Jazz Connections

After studying at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Yuichiro Tokuda returned to Japan and formed his band "Yuichiro Tokuda RALYZZDIG",and released his first album which was acclaimed as"the cutting edge of the present progressive form of jazz" in Jazz Life magazine.In 2008, He received an award as the "New Face of the Year in Art & Culture"from the Chiba-City Government, the first time ever for a jazz artist. Every year he performs at Japan's most prestigious Jazz Festival "Yokohama Jazz Promenade"and also performs at many festivals in all over the world. His original songs received"Finalist"&"Honorable Mention Award” in International Songwriting Competition 2010, 2012 & 2013 Jazz Category."RALYZZDIG" is mixed original word of "RAY, LYRIC, JAZZ and DIG”It means "to dig into Jazz that sends out hot ray and touches the heart with lyrics". Recently, they performed at the The Jazz Fest, Kolkata.

What prompted you to become a musician, more specifically a saxophonist?

Now I'm playing as a jazz saxophonist . Prior to that I was playing more original music. Few years later after graduating from Berklee college of music, I got an  offer from Borneo Jazz Festival in Malaysia in 2011. They liked my original music and invited me. It was a successful tour.Then I got possibility with my original music and saxophone. So I decided to promote myself with  my music.

How and when did you discover Jazz?

From my father and uncle. My Father is just listener but Jazz lover. My uncle was amateur saxophonist. I discovered Jazz and Saxophone music from them when I was 15 years old.

Describe your composition process. From where do your initial ideas come?

From my experience , travel and encounters in my life.

How important is musical innovation to you?

That is the reason I'm living.Musical innovation of my music makes  a connection with the people and world.

Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you?

The ones I did in India. I have collaborated with Louiz Banks, Gino Banks, Dhruv Ghaneker, F.A. Talafaral, Sheldon D'silva, Aman MahaJan.

You have been awarded the “New Face of the Year in Art & Culture” from the Chiba-City Government, the first time ever for a jazz artist. Your thoughts?

I was in my 20's and just returned from the US. This award was the first one which I had received . I got many chances after I received this award. This award is special to me.

What hopes and aspirations do you have for your music and band Yuichiro Tokuda RALYZZDIG?

I don't know about future. Just I follow to my music makes. So I don't have any hope and aspiration.Will happen something interesting I'm sure.


Enjoy every moment of life and sports, what you are doing in sports is a reflection of your life.

Maurice Szeto is a former member of the Hong Kong Cross Country Team. Maurice  is Distance Running, Soccer and Dragon Boat Coach. He represented Hong Kong at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, and competed in Switzerland and Poland in 1986.

What’s your coaching philosophy?

Enjoy every moment of life and sports, what you are doing in sports is a reflection of your life.
Running: Work hard and don't give up
Dragon Boat: Work hard work together win and lose as a team
Football: Believe in youth, let them learn from mistakes and give youth chances.

What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a running coach?

Students come to tell you the pain has gone after my teaching how to run properly.Students tell me he/she want to continue after some tough training. They benefit, improve and enjoy running is most rewarding to me.

What do you look for in a budding athlete?

Understand the meaning behind competition/winning or losing.

What top tip would you give to someone about to compete in their first marathon?

Work hard work hard work hard but need to listen to their own body always, stay healthy and enjoy running.

What are the most important life lessons one can learn from running?

Won a race while everyone thought I was going to be the runner up finisher, but I didn't give up until crossed finishing. Again and again I made history and I caused trouble to the judges and finally I won the race (not just once, for quite a few times before) Never Give Up !!

What is the most exciting thing that has happened in your football coaching career so far?

To see young boys (not just one) to become true football players and staying in the team when most of people thought they were no good for the team. But, by giving them chances, encouragement and be patient, they can actually get there. I made good decisions not to give them up while others thinking differently (short term result).

What do you think are the essential skills of a successful football coach?

Communication and presentation

How do you help young players balance the highs and lows that comes with sports?

Encouragement always helpful no matter when highs or lows.

Has dragon boat racing grown in popularity over the years?What do you like most about dragon boat racing?

Yes, dragon boating is getting popular and popular and I like how this sports show people how team works are more important than individual.

What are the health benefits of dragon boat racing?

It's a very good exercise for breast cancer rehab.

In the many years of experience in a team sport like dragon boat, how do you define teamwork? What is that crucial thing that makes‘teamwork’ work?

More than one person carry out common orders to achieve common goal established by the team, this is teamwork. Once team goal established, all team members work hard together and help each other for the team goal.


"Since childhood running has for me been a route to personal freedom and expression."

