• WOMEX 20 Digital Edition
  • 21-25 OCT 2020

"The message is quite clear - this great pause of our times is so unique, don't waste it!! "

TALES FROM QUARANTINE

As we all are suspended from one kind of reality, WOMEX looks at ways of sharing, learning, and exchanging as a community to create spaces of reflection, support, creativity, and inspiration.

We present “Tales from Quarantine”, a series of messages/notes/thoughts from a range of voices within the industry- festival directors, music producers, filmmakers, activists, label managers on how they have been affected, moved and changed both personally and professionally by this global pandemic.

This series will also be connected to a selection of documentaries from the WOMEX Film Programme archives. Please log in to your virtualWOMEX account to watch the films Burkinabè Rising: The Art of Resistance in Burkina Faso and Híbridos, The Spirits of Brazil, available online for the next ten days.

In the second series, we hear from Vincent Moon, Frances Falceto & Iara Lee.

Read part one of this series.
Read part three of this series.
Read part four of this series.

Vincent Moon

Vincent Moon.

Vincent Moon, Sound Explorer
The message is quite clear - this great pause of our times is so unique, don't waste it!! I used it as much as possible to dive inside, research on my own behaviour, my inner child, and learn from it. "As above, so below", wrote Hermes Trismegistus...

We are living an extraordinary time. The chaos generated by the excessive response to a "not-so-dangerous virus" (as one of France's leading infectious disease specialist told me the other night) has opened many new possibilities - and the sudden emergence of a "new future" rising, against the "old future" that a still large part of society is attached to. I have been advocating for many years the need to "do a lot with very little" - to be able to produce films in a different way, with way less money and energy waste, than the general industry. This has allowed me to develop a very natural relationship with the present moment - improvising with everything - and not putting too much emphasis on the intellectual process. Getting away from the brain and back to the intelligence of the body. Being able to respond to any chaos and any event happening in our everyday life. Some skills that seem quite important to develop these days...

This approach to reality goes hand in hand with the necessity to re-imagine alternatives - and by making them happen, implanting them in our collective consciousness. I didn't realise that everyday a large chunk of the population is filled with news that is radically destroying our consciousness. Last week by "accident" I watched the mainstream news in France, and for two days after my immune system was totally corrupted. The need to imagine differently, tell other stories about reality, is more important than ever. I do strongly believe it will be the source of another way of living together.

My wife and I have started a new project named "Le Théâtre de la Guérison" - the 'theatre of healing' - it just sounds much better in French (it comes from the name of a Jodorowsky book by the way). The project combines home cinema sessions with healing techniques, live music, storytelling and more - made not at a distance but in a direct relationship with people - anybody. People can just invite us to their home (in Paris and around so far), and we show up for an hour or two, for an improvised performance, an impromptu moment created for no more than ten persons. Such intimacy in relationship to creation is very much needed - we lost that a bit in the development of so many 'creative industries'. One of the ideas behind such a project is that, little by little, with the collapse of a larger economy sustaining art forms and spaces, we might see the re-emergence of an artistic society, where such distances between artists on one side, and spectators/listeners on the other one, might slowly fade out. It might be, after the first scary moments, pretty great news in this other, alternative future some of us want to live in.


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Vincent Moon is an independent filmmaker & sound explorer. He has been making films in the past ten years travelling around the world in quest of rare and overlooked sounds. His films Hibridos, online now on virtualWOMEX, Jakarta Jakarta, Armenia by the Grace of God and others have shown at previous WOMEX editions. More of his work can be found here www.vincentmoon.com.

 

 

Francis Falceto, Musicologist & Music Producer
It has been more than twenty years that I have been living in the countryside. I live in a small village about 100 km away from Paris, in a lovely house surrounded by a big garden, beautiful trees and a river. So my life as I know it didn’t change much with the lockdown.

The only inconvenience is that I couldn’t welcome any of my friends home since March, which is important to me. This Saturday, I will welcome my first visitor in months. But I must be careful, as I am a “Shimagellé” – an old and supposedly wise man according to Ethiopians –, who is also in the risky category when it comes to the virus.

My work was not so affected by COVID 19 apart from of course cancelled lectures, concerts, tours plus I couldn’t fly to Ethiopia due to borders being shut. So I was stuck at home – but this is my kingdom, you know. I generally spend most of my time at home except when I am touring with artists, which is less, and less the case the past years.

