About View of the Arts

We are both enthusiasts of the arts, passionate about cinema, theatre, and literature. Roxy is a successful Arts Journalist, who writes for several magazines and websites. Maggie is a freelance film producer and an associate producer. We Will Rock the World One Day!

In Conversation with fashion designer Alicja Czarnecka

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I met Alicja over a decade ago. As far as I could remember, she was an open minded, determined and passionate individual. So when I heard that she has started her own fashion line, I said to myself – I have to have a chat with this young lady about her fashion line, called DRESSI. Within a year Alicja has become a very successful clothes designer. She has appeared in prestigious Polish magazines such as Gala and Newsweek and on a well known Polish TV channel TVN. She also had her first catwalk organised in the capital of Poland, Warsaw, which is seen as the heart of Polish fashion. She is a mother to two wonderful little girls. I can’t imagine how she manages to combine both jobs! Full time mum and a designer, impressive if you asked me.

View of the Arts: First of all, could you tell me how DRESSI was founded and what was behind the project?

Alicja: I launched DRESSI to show that casual style can be combined with an elegant one. I have always enjoyed mixing these two styles, it’s comfortable and convenient for me as a mother. I remember I stood in front of my closet, full of clothes, however, I came to the conclusion that I did not have anything useful to wear. Nothing that would fit well and be comfortable at the same time. And then I wondered what I would like to wear that would make me feel great and fashionable so I came up with DRESSI.

View of the Arts: What inspires you when you design skirts, dresses and jackets?

Alicja: My main inspirations are European celebrities who show off their fashion style at big commercial events. By observing them, I think of my customers and how I would like them to look unusual and stunning. I want their style to have something of a stars’ elegance.

View of the Arts: Do you think you ought to have a formal education, e.g. a diploma from a fashion school, to design clothes?

Alicja: I do not think it’s necessary, I am the perfect example! However, I believe, at least in my case, that you should listen, take advice and suggestions from those who are professional in their field e.g. seamstress and other designers. You have to learn how to analyse each and every piece of advice that is given to you.

View of the Arts: What is so special about being a fashion designer?

Alicja: The nicest feeling of being a fashion designer is that when I see my lovely customers in my designed clothes my heart beats faster with an excitement. Also, satisfied customers make my work easier and more pleasant.

View of the Arts: Running your own fashion line must be hard. It involves primarily design, manufacture, sales, finance and advertising. Which of these five aspects, according to you, is the hardest to achieve?

Alicja: I can not really say which of these factors are harder to achieve. Each aspect is important and difficult, all you need to do is to plan and implement it consistently in your fashion line. You have to take each step into consideration very carefully if you want your company to prosper perfectly.

View of the Arts: Do you think that women have started to dominate the fashion world?

Alicja: I am not sure about that to be honest with you. It would depend on the country you live in. Eastern Europe has changed drastically in 1990s. We have opportunities to become someone big in the fashion world dominated by men. Now, in the 21st century, we are more independent and creative. Which definitely allows us to do significant things in our lives.

View of the Arts: In addition to DRESSI, you are also busy raising your two wonderful daughters. Tell me how do you cope? Is it all possible, being a designer and full time mum?

Alicja: This is probably the most difficult aspect of running the business, I must admit that it is really difficult to reconcile the responsibilities of running DRESSI and being mum to my lively little girls. Nevertheless, I always find strength, thanks to it my dreams are coming true.

I, personally, found Alicja’s designs super comfortable. I have a coat, which is wonderful and beautifully sewed. And it is the most cozy and fashionable thing in my huge wardrobe! Please do not ask me what else I have got in it. Have a look at Alicja’s website. It is in Polish, however, it can be easily translated into English by using Google translator. It is worth visiting!

Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler

Edited by Roxy Simons

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Pictures courtesy of Alicja Czarnecka, http://www.dressi.pl and Newsweek

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In Conversation with Vicki Psarias

Gilbert Adler,Producer ‘Superman Returns’,’Valkyrie’ once said:”Vicki’s a great director, drawing superb performances from her actors- a real talent to watch”.And sure she is a very talented young filmmaker.Her shorts won critical acclaim at international film festivals including prestigious Channel 4- 4 Talent Award in 2007 for the Best Filmmaker.I was very happy when Vicki Psarias agreed to answer few of my questions.

Maggie: You once said “My Dad, who was my cameraman, shot films for me with a VHS camera I begged him to hire”. Was this the main reason why you have become a filmmaker?

Vicki Psarias: From a young age, I did used to beg my Dad to hire VHS cameras-I think I really got a taste for filmmaking at 11 when my parents appeared on several episodes of BBC2’s Food and Drink.; The director really got me involved with the outside broadcasts and I loved everything about the shoots-it was such a dynamic, creative environment to be in. I used to shoot my own films whenever I could after that-they’re hysterical to watch now and pretty accomplished for my age which surprises me!

Maggie: You directed two amazing shorts ‘Rifts’ (2004),which was awarded for the Best Screenplay at the Portobello Film Festival and ‘Broken’ which was awarded by Channel 4 with the 4 Talent Award 2007 for the Best Filmmaker. I could actually recite all the awards that Broken received; however, I would need a half of a century for that. My question is: what inspired you to make ‘Broken’?

Vicki Psarias: Thank you, Rifts and Broken did pretty well on the festival circuit taking me all over the world and both are inspired by my British Cypriot community. Broken in particular tells the story of my mother arriving in the UK aged 12 so is somewhat of a family archive as much as a piece of drama. Rifts was my MA film made aged 22, and is about warring kebab shop owners-it’s currently being developed for TV.

Maggie: Apart from directing films, you are also involved in making commercials/ promos and music videos, which one is more exciting or easier to make?

Vicki Psarias: These tend me be quicker shoots and often bigger budgets. A lot of my drama work has taken a long time to finance especially as it’s indie filmmaking and for certain shorts like Broken I wanted to shoot on 35mm as it was a period piece so the budget had to accommodate that. There are pros and cons to everything-I love the fact you can push boundaries with music videos and have greater freedom. I have made quite a few social documentaries about children too and that responsibility to your subject/s makes the project not only a challenge but pretty moving too.

Maggie: Is there any other filmmaker that has or had an influence on your work?

Vicki Psarias: Too many to mention. I worked for Redbus (now Lionsgate UK) straight after my MA aged 22 and they were producing and distributing Bend it Like Beckham. I remember Gurinder Chadha being a huge role model for me-she was making commercial British ethnic films people wanted to see. Of course everyone from Scorcese to Andrea Arnold have inspired me.

Maggie: How do you generate new ideas?

Vicki Psarias: Usually just before I sleep, I can be found scribbling notes onto a pad by my bed. I think I take a lot of inspiration from my Big Fat Greek Family who are naturally very entertaining! I do believe though, the more you write, the more you write.

Maggie: London or Leeds? Which of these cities give more opportunities to the filmmakers?

Vicki Psarias: That’s a hard one as I moved to Leeds fairly established and I work in both cities. I write from home in Leeds and that’s the beauty of writing-you can do it anywhere. I think the fact the BBC have moved to Media City in Salford is great for the North and will bring with it many opportunities. I still work a lot in London though too, my directing work is still fairly London centric.

Maggie:What three pieces of advice would you give to mums who are filmmakers and struggle to cope with both. Is there any way of combining these two: being a mum and being a filmmaker?

Vicki Psarias: Of course. I never wanted to sacrifice having kids for my career and strongly feel you can juggle both. I have a lot of help from my family and childcare. Many women do it and more female writer/directors should feel confident to do so. It is tricky I know, especially tv directors who are on set constantly but my child is my life. I think having Oliver has made me a stronger director in every way from working with actors, drawing performances to my endurance on set. Not sleeping for a year makes you feel you can do anything!

Maggie: How does it feel to be a female filmmaker in the film industry? We all know that the industry is  pretty much dominated by men?