Hugh Jones is no lesser than a living legend. He has 22 marathon wins under his belt and is among the top five record holders in the history of the sport. Jones has won marathons in England, West Indies, Iceland, Spain, Sweden and Norway and created history in the 2nd London Marathon by clocking a time of 2 hrs : 9 mins : 24 secs and winning with a record margin of 2 mins : 57 secs, a mark that still stands today. Jones has gone on to become an expert in the science and knowledge of marathons and enjoys a tremendous relationship with athletes and organizers from around the world. He is the course measurer for the London Marathon, one of the largest marathons in the world and was also the IAAF appointed official in charge at the Sydney Olympics.  Hugh Jones is the race director of the Tata Steel, Kolkata.

Almost every major Indian city hosts a marathon. From your experience in India do you agree there are more people now than ever who are taking to running in India?

Absolutely agree – and this is a trend that is likely to continue in the medium-long term.

Why more and more companies are encouraging their staff to participate in Marathons?

This is because it is good for their employees’ general well being and also builds a corporate culture of joint endeavor.

Most talented young long-distance runners now come from the underdeveloped world. Can running be used as a tool for social inclusion?

Yes – this has been true for centuries in the ‘developed world’. The sport of distance running offers a channel by which those physically talented can demonstrate their abilities without unnecessary ‘mediation’.

Do you agree running can boost self esteem?

Undoubtedly. And for those whose self esteem is maybe too high it can help re-balance and allow them to find something in common with people in other walks of life.

Today, marathons have a very substantial number of women runners. How do you see this trend?

Inexorably increasing… Since childhood running has for me been a route to personal freedom and expression. I am sure this is a path that everyone – both male but maybe even more emphatically female – will want to tread.

Perhaps the biggest obstacles for runners who are contemplating their first marathon are the many myths and misconceptions that surround marathons for instance running can hurt your knees or ankles. What’s your take on this?

Suck it and see: venture forward, but gently. Yes: knees may be vulnerable points within our anatomy but with a modest training regime all parts of the body can be strengthened. It just has to be an exercise in patience. Too much too soon, too fast: that’s bound to end up with injury.

Should beginners focus on mileage or faster runs?

Mileage – make sure you have the confidence that you can ‘go the distance’. Once you have done so then maybe you can shift emphasis to doing it a little more speedily.


Truth Through Dance

                                                                                               photo by iina naoto

Takao Kawaguchi is a dancer and media artist, and a former member of the Japanese collective Dumb Type. Takao Kawaguchi independently did a number of collaboration projects, with sound/visual artists combining the elements of light and sound, and video such as: DiQueNoVes (Say You Don't See) (2003), D.D.D.- How Many Times Will My Heart Beat Before It Stops? (2004), Good Luck (2008) and TABLEMIND (2011).

Since 2008 Kawaguchi has been working on his solo, site-specific performance series called a perfect life until today. The most recent one “From Okinawa to Tokyo” was presented in February 2013 at the Ebisu Moving Image Festival at Tokyo Metropolitan Photography Museum. In recent years he has created Butoh-related works such as: The Ailing Dance Mistress– two solos based on the texts of Tatsumi Hijikata(2012) with Tomomi Tanabe; and About Kazuo Ohno – Reliving the Butoh Diva’s Masterpieces (2013).

                                        photo by Takuya Matsumi

Kawaguchi has participated in a number of other collective projects including: true (2007) and Node – The Old Man of the Desert (2013) with Takayuki Fujimoto (dumb type) and Tsuyoshi Shirai; and Tri-K(2010) with Dick Wong (dancer/choreographer, Hong Kong) and Koichi Imaizumi (filmmaker, Tokyo); and most recently Touch of the Other(2015) with Jonathan M. Hall (professor of queer media studies at Pomona College, Los Angeles). Recently, Takao conducted a Contemporary Dance Workshop along with Surjit Nongmeikapam at the Sparsh Studio organized by Buoyant Performin Arts, Kolkata.

What do you have to say about the contemporary dance scene in general, especially works produced by your contemporaries?

In the contemporary dance scene today there are more and more works that are self-referent, commenting on the history of dance, and questioning what their dance is based on: techniques, notion of beauty, what and how the body is, and where we stand in relation to the reality of the world today. A lot of questionings. Now that the conventional values and institutions have become incompetent to tackle many of the problems we face in today’s society, this is the time when we are asked to think where we have come from and where we are heading to.

Describe your approach to movement and your creative process? What is the role of instinct in your creations?

My creative process is the process to search for what I would like to, and must, say through my work. Sometimes the vessel (technique, tools, method, et al) comes first, and that discovery or invention brings the contents with it, reflecting my real thought and feeling in terms of the reality I face now and here.

                                   photo by Takuya Matsumi

How do you see the influence of Butoh on contemporary dance?

Butoh was the rejection of conventional techniques of dance and the conventional notion of beauty. When the world encountered Butoh, it was a big shock as it denied the conventional beauty that modernism had believed in. Thus, Butoh shook the art world and triggered it to question the conventions and began its own search for its new truth.

How have advancements in technology affected dance?

