Director Tonia Mishiali joins us on Close-Up Culture to chat about her short film, Daphne, ahead of the 2022 Raindance Film Festival.
Daphne switches from one sexual partner to the next, but does not seem to be satisfied, at least not with what she thought she needed; until she finds a wounded dog in the street. How far would she go to feel some affection?
Hi Tonia, welcome to Close-Up Culture. Can you tell us about your background and what led you to filmmaking?
I used to love films when I was a teenager but never thought that I could study filmmaking and pursue it as a career. I come from a very small country and in the 90s, when I finished school, studying filmmaking was not common, or even an option. So I chose to study hotel and catering management, which I wanted to give up the minute I stepped my foot in the first class of University. But I didn’t. I stayed and finished the degree, only I was taking filmmaking and photography classes during the whole time. That was my escape. It was then that I realized that the arts are more what express me as an individual. So I decided to also study filmmaking. I was always very creative and a dreamer, so filmmaking helped me channel my creativity and my love for photography.
Your short film, Daphne, will screen at the Raindance Film Festival in London. Can you tell us about the central character and what led you to write this story?
Daphne is a divorcee who lives with her 10-year-old socially awkward son and who has hardly any communication with her. She works from home due to the pandemic restrictive measures, so she has no other physical interaction. She is lonely and due to the curfew and the semi-lockdown she cannot go out to meet people. So she signs up on a dating app.
My own need for artistic expression and my desire for human contact, love and affection during the lockdowns prompted me to write this story, while simultaneously aiming to portray the survival instinct of human nature.
One element of the film is dating apps. What did you want to explore about those and the type of interactions they encourage?
Dating apps were a saviour for some people during the lockdowns. Especially people who were lonely, and that was the case for a big percentage of the world population, unfortunately. I was saying, during the lockdowns, that if we didn’t die from covid we would die from depression or any other mental health illness. So I believe that dating apps were a great escape.
What does Daphne say about affection in the modern age?
Affection is something that we are missing nowadays. We are so preoccupied with work and material things that we keep forgetting how to communicate with people and show our true feelings.
What do you hope audiences take away from the film?
The memory of a warm embrace
What are your hopes and ambitions for the future?
I am planning to shoot my second feature film as a director in 2023. I am hoping for a great festival and distribution success. At the same time, I am producing several films in the next years which I am also hoping they will do well in festivals and in terms of distribution,