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Living Fish

Director: Isabela Costa

Brazil, 2022, 13 min

Shooting Format:16mm, Digital, 35mm stills

Festival Year:2023




A few days before the apocalypse, a lonely young woman has a revelation: she has been wrongly trying to fit in on Earth, as she is actually a sea creature. With this in mind, she urges to abandon her mundane notions of life and builds a deep connection with fishes. In her dealings with the underwater organisms, she is surprised by their innate understanding about the experience of being raised as a feminine being.

About the director

Isabela Costa is a filmmaker born in Rio de Janeiro and currently a MFA candidate in Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts. She believes that humor and magical realism are perfect tools to reach the insanity of real problems. She is also interested in the concept of Antropofagia, explored by Brazilian modernists and later by the tropicalists. Isabela is working in 16mm and digital to create dystopian universes that touch the expectations and anxiety of young generations.

Filmmaker's note

Through distinct times and places in history, women were perceived to be creatures built solely for pleasure and entertainment. This seems to work as a recipe for a life deprived of privacy. Our material and subjective particularities are under constant evaluation, as we learn to exist placed behind a see through glass. In that way, loneliness is a non conformist choice made unconsciously by the protagonist. The Fish-girl occupies the environment around her, adorning its corners with her watery femininity. What could be perceived as a submissive resignation is in fact the rebellious process of constructing a somewhat joyful solitude. However, her personal universe is based on a pre-apocalyptic rainy beach, and its silent aura is disrupted by the incoming end-of-times. The frozeness of the Fish-girl’s movements is potentialized by the still frames. This aesthetic depicts the character’s fragmented spatial notions and dilates the time, as she perceives the world minuciouslly. While the Fish-girl finds an inexplicable connection with the sea, she also tries to collect some last pieces of a vanishing world. Living Fish is an allegory about the construction of a female persona, which could be liberating if placed alongside the self-sufficiency offered by solitude.

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