One example of how technology affects dance. In TABLEMIND, performance piece i created and premiered in January 2011, my media-art collaborator proposed images captured by high-speed camera to be replayed almost instantly, which was the state of the art technology at that time. In response to that, i proposed, on my part, to make real body animation. High-speed camera captured normal speed movement at 90 (or 120) frames per second, and out-puts slow motion projection.

                                photo by Takuya Matsumi

So, in the performance, I moved a fast movement in the piece, and the system captured it and transformed into a slow motion movie quasi-simultaneously (there was only 1 second gap). My response to that technology was to make an animation: moving two centimeters at a time every five seconds, and capture the still images of my body of each moment by the regular camera, which was sequenced into an animation. This process was as time-consuming as any kind of animation film making. As a result, TABLEMIND juxtaposed two different kinds of images, similar in how they look, but essentially different in their principles.

This experience has led me to explore more in the idea of time and speed in dance, and movement of human body. The modern technology’s idea and discovering of what a motion is is inspiring me to explore in slow movement in projects including my recent SLOW BODY which began in 2014.

And what advice would you give younger dancers or choreographers?

Be bold and dare to challenge and question all kinds of conventions in the world that otherwise would shadow our lives.


Women Filmmakers - The Struggle Is Real.

                                                                                                      Pic Courtesy - Julia Hembree

Elisabeth Subrin is a New York-based filmmaker, screenwriter, and visual artist who creates conceptually driven projects in film, video, photography and installation. After studying history, literature and creative writing at The University of Wisconsin, Madision, Subrin received a BFA in Film from the Massachusetts College of Art and a MFA in Video from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Subrin has since held appointments at Amherst College, Harvard University, Yale University, Bennington College and Cooper Union. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media Arts at Temple University. Recently her feature debut A Woman, A Part was screened at the Kolkata International Film Festival.

Many say, there is no lack of female directors. But there is a huge lack of people willing to give female directors opportunities. Do you believe that?

There is a great deal of empirical research about women in the film industry, both Hollywood and in independent film.  I can give you a million statistics.  One of the facts people talk about the most is out of the top 250 grossing films only 7% are directed by women.  More broadly, only 3-10% of films distributed in America are directed by women.  The bias begins in financing and hiring and continues through exhibition, distribution, and even which films are reviewed, and how they are evaluated. Same with festival selections, where still the large majority of films programmed are by men. It’s just ridiculous. And the thing is, when you look at graduate level film school programs, the ratio of men and women students graduating is almost even it’s almost 50/50 from graduate school.  So where do all those young women filmmakers go?  When it comes to making their first films and even their second, men are at such an advantage.

For example, let's say both a man and a woman make their first feature, most likely a low budget independent film. And then the man will suddenly get a three picture deal with a studio or get to make these big films and women are just stuck in the low budget ghetto repeatedly…even like Catherine Hardwicke who made TWILIGHT, this huge block buster, had a really hard time getting other films financed.  But also, if you look at the math, women's films gross more more.  And we have even worse issues with women directors of color. And also, with actresses. The ratio between the amount of lines women say in a movie, verses how many words a male actor says is dramatic.  I could send you study after study about this.  The industry is unregulated in terms of hiring practices, to the point that the American Civil Liberties Union has initiated an investigation into Hollywood.  So there are starting to be a lot more initiatives to support women directors but there's so much work to be done. The programmers of film festivals, the financing entities, the Hollywood and TV executives, the film critics, etc. - it's all majority white men.

Do you think digitalization and the expanding possibilities both as for the tools (movies on iPhone) and accessible resources(crowdfunding campaigns) can help women to overcome the traditional technical and financial barriers?

I don’t think women are having a problem with technological barriers, but definitely crowd funding and digital output options are helpful as alternative financing and exhibition avenues. But they don't level the gender playing field.

Elisabeth Subrin with Cara Seymour at the
Kolkata International Film Festival
There is a growing tendency to create women-only festivals’. Do you think these movements to raise the awareness and improve the parity in the film industry?

Yes, they do raise awareness but I'm not sure it improves parity. Only if women want to stay marginalized. t’s not going to help them get directing jobs in television.  It’s not going to help them get bigger budgets because they are pushed into that.  I fully support women’s film festivals and I participate in them too.  But until they don’t exist then things are not the same.  "Normal" film festivals are white men’s film festivals.  That should not be normal. It’s very unsetting.

How important are film festivals?

Well for American independents, they are desperately important because distributors don’t want to distribute films that are not commercial.  Most independent film industries  outside of the United States has some sort of state financing Then the pressure for commercial distribution, whether it’s video on demand or theatrical, is less crucial because they have been financed. But for American independent films like ours, where is our audience going to come from if distributors in America say these are not commercial enough?  How do I get my movie seen? Festivals are crucial because it allows the audience and filmmaker to connect, to have a dialogue. Even if you distribute digitally you don’t get to talk to the audience and you really don’t make any money.

A Woman, A Part press conference at
the Kolkata International Film Festival
How much aware are you about Indian cinema?

