MONOCHROME, 13min., Switzerland, Erotic
Directed by Dan Nieders
Behind closed doors, Juan lives their fantasies through Elise, with an intense and strange fascination. While Elise and Marius are flirting during a night out with friends. Juan is drawn into the introspection of a wicked game, and must regain control of their body to access their desires.
The idea of Monochrome came to me quite suddenly. I was supposed to adapt a short story I had written in 2015 to a Canadian director. Finally, from the original story was born the essence of a deep introspection and in a few nights a script was written. Then everything happened so fast, three months later the filming started and I didn't have the time to reflect and explore the questioning that was driving me.
Between writing and production, I had three short relationships with people of different sexual and gender identities. While talking with them, I realized that I did not identify myself entirely with their homosexuality, their bisexuality, or their non-binarity. So during the editing process I was so lost that I didn't even understand why I made this film. I isolated myself for a few weeks to think about who I was and my legitimacy to tell Juan's story. I was finally able to understand that in the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, I am the Q not only for Queer but also for Questioning. I wanted at that point to be able to freely explore my gender and break through an opening in that too-small box I had put myself in and been assigned. Through writing, I was able to deconstruct the character that is Juan, to expose them, to make them discover who they was intimately and paradoxically to live through them because I was unable to do it by myself. I would like it to be considered normal to be able to say that identity, whether it is sexual or gender, is progressive. I think that today we are creating useful boxes for many people, the feeling of belonging is something really important but that it should not be a dead end.
From the first seconds of the film, the spectators are immersed in the reflection of Juan. When it splits from the audience in the final scene, the voice of unconditional love comes to deliver a personal message to each of them. As the card of the tarot of Marseilles, the film leaves of different readings proper to the person the viewer.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
It was challenging from the beginning to the end, there was no room for boredom, we were always on the edge of the abyss. Then you are carried by the adrenaline and you stop thinking. What carried me is also all the introspection I was involved in. Monochrome really brought me to question myself in the depths of my being about what it is to be in this world, and to deconstruct myself entirely, which was the most intense experience of my life. So I knew that it was necessary to go to the end of the project to be able to rebuild myself from the inside, as I was and not how the society wanted to define me.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
It took something like one year and… three months. Everything went so fast in the beginning and then it got a little more complicated in post production.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, that’s two words ! Not only about the plot of the film but also about how it was made.
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Myself without any doubt! I think the most challenging part was at first having to get completely naked and acting in front of the film crew. Once I did that I think everything suddenly seemed easy. Although technically the editing was very hard, because we had all these rushes and everything was supposed to work but it didn’t so it was a big puzzle and god knows how much I hate puzzles. But with good advice we found a solution to make it all work. But it’s true that at that moment I thought of giving up everything.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It seemed so bizarre to me… I was told “you’ll see the film once it comes out, it belongs to the audience » and that’s what I felt, it was a very strange feeling between excitement, curiosity and nostalgia almost. But the audience was so caring and I’m very thankful that the film was well received.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I think now it’s done, I realize that I want to make films… I never thought about doing a movie before, Monochrome is an happy accident if I may call it that.. Long story short, I had to adapt a novel I had written when I was 20 to propose it to a Canadian director who was in Switzerland. As it was really personal and I had described the scenes precisely, he proposed me to co-direct the film. Unfortunately in the middle of the filming he had to return to Canada and drop the project for personal reasons. So it was crazy, the day after he left, I found myself alone naked in a field, acting and directing a film, everything I had never done before. Fortunately the producer Lisa Skory took me by the hand and assisted me step by step to finish Monochrome. Even if it was a bit brutal, today it makes sense as I come from photography and I’ve always been writing, so cinema is a way to merge these two worlds.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
It must be Capharnaum, by Nadine Labaki. It’s the story of a boy who sues his parents for bringing him into this world. And it’s the most gripping and upsetting film I’ve ever seen. But in any other category I could watch Spice World The Film (1997) by Bob Spiers over and over again, it takes me back to my childhood when I had to hide to watch it. And today I feel so free to love this movie.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
It’s so important to give a platform where independent filmmakers can express what they want to convey through their film. We spend so much time isolated to grow a project that it’s nice to have eyes and feelings from outside that core. I believe in sharing and meeting people, so being in this festival can potentially bring in a way or another a collaboration for another project. That’s the magic of cinema, it seems, so thank you for making it living.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
It’s great to have a platform where you can find the kind of festival that would best fit with the production of your film. I’m only at the beginning of my experience on this platform but everything is going very well so far.
10. What is your favorite meal?
A Happy Meal? (laugh) or any Italian dishes with fresh ingredients hand-cooked..
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I’m going to retire now. I’m joking, yes why not, there are things I want to work on like the dialogues… I want to keep writing, let’s see what happens next. I don’t put any pressure on myself because everything happens very organically and that’s where the beauty lies.