Director of the film Bohyni
Winner in the category Best Soundtrack for an Experimental Short Film at the Experimental Brasil 2023
1. Hello Sasha. How are you? Please, tell our readers a little bit about yourself, and also a bit about the Bohyni team.
Hello! My name is Sasha Theodora and I am a mask maker, artist, singer and film maker. I live between Toronto and New Orleans and am Ukrainian. The team is a collective of different artists that came together to help create this film because of their support for Ukraine at this time of war. They are dancers, musicians and film makers and I am so honoured to have been able to work with them on this project.
2. Your short film Bohyni won in the category of Best Soundtrack for Experimental Short Film at our festival. A truly powerful soundtrack. Could you tell us about it?
I was really attentive to making sure the score was as good as possible because there is no speaking in the film, so the music becomes so much more important. Also, because the songs go ritualistically with the action on screen, it was important to capture the essence of what the songs mean on screen.
The music is meant to connect the audience to the spiritual realm and sort of put them under a spell. Each sound and song was chosen carefully as a mix of traditional and modern to elicit the ritual work of the film.
The score features; traditional folk instruments, such as the overtone flute known as a talynka, played by one of the last remaining masters of this instrument, Mikhailo Tafichuk from the Carpathian mountains, sung folk songs by members/activists of the Ukrainian community in T'karonto and traditional wooden clapping type sounds that represent the connection to the spirit world.
Certain sung songs are for ritual in Ukrainian culture so we were careful to respect this in creating the score. Traditionally, wailing songs are only allowed when someone dies and few people know these songs. So to be respectful of this, I decided to choose a summer mermaid spell song (“peremanochka”) which translates to “the changer”, for the washing scene instead. We also used a lullaby as we enter the forest, because when someone is dying, people from the village or the family come to sing lullabies to calm the soul and help prepare it to leave the body.
3. What motivated you to create Bohyni?
The full-scale invasion of Ukraine. I wanted to honour the dead who were dying without proper rituals.
4. What were the biggest challenges you faced in completing this project?
It was my first film so everything was new, I have been an artist for year and created many things, but film is such a huge endeavour.
5. At what point in your life did you decide to work in the film industry?
This film. The full scale invasion of Ukraine made me want to tell Ukrainian folk stories, tell people about the rituals and the culture. I have always loved film and felt it was the best medium for me as an artist to be able to showcase all of my available talents in one place (music, mask making and my knowledge of folklore).
6. In your opinion, what defines a good film?
A good film draws you in and challenges something you think you know about the world. It would make you feel changed somehow once you’ve finished it, like you can’t stop thinking about it much after seeing it.
7. What is the unforgivable sin for a filmmaker?
Not trusting your instincts. Forgetting to be playful.
8. What does success mean to you?
Feeling satisfied with something I created, and feeling like people feel moved or changed by something I’ve made.
9. What was the biggest lesson you learned throughout your journey as a filmmaker so far?
That even if you prepare well, things many go wrong, and you have to deal with what you got.
10. What is your biggest fear as a filmmaker?
That I’m unable to translate my ideas to film or that I don’t have the courage to show them fully.
11. Who is your favorite film director? And if you met him in person, what question would you ask him?
Hard question to answer. Alejandro Jodorosky, how we was able to create his poetry in film, how he was able to translate himself to the screen. Was it through image, word or sound that gave him access?
12. What are your top five favorite films?
Pina- Wim Wenders
Endless Poetry- Alejandro Jodorowsky
Spirited Away- Hayao Miyazaki
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors- Sergei Parayanov
Titane - Julia Ducourau