My interests are in generally in independent cinema, and so I'm very unfamiliar with Bollywood as I've never been into musicals. I know very little about Indian independent cinema unfortunately. Obviously I know and love Satyajit  Ray, but don't know contemporary Indian independent directors. I'd love recommendations! And what about Indian women directors? I don't know if this is politically incorrect to say, but there is an independent Sri Lankan director Vimukthi Jayasundara, whose films I really admire and highly recommend.

Which advice would you give to a young female filmmaker or film school graduate?

Since I'm a teacher, I think a lot about how to support young filmmakers. Making cinema outside of the corporate film and television industry is unbelievably difficult.  But I think that making art in general is the only place where you are completely free. I made this very low budget film and it was full of challenges.  But I have never been so happy.  Making art is a place to have your voice and if that’s what you want in your life you just have to find a way to do it.  It’s the most amazing thing and it’s the most difficult thing. You just have to be really resourceful.  Like, what do you have access too. Say you don’t have a lot of money but you have an incredible location to shoot it.  So, write a script around that location.  Or you don’t have a location but you have one actor whose willing to do it. Find what you have and work with that. Don't wait for the perfect circumstances, because they'll never come. It's the ideas and execution of them that matter, not the perfect tools or the perfect production circumstances. To me, that's what's most important: making art that matters: that speaks to our times in smart and interesting ways.


"Our main focus lies on having a characteristic sound scape and rhythmic idea for each tune."

HELY (Lucca Fries, piano and Jonas Ruther, drums) from Zürich, Switzerland develops an artful interaction, which is nurtured by the deep mutual understanding of the two musicians. The intuitive proximity becomes visible in the interlocking of the instruments and a characteristic, multifaceted Hely-Sound. It encompasses virulent rhythmic flows and euphoric improvisation, echoes of minimalism and intensifying staccati, powerful dynamics and a trance-like atmosphere. The energy literally casts a spell over the audience. In May 2016 HELY released their new record “Jangal” on the German Label Traumton Records.Recently, they performed at the Jazzfest 2016, The Dalhousie Institute, Kolkata.

How did Hely come together as a duo? What was the vision behind founding of the band?

We first met and became friends at the university in Lucerne where we studied music in the same year. Like most other pianists and drummers we started out playing trio with double bass. The idea to play duo came to us because we discovered that our connection between piano and drums was especially strong. To skip the bass as a rooting instrument gave us the feeling of flying - dangerous and exciting at the same time. This became our vision although many people were skeptical about it. Fortunately we kept going and are still checking out the potential of this great format. Our main focus lies on having a characteristic sound scape and rhythmic idea for each tune. Once this is set, we are ready to improvise on it and take off.

What is the signification of the name of your group-Hely?

Hely is the Hungarian word for "space“.

Who are your main inspirations when it comes to your style and the compositions you choose to play?

When we decided to play in this uncommon formation we didn’t want check out other piano and drums duos but develop our own style, so we took our inspirations from artists of all different genres. We mostly write our own compositions, so we don’t have to choose between others. There have been only three compositions of other artists and genres we recorded so far, this was on our first record. We chose them just because we liked the songs and they worked nicely to play in this formation.

We have two different backgrounds and in this band all comes together, but to give you at least something: Both of us like a lot the spirit and style of Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet which we listened to a lot when we were teenagers. This is probably our most shared inspiration.

As a musician, how do you maintain creative space and manage creative differences when your final output is a combined one, whereas music is supposedly a very individualistic talent?
This is a huge issue which we continuously work on. It took us a while to find out, that one of the most important things is that we don’t make musical compromises. Either we play in a way in which we both feel featured and inspired or we let it be. Especially in a duo this is essential. On the other hand we have been influenced by each other for years which leads to a natural approximation anyway.

What has been the most memorable performance for the band?

This festival tour in India has been by far the most memorable performance series. It was amazing how we managed to connect with the Indian audience.

From a business and economic standpoint, jazz is not in its heyday. Do you agree?

Was it ever in its heyday? In the thirties swing certainly was, but bebop, hard-bop, free jazz? Did Charlie Parker have a successful career and a lot of money? There has always been a small audience to address up to this point and from an economic standpoint you have to find a way to make money, if it’s not through your concerts and record sells than it’s through wedding gigs or teaching.

What can be done to attract more casual music fans to jazz?

At the moment most of the jazz clubs are aimed at elderly jazz lovers, if there would be more places where old and young people could listen to jazz in a nice and atmospheric but relaxed ambiance, that would be great for jazz in general.

What are your upcoming music projects?

We are working on a new record and a video clip. Maybe we will also release a YouTube album, this idea remained in our heads for a while now.


The Language Of Jazz.

Enrico Zanisi got the classical degree in piano with the highest mark(10 cum laude). He was awarded the first prize in many music competitions and from the age of 8 he began playing chamber music. His interest in jazz music started at the age of 15; he attended many jazz clinics around Italy studying with K. Werner, J. Calderazzo, L. Grenadier, P. Markowitz, M. Stamm and other great American and Italian musicians.

