memory box


The cinematographic European film festival welcomes the directors of Memory Box and Medea, both candidates to obtain the Golden Giraldillo award.


Seville, 10th November. - On the sixth day of the Seville Festival two of the gems of the Official Section have been presented to the press. On the one hand, Khalil Joreige, from Lebanon, has talked in his meeting with the press about the exciting and humanist Memory Box, directed together with his habitual collaborator Joana Handjithomas. On the other hand, the festival also welcomed the Russian filmmaker Aleksandr Zeldovich, who has spoken about his disturbing film Medea, which is a reinterpretation of the classic Greek tragedy.


Khalil Joreige: ‘Memory is full of holes’

Both Joreige and Handjithomas, with Memory Box, come back to Seville after the presentation of The Lebanese Rocket Society in 2012. This creative couple, and also offset since they first met as students at the University of Nanterre, the filmmakers have co-directed short and feature films such as A perfect day (2005) and Je veux voir (2008), titles that have made them a reference in Lebanese cinema.

This time, with the revealing Memory Box they offer a humanistic and intimate look at Lebanon in the 1980s through the story of a teenage girl who explores her mother's tumultuous past through a box of notebooks, photographs and cassettes from the period. Opening that box will break with the maternal image she has grown up with and will reveal an unknown profile of her mother. This commitment to memory and legacy introduces his own personal elements, as its director explained to the media. ‘The origin of it lies in some notebooks that Joana wrote for a while and sent to a friend. That friend made the same. She sent Joana some handwritten notebooks. Over time, they ended up losing contact, but 25 years later that friend came to an exhibition of Joana's work and brought those notebooks with her. Both had kept them and exchanged them. As Joana read them, she realised that there was a gap between the reconstruction of her memories and what she had written at that time. Our daughter wanted to read them, but we didn't let her. We felt there was a lot of potential in that premise. We added photographs from my archive and created the fiction of Memory Box.’

About the editing process, Joreige explained how they have maintained one of their usual signatures: playing with collage, in what is perhaps their most narrative film. ‘The editing is the place where we rewrite everything. All the challenges of the film were related to finding a reality with heterogeneous elements, coming from different temporalities, external appearances and environments. In the film there is video art, video installations that we integrated, and all that material had to have a continuity.’

The filmmaker also reflected on how the filming of Memory Box allowed him to understand the relationship of the new generations with images. ‘My photo archive is made up of about 60,000 snapshots. My daughter, with her smartphone, also took 60,000 photos in six months using Snapchat while we were shooting the film. For example, in my archive there are no selfies, and this is why I realised the very different relationship we have with our bodies. With the public and the private. What she does on Snapchat is also a diary, and this film has allowed me to understand her relationship with her smartphone without judging her.’

Joreige also explained how, in his case, all his work ‘deals with how the past is transmitted and how it is reactivated in the present. This is also reminiscent of what Spain went through. When there is a rupture after a war or a natural disaster, how do you put that back together? We have to make an effort to try to deal with our deepest conflicts, to manage the traces of that rupture, because otherwise those traces become ghosts. Memory is full of holes.’


Aleksandr Zeldovich: ‘Medea has many reasons to express herself sexually’

After being in the Festival of Locarno, Aleksandr Zeldovich has arrived in Seville with the disturbing Medea. A film that, like the Greek tragedy it is inspired by, is about repressed desires, jealousy and violence, based on the story of a woman, mother of two children, and lover of a married man who lives a double life. The Medea of the title will go to unsuspected lengths to keep her hopes for a better future for her family.

With Medea, the filmmaker adds a new title to a short filmography of three previous feature films, and maintains the creative rhythm that has led him to make one film per decade: Sunset (1990), Movska (2000) and Target (2011).

The director began by talking about the germ of this work. ‘The idea came to me while sitting in a café in Athens. It was almost natural to want to adapt a Greek myth. This story of emigration led me to think of Israel, which is a place I know well, and to the idea of transferring the story to the Holy Land, which is full of visions and monotheistic energy. I thought that the clash of these two cultures could give the story an additional strength, and I think I was right.’

A film of very powerful presences, Medea features a very powerful performance by its main character, Tinatin Dalakishvili. ‘When writing the script I realised that it was almost impossible to find an actress with such a powerful presence to play a character like Medea. For this reason, Tinatin's appearance was almost a miracle. She is a force of nature. We understood each other almost without any indications. I am very happy to have launched her international career.

Aleksandr Zeldovich also talked about his film from the point of view of a road movie. ‘What the film sells is not real, it is an invented world, because the second part of the film is designed as a kind of inner journey of the main character, who, like Alice in Wonderland, tries to avoid an inevitable destiny. As in Euripides' tragedy, Medea's story has no end.’

On the other hand, Zeldovich wanted to highlight the character's eroticism as a weapon of expression: ‘The whole meaning of Medea revolves around how to fill an inner emptiness in a real but also figurative sense. People fight sadness and dejection in different ways. In her case, this Medea loses consciousness when she has an orgasm, and turns off life as one turns off a television.’