Shoah Film Collection -  Interview Project

Nevi, Andrea & Beddini, Eleonora

Andrea Nevi & Eleonora Beddini
artists from Italy

Their film on
Shoah Film Collection
Everything collapses and disintegrates around me, 2011, 2:40

1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background

We are a filmmaker and psychologist (Andrea Nevi) and a pianist and composer (Eleonora Beddini).

2. When, how and why started you filming?

Our collaboration dates back between 2006 and 2010, with the direction and scoring of short films, including “The Hiccup” that received awards in some Italian festivals among such as the roman “Festival del Cinema Patologico” Italy (Best Direction) and the Umbria Film Festival of 2011 in Montone, Italy (Best Short Film) and has been selected for the Italian Contemporary Film Festival 2013 in Toronto, Canada.
In the period between 2010 and 2013 further collaborations have been essentially Nevi’s direction of music videos for Beddini’s duo “Mama’s Gan”, among which “Carry that weight” received the special mention for “Best Italian FIlm” at the IV International Super8 Film Festival, Milan, Italy and it has been selected for 2013 Flicker-The Official Film Selection, Cambridge, UK, and video installations.
Our first video installation has been “Everything collapses and disintegrates around me” (2011), included in the Shoah Film Collection and in collective art exhibitions in Italy and in Israel.
In 2012 we created two new video installations: “The top floor: Aurora Mardiganian, Anne Frank and the others” included in collective art exhibitions in Armenia and in Italy and “Hesperia”, included in collective art exhibitions in Italy, Argentina, Uruguay, Russia and Croatia. “Hesperia” deals with the topic of the II World War focusing on the Liberation of the Italian cities from fascism and German occupation.

Hesperia (still frame) – Andrea Nevi, Eleonora Beddini – video, 2012

3. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc? Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.

We have a particular interest in small format films, as super 8mm film, and archival footage and sound. The aim of our works, the result of a rework of materials from historical archives sometimes in combination with original materials, is to reinterpret events or propose another point of view to conceive them.

4. What was the reason to start your film included in Shoah Film Collection. Tell me the story behind your film? Why did you choose the given form of representation? Is your film included in Shoah Film Collection the first one dealing with the Holocaust?

The idea of our video was inspired by some videos about the release of Nazi extermination camps and by Leni Riefenstahl’s movie “Olympia”(1938), about the 1936 Berlin Olympics that Adolf Hitler intended to turn into a powerful propaganda weapon to glorify the Third Reich. The divers’ shootings from the Berlin Olympics and the mass graves’ images shot by the Allies appeared to us to be somewhat incredibly similar: the same camera motions (vertical pan shots), the same subjects’ movements (moving downwards). We have used this similarity, result of a crude analysis that we have made, far from any rhetoric, as a reading key to an age in history marked by totalitarianism and by the systematic use of propaganda: that age, in the video, symbolically starts with the 1936 Olympics and ends with the lager’s release. At both edges, falling men and women, bodies yielding to gravity, willfully or not. Disguised as a big dream, the dives become a premonitory nightmare of what will occur within the next few years, when the victims and the collaborators will be countless and there won’t be medals, but only losers. Finally, the title of the video is a quotation from the last page of the novel “ The Truce” by Primo Levi.
Yes, among our works, this is the first one dealing with the Holocaust. We proposed this film for the Shoah Film Collection because we admire the project and because our work shares the same aim of the project: keep vivid the memory. In 2012 we created another video that deals with the Holocaust, including under this definition also the Armenian genocide. The video’s title is “The top floor: Aurora Mardiganian, Anne Frank and the others”. Anne Frank, in the attempt to escape Nazi persecution, shut herself up with her family in an attic for two years. Aurora Mardiganian, together with her sister, found refuge for only a night prior to being captured, while outside the deportations had begun which would tragically lead to the Armenian genocide; incredibly, she would succeed in saving herself. Anna and Aurora perhaps hoped that history would forget them, but it is history itself which has passed down to us the texts of their unforgettable memories. How many others like them have taken refuge in an attic, in a seclude space where one can breathe and seek salvation, and leave behind one’s own lost words? This video recounts that which is hidden under the roofs, and enters the real world through the words of Aurora and Anna, evoking the events of which no testimony has survived: the whispers, the fleeting steps, the secret and distant sounds, the furtive and unconfessed stories, the confused prayers forgotten by history.