He has played with several musicians: Sheila Jordan, David Liebman, Andy Sheppard, Stefano Di Battista, Giovanni Tommaso, Francesco Cafiso, Ares Tavolazzi, Roberta Gambarini, Fabrizio Bosso, Anthony Pinciotti, Palo Fresu, Sarah Jane Morris and many others. With his trio he played in some of the most important Festival in Italy (Umbria Jazz, European Jazz Expo, MITO, Auditorium Parco della Musica, Casa del Jazz, Bergamo Jazz, Vicenza Jazz, Trieste Loves Jazz), and in Europe (12 Points in Dublin, Jazz Jamboree in Warsaw, Edimburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, Islay Jazz Festival, Albania, Garana Jazz Festival in Romenia, Oslo, London, Katowice, Rejika,). He also played in Rabat and at the Tanjazz Festival in Tangeri (Morocco), at the Tabarka Jazz Festival (Tunisia), at the International New Dehli Jazz Festival and at the Blue Frog in Mumbay (India), at the Heineken Jazz Festival in San Juan (Portorico) in Harare (Zimbabwe), in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (Istrael), Brasil and Mexico. Recently, he performed at the Jazz Fest 2016 which was held at the  Dalhouse Institute, Kolkata.

What first attracted you to piano?

My parents are both classical musicians and we had an upright piano at home my mother used to teach with. I started playing that piano just for fun when I was 5 and then I began taking lesson with a teacher.

What was the motivation for you to study Jazz?

I started playing jazz when I was 15 because I had the opportunity to listen to an incredible album by Oscar Peterson. I got completely in love with that music so I decided to understand more about it.

Who has musically influenced you the most ?

I have been influenced by many great musicians and composers like J. S. Bach, F. Chopin, C. Debussy, M. Ravel, I. Stravinsky, Art Tatum, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, T. Monk, J. Coltrane, Glenn Gould, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Dream Theater, Radiohead, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli etc...

How do you see the character and the role of piano in the Jazz world?

The piano is one of the most played instruments in jazz, and has had an essential role in this music. Now that jazz is played worldwide with lots of different instruments, piano can be seen as less important but to me still is. I suggest all the musicians to study and play a little bit of piano.

Rhythmical, melodical or harmonical?

All of them, but most of all harmonical.

During your career you played and performed with many artists from different countries.What was your most memorable gig or tour and why?

This year I played in a small jazz festival near Cape North, Norway. It was incredible to see that the sun never went down, we had sun for seven days, night and day.

One school says learn jazz by ear. Transcribe great solos by jazz masters. The other school says the basics can be learned in a classroom from method books. What are your thoughts?

I studied jazz with a great pianist and teacher in Rome, and I remember I transcribed many solos and did lots of homework. Then he also told me I had to go to the jam sessions and playing with other musicians, sharing music together because jazz is a music language you have to learn by playing it. So I guess both things are right.

What do you feel are the most important things for an aspiring jazz musician to spend their time practicing?

I would still prefer to play along the greatest jazz records, practicing the language by jazz masters. Then I would just try to forgot what I learned and try to improve my own skills, because you can't be Charlie Parker today, but you have to be yourself.


"Screenwriting is an art that requires a lot of handicraft"

Leana Jalukse  is an Estonian screenwriter and script consultant. Leana has been active in the film industry since 1997, taking on a wide range of positions from assistant director and production coordinator to story editor and distribution manager. She holds a BA in Broadcast Media and an MA in Film Arts, majoring in screenwriting and script editing. Her screen credits as script consultant and story editor include films such as Estonia’s Oscar entry and domestic box office hit DECEMBER HEAT (2008), based on the true story about an attempted coup organised by the Russians during Estonia’s first attempt at independence in 1924. Leana was also a script and story editor on Kadri Kõusaar’s THE ARBITER (2013), a suspense drama about a modern man who decides to take matters in his own hands, which premiered in the official selection of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. MOTHER, her debut as a writer on a full-length feature film, premiered internationally in competition at Tribeca Film Festival, USA, won Best Feature in Kitzbühel, Austria, Best Estonian Feature at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, Estonia, and was selected Estonia's national entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at Academy Awards.

Leana continues to work as a freelancer writing and editing scripts, as well as a copywriter in both AV and IT industries. In addition, she manages the Co-Production Market of Baltic Event, the largest international film market in North-Eastern Europe, since 2010. Leana is currently working on a number of scripts with producer Aet Laigu, including the modern “whodunit” story THE HAGUE and a comedy on migration GLADONIA. Recently, she was here to attend the screening of the film Mother at the Kolkata International Film Festival.

As a screenplay writer, who or what influences your writing the most?

My own experiences and principles. Whatever I write about, I try to raise a question or make a point that would make the audience think.

What is the specific process you follow when you sit up in your office and begin to write. Do you write a synopsis and then a treatment and so on?

