by Maja Borg, featuring Nadya Cazan
As mentioned, some years ago, during the 4th Berlin International Directors Lounge, we had the pleasure to screen the film Ottica Zero
Nadya Cazan’s unapologetic nature is surprisingly the sort of attitude that Madison Avenue tends to co-opt for commodification purposes. She’s beautiful, cool, enchanting and she doesn’t seem to need much. If I saw her in a commercial for perfume or yogurt, I would probably immediately go out and buy some.
In the film Ottica Zero, Swedish filmmaker Maja Borg relies heavily on the muse like qualities of Nadya Cazan. The film is half biography, half futurist fantasy. Nadya is (or plays) a woman who was on the brink of major commercial success when she turns her back on the star system (‘I didn’t want to make anything that had no purpose,’ she says) to live as an ascetic amongst modern society. She does not touch money. She wears a Muslim-style body covering. She lives on kosher food and fish heads. As Nadya speaks about her past and what has led her to her present, their is a second monologue from a 90 year-old futurist (can somebody say oxymoron) who has dedicated the rest of his life to offering an alternative resource based economy. No more money and all the messy social strife that goes along with it. In his Utopian vision, people would trade useful resources for other useful resources and we would all be free from judgement.
The film is breathtakingly beautiful. Borg captures Cazan as some sort of modern day Alice in Wonderland and asceticism hasn’t looked this good since Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc. Somehow these three films orbit each other in their relationship to judgement, consumerism and the feminine ideal and I suspect beauty is at the heart of this constellation.