João – I want to thank you for accepting our invitation to share with us your work.
Besides directing for Animation your work crosses many areas, you are the founder and director of Bit Bang and you have directed the series “Gorda”, “Los Inadaptables” and “Instrucciones para Humanos”. How would you present your work? Do you see anything in common in all your work?
Bárbara – I’m a filmmaker and animation director. I directed live action and animated series, animated short films and advertising in different studios, and I’m also the director and founder of Bit Bang Animation, Video Games, VR and Digital Art Festival. We are working on the 6th Edition, which will be held in November.
I’m interested in contemporary topics but mainly in universal and existential questions, all kind of trips, the night, its mysterious nature and its unknown energies, and the end of the world. Other topics that I want to delve into are memories and affective bonds. I think we are made of memories and I am concerned about losing it because of the technology where concepts related to humans migrated to devices that don’t have the possibility to relate, project or build images in time. I am part of a generation in constant crisis and I’m always trying to understand what kind of relationships I would like to have, learning from my doubts and doubting what I learn, destroying the ancestral romantic love and trying to find my own rules. Surely I will end up turning it into something that I am going to disagree with in the future.
Regarding the works you have mentioned, I definitely see many things in common, besides the topics. They try to provide a positive message, to make the world a bit better place to live. With ‘Gorda’ (co-directed with my talented friends Sol Rietti and Tamy Hochman) I would like to help naturalize body diversity, to convey the message of rediscovering yourself. It’s important to me to delve into the issue of the appropriation of the female body in the hands of a patriarchal society, and how more awareness about female liberation is beginning to be generated today. In ‘Los Inadatables’, the public library is closed because there is no more audience and the book characters are unemployed and must face our real world, a strange and hostile place for these characters governed by the rules of literature. By placing together famous characters from vastly different geographic locations and time periods into a modern context, my objective was to seed in the audience the desire to resume the habit of reading. ‘Instrucciones para humanos’ are modern, funny and absurd life hacks (I made these series with the amazing and inspiring Sol R., too). Bit Bang disseminates and promotes innovative, experimental and authorial proposals through screenings, exhibitions, art installations and competitions. Our main mission is to cultivate and promote the art of animation, video games and digital art. We provide a unique platform in Latin America for independent productions, champion diverse and under-represented voices, and emphasize exceptional artists who push the visual, conceptual and narrative boundaries. Providing a platform to showcase these productions is important as it enriches the national cultural landscape in a new, fresh, and different way. We make emphasis on training and education with workshops, conferences, laboratories, master classes, etc, with the most important references worldwide. It is a meeting point between animation, video games , VR and digital art that enables collaboration between artists from different areas and generates the construction of new languages and formats. All the activities are free. The series you have mentioned were released on Youtube, because we wanted to let to everyone has access.
João – Can you talk about your short-film Ártemis? How was the creative process?
Bárbara – Last year was the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and I wanted to make my own version, with the moon taken by women. I worked with an incredible team made mostly of talented women. So I made a short where different girls are on the Moon and have fun. They play volleyball with Neil Amstrong’s astronaut helmet, they masturbate in the darkness of the cosmos, constellations are tattooed on their backs. Sunlight begins to seep and women come together and enjoy this solar bath. A beam of light shines on the bed where a girl sleeps, on Earth. The light disturbs her dreams, the unveiled girl looks through the window and discovers the full moon shining on her head.
The short film was made without budget in less than 3 weeks. I worked the script with a talented multidisciplinary friend, Luz Orlando Brennan. I deeply admire her sensibility and poetic point of view. The incredible artist Elda Broglio made the Art Direction and illustrations. I am touched with everything she does, with her unique sensitivity and style and because the feminine world is even more beautiful and mesmerizing under her gaze. Juana Molina is the best musician ever and I can’t be more proud and grateful to have worked with her, not only because of the evident quality of her work but because she is a woman whose trajectory is entirely amazing, she broke with all kind of structures, being pioneer and avant-garde with her music. She also made the most hilarious comedy in a country where “girls couldn’t do comedy” because “girls were not funny¨ (that absurd thought is probably still alive).