First I write the structure and the characters - up to a page about every major one. An extended structure can be up to 3-4 pages. I follow a rather strict structure, so when this is solid, I can write a screenplay rather quickly - in only a couple of days - because I already know where my story is going, I just have to figure out exactly how.

 Is screenwriting an art?

It’s an art that requires a lot of handicraft. The more workshops I attend, the more scripts I read and analyse, the more I learn the tricks and tactics that help me develop a screenplay. But all art forms require knowledge and practice, don’t they?  Screenwriting is gaining in importance. People are beginning to take it seriously again. 

What is the most important thing people who want to write for film do?

Be open. Young writers are often reluctant to discuss their scripts and tend to defend the weak spots by saying either “but it happened like that in real life” or “it doesn’t have to be like real life in the film”. You can excuse anything in a script with these two arguments. No one can change your script but you, don’t be intimidated by feedback, it’s meant to help you. You don’t have to listen to everyone, filter out what is useful for you.

How much does the actual casting of your movies correspond with how you imagine your characters when you’re writing?

Not much, but then I don’t imagine much. There are certain types, of course, and I give a brief description for each character, but I’m the first one to say that let’s think of an actor who is the least likely to be in this role. I don’t like typecasting.

Leana Jalukse and Tiina Mälberg
What has been your best working experience till date?

My best collaboration as a writer is with producer Aet Laigu - who also produced MOTHER. She is a creative producer, who is very much involved in developing the script, and we work very efficiently together as we have learnt a lot together over the years and sort of complement each other. My other great passion is the film market Baltic Event (be.poff.ee), which I work for as the Co-Production Market Manager for the seventh year already. Also acting as a Script Expert allows me to read dozens of scripts every autumn.

What responses have you had to the film as you’ve travelled to festivals?

Most people seem to have been fascinated about the revelation in the end. Only a few have been 
genuinely shocked. Of course, as it’s a crime story, many people want me to clarify the details - mostly because not everything gets an answer in this film. Also, what I hear very often are compliments to the lead actress Tiina Mälberg, who is amazing in this role. It’s her debut in the lead role of a feature film, and she does a brilliant job.


“We hope the film will shake the normal beliefs of what domestic violence is, it's not just physical”

Hava Luzon, Mili Ben Hayl and Tamar Shippony

Mili Ben Hayl and Tamar Shippony, a couple in real life and in film, have their own production company in Jerusalem- '288 Sparks' where they produce & direct films together. Mili majored in film and Tamar in art and when working together they have developed their own special language. At the moment they are working on two new feature films, one in pre-production stages scheduled to be filmed April 2018. 'Cheer Me Up' is there first feature film.  "Cheer Me Up" is based on true life events surrounding Hava Luzon, who experienced suppression and domestic violence for 20 years before finally finding her way out. The film was screened at the Kolkata International Film Festival and there in the international competition for women directors’ category, Special jury mention went to this film.

What drew you to making a film about domestic violence?

As the quote from a song by John Lennon says "Life happens when your busy making other plans", and so that is what happened, we didn't at all plan to make a film about domestic violence. It all started when Mili was giving a script writing workshop to single mothers. There she met Hava Luzon, a single mother to 3 children, who brought unsettling scenes from her life with her ex-husband. Hava’s scenes were so strong and emotionally brave that she couldn’t ignore them, Hava experienced domestic violence for 20 years and succeeded to find her way out. After a few weeks she approached Mili after class and wanted her help to combine scenes into a full script for a movie, she said to her: “I want to help other women see the signs before it’s irreversible”, Mili immediately agreed.

What sort of challenges were you faced with while making this film?

We feel that when being in a process of creativity it is very natural to have challenges and obstacles to face, it is part of the process and when embracing them it's much easier to handle. There is a nice saying "From Breakdown to Breakthrough" and we did have quite a few breakdowns, but we just kept on going. At first we weren't able to raise funds for the film, we tried sending the script for two years and didn't get anything. So we decided to film independently and set out with only $5,000. Once we got to the post-production stages, we needed more money and so we opened a crowd-funding project where we raised around $25,000 in 40 days, this was a big challenge! and a very intensive 40 days!).

This amount we raised disappeared in the post production expenses before we noticed and than again we had to raise more money to continue. We were very focused with the film we wanted to present to the world so we didn't want to compromise about the sound and color correction.  These stops to raise more money were challenging for us but if you look at it in a different angle they have allowed us to develop slowly with the film and present a much more mature product than if it was done faster.

Do you have any special moment that you’d like to share from the shooting?

Hava Luzon was with us on the set every day. Some scenes were emotionally charged for her, since they are based on true life events from her life, and so there were some tough moments for her where she wouldn't stop crying, seeing her far away past enlivened and re-enacted again before her eyes. These moments were hard for us because we had to be very focused with getting the scene right from the actors and camera and yet be there for Hava as well. It was very important for us that she was on the set, she helped us be more accurate with the actors, set and costume design, and adjust nuances that were important for being as true as we can.

