Flyer for the International Film Forum at Carleton
The first day of class began with a discussion on how Siminiani came to create his micro-documentary series «Key Concepts of the Modern World».
He conceived the idea of this series while participating in a workshop at Columbia University. Siminiani said that through this project he wanted to explore the development and unraveling of different modern concepts such as «the office», «transit», «permission» and «digital».
After discussing «Key Concepts» Siminiani presented his point of view on what he considers a «film-essay.» Siminiani later commented on the relationship between text and the image. He told the students about the illustrative ability of cinema; the power that each work has to ironize, poetize, violate, or contradict a narrative. In addition to this, he explained his own creative process. To conclude the day, Siminiani commented on the way in which he integrates social structures – that we already know – in his work to confront the spectator with the way in which the own imaginary enters each story.
The second day of the workshop focused on questions about Siminiani’s work, especially about «Mapa», the film we saw the day before. Siminiani talked about the process of creating «Mapa,» about his way of finding images first and then adding text and about his responsibility as a filmmaker to choose how to tell a story. He also talked about the process of creating characters that should look real and have recognizable personalities. For him, there are no general rules about the creation of a work; it is not possible to apply the same process to all types of material.
Another important element clarified by Siminiani was the tone of his work. It is difficult to find a natural and truthful tone for a work and Siminiani told us that initially, he had a very positive tone, to get along with his audience. He then decided that this tone was not authentic and made a change, adding an element of self-reflection within «Mapa» as a meta-filmic strategy. Additionally, Siminiani talked about his use of humor and how it is possible to present a meta-reflective work through humor. We also explored the concept of playfulness in his works and how this mechanism creates a space to question and create that entertains and teaches the reader about his own creative process.
Siminiani also discussed his presence or absence within his own text. One student asked about his presence within the scenes, and he spoke of the two traditional documentary modalities: observational cinema and participatory cinema. As a director it is possible to be inside a scene, recording actively, or staying outside, more like a fly on the wall. The mode used depends entirely on the creator as both styles of recording work well. To close the class Siminiani showed students some examples about how he uses playfulness within his own short films, specifically those from the series «Key Concepts of the Modern World.» The students were able to put Siminiani’s ideas into practice by analyzing them in a new way thanks to the lessons imparted on them in the workshop.
The last day of the workshop focused on the creative process. Siminiani emphasized the importance of individual creation and how personal creation needs everyone to enter into their own imaginary world to give way to their ideas. After illustrating the idea of personal creation, Siminiani put the students in small groups to do a creative project. Each group had to create and plan an idea to develop visually as part of the «Key Concepts of the Modern World» series. Each group had to decide on the concept and ways of displaying it visually and in narrative terms, ending their proposals with the relationship between their concept and the American dream as Siminiani does in his series «Key Concepts of the Modern World.»
The groups thought of four concepts: the individual, language, relationship, airplane (as a metaphor for the structure of society), and school. Each group prepared a short presentation on their concept, trying to use what they learned with Siminiani the previous days. The workshop ended with a final idea by Siminiani about the creative process: «less is more».