Vicki Psarias: Things are slowly improving- and I tend not to think in terms of gender to be honest. I disagree with positive discrimination-put my film in Cannes because you love it, not because there are not enough women competing. I think directing is so well suited to creative women-we can juggle so many balls at one time, constantly putting out fires and remaining dedicated to our vision. I really hope things will change.

Maggie: Are you working on any new projects at the moment?

Vicki Psarias: I always am-currently developing a tv project as well as this minute editing a promo which features some remarkable women including Ruby Wax and Sarah Brown. There’s always something bubbling away…

Vicki Psarias’ showreel
You can follow Vicki Psarias on  Twitter

Interviewed by Maggie Gogler

Posters by Vanessa Scott-Thompson

VICKI PSARIAS

***Winner of the Entertainment, Media and the Arts Category for the 2011 World Spread’s Square Mile 30 under 30 London Talent Awards in association with CNN***

***Listed in the Observer’s Courvoisier The Future 500 for outstanding individuals***

***WINNER Hellenic Foundation’s Art Award 2009 for exceptional merit in filmmaking***

***Highly Commended at the Red Magazine Red’s Hot Women Awards in association with Calvin Klein in the Creative Category 2009***.

**CHANNEL 4 4TALENT AWARDS 2007-Winner Best Filmmaker, hailed by the channel as ‘a future creative hero’ and ‘one to watch’ **

Picture of Vicki Psarias courtesy of Peter Broadbent

In Conversation with Spanish director Amancay Tapia

Amancay Tapia is a young Spanish director whose first feature film Battlefield was commercially released in Bolivia in January 2011 and in Spain in March 2012. It was also shown in London at Occupy LSX, The Bolivar Hall and Passing Clouds as well as at several UK Universities, such as Bath University and Goldsmiths College. The film won the Best Foreign Film Award at the Portobello Film Festival in London. I was delighted when Amancay agreed to meet me and have a chat about her work as a filmmaker and actress.

Maggie: For those who don’t know you, can you tell me what you do?

Amancay: I am a filmmaker, I write and direct films. Sometimes I act in my own movies.

Maggie: Which one is harder for you: to be an actress, writer or director?

Amancay: I think being a writer is the hardest. It is all about looking for a good story line and than transfer it onto paper.

Maggie: So how long does it take you to write a story?

Amancay: It takes a long time. Once I get a story, it takes me two months to write it but then to rewrite it is a different matter; it may take me even a year to finish.

Maggie: You made a few short films such as The Invisible Woman, The Invisible Man and Harbour Island (The Bahamas): The Girl on Holiday. You also directed your first feature film ‘Battlefield’. You used a shoe-string budget of around €7000. How did you manage to do that ?

Amancay: ‘Battlefield’ was my first feature film. I made it in Bolivia in 2008 and it was first released there in January 2011. It took me a few years before I could screen it anywhere else. It’s a fully independent film and with our €7000 budget we did everything: it was pretty impressive. I also left London for four months just to make the film in Bolivia. Battlefield is about 5 women trying to kill their time in a beauty salon while on the street of La Paz, Bolivia, the troubles caused by the coca war break out; the women have different attitudes, characters and simply don’t get along with each other.

(Tapia arrived in La Paz in late 2008 looking for actors, crew and locations. She had three months to shoot the movie and little time to waste)

Maggie: So your film was released in Bolivia, Spain, Colombia and the UK. Battlefield was the winner of the Best Foreign Film at the Portobello Film Festival in London. How did you feel about the award?

Amancay: I was very happy; the whole journey was a battle to me so winning the award felt good. The Portobello Film Festival is a great place for indie films to be screened.

Maggie: Do you think that there is a future for independent films?

Amancay: Yes I do, there is always a market for innovative stories.

Maggie: What’s next for you?

Amancay: I am working on a short film called ‘Thou shalt not covet’ which is inspired by my previous short film ‘The Invisible Woman’. I am also writing another feature film, it’s a contemporary one. At the same time I am working on another project, the story is set between London and Bolivia. So as you can see I keep myself busy.

