Janis Rafa (SNG Film) 2019
Kala-a-zar describes a place that cannot sustain animal life any longer. In a big city somewhere in the south of Europe, a couple takes care of dead animals and abandoned roadkill as an act to give meaning to their life. Kala-a-zar is a meditation on the paradox of life-circles among beings of different species. A film about existence, on the boundaries between living and dead, human and non-human.
In the remote and semi-industrial zones, at the margins of a city somewhere in the south of Europe, a couple -KALA and AZAR- wake up in their car, off road in the desolate landscape. They put on their uniforms and start with their daily task. This involves the macarbre task of collecting deceased pet animals from their homes and taking them to a pet crematorium, in order to later deliver the ashes to the owners.
The couples’ relationship with death and life is gradually revealled as moving beyond the context of their job. They live in a city riddled with stray animals and occasionaly roadkill. During their continuous drives at the outskirts, the couple is in a constant process of scanning the roads for bodies. The couple attempts to redefine the geography of this place by collecting and disposing of the lifeless corpses according to their own ritual. They carefully collect the anonymous beings or their remains and later cremate them outside of their job constraints.
Around the same territory, a middle-aged couple lives in the privacy of their home: OLGA surrounded by her dogs, seems to be in a permanent state of contemplation. TASSOS, a retired entomologist, reads scientific and philosophical texts aloud to his dogs. These are Kala’s parents. During the night Tassos discreetly has personal contact with a Pakistani marginalized community, amongst which K., working in the Poultry Factory not far from the house. Progressively, we discover that Tassos and K. organize a concert by a Philharmonic Orchestra, as a tribute to the doomed creatures, on the night before the clutch of chickens will depart from the factory to their final destination.
In this desolate environment, the couples’ stoic perseverance creates a space through which their love grows until the moment they have a car accident; they kill a dog. The intimate interior of the car now incarcerates the characters in a mobile prison. They are devastated and helpless. A visit to the parents cannot bring back the balance. A heavy rain finds them unprepared in the garden during dinner. Kala surrenders.
During the same night, the requiem Marcia Funebre by Giuseppe Verdi is performed at the factory, while fireworks illuminate the sky. The coming morning, the truck loaded with the clutch of chicken leaves the factory and heads towards the highway.
Requiem to a fatal incident
Director Janis Rafa
Based on an original idea by Janis Rafa
Cinematographer Thodoros Mihopoulos GSC
Producer Digna Sinke (SNG Film)
Co-Producer Konstantinos Kontovrakis & Giorgos Karnavas (Heretic)
Janis Rafa (1984) lives and works in Amsterdam and Athens. She completed her education in Fine Art (2002-2012) at the University of Leeds with a Doctoral on video art practice and she was a resident at Internationales Künstlerhaus Villa Concordia (2017) and at Rijksakademie residency (2013-2014). Her work has been shown at Catherijneconvent (2018); Manifesta 12 (2018); Mardin Biennial 4 (2018); Museum Voorlinden (2017); Galleria delle Carrozze di Palazzo Medici Riccardi (2017); Centre d'art contemporain Chanot (2017); Kunsthalle Munster (2017); Benaki Museum (2017); EYE Film Institute (2016); Kunstfort Vijfhuizen (2016); VISIO European Program on Artists’ Moving Images (2015); 56th Venice Biennial (parallel event, 2015); ART-O-RAMA (2014); State Museum of Contemporary Art (2011); Manifesta 8 (2010) among other venues.
Her films and video works were screened at: Netherlands Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, BFI London, Cinema de la Nouvelle Lune, Curtas Vila do Conde, Gulf Film Festival, Capalbio Cinema, and as part of Rencontres Internationales (2016, 2010).
From October 2018 to February 2019 she will present a solo exhibition at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. Her work is part of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam collection.