An Interview with Ingrid Nachstern On "Shoe Horn/Office" And Cinema

Ingrid Nachstern was born in Dublin,Ireland of Anglo-Polish parents. She studied languages at Trinity College Dublin and worked as a translator in Dublin, Toronto,London, and Oxford. She is also a teacher of classical ballet (Royal Academy of Dance,London) and was the Artistic Director of Nachstern Ballet School from 1998-2017.


She studied ballet as a child with Muriel Catt in Dublin and later with Richard Sugarman in Toronto and Joanna Banks in Dublin.

She founded her cutting-edge Night Star Dance Company in 2003 and has created 14 works for the company. Her aim is to present the audience with work which will challenge their view of the world.


She was awarded an Arts Council Bursary in 2008 and a Travel Award in 2009. She visited Cathy Sharp’s Dance Ensemble in Basel Switzerland in 2009 and also Nederlands Dans Theater in The Hague. Culture Ireland granted her a Travel Award, in 2011, to perform at DTW in New York.


She is the Artistic Director and Choreographer for her company.In 2014 she branched out into making films. She has now taken on the roles of Director,Script-Writer and Performer. She has collaborated on her last two films with Luca Truffarelli,the cinematographer.


It is our pleasure to sit down and interview Ingrid Nachstern and ask her our questions.

What was the inspiration for making Shoe Horn/Office?

The inspiration for making Shoe Horn/Office were two things.Firstly,I read about a Stanford University graduate who had allegedly raped a girl, who was comatose,on campus.He got six months in jail for this.It was the remark his father made that really angered me.He said that he felt this six months in jail was a little bit harsh 'for a little bit of action'. I have a rap type song in the film where I use his phrase.Secondly,I had read about Nicola Thorp,who had worked in the City of London.She was sent home on her first day at work because she was wearing flat shoes.She took a court case against them and subsequently won.However,this led me to explore the restrictive nature of women's clothing throughout the ages (Chinese foot binding,the Victorian practice of wearing very tight corsets,the present day fashion of wearing sky high shoes ...).I blended the two strands together and dealt with sexism in general too.


What makes a film into an experimental genre?

2.When I made my first Experimental film(I have made three),I just thought that I had made a Short Film. It was only after about six months of entering my films via Film Freeway,that I realized that there was an Experimental category.I think what makes a film fit into this genre is that it is non-narrative and non-linear.It does,however, have to make some sort of sense! I think that throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at the film won't work! There can be disparate elements but,in a general sense,it must make for some sort of cohesion.


What is the most challenging thing for you in directing?

There are two things that I find challenging as a Director.One is that,if I am performing in the film(and I just happen to have been doing so in the last three films)I have to wear two hats: a directing one and a performing one.The second thing is that I find that the actual shoot is always exhausting! It is very invigorating but,knowing that you are always up against a tight deadline,it does get tiring trying to get everything that you have worked, on perhaps for several years,into the film.But I can't complain! No one is forcing me to do this except myself!


What do you think about the future of female filmmakers in the film industry and its impact in society?

I know that it is difficult for female filmmakers to get their work made and shown in the mainstream film arena. As an independent female filmmaker I don't have that problem! I also don't have backers throwing money at me to make a film! However,you only have to look and see how well female leaders led their countries during the pandemic:Angela Merkel,Jacinda Ardern etc.Females make up 50% of the population and I really believe that,if we had more women in power and more women filmmakers,the world would be a better place. I am hoping that,post the first wave of the pandemic, societal structures are proving not to be so set in stone and this may give women filmmakers more of a chance and more of say.


What is your next film project?

My next film project is about cosmetic surgery and the unbearable pressure that young women are under to have every part of their bodies absolutely perfect. This pressure must stop as Ib elieve that it is leading to severe mental anxiety not only in young women,but more worrying,in teenagers too.


Do you plan to only work on short films or do you want to make a feature?

I have only ever made shorts and my next film will be a short.However, just the other day,my wonderful dance mentor(Christine Devaney)from a good few years back suggested to me that I might consider making a feature film.So,who knows?!


How can film festivals support film projects further in distribution and what do you think about film festivals and winning awards?

I think that film festivals could help in perhaps widening their time limits on when a film was made.I know they don't want to be inundated with films but it takes a long time to get the film from being a germ of an idea to having it shot and in the can.By present criteria,some films have a lifespan of two years. I also think that the rule which states that,if your film has been online,it is then disqualified from the festival.I think in the post pandemic world that will have to change. During the pandemic,you could only see films if they were online!


Who are some influential experimental filmmakers and female filmmakers that were inspiring to your work?

I only started moving into the film world six years ago.One of the first workshops that I went to showed us films by the Maya Deren,the Ukrainian-born American experimental filmmaker.She was very avant-garde.What inspired me the most was that here was a woman in the 1940s and 1950s making her mark,against all the societal constraints which were in operation at the time. This inspired me and gave me the courage to push on with my ideas.

© NEW YORK ARTS & CINEMA
2020