Koloina Andriamanantsoa is a Malagasy Filmmaker whose work has been shown at the Cannes Film Festival. She sat down with Right for Education to talk about her work and her latest film ConfidentiElles.
R:Ed: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well to start with, I don’t actually have a background in film. I studied psychology, marketing and communication with the aim of working in advertising and I worked in advertising for a few years. I was able to experience production and so on. In time, I just unclicked with the agencies and all that. I said to myself, I can’t work in advertising anymore. I have to go and find something I’m even more passionate about. And in fact, it was thanks to friends and acquaintances who were already in the business in Madagascar that I was able to start working in film.
R:Ed: As a filmmaker, what is it to watch and observe?
So for me, I would say watching is already going beyond what we can perceive at first sight, it’s going into something deeper. If you see something at first sight, don’t stop with your first impressions. Instead, really look at the fundamentals of a thing. Why does it happen like that? From where and how? I think for me, that’s what looking is all about.
R:Ed What is the subject of your film ConfidentiElle?
The subject that inspired me to make the film is self-acceptance, simply self-acceptance, and the idea of outside views. Because in Malagasy culture, the external gaze and the superficial judgement are very important. We really live to be seen in the eyes of society. So, it was really to, I would say, break, but at the same time to denounce this kind of practice. So it’s about self-acceptance in many different areas. Because women (who are the subjects of the film) have many different problems, have problems in their life, whether it’s illness, whether it’s image, whether it’s something to do with the body when you have a guy. I wanted to show the pressure that women are under. But not only Malagasy women.
R:Ed: Do you think that women become, if it’s not too strong, paranoid because of this pressure?
Without necessarily having to use the word paranoid, I think so, because even in commercials etc. it’s always appealing to the woman. You have to be like this, you have to be like that. It could be called acting. There’s so much judgment that goes through the body including everything to do with reputation. What is a woman who sleeps with several men? For example, she is a whore, whereas a man who sleeps with several women is a Don Juan, even though it’s exactly the same concept. I would give a more culturally specific example but actually I think there are plenty of women around the world who experience this. Being divorced, for example, would look better on a man than on a woman.
R:Ed: Image is certainly important for this subject but do you think it would have been possible to do ConfidentiElle in another medium?
I think so, as long as it was the voices of the people themselves who are people who have experienced these things. I think so, yes.
R:ED: What would you tell young Filmmakers in Madagascar?
I would tell them to make films. There is no film industry there, not at all. In fact, it’s just starting. I would tell them to make films, but instead of highlighting only what is beautiful, such as the landscape, the fauna and flora and all that, to talk about the culture itself, the Malagasy society itself. I would tell Malagasy filmmakers to put themselves forward in any way they can, whether it’s fiction or documentaries.