Luiza Faga Ribeiro do Valle studied journalism and documentary in Brazil and Cuba. After making her first successful feature documentary 'Bottled up' she came to the Master with a clear idea of continuing to be a documentary filmmaker. But things changed considerably over the last two years.

“My film project when I started the master was to find my version of the Brazilian northeast in the landscapes of the Dutch northeast, guided by the assumption that we project ourselves on everything we see. This project was deeply related to my practice as a documentary maker. In parallel to developing the film project I started writing a text called 'The Present in an Animal that Lives in my Stomach'. As I was actually more excited about writing than about the film I was making, I decided to try to combine them somehow. That was the beginning of my research on how to transcreate literature into cinema.”

Recreate reality
“Although the theme of my research and its practical aspects changed a lot over the past two years, I believe I remained faithful to its core. As a filmmaker, I have always worked within the field of documentary. It was always essential to me to problematise the concept of reality and especially to put in questions about the possibility of portraying it objectively. Even though the far majority of the images used in 'The Present in an Animal that Lives in my Stomach' were recycled from documental registers, by no means could the film be defined as a documental piece. On the contrary: it is a very personal and subjective narrative built from bits and pieces of other people's accounts of reality. This is, I think, a very radical step toward the goal that first brought me to filmmaking: to recreate reality from an intimate point of view.”

Concepts and collage
“In the beginning of my research project I had no idea what kind of film the text would become – or, to be honest, wether or not it would become one at all. Even though the uncertainty was somewhat distressing at the time, I realise now that it turned out to be an advantage. If I had been aiming for a film from the start, I probably wouldn't have dared to write a text that deals with concepts and abstract ideas much more than images. However, I now see that as a strength: the film is not the materialisation of something that was already latent in the text. It is something else, something new. A completely different approach to the same concepts and feelings. An approach that makes use of a different language and a different intelligence. The text comes from the brain whereas the film comes from the stomach. So I didn't adapt the text, but transcreated it.”

“As an artist, I'm on the border between literature and audiovisual, rationality and sensoriality, narrative cinema and visual arts, reality and dream, collectivity and intimacy. The tension between those concepts is the very seed of my work and my goal as a transcreator is to find ways of balancing these contradictions, never solving them but rather creating from the tension.”

“My work is very much connected to the tradition of collage, where many images are combined to form one new piece. The work of Mattew Cusick for example was the very first visual inspiration for the short film 'The Present is an Animal that Lives in my Stomach'. It also strikes me how John Stezaker finds hidden connections between images. Or like Andrés Galeano in his 'Unknown Photographers'-series, where he highlights similarities between family pictures collected in flee markets.”

Active attitude
“I intend to develop my research further, incorporating to its new challenges and questions. During the master I organised a workshop where the participants should transcreate a literary text into a collage, guided by the steps described in my method. Of course no method should be followed with blind faith. More important than that is to understand its general proposition: an active attitude toward the original artwork, where the transcreator builds a piece based on his experience from another existing piece. I strongly believe that the method can be of interest not only to filmmakers or artists in general, but also to anyone who is interested in experiencing art rather than watching it from a distance.”

December 2013


Luiza Faga