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Seven tales of transformation poetically reimagine Ovid's Metamorphoses

and paint a picture of violence and catharsis, anchored in mythical landscapes

78 min. | color and bw | 35mm | 2024 | press kit


Film, for me, is still one of the greatest magic tricks. As a kid, reading and watching films would immerse me in worlds that had their own set of rules and boundaries, and moved at their own pace. Myths and mythical creatures loomed large, and their magic oddly brought the real world into focus. It was the type of experience that was only replicated by traveling and being in nature - and in my case also by raising pet stick insects. It’s probably not so hard to track a course from there to my first feature film, Ovid, New York


We all know that cinematic worlds are more than just a form of escapism. Fantastical allegories frame the violence and bleakness of tumultuous times in ways that are both subversive and immersive. Dark but still playful. Poetic yet cutting. In Ovid, New York, I wanted to create a universe that similarly exists outside of time. Hopefully you will find it to be a place in which the lines between our world and the liminal are exceedingly blurry and often crossed. The film’s seven chapters are myths for modern times, allegories that tap into a violent, beautiful, and mysterious yet universal world.


Coming from one of the flattest countries in the world myself, the ever-changing mountainous landscapes of New York State continue to provide this surreal feeling for me. Its many Dutch names, moreover, make it feel eerily uncanny. I embraced landscapes and the changing of the seasons in the same way that Ovid did. Much of his lyricism in Metamorphoses consists of allegories for a changing earth. We shot across the four seasons for a year to find that poetry. It took us out to the Western Catskills, the Hudson Valley, and the Finger Lakes, where there is a magical little town called Ovid, New York. This is also where our film comes to an end. 


Animals and statues similarly populate the Metamorphoses and Ovid, New York, they are charmed vessels through which gods communicate and manifest themselves, never showing us their true form. You will run into enchanted deer, beetles, cicadas, mantids, caterpillars, butterflies, and even a petrified centaur.      


Like most of my other work, Ovid, New York is also a film that draws attention to its own materiality. In this case, the living, breathing textures of our long-expired AGFA XT100 35mm color negative stock. We leaned into the stock’s characteristics and flaws, skewing heavily as it did towards reds and blues, for instance, and embraced and foregrounded artifacts such as remjet stains and flash frames. We bleach-bypassed one chapter to add more contrast and texture. The film really aims to mirror its characters. It is complex, flawed, mysterious, textured, and, most of all, alive. I think it adds a crucial layer of magical realism to the film.

Ovid, New York - Poster by Matt Needle.jpg
b and Lindsay Rico in Ovid, New York
Ovid, New York
Tina Makharadze in Ovid, New York
Max and Nicholas Weinbach in Ovid, New York
Emil Daubon in Ovid, New York
Ovid, New York
Ovid, New York
Ovid, New York
April Matthis in Ovid, New York
Craig Mungavin in Ovid, New York
Mel the Mantis in Ovid, New York


Writer, director, editor                          Vito A. Rowlands


Cinematography and color                   Thomas Heban


Score                                                      Jordan Dykstra


1st assistant camera                              Gregory John Fitton


Production sound                                  Andrew Mazzei


Producers                                              Vito A. Rowlands, Thomas Heban, Hashmiru Sesay


Sound design                                         Joe Tisdall


Casting                                                   Morgan Green


Opening painting                                   Amaya Gurpide


Title painting                                          Mat Rousso


Production Company                             Mumler Jaenzon Film


Cameras and Lenses                              Panavision, New York


                                                                Mono No Aware


Poster                                                      Matt Needle


Emil Daubon                                          Mike Merisi


Tina Makharadze                                  Mimi / Medea

Robert M. Johanson                              Jason


b                                                              Hippolytus / Marie


Lindsay Rico                                         Diana / Jules


April Matthis                                        Elle / Mother

Mel the Mantis                                      André


Junshin Soga                                         Prometheus


Craig Mungavin                                   Willy Tishen


Max Weinbach                                      Karon


Nicholas Weinbach                               Charon

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