Anagama An ode to stillness, beauty and nature.
This beautifully photographed film shot in rural Scotland tells the compelling tale of the Taiwanese/Scottish potter Nancy Fuller. As we see Nancy coiling, then firing and finally unloading her giant clay jars from her anagama kiln, we learn about her complex birth story, her feelings of constant restlessness and how ceramics has managed to ground her and generate a much-needed sense of connection.
Nancy Fuller is a renowned figure on the ceramics scene and regularly exhibits with the most prestigious craft galleries in the UK.
IDFA Docs for Sale: Anagama by Guillermo Asensio
By Nick Cunningham - 15 November 2023 businessdoceurope.com
The 62-minute Anagama, directed by Guillermo Asensio and screening in Docs For Sale, delivers very effectively (and quite exquisitely) on a number of levels.
The film tells the story of artist and ceramicist Nancy Fuller who has struggled with her identity since she was adopted at the age of five. Born Chen Su Li in Taiwan, she was brought to Scotland as a child, but for the past 45 years has never felt she has fitted in anywhere. On a return journey to Taipei, however, she discovered pottery, and especially the process of firing within an anagama wood-firing kiln. For Nancy, this discovery was transformational. As she explains in the film, wood firing has a level of complexity that can take a lifetime to master, and therefore demands a lifetime of devotion, which she is more than willing to give.
On another level, the film demonstrates, in acute detail, the processes of preparation, production, firing and cooling of Nancy’s lovely bowls and vases, which can at times resemble delicately ridged amphorae. Nancy’s processes of self-reflection are played in counterpoint to the creation of one such vessel, from its inception to completion.
On yet another level, the film offers audiences, across its three chapters, a deliciously cinematic, meditative and auditory experience, with an internal rhythm that allows for strong emotional engagement with its subject, and a palette of autumnal colours that warm the heart.
“Anagama is an antidote to the hyper-accelerated, hyper-stimulated and very turbulent world that we live in,” says exec-producer Darby, herself a ceramicist. “It’s an ode to beauty, stillness, and nature. It’s a story that deals with identity in a conflict, and looking for a place in the world.”
“It is a really observational film,” adds director Asensio. “It’s very sensitive and I think its strength is the visuals. We worked on this documentary like a fiction film, from the storytelling to the musical sounds. There’s a narration, there’s her own voiceover throughout the film. But you learn a lot of things just through the images, with the metaphors, with the pottery, with Nancy’s life.”
Darby concurs: “We see this woman at work, we see her contemplating her own work, we see her walking the dog, we see her in nature. For her, this connection with the land is very important. We see the animals, we see the context that she’s working in. So it really is a very meditative film in that sense…It’s a point of stillness and it’s a calming film to watch, but at the same time it’s compelling.”
Darby and Asensio are at Docs for Sale to raise festival and broadcaster interest in Anagama, and to secure sales representation. From Darby’s perspective, the film is equally suitable for theatrical or small screen.
“The film needs to be seen. It is very cinematographic, so from that point of view it would be fantastic to see it on a big screen. But it can just as easily be enjoyed on a small screen. We’re talking about small things, so it’s about observation, it’s about contemplation. It needs to be watched when somebody’s in a frame of mind that they’re able to sit down to focus on it, because it really is a film to meditate and relax to – and to just enjoy the making of these enormous jars. But at the same time, it is a film that will generate a lot of questions in your mind.”
Original languages Mainly English, but also Spanish, Catalan, Hungarian and German.
The Hero Myth An unscripted musical road movie with a tragic ending.The legacy of an enigmatic instrument maker who seduced musicians, music lovers and even a film crew with his unconventional ways and unique multi-stringed violins. This unscripted musical road movie takes you from Catalonia across to Switzerland, Hungary and India to discover the extraordinary music that the owners of these violins play. But as the musicians reflect on friendship, life, death and their art, some unexpected details emerge that call our charismatic hero into question.Who are the main characters?Paul Gigeris a Swiss violinist and composer. He plays contemporary classical music, jazz, and free improvised music. He has released six CDs on the ECM label and collaborated with the Hilliard Ensemble, Jan Garbarek, Pierre Favre and many others.
Zoltán Lantosappeared on the Eastern-European jazz scene while studying at the Music Academy in his hometown, Budapest. But shortly after earning his degree in classical violin, Lantos embarked on a remarkable musical journey. Drawn to experimental and eastern music, he traveled to India in 1985 to study classical Indian music.
Lakshminarayana Subramaniamis an acclaimed Indian violinist, composer and conductor, trained in the classical Carnatic music tradition and Western classical music. He has collaborated with Zubin Metah and Yehudi Menuhin among others. His brother Lakshminarayana Shankar is known for his work with Peter Gabriel.
Ernesto Briceñois a flamenco violinist, orchestra conductor, world music researcher and teacher at various schools.
Guillermo Asensio graduated in advertising and media studies in Barcelona, and then later studied film directing at the New York Film Academy. He has made six short films. ABSENT, his fourth short film, competed at the Locarno film festival and was nominated “Best Short Film” by the Catalan Film Academy (Barcelona). He debuted as a feature film director and producer with THE HERO MYTH, which won various prizes in festivals: Best Documentary at the Indian Cine Film Festival Mumbai; Best Director at the Indian World Film Festival Hyderabad and Best Debut Director at the Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival Delhli. ANAGAMA is Guillermo’s second feature length documentary.
Anagama. 2023. 61 min.
A land of wild clay. 2022. 27 min
The Hero Myth. 2021. 102 min
The Iguana Hunter. 2012. 13 min.
The Sandwich. 2012. 3 min.
Absent. 2009. 10 min.
Yellow Fever. 2007. 12 min.
Are you there? 2005. 13 min.
Hell. 1998. 7 min.