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A FILM BY VITO A. ROWLANDS

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

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

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

KEY CREDITS

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

                                                                Colorlab

                                                                Mono No Aware

 

Poster                                                      Matt Needle

KEY CAST

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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