How prevalent is violence against women in Israel?

Unfortunately it is very prevalent. It's in the newspapers quite often and we are sure there are many woman that keep it in silence. This film is about them. And yet, we feel that there is a conspiracy of silence among woman and men all around the world that this kind of violence that is presented in the film is "a normal life" and that this is the natural power of balance between women and men.

We wanted to touch upon the more “silent” areas of violence - the gray areas - violence that is more covert and at times can be more manipulative and dangerous. It was important for us to show the distress and anxiety the husband was going through, and to show that violence many times hides behind the excuse of “love”.

What do you think are the origins of male violence against women? Is it biological? Sociological? A desire for power and control?

This is a serious question, we are sure that whole books can be written on this subject yet we must stay modest when facing this kind of question and admit we don't know the answer for it.

What message do you hope that viewers take away from this film?

We hope this film might raise awareness in people, both men and women either to seek out help, or even better to awaken their inner strength and break free from suppression and fear, knowing that they have control of their life and that they can do something about it. We also hope the film will shake the normal beliefs of what domestic violence is, it's not just physical, there are so many women and men who believe living under these situations is normal, we hope people will consider the way they speak and behave to each other again and notice the more subtle nuances that may have been overlooked.


" I prefer to play roles that are versatile and complicated."

Tiina Mälberg is an Estonian actress and theatre professor. Tiina has been a professional actress since 1992, graduating from the Drama School of Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. She has worked in different theatres in Estonia and abroad and performed in more than 60 plays and TV and film productions including roles in genres as versatile as musicals, comedies, plays for children, psychological dramas, classical tragedies and contemporary plays. Her first international recognition came in St. Petersburg in 1996 winning the best actress in the Baltic House theatre festival. Since then she has carved a number of awards for her theatre performances, including the nomination for the best Estonian actress in 2013. In 2011 she earned her M.A. from the Drama School of Estonian Academy of Music in theatre arts and pedagogies and has been teaching ever since. Tiina has also successfully directed several deeply inspiring plays based on contemporary poetry and is a member of the arts council at her home theatre in Rakvere, Estonia.

MOTHER (EMA) is Tiina’s first lead role in a full-length feature film. She accepted the part because she was immediately drawn to the story and she liked that the mother’s character was explored daringly and without dishonesty. MOTHER (EMA) is not ashamed to depict the egoism and the feeling of abandonment of the lonely people. However, the broader message of the film in Tiina’s opinion is acceptance, gratitude and forgiveness. Recently the film was screened at the Kolkata International Film Festival.

Which medium excites you most - film or theatre?

Both are interesting in their own way and inspiring to do. The methods are different, but creating a role in film and theatre is still pretty much the same.

Pic courtesy - Amlan Biswas
How did you get into acting?

I was interested in acting already as a child and went to theatre school right after secondary school. I was interested in telling stories, going to both the movies and the theatre, relating to the characters.

How challenging was your role in the movie Mother? How did you prepare for your character?

There were no great challenges. I was drawn to this very cleverly constructed screenplay and I felt I knew how to play the role that was created by the writer. I had enough life and work experience to open this complicated and controversial character. I was attracted to all the different layers and topics of the film and I was happy to contribute to it.

What message do you hope that viewers take away from this film?

I hope this film will make people realize that in life and relationships nothing is self-evident and you cannot presume anything. Be happy; don’t expect someone else to make you happy.

Do you have any special moment that you’d like to share from the shooting?

Shooting the scenes with Siim Maaten, who played Lauri, the comatose son, really affected us all, making us think what it would really be like to be in this situation. It made us humble, put some things in perspective.

Pic Courtesy - Amlan Biswas
As a woman in this industry, what are your views on gender equality within the industry?

In Estonia, we cannot really complain, as several of the strongest producers are women - including our own producer Aet Laigu. At the same time, this year marks the first time that Estonia selected a film by a female director for foreign language Oscar candidate - our film by director Kadri Kõusaar. We have also been told that it is evident that this screenplay was written by a female and the same has been said about the same author’s - Leana Jalukse - other screenplays. The truth is, men tend to portray women very differently, and it is up to us to show how we really think and act.

How do you pick your roles, and what are the things that attract you towards a script?

I like to participate in projects that carry an important thought or message. I prefer to play roles that are versatile and complicated.

What advice would you give to people interested in pursuing a career in acting?

Keep an open mind, look around in the world, read books, listen to music, visit art exhibitions, go to the movies and the theatre, be socially active, learn from the best. Experience life! Study acting if you feel that this is what you have to do. I have told all this to my son, who is just about to graduate from the theatre school. You have to have a sense of empathy, understand others, and be a good person in order to be a good actor.


A puppet can say things that "humans" would not dare to say.

