“Do you know those old ads from the 80s or 90s like ‘This is your brain and this is your brain on drugs’? I feel like ‘This is my brain and this is my brain on Trump’,” Celia Rowlson-Hall tells me over the phone. Running between rehearsals in New York, it seems a fitting summary for her latest short film, (The [End) of History Illusion].
A famed choreographer and dancer, Rowlson-Hall started dancing at age five, however it wasn’t until she was asked to choreograph a music video that she found her passion for filmmaking. “I walked off set and it was just one of those immediate callings. Like, this is what I want to do, this is how I wanna bring my dance and choreography to film.”
Praised for her use of movement to tell a story, Rowlson-Hall explains her desire to express sentiments that words can’t. “With dance I’m expressing things that I can’t necessarily put into words and so with a lot of my work, I’m really asking a lot of questions within myself. Like, where I stand inside the world societally and where we are politically. I feel like dance can somehow go after these bigger questions in more specific movements and ways.”
The newest addition to Miu Miu’s Women's Tales series, her latest short is a commentary on the political situation in the US. “I think what we’re dealing with right now is, like, everybody is in a state of such distraction, whether you’re dealing with the news or dealing with how we consume media, it’s really hard focusing and finding where is the truth,” she explains. “I’m trying to figure out as Celia, as a person, how I deal with this time and this constant chaos and distraction.”
Creating characters based on Miu Miu's AW17 line-up, Rowlson-Hall tells me, “I was so relieved seeing [the collection], characters just started coming to me. I looked at that coat and I was like ‘oh, I wanna create a woman who’s like half woman, half bird because I know that coat will almost move around her body.’ So the collection absolutely informed the story.”
Premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September, I ask Rowlson-Hall about being added to the list of female directors showcased by Miu Miu over the years and it’s clear how honoured she feels. “I had my first feature film at Venice Days two years ago and I remember seeing Agnes Varda’s Les 3 Boutons was up there, that was the film for that year, and I remember looking at the poster and I just said to myself ‘I want that, I wanna be a part of that.’”
No doubt, her incredible film will inspire a new generation of female directors to feel the exact same thing.
Rollacoaster Magazine Autumn/Winter 2017 Issue