GALIA BARKOL

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I create and perform because making an authentic connection in real life is really hard, and it gets harder as years go by. Art softens us. That’s its power, and that’s what draws me to it as a consumer and creator. My creative journey started early on. I grew up playing classical piano and dancing, and I was especially drawn to music. I started looking in other directions when I left Israel and moved to Paris. I went to a college in the city and studied Film and the Performing Arts. Later on, I moved to New York to study acting and writing.

 
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The process that lead to creating MIA (my feature film) started over a decade ago, when I was discharged from the mandatory military service in Israel. I dreamed of moving to a cosmopolitan, big city, with the hopes of breaking free of everything that defined me. I believed I could reinvent myself. No luck there, but life away from home allowed me to let old stories lose their power over time, and even to challenge my need for self-definition. Rather than switching one identity with another, I realized I could just drop the whole preoccupation with who Galia was. And so with MIA, my intention was to capture those periods in life when we float in between narratives, and in between identities. When Mia loses her ability to dance and her career in Israel, she is forced to let go of the role she identified with her entire life, and to see who she might be without her story.

 
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After all those years, what eventually pulled the trigger that lead to the creation of the project was my growing awareness that women and other minorities have a much more limited wiggle room of ways to be in the world. Zooming out of my own tale and looking at the bigger picture helped me pinpoint what it was that I’d been running away from back then, and that I wasn’t alone. My younger self felt trapped and burdened by the hard and rewarding experience of being neither here nor there.

Being in a state of uncertainty and disorientation is a situation we all know on some level, and I think there are interesting conversations to be had about this subject matter, especially in the current social/political climate. What’s happening now with the Me Too/Time’s Up movement excites me. As we fight for true equality, I hope that we can ask ourselves how we want to show up in the world outside of - rather than despite of - the context of our current patriarchal society. I think this distinction is important, so that we don’t only operate from a reactive mode.

 
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The process of creating MIA was complex and surprising on several levels. Strangely, the production itself was a relatively straightforward part of the process, while the writing and the editing were the most unexpected and creative. The editing process was fascinating. It sharpened my perspective on filmmaking. The structure of the film, the dialogues, the pace, the subtext… they are all relatively elastic when it comes to putting the film together. What works in a script doesn’t necessarily work on screen, and vice versa, so editing taught me to be open to anything. What struck me in the writing process was that even when I had to trash advanced drafts and start all over again, the film itself - in its essence - was still there, in my head. Many of the eliminated dialogues translated into the characters’ internal lives and private moments that live under the surface of what we see and hear in the film. I had to develop trust that the piece would speak for itself, and that there would be no need for the script to “tell” the viewer what the film is about.

 
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MIA is at the beginning of its festival life. It will have its NYC premiere at the SoHo International Film Festival on Friday, June 15. It was selected for NYWIFT’s Immigrant Stories program, and it was a Sundance Screenwriters’ Labs semifinalist. We are now looking to collaborate with distribution partners. The quirky characters and odd situations I got to play with in MIA inspired a new project which I am currently developing. It is a comedy series titled Deep Yearning, in which those elements are elevated and taken to the extreme. The show is set in a semi-futuristic world which is centered around women’s desire. Whether it is an Israeli in New York or an integrated AI robot in 2046, I am always interested in digging deeper into how the narratives we tell ourselves create our realities, and how we construct and deconstruct our identities accordingly. 

 

 

Check Galia out on Instagram and her website.

And check out the trailer for MIA here.