• NEXT EDITION
  • 21-25 OCT 2020
  • Budapest, Hungary

"I still don't know how to send an email without sounding worried about the status of the receiver, hoping "everything is ok", and knowing that not everything is ok."

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.

Connected to each series is a selection of documentaries from the WOMEX Film Programme archives, available online for ten days. Please log in to your virtualWOMEX account to watch the films Archipelago & Nocturne for Pit Orchestra.

In the third series, we hear from Alexandra Archetti Stølen, Giulio Squillacciotti & Rabih Beaini.

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

Alexandra Archetti Stølen

Alexandra Archetti Stølen.

Alexandra Archetti Stølen, Festival Director
Oslo World is co-founder of Beirut & Beyond International Music Festival and it feels a bit like a miracle, to have made a festival in Beirut, in late February. The revolution started in Lebanon in October 2019, and due to the unpredictable situation we had to move the festival to the end of February 2020. Beirut had closed down on October 17th and opened up again at the end of February. It was the first big music event and making the festival happen was a small miracle between the revolution and the pandemic, that closed the world down in the beginning of March. On my way back from the Middle East to Oslo on March 5th, the situation around COVID-19 in Italy was just starting to explode. In Norway there were talks about closing down as well, but we were not prepared for what was to come - we had to postpone the release of the Oslo World program and wait a few weeks… Then on March 12th, it all stopped.

We literally stopped working at the office from one day to the other. None of us knew how long it was going to last in the beginning, but then slowly we understood the gravity of the situation and by the end of March, we had to cancel several events. We started with the events in March / April, then we had to cancel the one’s in May and now June. We have had to move almost all the main acts to 2021.

Oslo World then started to work on projects online and develop our musical World Map where we have gathered more than 141 festivals from all over the world. We also worked on a utopian manifesto - imagining new collaborations for 2020 that are not so dependent on air travels and quarantine rules. Since the end of May, we have started to work on a new festival program with a more local profile. It has been a significant change in many ways of working, including a mental shift. To not travel at all, from having been all over the globe all the time, has been a good experience, though I miss meeting people in person and listening to LIVE music.

I think one needs to accept that we have to continue our work without knowing what will happen in the near and far future. I am worried about many parts of our industry that are profoundly affected. I also think that an unfortunate outcome of the pandemic is the increase in discrimination and violence post corona.

Personally I have been spending much more time with my family and also in the woods, on foot and on the bike! Trying to make this a routine, plus eat a warm lunch every day. I have been in a yes phase for a long while now, being open for changes of plans and new challenges. I am incredibly privileged being in Norway. We have an excellent welfare system, and right now we can be very thankful for that.

It was extraordinary to attend the first concert with an audience (max 50) after three months of lockdown on the 29th of May. We had an 800-seat hall but managed to create a cosy atmosphere. I think 2020 will change our perception of live concerts and that we will be more openhearted in the future and hopefully more appreciative. I also feel it is essential that we use this experience to take better care of our planet in the future. We need less, and we need to travel less. The pandemic is a crucial awakening for many big and small companies and individuals. I also think that we have seen a lot of projects and initiatives the past months that underline the importance of culture and the unique role of music in particular in people lives. Music will always survive.


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Alexandra Archetti Stølen is the festival director of Oslo World and Barnas Verdensdager since 2006. She is the co-founder of the Beirut & Beyond international music festival in Lebanon, the founder of asylum centre festivals called Our Neighborhood and was president of the Forum of Worldwide Music Festivals from 2011 until 2018. More info on Oslo World can be found here www.osloworld.no.

Giulio Squillacciotti

Giulio Squillacciotti.

 

Giulio Squillacciotti, Artist & Filmmaker
I am in Milan at the moment, working on film festival applications for my new film. It is definitely not the best year to premiere a film, yet having said that even with a digital premiere the film would be able to hold on to its core and potentially reach new audiences all over the globe which otherwise might not have happened. I have also been really lucky to shoot the film in its entirety as it was planned before the pandemic hit.

