To celebrate the BBC broadcast of short films made through our Beacons scheme, Ffilm Cymru are sharing a series of interviews introducing the new and emerging Welsh filmmakers that made them.
Tina Pasotra’s debut narrative short I Choose, co-written with producer Alice Lusher stars Yasmin Kaur Barn as Rupi, a young woman who sacrifices all that she has ever known to start a new life in Wales with her two young daughters.
Before the film’s broadcast, we spoke to Tina about her personal inspiration for I Choose, working across artforms, and how BFI NETWORK has helped progress her career.
Hi Tina, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a filmmaker and multi-disciplinary artist, through the work I create I am interested in exploring lived experiences and themes linked to colonial history. I’m really drawn to working collaboratively and engaging with a broad range of disciplines and people. I have worked with dancers, musicians, actors, academics, fashion designers, architects, botanical gardens, florists, theatres and film production crews. I have always found this collaborative process to be enriching as it supports potential for growth and learning.
What inspired you to make I Choose?
I have a personal connection to the story of I Choose through the many women I have met in my life who have shared this narrative in one way or another. With I Choose, I wanted to create a film which highlights their courage, strength, fragility and admires the resilience of these women and the tough decisions they make. I truly hope it connects with them.
What kind of support did Ffilm Cymru & BFI NETWORK give you?
Prior to I Choose I had made a few zero budget shorts and then in 2017, I was commissioned through Random Acts to make a short dance film, ‘But Where Are You from? The great thing with gaining support through the Beacons scheme (Ffilm Cymru, BFI NETWORK and BBC Wales) was being given the space and opportunity to spend time developing my debut narrative short, co-written with my producer Alice (shout out structure queen!). I Choose involved a bigger budget, larger team, and working with actors (including children), all stretching me professionally within the context of a highly personal narrative.
How has your filmmaking been influenced by your work in other artforms like theatre and dance?
I think my experience of theatre has helped with being in environments working with actors, although they are different art forms, the skills to direct are still similar. Dance hugely inspires my work. There is a scene in I Choose that gives a sense of craft/movement in relation to food and I had always envisaged that scene choreographically, so it was lovely to hear when someone fed-back they connected that scene to dance.
What have you learned from your experience on the BFI NETWORK x BAFTA Crew programme?
I’m currently a member of BFI NETWORK x BAFTA Crew and it’s been an invaluable experience. The programme is actually how I found my DOP, Adam Scarth, who was speaking at a cinematography event. It made the process of approaching him so much easier given I was in the same space. He has since become a wonderful friend and I really enjoyed collaborating with him. I also found my composer Victoria Wijerante, who is on the scheme and had seen previous work of mine. Victoria reached out and I was able to learn of her beautiful work, again another gorgeous soul who was a pleasure to work with. Essentially the opportunity really expanded my networks and I have met really genuine people; I’d highly recommend going for it! I also participated in Widening The Lens and BFI Weekender whilst developing I Choose, which was fantastic prep for what laid ahead!
What have you been watching during lockdown?
I have been obsessed with the superlative vision of Michaela Cole’s I May Destroy You. Her ability to unpack so many epic themes, from patriarchy to race, and it be so accessible is extraordinary. I have always admired her work, having watched Chewing Gum back in the day and then binge watched it again recently because it cracks me up! Fan girling hard, she’s amazing!
What do you have planned next?
I would like to spend time developing the feature version of I Choose and need to carve that space and time to work on it! I have a research and development fund with National Theatre Wales to explore ideas I have in relation to creating a site-specific work. I also have a residency with The National Botanical Garden of Wales to further expand upon a project called ‘BLOOM’ I did in 2019 which explored ideas around colonisation and growth.
Watch the trailer for I Choose here.
I Choose was produced by ie ie Productions’ Alice Lusher through Ffilm Cymru and BFI NETWORK’s Beacons scheme in association with BBC Cymru Wales. Watch it on BBC 2 Wales on Tuesday 8th September at 10:30pm (the film will also be available on iPlayer following its broadcast).