Montreal International Documentary Festival


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Exploring Nature - Nov 12 to Nov 18

Interview - Liliana Colombo

Interview with Liliana Colombo, filmmaker of Icemeltland Park presented in the section Exploring Nature from November 12-18

Can you tell us about the nature of the different images we see in the film? What did your work of researching, selecting and reusing those images look like?

The images used in the film come from different online sources. I’ve used amateur video clips that I found on Youtube mainly showing ice caps melting or icebergs calving followed by people cheering (which is where I got the idea to create an amusement park by the way). It didn’t take much to find these videoclips as they all come one after the other on Youtube, it was rather a matter of choosing the ones that to me looked more “over the top" in terms of the people’s reaction but that also had good quality as far as video resolution.
From these video clips as a starting point I then searched for material to try to create this platonic park I had in mind, so I started researching water floods footage to juxtapose to the ice melting ones. I also visited the NASA website and found the satellite images of our world’s changing which ended up being perfect material to add to the film to give some numbers as far as how our planet is transforming. It all pretty much came together organically whilst I was editing, starting with the Youtube amateur videos and slowly adding all the other elements to create a passive experience of an amusement park from the eyes of the audience of the film.

How did the idea for this amusement park satire come about, and more generally how did the corrosive humor, which diverts the contemporary appetite for spectacularization, seem the best approach for your subject?

The idea came whilst watching a video clip online of people cheering and applauding in front of a Greenland ice cap melting, I straight away connected those images and sound to an amusement park. It was after watching a few more clips that I decided to make a film about it as I found the whole thing quite disturbing especially realising that many of those people organise their trips to go and stare at glaciers melting waiting with their camera to capture the “money shot”. That’s what it felt like when I was watching those clips on Youtube so I just wanted to translate into a film what I felt when I was seeing that online. There was nothing I could do but laughing and it wasn’t a happy laugh rather dark that's when I decided to stick to what I was experiencing myself in that moment and introduce and push the corrosive humor in the film, which also is what I found interesting as a way to propose the issue of the climate change, kind of to make us reflect (and I put myself first) on how little importance we’re giving to this problem. I do have myself a dark sense of humor in general therefore it’s quite impossible not to put it in my work.

Your approach resembles a rhetorical collage and takes the form of a kind of intellectual provocation, while being very well documented – regarding this, writing has an important place in the film. Can you tell us about your sources of inspiration, in terms of directing and filmmaking, but also perhaps some of the readings that have fed your thinking?

My sources of inspiration come from different places, not so much from other filmmaking/filmmakers or reading actually. Big inspiration comes from the urban culture in particular street art and music, especially the Hip Hop culture which I’m a huge fan of, I know it sounds bunkers to say but it is true (lol). Wish I could say my biggest inspiration is some French philosopher but that’s not the case. What inspires me about street art and the Hip Hop culture is the way they deliver their messages, there’s no filter and what they say is very relatable, as well they aren't afraid to fully express what they think about the world and they do it very bluntly, it’s understandable by everyone which is why I like it. I try to take those ways and project them into my film work, reason also why I’ve decided to make films using found footage. The amateur look and the idea that the videos I use in my films are shot by anyone that could range from a teenager who by chance captured an interesting moment or action, to a doctor that maybe went on those glacier trips with his family to enjoy the ice melting, makes it more real for me. And each of those videos have a completely different point of view that comes from these people coming from different backgrounds and cultures, that’s what makes it special.

The pandemic that we are experiencing is another aspect of the environmental crisis you address from the angle of rising water levels in your film. Was the film already completed when it began? Do you plan to continue to address these issues and the different aspects of the environmental situation in your future films? More philosophically, how do you see your place as a filmmaker in the face of such a global crisis?

The film was already completed when the pandemic started actually, I finished it around January 2020 (last changes). As far as continuing to address the issue of the environmental situation on the planet, yes I do plan to do more work definitely (I’ve already started something). I see myself carry on with the way I’ve been doing, trying to deliver my messages via films. Films that try to imagine some sort of reality out there, a reality that’s difficult to envision at the moment because of everything going upside down. I’d like to create places and spaces that don’t necessarily exist but that very much show the reality we’re living. It’s a juxtaposition that I’ve been trying to work on since I started my Fairee News project in which I use real footage and try to create non existing situations and places.

Can you tell us a bit more about this Fairee News project, which is released on Youtube, and how it relates to your filmmaking? Do you intend to continue working with online material?

The Fairee News project started when the wildfire in Paradise California happened, in 2018. I’ve always been interested in the role of the news and how the different sources manipulate the content and deliver it through the medias. We're always given information that we cannot verify with the events happening, we just trust what we see in the news and we hope that the sources are reliable enough. With this project I tried to imagine a news room in which all these made up stories/news are fabricated and delivered to the public (which is youtube), in which I use found footage of the events happening that I can re-use, manipulate and propose on my youtube channel with my point of view. It’s with this project that I started working on creating these different realities and dimensions within real stories and it’a ongoing project which is good practice for me. Funny enough Icemeltland Park was supposed to be a Fairee News video but ended up being too long to propose on youtube that’s why I decided to make it as its own film. I do intend to continue using online material for now, will see where it goes and how it goes.

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