João – You have worked with animation and with video. What was the biggest difference for you when writing and directing for characters with real bodies (Gorda) from working with animation (Artemis).
Bárbara – Live action is more realistic and tangible, it is easier to talk about contemporary topics and to empathize and to identify with the characters while animation gives visual freedom and narrative resources that allow to tell stories without limits, and express feelings and thoughts metaphorically through drawings.
João – It seems to me that in the last years animation is starting to explore more contemporary and political questions. Do you think video games are also exploring these questions?
Bárbara – Video games and politics is a deadly combination but fortunately there are some games that are starting to exploring it. I think in titles like Not for Broadcast, Trópico 6, Novinews, Radiator, the indonesian Coffee Talk, Simpandemic, maybe the hilarious Papers, Please. It is very interesting what is happening in the scene of indie games with a very extreme low budget. I like the guys from “Shitty Games” , an Argentinian punk video game studio created in 2014 with the need to communicate its disagreement with the Argentinian political and social situation and incidentally offend the video game industry. They have created more than 30 hilarious games ant they are free and can be found in their website. We have another game with a feminist topic called “Perra Force” made by Tumba Games, a studio which its slogan is “games to fuck the system”. In Argentina we are also having Woman Game Jams and many events with arcades made by Argentinian artists. People who not only program their games, but also build the machines where those games will run. In a tour called “Videojuegos sobre ruedas/Video games on wheels”, around 30 game developers put their arcades in a school bus and toured some Argentine routes for 10 days bringing joy to different cities.
João – Could you describe the concept behind Bit Bang Festival.
Bárbara – It is a multidisciplinary festival which ranges across animation, video games, VR and digital art. We want to cultivate and promote the art of animation, video games and digital art, with special focus in independent, experimental, innovative and for young and adults proposals. We provide a unique platform for these productions, we champion diverse, emerging and under-represented voices, and we spread and promote exceptional artists who push the visual, conceptual and narrative boundaries. The festival has always placed an accent on unconventional and cross-disciplinary media. We create a meeting point and context for a shared understanding and appreciation of animation, video games, and digital art in Argentina. Providing a platform to showcase these productions is important as it enriches the national cultural landscape in a new, fresh, and different way, far for the classical and commercial animation and video games for kids. And the best of all, the activities are free.
João – What is the importance of Bit Bang Club to the festival. Can you explain this concept?
Bárbara – Bit Bang Club is a growing-fast community with the mission of providing a place for creative diversity, collaborative creation, innovation, dialogue and the birth of projects. By getting involved, you are directly helping to fulfill our mission to cultivate and promote culture through the art of animation, video games and VR. Bit Bang Club is a community of collective creation full of energy and life, bringing a wide range of cultural, artistic and educational offerings to experience. We want to stimulate and inspire people, to empower them with the arts and technology and grow with them. The transfer of knowledge is promoted through play, arts and, well, parties, why not. Before COVID-19, we made parties every month in different parts of Buenos Aires and we also travelled into the country. These parties mix the areas of the festival with djs, vjs, animations, video games, arcades, exhibitions and installations. It is something that makes me very happy because we are building an increasingly larger community and creating new audiences.
João – Can you tell us about your future projects?
Bárbara – I am currently doing the second season of Gorda and an animation short called ‘Todos los Futuros’, where we can see the world from a distant and lost place in the cosmos. A place that we cannot understand without understanding the closest environment, our small world, with our problems, anxieties, fears, and our daily life, which is also full of the fantastic. It is about boundaries, the smallness of our lives in the vastness of the universe, the random, the primitive, the evolution and the beauty of the end, which resides in its infinite possibilities of beginning. I am going to continue with the Bit Bang Fest, trying to take advantage of the new virtual world opportunity, so that the whole world can access to our proposal, we can have meetings with our favorite international artists and make collaborative multidisciplinary works across the planet.