The poster for the film ‘I Am In The World As Free And Slender As a Deer On a Plain.’ Photo courtesy of the SCSU Film Department.
The film department here at SCSU invited Sofia Banzhaf, via Zoom, for a film showing followed by a Q & A session.
Sofia Banzhaf showed her short film, “I Am In The World As Free And Slender As a Deer On a Plain,” a film about a young woman who is exploring her sexual autonomy and does this through different experiences in the film.
Before making its way to St. Cloud, the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival for a large scale audience where the film also made it to the short films top ten list.
This film was Banzhaf’s second solo directed film and called it a passion project that draws on experiences she had while dating.
Although the films overall theme is a woman finding her sexual autonomy, Banzhaf wanted to challenge the power dynamics in dating and relationships. Banzhaf puts the woman in a situation where the power is unclear and we may fear for the woman or her safety.
“For me, in this film I wanted to play with these dynamics because often times in on screen relationships we don’t know who is winning or who is in control of power,'” said Banzhaf. “So, playing with the audiences expectations was something I wanted to work into this film as well.”
It was important for Banzhaf to not sexualize the actress in the film, but rather switch the roles and make the men more sexualized and show the actress as the subject, not an object in the film.
The shooting of the short film was in the matter of two days on a limited budget and on limited set design. Banzhaf told the audience that while the film was shot with a $12,000 budget and that many scenes of the film were shot in one apartment.
The team that Banzhaf worked with were colleagues she had worked with in the past or others by word of mouth in the Toronto film community. Many of the people working on the film did not get paid and were simply helping her make something she is passionate about. It was something even the cast and crew could also feel proud of.
However, Sofia Banzhaf did not originate in the world of film, she first wanted to be a writer, but after moving to France, her vision had changed.
“After moving to France I started to fall in love with cinema, The Cinémathèque Française and the French New Wave it inspired me to film school where I began studying film studies,” said Banzhaf.
Banzhaf still advocates for writing and continues to write poems and fiction, but believes a major component to film making is the writing aspect.
After her time in France, Banzhaf moved to Toronto where she originally was an actress working in smaller roles before the decision to direct her own short films. Banzhaf noted that those experiences were still important to her to her and they still brought connections to the film world in Toronto and helped her make friends that she still knows today.
At the end of the Q & A, Banzhaf told the audience advice she has stuck with throughout her career in film.
“You have to trust in yourself, its okay if some people don’t understand what you’re trying to say and that’s okay,” said Banzhaf. “Trust in your taste and what you like about movies and what you want to see, make your voice heard.”
Banzhaf did mention she was working on another project, but did not mention much more other than it is in the works.