Tin House Reels is excited to share the work of Carolina Melis this week. Melis’ short film Le fiamme di Nulecombines live footage and animation to tell the story of three weavers, Anna, Rosa, and Maria, competing in a contest in the Sardinian village of Nule. When all is revealed, the women create three very different tapestries, the result of which is as surprising to the characters as it is to the audience.
Drawing from her past as a choreographer, Melis transforms the making of the textiles into a flamenco like dance, giving the women’s labor a hypnotic quality that draws out the grace of their movements. Animated sequences of black silhouettes, as well as stark photographs of the village broken by textile patterns, give the short a feeling of cinematic folklore, with a tinge of high fashion. Given this combination, it is not surprising that the rich grayscale cinematography and high contrast lighting calls to mind such Italian black and white classics as Il Posto, The Bicycle Thief, and the oeuvre of Federico Fellini.
The story was inspired by Melis’ visit to Nule, where she became fascinated with their traditional textile-making techniques. Melis often works on projects with fashion companies like Max Mara, Prada, and Chloe, so she pays special attention to fabrics, pattern and collage. After making the film, Melis started to be commissioned to design tapestries that were then made by artisans in Nule.
“I almost feel like I’m becoming part of my own film!” she said.