feeder insider w/ Sarra Tsorakidis
With the ease of calling a spade a spade, young director Sarra Tsorakidis talks to us a bit about what does it mean to be a female director nowadays, where she gets her muses from and how does she try to contribute to female empowerment through art. You will be blessed to discover how movies are still made from passion, how family roots can beautifully shape an artistic path and how we should all use the extra-time we have now on our hands to grow ourselves from within.
female empowerment / rembetiko / Sofia Coppola / director’s cut / Mubi
The ideal place where I like to write is…. my house.
The best food I made from scratch was… Lebanese food.
A cool, breezy summer night reminds me of… my 20’s.
If I could travel right now, I would go to… Greece.
The most impressing European movie I saw lately was… There are a few that come to mind. I was fond of a documentary that I saw on Mubi. It is called Selfie, about a bunch of teenagers in Naples, born into the wrong neighbourhood.
In my opinion, the best coffee I could ever wish for is found…. in my kitchen.
If I were a famous person in another life, I would surely have been… No idea. Somebody famous, I guess.
Best party I ever attended, dancing my shoes off, was… The ones in the forests around Bucharest, about 10 years ago.
My spirit animal, for sure is… probably a wolf.
One book I read lately and totally would recommend is… The death of Ivan Ilici.
Sinzi Baltac: It is a real pleasure to have the opportunity to have this interview with you, especially because it is a great moment in history for women and you are a strong supporter of female emancipation and empowerment. We can surely have a taste of your mission in visual expression in Fraga & Nany – TRF, the new music video you directed, recently launched on Fraga’s youtube channel. Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind it, who was your muses and what is the message you want people who see it to comprehend?
Sarra Tsorakidis: I’m friends with Fraga and Nany, so when I heard the song, I knew I wanted to shoot a video for it. The song is very aggressive in a good way, its lyrics make you think immediately about a bunch of badass bitches hanging out, no guy in sight. You know that moment in Princess Nokia’s Bart Simpson video when she is in the room with all her girlfriends and they’re getting high and drinking? That was the vibe I wanted. So, our friends at Moxa20 lend us the space, one of the coolest spots right now, and we were able to reinterpret this idea of friends hanging out before a party and then the party itself.
SB: So that our readers get to know you better, Sarra Tsorakidis as an artist is a. a director, both for movies, like Iedera, selected at various film festivals, including the local TIFF and Next, and music videos for DayDay, Cosima, Fraga&Nany; b. a singer, having launched „Drum Inchis” EP at Future Nuggets and a collection of featuring songs with Inana, Ion D and Australopitecus Oltensis, as part of Fragmente Pop vol.1 compilation; and c. an actress, having played smaller parts in Aferim! and Scarred Hearts, both directed by Radu Jude. Now your area of expertise resembles a bit with the one of a Renaissance woman. Can you tell us, which is your real art of the soul, and why did you choose that one and not another?
ST: The thing that I love doing the most is directing movies. I think it is where I can fully focus on my vision and not have to try and incorporate anyone else’s. This gives me the freedom to play and discover things about myself without making any sort of compromise. Of course, I enjoy directing music videos as well, but you are kind of more limited there: by the song, the singer’s image, the way they want to be portrayed. And I think a good director should take everything in consideration when working with a client. But this is why if I had to choose only one, I’d definitely go with directing my own films. Singing and acting are very close to my heart, as well and if I’m in the mood for making music, or someone is offering me a part in a film that I find exciting, I’ll always do it happily. But I feel they are more like my hobbies and not the main focus for me. If you want to achieve your full potential in a field, any field, the earlier you decide on it, the better. Quality takes time and nothing superficial truly lasts.
SB: We are indeed living interesting times right now, but an artist is always known to have a different vision of the world. I know you recently received very exciting news about your next movie project. Can you share with us more about that as I do not want to disclose it and leave you the pleasure?
ST: Yes, I think it’s actually the most exciting news I’ve ever received when it comes to my work. My debut feature project has been funded by the National Cinematography Centre in Romania and we have already started preproduction. I will be shooting it next summer and I cannot wait for everyone to see it. It’s about a painter who is in a rut and decides to take on a job offer as a wall decorator at a new hotel in the Carpathian mountains, hoping to escape her problems and buy herself the time she needs to put her life back in order.
SB: Some of the songs you launched are in Greek. Why did you choose this language, how is it connected to your background, and what emotions do they create both for you and your audience, comparing to those in Romanian?