I left Italy for the Netherlands at the end of February to work on this new short fiction film. At the time, in Italy, there was much talk about the seriousness of the virus but nothing at all in the Netherlands where it was being looked at like these melodramatic Italians making a big scene about the flu. I started shooting my film from March 7th -10th, around the same time things were becoming very unclear, and one could definitely get a sense of uncertainty when even the Dutch started to hoard medicines and supplies. I found myself in a weird kind of limbo, and by the time I returned to Milan on March 11th, everything had turned on its head. There were four people on an empty flight back to a very empty Bergamo airport, and after a thoroughly planned check-up at the airport by health and police officials, I took an empty bus and an equally empty train station to get back home. Everything was empty. It was all very metaphorical considering the film I had just shot was all about emptiness. I had just wrapped up shooting this film that is shot in the very symbolic Maastricht hall – the very same room where the Maastricht treaty- the founding of the European Union was signed in 1992 and is a speculative futuristic film about the end of Europe. And here we all were in a lockdown that felt like the end of Europe as we know it surrounded by a strange emptiness just like portrayed in the film by this grandiose large hall left empty with three remaining ghosts (politicians) of a past called Europe who are all in a continuous loop similar to a quarantine discussing the situations that led to the end of the European Union. Eerily the feeling of emptiness that I had just portrayed in the film was the one I was leaving to go back home to in reality.

In a nutshell, my new film looks at a series of kinship metaphors as major European problems, the three characters - in the guise of politicians - face an identity crisis that can only be overcome by acknowledging what no longer is, what remains and what still can be. Even though the film was conceived and shot pre COVID-19 quarantine, this idea of a quarantine is reflective in the way the characters are forced to be together in this one room till they come up with a solution in this case to decide the fate of the European union with each in their own place with political distances which in our case is more physical distance. The film for me feels very prophetic in a sense In a nutshell, my new film looks at a series of kinship metaphors as major European problems, the three characters - in the guise of politicians - face an identity crisis that can only be overcome by acknowledging what no longer is, what remains and what still can be. Even though the film was conceived and shot pre COVID-19 quarantine, this idea of a quarantine is reflective in the way the characters are forced to be together in this one room till they come up with a solution in this case to decide the fate of the European union with each in their own place with political distances which in our case is more physical distance. The film for me feels very prophetic in a sense that it looks at how to deal with relationship- with the pandemic dealing with more social relations wherein the film looks at major political topics such as BREXIT, debt & bankruptcy and migration plus integration but using the appearance of daily social issues of marriage struggles, pride and the desire for a legacy, identity and feeling of loss, the tension between what is considered to be fair and the unconditional love one is supposed to have for its kin. The film is called What Has Left Since We Left.


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Giulio Squillacciotti is an artist and filmmaker who lives and works between Milan and Maastricht. His work is mainly oriented on storytelling, cultural apexes and the way traditions re-shape in new contexts. His film Archipelago was shown at WOMEX 18 and is now online on virtualWOMEX. You can find more of his work here www.giuliosq.com/giuliosquillacciotti.

Rabih Beaini

Rabih Beaini

Rabih Beaini, Producer & DJ
Sometimes I miss being punctual and efficient with deadlines. I'm sorry it took me so long to write this, to share things with all of you while the feeling is that somehow everything is going back to normal. But it is not.

I suspected already during the lockdown that somehow it will take us a much longer time to readapt to a state of things the way they used to be before March. Thing is, I don't know if I can hug a dear friend, or if I can be comfortable to take a flight anywhere, or being in a room with strangers won't feel like a death trap. Sitting in front of a computer for longer than half an hour is also uncomfortable unless it is to watch a film or some YouTube videos about woodworkers and master carpenters from around the world. But concentrating on listening to a full album or some demos sent by someone can become a burden. I still don't know how to send an email without sounding worried about the status of the receiver, hoping "everything is ok", and knowing that not everything is ok. But everything is ok! I have been lucky myself, to have found a way to turn an old idea into a project that slowly starts taking a solid form.

During the last months I have managed to live an alternative reality, where the complete shutdown of any sort of activities became the actual cocoon where these activities belong - to the past, and the past is now behind me. This new reality grew slowly and took time to develop, a time made possible only by COVID-19, and for some absurd cosmic formula, a dream became a reality only thanks to a complete lockdown. And while I'm focused on setting up and growing this project, I start to think that maybe this will be a new me. With a new set of skills, a new way to approach work and life, unable to hug dear friends or be comfortable in a closed room full of strangers, and will never again travel around the world to perform in front of a gathering of people. But maybe it's just an alternative reality, and I will very soon realize that life is back to normal, and I will be able to write this in a much shorter time.


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Lebanese-born Rabih Beaini is a composer, DJ, producer with the label Morphine Records specializes in grainy, imaginative analogue techno. Through ongoing researches on hybridisations, his music fuses techno, electronic-infused jazz, noise, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian sonorities. He worked on the music and sounds for the film Nocturne for Pit Orchestra shown at WOMEX18 and online on virtualWOMEX now. You can hear more of his sound here www.soundcloud.com/openportclub/rabihbeaini.

 

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