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Blindsight: An Interview with Amy Guggenheim

Tell us about yourself. How did you become an artist?

I began performing after being in a cool college play (Woyzeck) - dropped out of school to move to San Francisco and joined a Chilean/Argentinian/Chicano theater group called “Teatro Latino”. We performed Marxist musicals about Chicano history in communities in California, and I met choreographers and musicians involved with new Latin American Dance/Music. Later, after studying, I toured with my solo multimedia theater performance in Europe, US and Mexico to realize these works are actually films and I love writing and directing them.

What was your first job in the art field?

As a solo theater performance artist - write, direct, perform - launched my career with Ellen Stewart at La Mama, ETC., New York City.

What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work?

Stories expand our experience of living by touching us in ways we are not often aware of having in ourselves, stretch our imaginations, deepen our reflection, and connect us to the essential themes of our lives. This ‘knowledge’ is the basis of personal and social change, and I believe therefore the greatest pleasure in transformation.

Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project?

Intuition. Intuition. Intuition. An emotion crops up in response to my life and the world I am living in, and eventually it becomes an image, a metaphor and finally a story. This allows me to delve into research of concepts - ie. In this project ‘blindsight and blindness’, perception and vision, and also of locations - places inspire my writer’s imagination. Then the working out of the script one beat at a time, sometimes with the privilege of parallel workshops with actors, composers, designers as it all takes shape in a visual storytelling.

Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you?

I was very influenced by theater of images and Japanese visual filmmaking - especially the Art films like Teshigahara’s ‘Women in the Dunes’, Shinoda’s ‘Double Suicide’, Oshima’s “Realm of the Senses’, and Hong Kong Filmmaker Wong Kai Tai (‘Days of Being Wild’, ‘The Hand’), French abetters Chantal Ackerman, Luis Bunel, and Austrian Michael Haneke.

How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation? Moe venues are available in amazing growth of independent film festivals everywhere and online streaming! Globalisation of opportunity for filmmakers which will continue to expand, and access to sophisticated, more economical, technology is making it possible for more artists to work and be seen. Inclusive aesthetics can and need to be worked out and made into films shown everywhere.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?

Write not ‘what you ‘know’ but what you want to find out. Keep going - be creative about how you will continue to work internally, and to create a place for yourself in the world.

Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?

Absolutely - as much as anyone. We need to dare to imagine the lives we want to see, and represent them for others.

What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste? All kinds of film are becoming more widespread - there’s a growing appetite!

Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

I’m in love with “Blindsight” as a feature film project to express a new way of seeing - reality as the dream of our lives we are constantly creating in (dis)harmony with our nature. Also will be workshopping ‘When Night Turns To Day” a feature film about the way of ‘do’ - as in the art of “Kendo”; the path to the source, with Japanese and American actors and other creative collaborators.


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