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Metamorphosis

For chapter 4 of Iliya Projects, we made a film with a long-term friend and collaborator Timna Tomiša, and her friend Berlin-based artist Jannat Sohail. The shoot transformed Timna’s apartment into a set that changed from pink to deep red and from balloons to butterflies. We had a chat with them about their work and the day of the shoot.
In Conversation with Timna:

1. How would you describe yourself?

In one word: Weirdo.
In more: Weirdo with really good hair.

2. Can you share the story of your journey into the film world?

I think my journey is still somehow at the beginning… It definitely started sometime in 8th grade when I befriended a guy who worked in my neighbourhood’s video (rental) store. He knew me for a while because I always used to come in with my older sister to rent some cartoons or cheesy romcoms, and then he noticed that as I got a bit older I started choosing more indie / ‘serious’ films. He would then also bring me CDs / DVDs with pirated films from the directors he noticed I liked, and I would spend days watching them and rewatching them in my room with window blinds almost completely shut. I would just float away into all these different worlds… I remember one of my top favorites from that time was The Virgin Suicides by Sophia Coppola. Still ranks quite high on my list to be honest.

On the Hero’s Journey narrative diagram, I’m somewhere between ‘Crossing the Threshold’ and ‘Challenges and Temptations’. But befriending the guy at the video store was definitely my ‘Call to Adventure.’

3. How was the transition to agency life? What did you learn about yourself in the past year?

Not as dramatic as it might seem on the outside. But to be fair, being an art director is basically my dream job, which I was (unknowingly) training for since I was 12, so I mean… It’s a perfect job for me to earn a living and finance my personal projects until it comes time to do feature films one day.

What did I learn about myself?
That I am very self-critical, and that I actually can do things well. To be honest, it was a very rewarding year, with pretty great colleagues.

4. What is your favorite thing about Berlin? What is common to Zagreb and Berlin? What do you miss the most about Zagreb?

Berlin can surprise you on every corner. The food offer is unbelievable, too. Certain parts of Zagreb and Berlin both have this brutalist / ex-socialist vibe that somehow feels comforting and familiar.

I miss my family and friends the most. And driving my car.

5. How did you and Jannat meet?

Over Instagram – she was looking for someone to take her photos, and I was new to Berlin and so I decided to message her. 🙂 We then met up at Gleisdreick (one of the larger parks in Berlin) and the rest was history….

6. How would you describe Iliya?

Delicate. Flowy. Fresh.

7. What is this project for Iliya inspired by? What is the meaning of the butterflies for you?

It was a joint impromptu effort between me and Eva, who was our cinematographer and still photographer. She’s a friend and she came to visit me in Berlin – she then said she’d like to do something together with me, like a project, and so the perfect opportunity was born. With my new job, I don’t have that much free time, so I very much freestyled and improvised this shoot. I did know what vibe I wanted to go for, so with that in mind I went to get the backgrounds and to my favourite prop shop – TEDi and voila!

I don’t like to bs people into thinking there was a major concept behind the project when there wasn’t one, but I put bits and pieces together around how I perceive Jannat and what could work, etc. And then sort of what came together made sense. That’s it.

But in general, I find that aside from being very beautiful, the butterflies symbolise a metamorphosis, which made sense when photographing Jannat between the two different settings.
They also symbolise a state of delicacy and being in danger, since they’re so fragile, the real ones.

The plastic ones are just wonderfully CAMP. 🙂

8. Can you share your favorite author of all time?

Lemony Snicket.

David Foster Wallace is pretty great too.

9. What makes you feel good?

Floating on my back in the sea.
And going to the spa + reading a good book.
In Conversation with Jannat:

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am Jannat Sohail, a Berlin-based artist from Pakistan. I have a solo, progressive Soul/Left-Field project under the pseudonym Wooly Aziz. I bring my socio-political backdrop as a foundation for my writing, vocal, and visual expression – offering an emotional extension of the colonial and geographical traces.

Transcending borders with atmospheric compositions and lyrical storytelling, Wooly Aziz is about composing stories of love, war, and migration – particularly in my newly conceptualized album: Bluelight Moonlight.

2. How was your day at the shoot?

The shoot brought a sense of a newfound liberation – as a gender-queer individual, I have affiliated certain notions with different textiles or forms of clothing. This is, especially, accentuated due to my socio-political background from a country operating on taboos encircling women*’s bodies, and a scarf as something to cover for modesty.

The day of the shoot helped me dabble in different personas, with one piece of scarf – adorning it differently, creating more fluidity within my gender, and experimenting endlessly with the notions attached to that piece of cloth.

3. How did you feel while wearing the Iliya scarf? Do you normally wear silk scarves?

The scarf has held certain ideologies for me, coming from a society policing different ways of how a woman holds herself. In this case, I enjoyed giving it my own meaning – especially, knowing the designer’s soft sense of inclusivity and creativity.

4. What do clothes mean to you?

The clothes I wear are often embellishments uplifting the parts of my gender I feel like celebrating that day – it is fluid, free, and ever-evolving.
Direction, Art Direction and Post: Timna Tomiša
Talent: Jannat Sohail
Cinematography and Still Photography: Eva Basta
Light: Lukas Rosatti
To see more of Timna’s work, visit her Instagram at @timna.tomisa and Jannat website Wooly Aziz

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