dream through film and film through dreams by communicating through video letters. The window as an aesthetic trope is our analogy with the silver screen. All talents (involved in filming, editing, composing, narrating...) were combined on a cinematic journey. It became a multi-voiced cinematographic experiment, a creative process where each participant created a narrative piece. The project reflects the many makers’ states of mind using the visual medium in multiple ways.”

The rules were that they had to make the film with whatever resources (be they mental or pragmatic) that they had available in their countries, bearing in mind the different restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Everybody found a different way to contribute to this audiovisual dialogue, whether it was shooting guerrilla-style in the streets, working with archives, embracing the restrictions of a shot in a room using a laptop camera, or addressing others to inspire a response with the video.

The collective frequently organised Zoom meetings for five months, in order to fine-tune their concept and kick around ideas, opening themselves up to all sorts of contemporary thoughts about the world at that moment in time. They also had strict deadlines by which to complete and share their visions within ten different groups, and they then passed on the material to Brazilian editor hiperlinque, Burmese sound designer Eaiddhi, and composers Damian Scholl from Germany and Anahit Simonian from France, who would mould it into its final form. Furthermore, the film features actors Anastasia Reshetnikova (Netherlands), Marina Palii (Romania), Nina Kiri (Canada), Sheenly Gener (the Philippines) and others.

French director Romain Champalaune was mostly in charge of the meetings, but the process as such has been very organic, participatory and free-flowing, without any strict hierarchical structure, which is an outstanding achievement, bearing in mind that this collaboration spanned the entire world.

ENSEMBLE is being presented as a “cinematographic dream” taking in Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the UK and the USA.

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