BAICC 1st edition Concludes: Interview to Tono Mejuto

Image: Tono Mejuto

Image: Tono Mejuto

The first International Artistic Residences of Cinematographic Creation – BAICC started in 2017: a very wished project by the (S8) that came into being thanks to the support of AC/E and the LIFT, reaffirming the strong commitment of the Mostra with supporting training and artistic creation in alternative spaces.

After a successful first call with more than 15 proposals received, ‘Relieves’ of Tono Mejuto was the project selected to be developed during five weeks in the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto. The final result will be screened, in world-wide première, during the 9th Mostra de Cinema Periférico, that will take place in A Coruña from 25th May to 3rd June 2018.

We interviewed Tono during his last days in Canada. Find below his comments about his experience in the residence and some advances of his work:

– Could you comment your artistic experience briefly?
I started out as an architect and afterwards as a photographer, being more or less self-taught in cinematography, trying to see and assist to all that I found  around. I have been able to participate in courses and workshops given by Paulino Viota, Isaki Lacuesta or Mercedes Álvarez ,among others. The CGAI in A Coruña has been important in all of this and has always helped me to keep me eager to work in this field. The past year I presented my first short film filmed in 16mm, ‘Quiasma’, around the creative and working processes of the choreographer Javier Martín. This was premièred at Tui’s Play-doc festival and programmed later by diverse festivals.

– You have enjoyed other artistic residences in the past. How do you confront yourself to the process of creation in this context?
It is always very stimulating because it puts you in a place that generally you do not know and have to produce something in a quite short time. It is important, at the same time, to be in in contact with other people with interests and affine knowledges, who are always going to contribute to the work that you, in ways you didn’t expect. When you present a project, you never really know where are you going to arrive. You try to open your eyes to all that you find, and explore how you can integrate that, mainly doing and undoing at the same time, upon what you had preconceived.

What do you think about (S8) Mostra Internacional de Cinema Periférico and AC/E organising the Residences BAICC? What were you looking for when you submitted the project?
In my case I saw it as the perfect way to be able to keep working in a way I had begun, but didn’t have neither the means neither the necessary time to continue. The field of experimental cinema is always ambiguous and many times it is not easy to find the appropriate production and exhibition channels to work. The (S8) and the Lift have been committed to giving support to these practices that have been situated away from the most commercial circuits for years, and in this sense I think that this is an ideal alliance worthy of keeping in time.

– Could you explain briefly what ‘Reliefs’, the project that you are developing, consists in?
The project submitted  was about the city and its ‘Reliefs’. Taking as a starting point a shooting and stereoscopic cinematographic screening in16mm, I propose a cinema of observation, of pulse and rhythm. A trip around the downtown life of Toronto during some Winter days.

Some of the references taken were pieces of the so-called ‘Symphonies of a city’, that tackled the life in the city at the beginning of the 20th century in an experimental or documentary way. In addition to the cases of W.Ruttmann or D.Vertov, I had also very present other examples like ‘Regen’ of Joris Ivens about Amsterdam or ‘Manhattan’ of Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler around New York.

From here, the work in Toronto has consisted in developing the technology that made it possible (for his shooting and exhibition), as well as of the filming and editing of the final project, that has finally derived into a more multilayered gaze to approach to the city, through different attempts, but always from the stereoscopic image in 16mm.

Image: Tono Mejuto

Image: Tono Mejuto

– Which is your motivation to manage your work in analog formats and what do you think is their contribution to this digital era?
I do not find only a specific motivation and I would say that it is not about the research of a determinate result, but the way you arrive to it. In my case, the limitations that the own tool imposes me, conditionate my work from the beginning and also demand me (and allow me at the same time) to be continuously adjusting it in favour of what I want to explain. I suppose that this happens with any format. But also this challenge is part of my impulse to work this way. If did it another way, it might not turn out.

On the other hand, I like this very present relation between photography and other pre-cinematographic experiences, where the movement is built frame by frame and time filmed has a correspondence in the space. At the same time the use of the shutter  (in cameras as in projectors) is still present in these formats, in opposition to this apparent ‘continuous time’ that digital image offers you.

What does it mean for you to work at an international benchmark institution for the avant-garde cinematic creation, such as LIFT Toronto?
It is being a fantastic experience, because of the means the Lift has to develop a project like this, and because of the different people involved in this operation, who are turning an important part of the work here. It is at the same time a place that naturally brings you closer to other people’s work. People who are in different phases of production of their own works and who inevitably give value to what you are doing.

– Wat is the role of Toronto (and his ‘Reliefs’)? What would stand out of its community of cinema and how does it feel to work in it?
By what have been able to know, it is a very wide and active community. I have been able to go to quite a lot of screenings and known spaces, festivals or groups that stand up for these cinematographic practices. The own Lift, the PixFilmGallery directed by the filmmaker Madi Piller, the CineCycle, the Images festival (which begins in a pair of weeks), or the Pleasure Tame group founded in 1989 that continues with its activity nowadays. It is at the same time a familiar and a collaborative community, professionally, with a level of production always surprising.

– In which part of the process is your project in these moments?
Right now I am in the last week of residence, finishing to test the different systems for a stereoscopic screening/projection, in 16mm and digital, as well as working in the final setting of the piece for its exhibition during the festival.

– At the premiere of ‘Reliefs’ during the next edition of (S8) Mostra Internacional de Cinema Periférico: what is the audience going to find?
A surprising experience within cinema in three dimensions, I hope. The use of the stereoscopic image (beyond how it has been used in the industry lately) is able to provide us with this haptical quality, thanks to which perception, body and senses, can to offer us new informations about our own experience of space and time (or at least I expect this). On the other hand, the fact of using celluloid in 16mm transforms the 3D image to which we are used to, carrying us closer to this initial photographic experience of the stereoscopic viewer and its city postcards.

Image: Tono Mejuto

Image: Tono Mejuto