Filmmakers, researchers | 10 in America
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Washington, DC
“Eco-feminism offers a means for us to engage—along with the wonderful promise of cinema—in creating visions of better worlds, based on our subjectivities”.
Bojina Panayotova is one of the 10 filmmakers selected to take part in Villa Albertine’s artist residency project “10 in America”. These filmmakers-in-residence will each explore a different American city to create a short film, culminating in a documentary series that presents a singular portrait of the contemporary United States.
“I was born and raised in Bulgaria. I emigrated to France after the fall of the Berlin wall. While studying philosophy at École normale supérieure and cinema at La Fémis, I was introduced to the Stank collective of directors and producers. With their support, I explored the Bulgarian “Far East” in two critically-acclaimed films, I See Red People (shown at the Berlinale in 2018) and Building of the Braves. Isabelle Klein, a humanities and social sciences researcher, and I are currently co-writing the feature-length Excessus, about an historical event which occurred in Strasbourg, France, in 1518. That year, a crowd of people reportedly danced non-stop in the streets for several weeks while the authorities attempted to subdue them. I am also working on Bandits, a documentary essay on Robin Decourcy’s eponymous performance.
Another film that Isabelle and I are developing as part of the 10 in America collection is I Can Dance in Your Revolution, which will explore the intersection between the intimate and the political by revisiting the Women’s Pentagon Action, the seminal event that sparked the 1980s eco-feminist movement.
Isabelle and I share the same obsessions in our quest to explore the edges of power. To borrow from the language of the Neopagan activist Starhawk, we seek to understand the “power-over” that controls and stifles when institutionalized, and the “power-from-within” that lets us access our creativity and connects us to one another. In our aim to create crossovers between academic research and cinema, we are working on several projects that question the tension between these two opposing forces. We want to feel this tension in our flesh and bones, and, hopefully, transform it into something new. In other words, we want to make magic!”
“The film I Can Dance in Your Revolution will revisit the Women’s Pentagon Action, the seminal event that sparked the 1980s eco-feminist movement. On November 16–17, 1980, a few weeks after the election of Ronald Reagan, and as a response to the US nuclear policy, some two thousand women from across the country formed a dancing circle around the Pentagon, performing improvised rituals of mourning, rage, and empowerment. They also wove yarn across the entrances to block them. That yarn was cut through by police, only to be repeatedly rewoven by the protestors.
Rather than presenting an objective account of these events, Isabelle and I have envisioned a subjective, first-person narrative that blends documentary and fiction content. The film will feature voiceovers from two women telling us first-hand what they did in November 1980: how they departed from their homes, traveled across the country, and joined the other women in Washington, DC, to surround the Pentagon. Their voices are inspired by real accounts from women who took part in the event, as well as by our own experiences.
These voiceover narratives will be set against archive material, comprising footage of the Women’s Pentagon Action and amateur footage (family and home life scenes, holiday home movies, etc.) We want to set up a playful dialogue between the subjective, first-person speech of the individual, and the pluralistic, fragmented images that immediately express a sense of the collective.”
“During our residency in Washington, DC, we will search for archive footage of the Women’s Pentagon Action and meet with the activists who were involved in the event.
Having never traveled to the US, I have formed a fantastical, almost textbook picture of the country. My concept of Washington, DC, in particular, with the Pentagon and all the other decision-making institutions, conjures up a certain central power that fascinates me. Isabelle and I wish to experience it in a personal, sensitive way, allowing ourselves to be influenced by the current goings-on in the city.
On the subject of feminism, the US and France have long nurtured relationships characterized by a mix of inspiration and defiance. As intellectuals, Isabelle and I feel constrained by French academic structures that all-too-readily dismiss the vulnerability and porosity of various bodies of thought. Eco-feminism offers a means for us to engage—along with the wonderful promise of cinema—in creating visions of better worlds, based on our subjectivities. We will use the cultural context of the US to help create these, all while challenging our habits of thought.”