In terms of other work, I started a new project almost as a dedication to these strange times. In connection with the National Library, I am researching all French national newspapers from the late 19th-early 20th century during the reign of the emperor Menelik II in Ethiopia. In this time there was a French counsellor to the emperor (Casimir Mondon-Vidailhet) who was also the first person to pay attention to music in Ethiopia. He was also a journalist, and for almost a decade he sent at least 70 correspondences and articles about Abyssinia, including music, to the French newspaper Le Temps from Addis Ababa. So I have made a systematic survey of his communication, copied them, made notes- I don’t know what will be the use of this research one day, but it was a different way to use the time to devote to such activity during the quarantine.

The nature around me has really come alive in the past months, especially with relation to sound. Even though I live in a quiet place, I can hear the noise of passing cars kilometres away, depending on the wind. But in the past weeks, there has been a considerable drop in sound so much so that every day seems like the weekend- like we are in a perpetual Sunday. I also started to notice a lot more birds coming through my garden to feed. One positive thing that also came out of the current pandemic is that many old friends from across the globe in Africa, Asia or America reached out much more than before to check-in and connect with each other.


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Francis Falceto is a contemporary French musicologist and music producer, specialising in global underground sound and in particular music of Ethiopia, which he helped propagate internationally from 1986 onwards. He is the creator of the 21-volume, and growing, Ethiopiques series, which gives the most complete picture available of modern Ethiopian music.

Iara Lee

Lara Lee.

Iara Lee, Activist & Filmmaker
Back in January, I was a jury member at the Peloponnisos Film Fest in Greece and after the festival decided to visit Saudi Arabia. I have been locked down in Saudi Arabia ever since. I came for a short visit to witness first-hand the progress that women are making as they achieve their fundamental rights to drive, cycle, run, not wear hijabs, and gain more freedom. But now I have been here for three and a half months. I don't know when I'll leave because all the airports and borders are still closed.

The pandemic has changed everything in my work as a filmmaker. At Cultures of Resistance Films, we were about to launch our new documentary, Stalking Chernobyl: exploration after apocalypse. We had 100 cities confirmed for its premiere on International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day, April 26th. But then everything got cancelled. We had to scratch our heads to come up with a solution and decided to turn negatives into positives by launching the film online. More than 25,000 people watched the film during the premiere week, which is something that would not have been possible in physical cinemas. So this created a paradigm shift for us in terms of getting our films out to audiences. And after this great first experience, we've decided to continue on this path of online self-distribution with our next upcoming films.

The conclusion I have come to realize that "normal life" was the problem, to begin with. In our "normal" lives, there is too much being produced, too much being purchased, too much being consumed. I hope we will use this experience to understand that it's not about just going forward, doing and accumulating "more, more, more." Instead, there's actual meaning in going backwards, slowing down, and reversing the processes by which we are destroying nature and ultimately destroying ourselves. I am taking this as a call to change my actions and my way of life, including my own voraciously high level of workaholism. I believe that the place for quietness has been lost in a society that values speed, productivity, and action above all else.

Ever since the pandemic life has changed dramatically. Ordinarily, I am a nomadic person, but now, all of a sudden, I don't even leave my room. Now, I'm always in front of a computer and trying to do everything online: zoom interviews and webinars, online screenings of our films, endless emails and virtual everything. It's challenging and feels claustrophobic. But on the other hand, I'm grateful that I still have the opportunity to be locked down and am not being exposed to contagions. And I'm incredibly thankful to the doctors and nurses and all the essential workers that are out there to support society.

My life has always been a search for the beauty amidst the ugly. Most of my films have been set in conflict areas where there are extreme manifestations of ugly human behaviour, but where you can also find the highest level of courageous solidarity and compassion. What I have witnessed is that, from every negative experience, there are some very beautiful things we can observeand learn. Hopefully, once COVID is gone, I'll be on the road again, looking for more stories of people who take personal risks for the good of humanity. That is where I find my inspiration.


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Iara Lee is an activist, filmmaker, and founder/director of the Cultures of Resistance Network, an organisation that promotes global solidarity and connects and supports agitators, educators, farmers, and artists. Her film Burkinabe Rising was part of WOMEX 2018 and is now online on virtualWOMEX platform.You can find more of her work here www.culturesofresistance.org.

 

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