Following a special screening of Manifesto at BFI’s London Film Festival on Friday, I found myself in the presence of Oscar winning actress Cate Blanchett and artist Julian Rosefeldt as they discussed their partnership on the multi-screen film during an LFF Connects session.
The film unites various types of artist manifestos – including architecture, abstract expressionism and conceptual art – from different time periods and places them in contemporary scenarios through the depiction of 13 contrasting characters, all portrayed and voiced by Blanchett.
Check out my filmed outtake from the conversation below:
Rosefeldt (director) chose to base the Australian-German film on specifically manifestos relating to art, not only because it is an industry that he has experience in, but because he didn’t want to design a film that came off too broad and complicated for its audience.
“The text has an actuality again, a wishful think to change something,” Rosefeldt said. “Maybe humour is the best way to express them.”
Audience members, including myself, were simply blown away by the visual attractiveness of Manifesto. Its elements of humour flow naturally, with the serious aspect of meaning that is carefully attached to the film through character recitals of manifesto segments from varied artistic and political movements. Whilst the meaning of these manifestos are a strong force in the movie, an important element that is explored is the theme of change, which cleverly challenges the audience to think about the modern-day society they live in.
“[The] Education system all over the world is lacking, and art is an important component in that,” Blanchett clearly voiced after the screening.
For the Blue Jasmine star making the manifestos have clarity was equally as essential as to finding the right tone, in order to do the original authors justice.
“These manifestos are intense,” she said. “There’s an incredible drive in them.”
Rosefeldt further backed her point by stating that “they need to be believable.”
The collaboration between Blanchett and Rosefeldt had been in the works ever since they met in 2010. Production first began in 2014 at various locations across Berlin and finished filming in just 11 days
Discussing the preparation for not one, but 13 roles Blanchett said, “Some [manifestos] have more text in than others. I had to pull out my accents.”
Manifesto highlights the fundamental reason why we adore Blanchett, it showcases her organic talent of portraying complex characters. Her intelligence, with the small help of her diverse accents, enables her to execute the manifestos as if they are natural discourse.
It’s positively overwhelming and at times complicated, but Rosefeldt has found a realistic approach to present the vitality that the texts offer everyday behaviour.