Natalie Cristiani graduated from Centro Sperimentale Di Cinematografia in Rome as a Film Editor in 2002. From 2002 she has worked as a film editor with various talented young directors, including Giada Colagrande and Elisa Fuksas. Her work has screened in international film festivals such as Venice Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, among others. “Nicola Costantino, The Artefacta” is Cristiani’s first feature documentary. (Press materials)
“Nicola Costantino, The Artefacta” will premiere at the 2015 BFI London Film Festival on October 17.
W&H: What drew you to this story?
NC: It all started after [visual artist] Nicola Costantino returned to Argentina from her exhibit at the Venice Biennale in 2013. Nicola was the artist representing Argentina at the Biennale. For the event, she reworked the myth of Argentina’s political saint Eva Perón in a way that shocked and angered many Argentines. We became friends upon her return and she asked me to see [some film footage from] the backstage [of] her amazing Evita exhibit in Venice. I also saw some old footage of hers that she had.
Being a film editor, I of course realized the possibilities in all this incredible footage. Basically, I went crazy over it. I started to think how great it would be to make a movie about her. So I proposed to Nicola that we tell her story through film. As we progressed in the project, I became more and more fascinated with the multiple visions in her work. Everything coming out of her studio is handmade. That became the guiding light for the whole movie from then on.
W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
NC: Contemporary art and art in general are not always user-friendly for the public. Sometimes it’s shocking, sometimes it’s boring, sometimes incomprehensible. So I decided to focus my research instead on Nicola’s life. I think that way it’s easier for the public to process information about her without feeling like they are getting an art lesson.
W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?
NC: I would love people to leave the theater feeling that they are free spirits — that they can accomplish whatever they want. But that you have to work to get there. I think that’s what Nicola transmits. She is absolutely free, in her life and in her work. But she works her ass off for that personal freedom and to achieve her artistic goals. Art is not sitting in a chair, just musing and waiting for inspiration or great ideas to strike. You really need to get your hands dirty. That’s what the film shows: Nicola getting her hands dirty — filthy, actually — to do it.
W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?
NC: When I was a kid I never thought about myself as limited by being female. I grew up with a mother and father who told me that I had the same chances as any man in the world. But now that I’m 40, I understand that they lied to me. But this lie did give me the power to push forward and grow stronger and stronger. It’s always more difficult for women. But I think that our strength is to keep on working without looking back in anger.
W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.
NC: The movie is totally independent and a low-budget production. We did get some money from the City of Buenos Aires. Argentina supports movie art quite strongly.
W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.
NC: The Argentine Lucrecia Martel is my favorite woman director, I remember the first time I saw “La Cienaga,” I fell in love with her movie-making style. It represents something really unique for my generation. But I have to admit that I never think about movies in terms of gender.