The top floor: Aurora Mardiganian, Anne Frank and the others (still frame) – Andrea Nevi, Eleonora Beddini – video, 2012

5. What kind of meaning has the Holocaust to you personally? Are your family or friends affected or did the topic come by chance?

No, our families and friends were not affected by the Holocaust but our education background has made aware us of the extreme relevance of this topic.

6. Besides the historical relevance related to the persecuted Jews and other people, the Holocaust has a universal relevance. Why is the Holocaust affecting all humans anywhere?

Because Holocaust remembers us that intolerance, violence, discrimination, prejudice and propaganda are dangerous threats and that also the most modern and civil societies couldn’t be immune to these phenomena. It’s incredible that only few decades ago certain incidents happened in a continent such as Europe.

7. Now, nearly 70 years after World War II, unfortunately the last Holocaust survivors will be dying soon, and no authentic witness is left to transfer the memory of the Holocaust. The Holocaust is about to be marginalized and dehumanized to any other historical incident, whereby it is measured by its final result and less as an escalating process, countless human individuals were undergoing. What do you think might be ways to re-humanize, touch people again emotionally and keep vivid the memory this way?

We think that nowadays video can be a great medium to reach large amount of people, especially young people, who use the web to be informed and to feed their culture. The use of videos and images in the internet era could be a powerful way in order to make people aware of contemporary facts and incidents but also for keeping vivid the memory of past events like the Holocaust. This may be crucial nowadays by the fact that youngest generations haven’t lived the sufferings of the war and haven’t anyone in their family, like grandparents, who have lived them and can’t narrate memories.

8. As a phenomenon, the Holocaust is blasting human imagination, which makes it nearly impossible for people to identify themselves with. What needs to be done, that people many find ways for self-identifying? What can do art for it?

We think that art can feed our critical mind in order to better elaborate and deepen the events and the messages that surround us every day, help us to find alternative point of views and reconnect us with our emotions, against oblivion and anaesthesia.

9. After the Holocaust and World War II, the traditional (static) visual art media were failing in transferring the memory of the Holocaust, while literature, theatre, music and film were much more successful. On the other hand, due to the new technologies, the boundaries between the “arts” dissolve nowadays and the doors are open to a new interdisciplinary approach. What are the chances for this new (interdisciplinary) perception based on socializing concepts for keeping vivid the memory of the Holocaust? In which way have they to influence the manifestations of Shoah Film Collection via the interventions like a symposium, artists meetings, workshops, exhibitions, performances, screenings, artists talks, discussions etc.

We think that the issue doesn’t lie as much in the vehicles, but rather in the content. Anyway, the vehicles should be appropriate depending on the audience kind.

10. What are your future artistic plans? Do you plan to work on new projects dealing with the Holocaust or related topics like “collective trauma caused by totalitarianism”?

In December 2013 we finished to work on our last film “My brother was an aviator”. The concept for this video came out, on the one hand, as it has been for “Everything collapses and disintegrates around me”, after viewing the movie “Olympia” by Leni Riefenstahl (1938) and, on the other hand, after viewing the footage that provides documentary evidence of the II World War air raids in Europe. In 1936 the German director shoots the Berlin Olympics Games that Adolf Hitler was intentioned to use as a strong propaganda weapon. The movie that came out perfectly celebrates the majesty of the event and the strength, the beauty and the vigour of the athletes. Few years later the II World War broke out: strength and vigour leave the bodies, devasted by the conflict, to become cruelty, destruction and horror. The footage has been edited so that the images of the marathon runners may stay in the same frame with the ones of the explosions caused by the bombings.
In this way, the race ceases to be an aim of victory and turns out to be a break from threat.
The sound as well comes out from an editing of archive materials and helps to underline the brutality of the images, telling the empathic intensity and the ambivalence of the emotions, until they flow into the intense drama of the “St Matthew’s Passion” by the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach. The purpose of the video is a careful consideration about power and propaganda.
The title “My brother was an aviator” is a quotation from the poem “My brother was an aviator” (“Mein Bruder war ein Flieger”) by Bertolt Brecht. This video is a follow up on the investigation about the role of power and propaganda started with the video “Everything collapses and disintegrates around me”.

My brother was an aviator (still frame) – Andrea Nevi, Eleonora Beddini – video, 2013

Can works of yours viewed online besides on the Shoah Film Collection?
List some links & resources