“I was deeply moved by the so tenuous border between fiction and documentary…” says Belgian writer and filmmaker Isabelle Martin in our interview about her sources of inspiration.
Who are you?
I’m a Belgian writer and filmmaker.
What do you do?
I make films and videos (“I go on dancing before you”, 1998, “But suppose…”, 1999, “The cardboard house”, 2000, “No longer loving snow”, 2004, “Tall on my own”, 2005, “Crying in our cars”, 2010).
I have written a series of audio portraits (“What should be but isn’t”, published by Brandes Editions in 2006), done sound installations and performances (“Alice, or Aloïs”, 2007, “Spooning out ash ’ from spaghetti plates”, Shunt, London, 2008).
Writing is at the core of my work. A writing which takes different forms, and expresses itself through several artistic disciplines: film and video, performance and sound work focusing on the voice, text.
Currently, I devote myself mainly to filmmaking.
I also teach Visual Narration at the Ecole de Recherche Graphique of Brussels.
What are your influences?
I would rather speak about sources of inspiration than about direct and aware influences…
What is funny, is that the kind of films I make, is not necessarily the one that inspires me. In fact, I am very inspired by feature films, probably more than by ‘experimental’ cinema. Not necessarily by an entire movie, but by scenes, images, sounds, a replica, a glance, one of the characters’ way of walking…
Can you mention some specific art works that inspired you?
“A Woman Under the Influence” by Cassavetes :-), “Shara” by Noami Kawase, “Sue” by Amos Kollek, “Rois et Reine” by Arnaud Desplechin… The films of Bergman (“Cries and Whispers”…), Antonioni (“La Notte”) and Pialat…
I was deeply moved by the so tenuous border between fiction and documentary which exists in Pialat’s movies (in particular in “The Garçu”); it is something I would dream to achieve in my own films.
Recently, I saw the gorgeous and hilarious “Brutti, sporchi e cattivi” by Ettore Scola again. I was particularly impressed by the way he stages and films groups of people moving; I found it extremely choreographic.
Dance nourishes me a lot. I have a particular admiration for the work of Pina Bausch.
Paintings are also a great source of inspiration for both my writing and my filmmaking. For the light of my film “Crying in our cars,” I observed Hammershøi’s (Danish painter, late 19th – early 20th) empty apartment interiors.
Do you think about these influences from other artists in your daily work? Do you try to incorporate them in your work?
No, as I said, most of the time, they are more indirect sources of inspiration, rather than voluntary incorporations. They are rather works of art which suddenly resound in me and renew my inspiration, my desire to create, inject me a little of life…
About Isabelle Martin
After studying Visual Narration at the Ecole de Recherche Graphique in Brussels (1996 – 2000), Isabelle Martin (Brussels, 1978) entered the Insas in film directing (2002 – 2006). Her films have been screened at various festivals and exhibited in several galleries, both in Belgium and abroad.
In 2001, she was awarded the Belgian Médiatine Prize, as well as a video prize in Caen. Her sound work has been distinguished at the Brest Radio and Listening Festival, where she was awarded the first prize for radio fiction.
After devoting several years to writing, she returned to film directing with Crying in our cars, a film about finding a place to cry.
“Crying in our cars”, Isabelle Martin, 2010.