Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cannes Festival Nominee Explores the Artistic Need to Create in Color Thief

Artists don’t just starve because the portfolio of their passions lacks buyers or livable compensation. Creation requires resources, and the drive to create for artist can often trump the necessities and security one needs to survive. Whether it's Michelangelo hanging from a ceiling, the Borglum family bounding themselves to Mt. Rushmore or even Tom Cruise swinging from the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, the question is obvious. How far will an artist go to bring body and soul to their vision?

With the short film Color Thief, New York City’s Violeta Barca-Fontana is going the distance in her attempt at an answer.

While the hurdles faced in her film are significantly less dramatic, the NYC setting and circumstances brings a more relatable experience to both artists and everyday people pursuing their dreams. And the fact that the spec was sparked by an actual event provides verification.

According to a story right out of New York City, an artist finds himself one color short of what he needs to complete his work and breaks into a store to quench his creativity. “That’s what got me thinking. It’s such a powerful force – the need to create and to get something done. You are just compelled to go out and do whatever you need to do,” says Barca-Fontana.

In that, 84 year old “Lily” first came to life for Barca-Fontana. One color short, she also decides to break the law in Color Thief to complete what will probably be the last, great piece of her life.

Putting aside the obvious expediency found in the overall concept, Ms. Barca-Fontana also explores the life choices artists must make, and what's left behind in the process - which is why she aged her character. "She reflects on her past and has no trouble making peace with a life where art was put first," says Barca-Fontana.

At the same time, juxtaposing the gender of the real life artist intensified the depth of Barca-Fontana's exploration. "A woman adds dimension because the choices made in her youth had to more profound in an era where women were expected to be home," she says.

In that, the real life crossover intersects this time with Barca-Fontana's life. "My grandmother was a painter," says the New York City filmmaker, "but she was fortunate in that my grandfather was just crazy enough to let her pursue her passions."

So while a direct comparison does not apply, a familiarity will definitely be evident to her family. "They will definitely recognize the tone I take," she says.

But male or female, the artists that she's discussed the concept with can feel the connection and have given her the nod. Nonetheless, it's not only artists that will be able to relate. "Every human being has a passion," she says succinctly.

Of course, art always means business, and this time she's not handing off those duties. "In addition to writing and directing, I'm producing the film too. So that means setting up meetings, getting funding and all the things that go with it," she says.

Doing what needs to be done but it still comes back to being an artist and that means your mind must be malleable and attuned. "It's almost like somebody is whispering in your ear that you should do this film or project," she says.

A sentiment that she found among a number of artists and one's success may actually hinge on being open to it. "I believe you have to be willing to listen," she says, "even if it sounds a little crazy."

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