Visceral Daydream

Fashion film at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival combines the trends of contemporary culture with new filmic and stylistic ways of storytelling. Part of our 2016 Official Selection, Dan Gianini’s CYCLE III shows how filmmakers are merging the fields of design with artistic tenacity. Produced by Image Partnership, the film centres around a girl in a launderette who, while waiting for her washing cycle to finish, falls into a visceral daydream. Slowly, as the film progresses, ambient sounds build into a uniform beat, providing an immersive track for her to move within. The short was commissioned by M2Mtv to coincide with London Fashion Week A/W 2016.

ASFF: A girl in a launderette gets distracted from her washing by ambient sounds that collate into a uniform beat. Is there an element of escapism in the film?
DG: Yes very much so. I wanted to create this universe where mundane actions would suddenly become extra ordinary.  It’s an escapism not only from the external world but from their own personal turmoils – a metaphorical fantasy from my main characters, mirroring life, where sometimes we’re forced to share moments with strangers and face our own inner feelings. My characters embark in their own little journey, and together they discover something unconsciously hidden inside themselves.

ASFF: CYCLE III features an eye-catching visual style with prominent influences from the 1970s. What prompted you to set the film within this era?
DG: I wanted to create an ironic mood in this film, referencing a time where creative expression and freedom of speech were stifled in Brasil, where I’m from. The authoritarian military government ruled from 1964 to 1985 and for over 20 years it banned and censored many aspects of Brazilian culture. In CYCLE III, I wanted to metaphorically juxtapose these ideas of sexual liberation and military censorship, and the 1970s aesthetics just felt right. Nostalgically and on a more personal level, I wanted to reference some beautiful 35mm photographs I have of my mother travelling in Egypt in the 1970s.

ASFF: How does this piece relate to your other works? Can you discuss some of your projects?
My work is very character / performance driven. Coming from a documentary background, I always try and establish this connection between myself and my models / performers or whoever I’m shooting. So in a way, CYCLE III, with it’s dialogue free format, relied heavily on the model’s ability to connect with myself and the characters I gave them; just like in a documentary where the connection between subject and filmmaker is paramount.

ASFF: CYCLE III screened in the fashion section at ASFF. What is important about the connection between fashion and film for you?
Film is able to take fashion to another experiential level. By combining visuals with music and a narrative, you’re able to give a film so many layers of depth and meaning that sometimes it is more powerful than a single still image. It’s like taking an Alexander McQueen design, incredible as they are, but seeing them in the show environment, complete with music and performance, as McQueen envisioned it, it becomes a completely different story.

ASFF: What first inspired you to work within this industry, with various iconic names?
When I graduated back in 2008, even though I specialised in documentary, I knew I really wanted to find a way of working with film and fashion. Back then fashion film was still very much in its infancy, and I guess it was the experimental appeal of this fresh medium that made me want to have a go at it. There were no rules set in place, and it felt like that time in the 1990s when music videos were premiering on MTV everyday.

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Enter your film into ASFF by 31 May 2017 midnight GMT. For more information:

1. Dan Gianini, CYCLE III, 2016. Courtesy of the director and Vimeo.