Douglas Bernardt directs ‘Inside The Blind Iris’.
Exploring oppression and the absence of belonging. Set in the main character’s confused state of mind, dancers appear as haunting spirits and memories, as he journeys in search of his own self.
Words from Douglas below.
Could you talk about the collaboration with the film’s artistic director and choreographer, Botis Seva?
The collaboration was one of a kind. I never had any process like this before. Truly, it was unique.
We didn’t want to make a political film, but we did want to convey a message of resistance.
The process was super organic. We started off with a chemistry call where Botis and I discussed references, our previous work, and what inspires us. It’s interesting that we were both in a similar mental and creative space, because we had just come out of the pandemic and were both feeling a bit lost and oppressed by all the right wing wave governments. Both in the UK and Brazil. We reflected on the emotion we felt during that time and how we both longed to get back to ‘normal’ life but at the same time it was like we didn’t belong anywhere. That inspired one of the main themes in the film – visualised through someone who is lost in their thoughts and feelings, trying to get back to a place of safety.
We decided to have Botis as a main character and the dancers as ghosts that haunt him. We started looking at references, Botis sent me visuals and illustrations he liked. My references were very cinematic.
The Hangar, which is the main location of the film, was supposed to represent a state of mind, it’s like a maze in your brain about how confused we are after this long period of staying in our house and all the political changes happening all over the world (not only here in the UK with inflation and the cost of living rising, but also in Brazil, with the increase in homelessness and poverty).
We didn’t want to make a political film, but we did want to convey a message of resistance. Some of the movements in the performance are almost anarchic, because it’s almost as if we are trying to run away from the restraints of society… We are trying to escape from this, we are trying to figure this out with movement and light.
The film has a classic quality and feels referential in places, what would you say is the source material for some of the components of ‘Inside The Blind Iris’?
So the film is full of references, it’s a playground of references. I did this intentionally. The film starts with a close up of the clock and the sound effect of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Time, so right at the beginning we set the tone that we wanted about following orders and following rules, much as Chaplin does in this film. After that, we had many references from the 30s, inspired by the way of shooting where darkness and the shadows have a strong voice, and are almost their own characters.
The film is full of references, it’s a playground of references.
The use of light is prominent throughout. What impact did shooting for black and white have on your approach and the overall production?
I wanted to use colour to differentiate the real world from Botis’ mind. Everything in black and white is within the mind, and everything outside the hangar which is in colour, is reality. The hangar is intentionally only black and white because I wanted to create this sense of stark darkness and contrast.
I wanted to use colour to differentiate the real world from Botis’ mind.
The whole film is about Botis trying to find answers and the black and white gives a polarity, uncertainty and lack of hope. The use of colour when he finds the whale references him finding hope again. There is someone that impacts him, there is someone that looks at him with good eyes.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve been digging ‘Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead’ by Olga Tokarczuk. Great tone of hopeless on a sad, cruel environment.
- Hannah Bellil, Lee Griffiths
- Executive Producer
- Shea Coleman
- Botis Seva
- Director of Photography
- Carolina Emiliozzi, Hugo Harris
- Production Designer
- Neesha Champaneria
- Costume Designer
- Sinead McGowan
- Stink Films
- Production Company