Ava Loiacono from Switzerland is an actress, musician and ventriloquist.An expert on the Jaques-Dalcroze technique, Loiacono has trained in Paris in movement and taught at the Royal Ballet School in London. Currently she teaches at the High Pedagogical School and the Academy of Vivaldi Locarno in Switzerland.  Recently, she performed the fabulous "The Art of the Fugue" at the Sandre Hall, Calcutta School of Music. The event was presented by ThinkArts & Calcutta School of Music with the support of EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND.

What drew you to ventriloquism?

I had been working for over 15 years with my mother's puppet company in Switzerland and at one point the company broke up. I found myself alone and the question was how to face this problem and what to do with my future. I casually - but maybe it was not so - came across a very interesting book: "The Odissey Of the Voice" an historical overview of the voice development. There was a chapter dedicated to ventriloquism. Reading it I thought that that was going to be the answer. In my mother's company I was trained to do all sort of voices; I just had to learn how to do them without moving my lips. And this is where my new life started...

Is ventriloquism enjoying resurgence? Or is it seen as an outdated entertainment?

Ventriloquism is very little used in Europe. But it is very popular in USA. There it is also used to spread the gospel. American ventriloquists work mainly with dummies which are like wooden puppets some of them extremely sophisticated: they can move not only mouth but also eyes, eyebrows, ears. These dummies however cannot be moved around so much because of their weight and of the technique required to move the face.

For me it is not an outdated entertainment; I use it to create illusion, just like the conjurer; I also combine this work with music, movement and obviously with a script, a story with a content, lively characters that can "touch" people's heart and imagination.

Is it liberating getting to speak through puppets - and say anything?

It can be very liberating. A puppet can say things that "humans" would not dare to say. It has always has been like that in the history of puppets. There are many anecdotes from the past, during the fascism in Italy for example. During the play puppets would complain and make fun of the regime. The censorship could not arrest puppets!

Do you make your own props? What has been the inspiration behind “The Art of the Fugue”?

I used to make them; now I don't have my own lab to build them anymore. I have professional artists, mainly sculptors and puppet makers helping and collaborating with us.

The Art of the Fugue started very casually. Several years ago I decided to make a different Christmas present to my Indian children and my nephews. I prepared a very short show with a duck's head, a tiny rabbit in a finger's hat. In this story the duck was tired to be a duck and wanted to become a singer; to do so she needed to become a canary and therefore travel to the Canary Islands. In these 15 minutes she also sang accompanied by me at the piano. This show amused so much the children who were continually asking for it. So one day I decided to have a tea party and showing it to friends. In this occasion I invited also Mauro Guindani who was very amused and decided to develop it into something complete. The Art of the Fugue is now traveling all over the word and it is performed in 4 languages.

How was your experience doing the workshop with the children of Kolkata?

Lovely experience. I found the children very lively and warm. I was also impressed by the number of them. In Italy I would hardly manage to get 6, whereas in India there seems to be more interest and desire to learn.

How did you get involved in Dalcroze?

I started the training when I was 21. What attracted me was this new way to learn music; through the body movement. I found the method complete for it develops the ear, the instrumental skills (piano), the ability to improvise music, accompany the movement, as well as singing, creating coreographies and of course teaching. The training was extremely demanding; lot of study for many years.

The Dalcroze approach uses physical movement, and a large, open teaching space is ideal. However, many teachers don’t have access to such a space, particularly instrumental and ensemble teachers. How can the Dalcroze approach be utilized in such situations?

A minimum of space is required to do a Dalcroze class. Chairs and desks can be removed and if the space is too small the participants can be split into 2 groups. However if you continue the training a proper space is a must.

What is it about Dalcroze that inspires you to teach through this approach?

As I said before this is a holistic approach that works on the neurosensorial system. As Emile Jaques-Dalcroze said "We do not only listen to music with our ears, it resonates in our whole body, in the brain and the heart".

The Jaques-Dalcroze Eurhythmics is an active musical pedagogy based on body movements. The student- child or professional- is brought to feel what he hears through moving his body to the sounds and rhythms played by the teacher.

The stimulation of his global motor skills allows him to experience his body as an instrument, whereby musicality is felt and transmitted. The Jaques-Dalcroze method accelerates in children, even if they are not aware of it, the foundation for listening, motor skills and useful social abilities in many areas beyond the musical process.

What teachers/techniques influenced your work in addition to Dalcroze?

My very first "maitre" was Jacques Lecoq, a great theater pedagogue who gave me the basis for expression. His approach through neutral mask and then expressive masks are still  the foundations for my theatrical work. Another important figure is Mauro Guindani, my theater director. He wrote 4 of the solo pieces I am and have been performing. His "pen" is agile and sophisticated; a very special ability to write FOR the person he has in front. And finally another Mauro, Mauro Sarzi who comes from an historical puppet theater family;  five generations of amazing Italian puppeteers. With him I have started a new big project on the theme of water which will travel around the word.

Pic Courtesy: Amlan Biswas


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