Amancay is one of those directors who is passionate about their work. It was a great pleasure chatting to her.

Interviewed and written by Maggie Gogler

In Conversation with jewellery artist: Manolo

 

 

It was a lovely and pleasant day for an interview with an amazing and talented artist Manolo (Manolo’s real name is Marta Chojnacka). We met at the Tate Modern Art Gallery and decided to chill out on a balcony with a stunning view over the Thames River. It’s always been my pleasure to interview artists. I find them extremely fascinating and interesting. Their way of thinking seems to be coming from a place that is unknown to us.

I’ve first met Manolo at the Women of the World Festival at the Southbank Centre. I was blown away by her creativity and talent.After the festival I was keen on talking to Manolo again and asking her few questions regarding her art work. Marta received MA in Painting and Drawing from University of Warmia and Mazury in Poland. She currently lives in London where she works and creates her amazing jewellery.

Maggie: Marta tell me all about your art work, when did you start and what was behind your inspiration?

Manolo: I’ve started few years ago after discovering a very interesting method called laser cut. I’ve been making jewellery using my own drawings as a template for the laser cut. I was always fascinated and inspired by Pedro Almodovar’s ( Spanish film director) female characters. In my view his women represent a complete picture of the female; a woman full of drama,gossiping and drinking red wine.They are real and truthful to what and who they are.I’m also inspired by a French painter and illustrator Henrie de Toulouse-Lautrec. He was masterly at capturing crowd scene in which the figures,especially females, were highly individualized.

Maggie: Why did you choose the name Manolo?

Manolo: It’s simple name, I wanted a memorable one. The name that would stay in people’s mind for awhile.

Maggie: What is so special about your little creations?

Manolo: I love making females and males characters. Each and every piece has its own story to tell, for example: Francesca -gold and walnut brooch;her father was a diamond and gold mining entrepreneur. She likes luxury,truffles and champagne.My customers like to identify themselves with jewellery they are interested in purchasing.As far as I’m concerned they are satisfied with brooches they have bought.

Francesca

Maggie: Apart from making brooches you have been keen on creating earring and necklaces.

Manolo: Yes, I have got customers who are not only interested in buying brooches but also in having different type of jewellery such as earrings or necklaces.Ladies seem to like it.I am really grateful for their positive feedback and encouragement.

Maggie: You are a professional painter, have you ever considered a career as the painter?

Manolo: Yes, one day for sure. It’s my passion so it will never go away. I am very much into making my jewellery at the moment.

Maggie: I wish you all the best and looking forward to your new collection.

Manolo: Thank you very much it should be out soon.

If you wanted to see all of Manolo’s collection take a look at her website, or find her work on etsy, Urban Designs or Vanilla Ink Studios.

Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler, lead blogger for View of the Arts.

Reporting back from the Arab Spring; What’s next for women’s right?

One of the most exciting debates of the day was ‘Reporting back from the Arab Spring’.  It was chaired by the channel 4 broadcaster Samira Ahmed, and sitting on the panel were Egyptian pro-democracy blogger and activist Salma Said, filmmaker Hanan Abdalla, BBC reporter Shainaa Khahil, Laila El-Wafi,a founder member of Women4Liybi and…we are a little embarrassed to say it, but we didn’t catch one lady’s name. Please don’t judge us, we just know she was an American who runs her own website regarding the issues of  Arab women.

It was shocking to learn the truth about the Arab revolution in Egypt, Libya and Bahrain. It was clear that news stories only showed the tip of the iceberg. With regards to the Egyptian uprising; people are disappointed because they feel like they haven’t achieved anything yet. To them, it is just the beginning. It’s phase 3 as Salma Said pointed out. We were also shown clips from Hannan Abdalla’s new documentary,which was screened at the Berlin Film Festival. ‘In The Shadow Of A Man’ which depicts Egyptian women and their struggle for survival and equal rights.

