VARDOS ON FILM

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PAINTED LADY

A documentary on artist Vali Myers by AFI award winning filmmaker Ruth Cullen

Excerpts screened at the Bohemian Melbourne exhibition at the State Library of Victoria 2015. Order your copy here!

Producer/ director Ruth Cullen and Australian artist Vali Myers were friends for over 20 years, many of which were spent living in the Chelsea Hotel. In this delightful documentary, producer/director Ruth captures Vali at her studio centred in the heart of Melbourne. It’s an “at-home”, only this home and its inhabitant are unlike any that you’ve seen before. Vali divided her time between Melbourne and her wild valley in Southern Italy where she lived for over 30 years without electricity or running water.

When in Australia, Vali could be found either at her studio or the dingo farm belonging to her friend Bruce Jacobs’ who has almost single-handedly fought to preserve the pure bred dingo from extinction. Vali’s art is infused with her identification with nature and animals feature prominently in her work. 

In Melbourne there were frequent visitors to her studio. Friends such as Romani poet Lee Fuhler and the musical group Vardos whose traditional gypsy music from eastern Europe provides an exhuberant backdrop to the action. Intertwined with the day to day activity are  her drawings – dreamy, sensual, visions sometimes severe but always delicate and painstakingly composed. Each drawing could take anything from months to years to complete and originals of her work are in collections all over the world. Ruth Cullen’s 20 year friendship with the artist is evident in the ease with which Vali opens herself up to the camera. This is no hagiography but an intimate and revealing look at a fascinating life and work.

Featuring Vardos with Frances Evans on double bass
Completed 2002. Screened on SBS television and at ACMI, Federation Square Melbourne.

ENTERTAINING COUNTESS DRACULA
Written by Sofia Chapman, directed by Nathan Godkin

Screenings: Melbourne Underground Film Festival, Westgarth Film Festival : Ode to the Silent Era, the New York Independent Film and Video Festival and Mediawave Festival, Hungary.

In 17th Century Hungary, the infamous Blood Countess was convicted of gruesome crimes of torture and depravity with her young maids. Was she a bloodthirsty monster or the victim of a sinister political intrigue? As the net closes in on the Countess, her musicians come closer to the truth, only to find themselves trapped in a castle of absurd horrors. In the tradition of the silent era, directed by short film-maker Nathan Godkin, with a breathtaking gypsy score by Vardos, "Entertaining Countess Dracula" tells a daringly bloody and comical tale of the woman behind the myth of the first female vampire.

The Countess gazes in her mirror
Starring Natalia Axenova as the Countess and Peter Hosking as her evil nemesis Count Thurzo.
~30mins, b/w.
Vardos at the Castle gate
Produced by Sofia Chapman and Alanya van de Wiel. Photos by Justin Batchelor. Soundtrack recorded by Phil Egan at PBS FM with Alana Hunt, violin, Sofia Chapman, accordion and Melinda McCarthy, double bass.

FOXDANCE

A short film by Annemarie Szeleczky with music played by Sofia and Alana from VARDOS

Short animation - drawn in sand on glass with mixed media and cut-outs and shot with a digital camera.
In this short film Annemarie recalls life growing up in the 50's in a Hungarian village by the shores of Lake Balaton.
Completed 2003, 4'25 min. Screenings include Melbourne International Animation Festival, ACMI, Melbourne and LIAF, Soho, London 2004.
Screened 2005 on SBS television Australia
visit Annemarie Szelecky's website

GRANDPA'S GAMES

At the 2002 World Masters Games, one athlete will do anything to win, and his grandson will do anything to help.
Vic Younger is aptly named. At the 2002 World Masters Games, this 90-year-old athlete completes 11 events, with help from his coach and grandson, Matthew. But as the world records start to tumble, conflict builds over whether Vic is telling the truth about his age. The challenge of proving that Vic is 90 falls to Matthew, who is about to learn that the competitive spirit is both a blessing and curse, no matter what your age.
soundtrack is Vardos Hungarian and Transylvanian music!
2003 26 mins
Screened on SBS television Australia Wednesday 29th December 2004.
a Melodrama Pictures production. Nominated for the Rocky Mountain Television Awards 2004.

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