Our Specially Curated Season for Art of The Underground’s Canary Wharf Screen is now in Phase II: The Present. Each week, we interview one of our filmmakers about their film and their involvement in the programme.
This week, we speak to Tali Yankelevich, director of The Perfect Fit (2011), a São Paulo-born filmmaker who moved to the UK in 2005 to study documentary at the London College of Communication. Tali’s 2009 film The Housekeeper won the Royal Television Student Factual Award that year.
In The Perfect Fit, we delve into the undiscovered world behind the pomp and perfection of professional ballet dancing, seen through the eyes of the shoemakers who strive to make their shoes as comfortable as possible. A seasoned dancer talks of the pain she went through when dancing at the highest level. The film comes courtesy of the Scottish Documentary Institute.
Our programme manager Elhum Shakerifar interviewed Tali about the film and her work as a director.
> The film brings together two worlds that are seldom seen side by side – what drew your attention to these two worlds?
For me there was a hidden poetry in this tale, which connected the two parallel worlds, of the dancer and the shoemaker. Both characters seemed timeless and universal and their worlds were filled with rhythm, movement and sound, which for was very cinematic at the same time it was a real story. The themes of duality between art and reality, between dream and the mundane, of what is fantasy and what is not really fascinate me. How those two can somehow come together and play with our preconceptions of the way we see and experience things. So finding a story, which can be a true microcosm able to reflect all those complex layers of the creative process, the need to produce art, the pain and beauty behind it, was really interesting and urged me to make this film. I also did dance classical ballet when I was growing up, so the whole subject had a very strong personal appeal to me.
> What made you want to become a filmmaker?
There is an element, in the documentary world, of constantly discovering new places and meeting people, having experiences that you would normally not have. So filmmaking and making documentaries for me is really an excuse to follow a wish to discover things and to be allowed to investigate what is around me and let that challenge my perception of the world. I find that act very inspiring. There is a notion that documentary filmmakers teach people about certain subjects and I always felt it was the opposite. I feel it is the characters and stories that I come across that are really teaching me about life. And film is a creative product of that encounter that I can share with an audience.
> Are you working on any new films at the moment?
A longer version of ‘The Perfect Fit’ has always been an ongoing project, which I am currently developing and raising funds for. There are always new ideas maturing in my mind, which I hope to bring to life. However financing can take a long time so in between those gabs I work as a freelance filmmaker in São Paulo, editing and developing new documentary ideas for cinema and television.
> Birds Eye View is a platform that spotlights women directors – what advice would you give to women starting out in film?
I would say that you should really focus on your own personal voice and what you intend to explore through filmmaking. I think we really need that nowadays, to reflect on the work we produce constantly, to bring meaning to it and continue the exercise all artists do, which in my view is to try to make sense of ourselves and the chaotic universe around us in a unique way and preserving the eyes of an author.
It is always difficult to produce such independent works, so I would really encourage other women to fight for that, to preserve artistic freedom, to discover new ways of telling stories and to keep reaching for personal and innovative works, which can always move us and challenge the way we see things and the way we see ourselves.