It was also obvious from the debate that tradition is more powerful than the fight for change, for example the democratic election was won by the traditional political party the Muslim Brotherhood. Has Egypt got rid of the tyrant Mubarak or simply allowed a new dictatorship to come into power? A dictatorship that will reduce woman’s rights even more. Apart from a fight for their rights Egyptian are also fighting to get rid of Imperialism and Zionism. As Salma Said said, the fight is stronger than ever so although it may take longer to achieve their goal, they won’t give up.

In Libya, women are a large part of the revolution.Even though woman have taken part in the protest the government is using religion to keep woman out of the government.During the conflict approximately 40,000 people died.

To conclude, we were overwhelmed by the strength and stubbornness of Arab women in their fight for freedom, equality and a better life for them and their children. We gained a higher level of respect for these women as a result of this talk.

Written by Roxy Simons and Maggie Gogler.

Women, Power and Change

The second day of the Women of the World festival has begun with a bang, with a talk on women, power and change. The guest speakers were Shami Chakrabarti, Mary Portas and Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.

Shami Chakrabarti is a serious lawyer, given to dark clothes and even darker eyeliner, who has a fierce intelligence and passionate commitment to civil rights has earned her devoted following. She discussed the situation of women in various European countries as well as in Africa and Asia (particularly Afghanistan). Jude Kelly OBE, Artistic Director of the the Southbank Centre in London, described Shami as a “rockstar of civil liberties”. Mrs Chakrabarti began her talk in a cheery note telling us that “human rights begins in small places close to home”. We were shocked to hear about the bill passed by the French President Sarkozy regarding muslim dress code eg. Women aren’t allowed to wear the burqa  in public places. It was also heartbreaking to hear that women in Africa are regularly, and unnecessarily dying during childbirth because their needs are not prioritised.  

The second speaker, Mary Portas is london’s leading retail marketing consultant and is the founder of one of london’s most respected agencies ‘Yellow Door’. She focused her talk on shopping and you know, us girls, we all love shopping! It is now proven that we are the master and commanders of the high street as 80% of women are the customers. We even buy men’s knickers! It was shocking to hear that loss of the local street can have a detrimental effect on the community, serenity and the society surrounding the area. She has set up a factory in a town, hired 8 unemployed young people, and started producing her line of ‘Kinkee Knickers’, within 5 months they sold over 30,000 pairs! In that sense she was quite an inspiring figure, according to Mary “we aren’t only consumers, we are all part of our local economy and community. So now it’s time for us to get on our bike and support our local off-licence!

Our final speaker, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, is one of Britain’s most distinguished lawyers and is an expert on human rights, civil liberties and women’s rights. She discussed the lack of women in positions of power and how we could change that…now take a piece of paper and a pen, you got it? right. We have to write a letter to the Prime minister saying that we would like to be appointed as a parliament candidate, let’s see if it works! We felt that these talks about being in a high position is more an idealist hope for utopia rather than reality. We do not think that her point of view would not succeed in deprived areas where women are struggling to survive . So, to finish, it was a very interesting and inspiring talk about women’s rights and how we can change ourselves and improve our future.

Written by Roxy Simons and Maggie Gogler.

Friday Tonic: Sarah Gillespie

Sarah Gillespie is a British-American singer and songwriter based in London. I heard about Sarah from friends of mine, however, being interested in rock music I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

So I sat down in the Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall waiting for gods know what…And there she was,a lovely and down to earth Sarah with her band.I wish you could all have seen my face when I heard her singing .I was amazed by the girl’s talent; wisely written lyrics, gentle but yet a very strong vocals. Beautifully executed notes and in tune.

Her lyrics were mind blowing, as I said before, wisely written. I was able to understand her feelings and her view points on certain subjects such as politics. I was totally sewed into her performance.I was also driven into her ‘deft finger-picking’ guitar.I haven’t seen such a good musician for a long time.It was definitely an outstanding and vivacious show and I wish you could all listen to her music.

You can learn more about Sarah Gillespie on http://www.sarahgillespie.com

Written by Maggie Gogler