Actor and writer Arianna Veronesi joins us on Close-Up Culture to discuss Glaistig.
The short film follows Anna, an immigrant actress determined to succeed, even if it means contorting herself to fit Hollywood’s misogynistic standards. We find nearly unrecognizable and succumbing to the all consuming trauma when she revisits a feminist poem that thrusts her into a wild and fantastical journey of total self reclamation.
What was your inspiration to write Glaistig?
I created this film as an effort to explore the purpose of art as a healing tool. To expose the truth of trauma we as women can face every day. To honor those who feel unable to fill the roles they are expected to play in their bodies, communities, careers and beyond.
It finally felt relevant to talk about my personal experience growing up female in a predominantly patriarchal society. To shine a light on the challenges of being a foreign actress navigating the misogynistic imperialism of Hollywood. To acknowledge the inherent trauma so many silently suffer through.
Why did you choose to use the Glaistig, the Gaelic mythological fairy?
The choice to portray Glaistig was easy because she is the epitome of the embodiment of female empowerment. She is a supernatural creature half goat and half human, dedicated to protecting women, children and Mother Earth, from being pillaged which makes her the ideal representative for reclamation.
She is a manifestation of the bond between nature and divine feminine. She is a survivor and an outsider who hides in the dark waters of the rainforest and fights back patriarchy. The art of dance and poetry were the perfect medium to convey all of her magical powers.
How have you been impacted by misogyny and patriarchy in your career?
Being born a female into a patriarchal society was a sentence that imposed limits on my personal and professional freedom and it was through creativity and artistry that I found the permission and accessed the tools to reclaim my power and my femininity. The fear of being objectified and sexualized influenced most of my choices unfortunately, especially in my youth. That’s why I started off as a ballet dancer because I had the impression to have control over my body and my image and it felt like a safer, less sexualized, working environment.
Through acting my intent was to reclaim my whole truth and find a broader creative freedom. Unfortunately, I was confronted with the reality of the business of show business. I experienced an endless amount of disempowerment, discrimination, stereotyping, conformism, misogyny and abuse to the point that I started losing my drive and ultimately, my well-being. My health began to decline and my inspiration was dwindling. Enter writing. It was through my imagination and the freedom I found on blank pages that I reclaimed my power to truly create from the inside out. I used writing as a way to not only empower myself but others also. I had found my true mission as an artist.
Through penning the award-winning theater solo-show, MY JANIS, I was able to talk about a woman’s (Janis Joplin’s) bravery and struggle to survive as female artist growing up in conservative Texas. I felt a profound connection to her story as a young girl growing up – bullied and ostracized for her anti-racial beliefs, and more so, for not looking or behaving as “a woman should.” This spawned an ever-growing hunger to deeply explore and expose the effects of sexism and the roots of the female empowerment movements. That is what sparked the idea for my latest film Glaistig.
This is the first time I was able to marry all of my creative expertise together into one project. As the author, actress, choreographer and dancer, I was able to bring the spectrum of artistry to a project I fully believe in. This film explores the deeper impact of sexual trauma (without sensationalizing or glorifying the act itself) and the possibility of a healing journey through the art of self-reclamation and sisterhood.
How would you like to see the industry, and society more generally, evolve in the future?
In the industry I would love to see more diversity in color, gender, sexual orientation, nationalities, ages and less stereotypes. Unfortunately living in the US right now feels scary, in a society where guns are more important than kids and controlling women’s bodies is more urgent then feeding babies. We are losing our fundamental human rights and we are far away from equanimity.
I would love to see the end of this dangerous oppressive marriage between religion and unethical capitalism which is rooted in patriarchal imperialism.
What impact do you hope Glaistig has on audiences?
I whole-heartedly believe that women need to voice their stories in order to heal the world and its relationship with the feminine. This film is my artistic contribution to furthering this ever important conversation. I hope people can relate and walk out less lonely.
How do you reflect on the process of making Glaistig? Has it been therapeutic for you?
This was such a gratifying project, from start to finish. From having the vision to making it a reality with a dream team of other visionaries was the ultimate expression of freedom and creativity. This picture granted me the permission as a storyteller to deliver and protect the full vulnerable truth of my message and there is nothing more empowering than that. Voicing my story did heal me in a profound way far beyond of what I was imagining.
You recently won best actress at the French Riviera Film Festival for your performance in Glaistig. What does this recognition mean to you?
It means a lot to me to have physical evidence that my work is valued and appreciated. It fills me with certainty about the path I took and hope for the next story to tell. I am deeply grateful.
Do you have any other projects or ambition to share with us?
My next project it’s a feature set up in the US.
It’s about former child bride Sophia, who is now a middle aged woman trapped in an isolated and despondent life. Her only hope for a future of freedom lies in exposing truths behind the locked doors of her painful past.