Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Out today: Q&A with Eija Liisa Ahtila on Art and Cinema

Finnish artist Eija Liisa Ahtila has won worldwide renown for her experimental approach to cinema. I got to ask her more about it in a phone chat last month on the occasion of her opening a show at the DHC/ART Foundation in Montreal. Today, the National Post published a condensed take on our exchange. Here's an excerpt:

Q You've made some notable films about illnesses such as psychosis and schizophrenia. Why is it important to you to expose viewers to these mental states?

A Essentially, I'm interested in the world of people who see things and hear things that are "extra" to everyday, ordinary life. What also fascinates me is the idea of the border between who is sane and who is not. Looking at characters with psychosis and schizophrenia also gave me a chance to explore formal structures in film. In their world, I could look at really different possibilities of fictional narrative. I could make characters do things that really don't take place in our ordinary lives -- I could make people fly, for instance.


Q Do you ever still enjoy just going to the cineplex and watching mainstream movies?

A Yes, for sure. There are a lot of good new films out there. But I have to say I tend to like those films that have experimental narratives. I think that many Hollywood films don't really appreciate thinking about humans, and thinking about how we experience life. Well, maybe that's too strong. We all have our own education in watching moving images. Maybe there should just be more different ways of writing and producing drama.

Image still of Ahtila's The House from the National Post

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