Book of Miri

April 7, 2010

I really wouldn’t be a good blogger, if I wouldn’t blog about documentary Book of Miri by Katrine Philp, a film that I saw in the competitive programme of ZagrebDox Festival last month.

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Katrine Philp (1978, Denmark) is a former dancer and choreographer. She has studied documentary directing at the National Film School of Denmark and film production at the Danish Design School.

For her documentary “Silence in a Noisy World” (2008) she has got the Audience Award at the Rio de Janeiro Film Festival in 2008. Her latest work, ‘Book of Miri’ is a graduation film produced at the National Film School of Denmark in 2009. The film has been screened so far on IDFA, Amsterdam; DOK Leipzig; Uppsala International Short Film Festival and Viscult Culture Film Festival, Finland.

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Photo by Miri taken from her blog Book of Miri (c)

Miri is a bookish blogger hooked up to art, photography, books, films and funky pop fashion with retro touch. She was adopted from Korea as a child and lives now in a suburb of Linköping in Sweden. She works as a librarian, and lives on her own with two cats, black and white…

Of course, Miri is not a typical neighbourhood girl; she has rather active and art-ish online life. Every day she writes a blog titled Book of Miri, but previously taking photographs of herself and sharing them within her blog posts.

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Photo: Agent Orange. by Miri taken from flickr (c)

This photographic moment was crucial for former choreographer Katrina Philps to start her seamless documentary ‘investigation’ on body, space and online expressiveness…

Miri’s blog posts are sometimes waved around easy going topics (clothing, food, cats, etc), but many times they cover profound issues like relations in her family, her own feelings regarding solitude or communication with other people, mostly online people. She’s aware of the fact that she’s sharing her deepest feelings with strangers, but at the other hand is not able to meet people in real world.

There is nothing awkward in Miri’s story; it’s simply the way one young woman is trying to find her most intimate roots by not being inflected by the society. Of course, it’s a double life. The online life and appearance are staged like everything should be, whilst the real life is slightly ‘frozen’ between every day routine and a feeling of being stucked in one place.

The questions about our online appearance, life and self presentations rise more and more nowadays, and in this sense Katrine Philp wanted to get deeper into the topic. “I’m fascinated by the boundary between private and public and by the nature of this need to expose yourself. How visible do you want to make yourself? How much are you willing to show?” said Philp while being interviewed for Danish Film Institute (DFI) in 2009.

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Photo by Miri taken from her blog Book of Miri (c)

“It’s a matter of control. Online, Miri has complete control of how she presents herself. She can stage herself exactly the way she wants other people to see her. When she meets people in real life, she can’t hide in the same way.”

“Miri also blogs to make her mark in a world she does not otherwise feel part of. Miri wants to leave her mark. That’s an existential need, I think, because life is so transient. It’s a question of being visible and making other people aware that we exist. As Miri says, if she died now, who would even notice?”

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Photo by Miri taken from her blog Book of Miri (c)

What is rather appealing in Miri’s story is the fact that she’s really a talented photographer, but somehow completely unaware of the process. By using SLR digital camera with professional flash she is able to shot rather sophisticated photographs in intimate moments, leaving to you whether you trust her on not.

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Photo: Two. by Miri taken from flickr (c)

“It’s a way to document her life. Of course she is staging herself, but she tries to show herself the way she is. She doesn’t cheat – the clothes she wears when she photographs herself are the clothes she wore that day. It is important for her that her images are a window to her life. She’s really an artist without knowing it.”

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Photo by Miri taken from her blog Book of Miri (c)

Katrine Philp had to build a sort of relation in order to make this documentary truly authentic and she really managed to do it. I’ve felt that I’m in different medium but because of the strong visual aspects of Miri’s photographs and Katrine’s ability to follow her line without disturbing the atmosphere The Book of Miri has got another authentic form, this time in cinematic form.

“Trust is essential. Of course, you’re laying yourself open when you pose in front of a camera and put yourself on display. She was always playing around with her own bashfulness and how much she was willing to show, to her own camera as well as to ours.”

“We tested how close up we could go, physically. Does she shy away or is she game? You have to feel out your subject on a given day and capture the energy when it’s there. I find it hard to film by template. I have more faith in going with the flow of the film and the subject.”

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