The Motion of Love

Experimental Film Installation at Phi Centre Explores the Transitional Phases of Romantic Relationships

courtesy of Phi Centre
courtesy of Phi Centre
courtesy of Phi Centre

The bodies of a man and a woman move seamlessly in levitation. Their bodies dance softly, caress and twist and eventually move in shocking ways until they jerk, shove and yank at each other’s hair.

These poetic scenes of love through movement appear in Dominique T. Skoltz’s latest work, y2o. The short experimental film is the latest installation at Montreal’s Phi Centre, running from Feb. 6 to Mar. 7.

y2o seeks to expose a love on the verge of drifting and represents multiple stages that two people go through in a relationship. “It keeps going until they come face to face, where [it’s impossible] to not be together,” Skoltz said.

The film depicts a man and woman, scarcely dressed, who float in constant slow movement underwater in different locations. Time is made elastic through the use of slow motion and a unique music track plays with stimulating sounds.

“We see a transposition of the inner state of each character,” said Skoltz. “When the two people fall in love with each other in the beginning, they’re mostly in a state of hesitation and later on there is a scene where they tear each other apart and both pull the hair from each others’ heads.”
She said the story of the film is more of a metaphor for how people feel in different moments in their relationship and how they can tear each other apart.

Skoltz is not fond of her work being tagged as experimental. “Yes, it can be classified as an experimental film because it’s not a fiction film, but [it] might just be a new way of telling a story,” she said.

“It’s a cross between a film and an arts film,” she said. Although it doesn’t follow the traditional narrative arc, Skoltz says it has a story nonetheless, whether you interpret it in one way or another.

The film is cut into two different versions: the short 11-minute version is for film festivals and theatres and the 30-minute one is for gallery installations. The longer version is displayed through different projectors on boards, which screen each scene separately.
“There are nine boards where you see the characters evolving. […] That in itself is very different than being told a story from point A to Z,” she said. “It’s a transposition of [an] idea through images.

“All of the filming was done underwater and in front of a green screen because I wanted to detach my characters and bring them into other universes,” Skoltz said. “It was filmed in an aquarium, like the giant glass cube you can see in the film, which permitted the characters to look like they’re levitating and defying gravity.”
A Montreal-based special effects company made the giant aquarium and the whole film was shot in their studio.

“We had to do tests with the actors ahead of time in a pool and we taught them how to breathe underwater with an oxygen tank with the supervision of a diver and a stuntman because it could have been super dangerous,” Skoltz said.

The film was shot in two days in the winter of 2013, but the post-production process took a lot of time. “I spent months working on the hair because it was really complex for it to look nice and be credible,” she said.

The project came alive through sketches and ideas that she was accumulating for a long time. “It started from a personal place and I would go and sketch what I was feeling,” Skoltz said.

The Montreal-based artist feels she is evolving through her work and ideas. “Right now I’m kind of undergoing a transformation,” she said. “I worked with mostly sound and image for about ten years, and now I’m working more with problems of communication and emotional facets.”
Skoltz is taking a step back from the technical side of things and says that the emotional domain is completely different.

Skoltz’s work has been presented at more than 50 festivals, events and museums around the world. Since 2013 y2o has won multiple prizes such as Best Experimental Film at the Yorkton Film Festival and the PRIM prize at the 2014 Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois’s “Prends ça court!” event.

The film’s next rounds include the British Film Institute in London, the International Kurzfilmwoche Regensburg in Germany and the Tempere Film Festival in Finland.

y2o // Feb. 6 to Mar. 7 // Phi Centre (407 St. Pierre St.) // Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. // Free admission