by Aria Socratous.
“Talent hits a target no one else can hit”Arthur Schopenhauer said. Natalia Bougadellis is a very talented and young Director and Cinematographer from Greece who is making her dream come true on the other side of the Atlantic. Natalia Natalia is invested in queer film narratives and to the promotion of gender equality in film, and she has received several distinctions and awards for her work. She has also served as one of the Co-directors of Fusion Film Festival, a festival that promotes women in film and is part of the Sundance Initiative for Women.
On March 28th 2017, Natalia transported New York audience to Ancient Greece with her breathtaking rendition of “Orestes,” a poetic interpretation of The Oresteia at the 13th St. Repertory Theatre. The play was written by Yiannis Ritsos and starring Nikos Siozos, Logan Roberts, and Rosina Fernhoff and explores themes of love, vengeance, and identity.
The enduring power of ancient Greek tragedies to speak to us so directly almost 2,500 years after they were written on the other side of the Atlantic is one of the great wonders of civilization.
Natalia talked to Writersgang for her vision and her artistic work.
1. Where were you born and raised and how did you create this niche of yourself?
I was born and raised in Athens Greece while spending my summers in my home village of Lemnos. I moved to New York for college at the age of 17 to attend New York University. Naturally, because of all my experiences, I am interested in narratives that are either set in Greece, involve LGBT characters, and/or promote gender equality.
2. You are currently based in New York City, artists’ dreamland. How difficult was for you to take the decision to change your life completely and move to the other side of the Atlantic in order to pursue your ambitions?
Yes, NYC is considered a dreamland for many. The amount of opportunities here are unlimited if you put in the hard work and determination that is required. NY is unlike any other city in the world. You never run out of things to do and inspiration comes constantly from everything around you. The decision to move here was not hard at all. I knew I wanted to study at Tisch School of the Arts and live in NYC. When I was applying to college, I only applied to NYU–it was all or nothing. I wouldn’t move to the other side of the Atlantic if I did not get into the best school for what I wanted to do. This does not mean that I do not love Greece. It is deeply rooted in my heart, but considering the current circumstances, NYC seems like the best place to be.
3. You have directed “Orestes” Orestes,” a poetic interpretation of The Oresteia written by Yiannis Ritsos. Can you talk to us about the play?
In this poetic rendering of the Oresteia, young Orestes returns home after nearly 20 years in exile and confides in his male companion the great moral dilemma of having to murder his mother in order to avenge his father. It is this brief, yet eternal, moment right outside of the cyclopean walls, in front of the two marble lions, where Orestes pauses and reflects upon life while enjoying the beauty of the moment and delaying the tragic deed that he needs to enact.
My attraction to Ritsos was magnetic. I come from the world of cinema and images. This was my first time directing for stage. Ritsos’ text is so beautifully written and filled with expressive and striking images. Even though the original text is a monologue, it is extremely cinematic. During my directing studies at NYU, I also studied Ancient Greek Tragedies and modern adaptations of them with Professor Olga Taxidou, so this modern and cinematic rendition of the Oresteia was the most obvious thing for me to work on.
4. You have served as one of the Co-directors of Fusion Film Festival, a festival that promotes women in film and is part of the Sundance Initiative for Women. This is a huge step for a very young artist like you. What is the secret of your success?
Fusion is a student run film festival at New York University. In the fifteen years since its launch, Fusion has been proud to attract accomplished artists and entertainment visionaries such as Lena Dunham (HBO’s Girls), Maria Zuckerman (VP of HBO Films), the writer and producers for Sex & The City, Lucy Alibar (writer of Beasts of the Southern Wild), Lauren Zalaznick (former Chairman of NBC Universal Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media), Amy-Sherman Palladino (creator of Gilmore Girls), Janet Tamaro (creator of Rizzoli & Isles), the writers of Orange is the New Black, and actor Paul Rudd. As you mentioned, Fusion is proud to stand with the Sundance Institute’s Women’s Initiative as an Allied Partner. Throughout all of my studies, I was involved in this festival and during my last year, I was luck and honored to be one of the Co-director who organise and put together the festival.
5. How would you define art? What does it mean to you?
Art is such a vague term. It can mean anything to anyone. For me art is the expression of creation and imagination. Most people consider art as the application of human creative skill. I see art everywhere; in the beautiful golden fields of Lemnos, in the winding streets of Athens, in the song of the crickets in the summer. Art is just like beauty–it comes from within ourselves and how we perceive the world.
6. What are your future plans?
I am currently working on three film projects as the cinematographer. I am also in the process of finishing the script for my new short film that I will direct this summer. Naturally, I will spend August in Greece. Even though my near future plans revolve around cinema, I think it is inevitable for me not to return to the stage.
7. Describe Natalia with three words
Honest, ambitious, hard-working.
Natalia Bougoudelli’s website is http://nataliabougadellis.com