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Another intimate profile from London-based filmmaker and photographer Bertil Nilsson (previously featured here). The fourth instalment in Nilsson’s Figures series highlights renowned dancer and choreographer Emma Portner (previously featured here). Shot on 8mm with NYC/Coney Island as backdrop, Nilsson delves into issues of physical and mental health as well as the relationship between dance and Portner’s other artistic outlets. His own visual approach included scratching and drawing directly on the film negative, as Nilsson explains further:
“Just like I compose my photographs, I’m drawn to a symmetric 4:3 frame with a lot of organic texture. With the addition of sound and moving images, I can further explore the contrast between stillness and movement, and shape the idea of a filmic portrait — a figure…. The challenge of being open; to experimentation, and thus failure, growing and finding something unexpected is what the series means to me. I take a few ingredients — words, face and physicality — and mix them together through my lens to see what it reveals. I think it’s key to keep the production process intimate to achieve this.
A portrait for me is always the artist’s interpretation of their subject, it can never even aspire to encapsulate the entire truth of another. But my hope when creating these films is to reflect an aspect of my subject’s truth at a particular moment in time. A pattern is emerging in the stories I’m drawn to tell, so if there was central idea of the series, it would be that vulnerability is strength.”
Director & Producer: Bertil Nilsson
Editor: Anna Meller
Sound Design & Mix: Angel Perez Grandi
Film Lab: On8Mil
Film Scanning Operator: Aleks Golis
Camera Equipment: Du-all Camera
Thanks to Bret Pfister