ST: Well, my father is Greek and I have a very strong connection to that part of me. I’ve always listened to and loved Greek music, so when I started singing and writing lyrics, it just came naturally to do so in Greek as well. And there are just so many wonderful traditional songs that have the most beautiful words to them. Zaira, for example, is a cover after a rembetiko song, by Marika Ninou. The lyrics are the same, but I reimagined the composition. It genuinely makes me feel good when singing in Greek. It sounds very familiar and natural to me, even though it is not my first language.
SB: All your art is strongly expressing feminine power and delicate strength. Did you have specific artists, works of art or artistic waves that inspired you along the way in a specific manner? If you did, can you tell us a bit about them and their influence on your journey?
ST: From a director’s point of view, that happens to be female, there are a few names that come to mind that have inspired me. Women like Claire Denis, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Lynne Ramsay, Melina Matsoukas, Athina Tsangari, Chantal Akerman, Lucrecia Martel. I wouldn’t say my work resembles theirs, but they gave me the confidence to feel like I belong in this line of work, that filmmaking isn’t just for men. There are so many more wonderful and inspiring women that come to mind, but it’s actually the people in my life that inspire me most. My friends, my family, the smart, independent and kind women that I see every day.
SB: Starting last year, your artistic career met an impressive ascendant path – awards, artistic residencies, concerts, music albums and collaborations, new opportunities, new people. Can you share with us how your life changed in the past two years from an artistic point of view?
ST: It most certainly gave me more confidence to follow my gut and do things the way I want to, without doubting myself. It is a very freeing sensation, that I worked really hard on achieving. But I feel I’m still at the beginning of everything and there’s so much left to learn. I plan on seizing every opportunity with an open heart and hopefully, my work will grow into something deeper and more relevant to the times we live in.
SB: The tremendous support brought to the feminine artistic scene can also be seen in directing Femeia/Woman video manifesto, launched on Woman’s Day last year, with a very empowering cast. Tell us a bit the story of how this beautiful project was born and what meant to you, both personally and professionally.
ST: That project came as an initiative from my good friend Miruna Dumitrescu, who wanted to do something to give back to the LGBTQA community in Romania, as a Woman’s Day gift for the queer, transgender and Romani women, that represent such an important part of society, but are often overlooked and mistreated. She reached out and asked if I wanted to direct the video and I accepted right away. Society usually puts these women in boxes and most people still don’t show them the respect they deserve. So, we decided to turn this into something empowering and celebrate pride. The video shows each woman having her own setup, posing inside a frame while surrounded by all the colours of the rainbow and at the end, they each break out of their own limits and decide to join forces in a group portrait. It was really nice that my director of photography was also a woman (Boroka Biro), and the outfits were from Ioana Ciolacu’s collection. There is something magical that happens every time women work together and decide to help each other instead of competing.
SB: In your videos and movies, you envision strong female personalities as focal points. How do you think this will contribute to them being more represented in art nowadays and have you seen or acknowledged a tiny change in how things roll from this point of view lately?
ST: I write female leads because this is what comes naturally to me. It is not a statement or anything. I am female and I know my story and my perspective on life. So, given the fact that almost everything I do has roots in something that either happened to me, or someone I know, or that I genuinely thought about and cared about, it’s only natural to tell the story through characters that are closest to me at that point in time. That does not mean that there is no chance for me to write a male character in the future. If I will feel like it, or my masculine side will need to express itself, then that’s what I’ll do.
SB: Considering the fact that feeder.ro turns 16 this year as main alternative Romania’s news agency, what is your message for our community of loyal readers, supporting us for almost two decades, especially in these weird times we are living?
ST: Times are weird, it’s very true. But I think we should try to control the only thing we can control and that is the way we look at things. I know it’s hard to not be able to travel as much, or party as hard, or do all the things we took for granted, but think of this moment in history as a turning point for humanity. There is more time to read, to write, to watch good cinema, to talk to our close ones, to invest in our passions, work with our hands. This could be a modern Renaissance, like you said earlier. So, we should get excited.
SB: Being part of the new wave of artists choosing storytelling in music videos, can you make a top 5 of the best music videos ever made, with a cool, riveting story behind them?
ST: The Blaze – Queens
Brandi and Monica – The boy is mine
Hot Sugar – I don’t wanna B judged
Solange – When I get home
Sevdaliza – Shahmaran.
There’s so many of them, these are just the first five that came to mind.
Words by Sinzi Baltac