In 1967, legendary Austrian pianist Paul Badura-Skoda wrote an essay entitled "Look to the Guiding Stars!". He gave an autographed copy to his friend, the Greek pianist Eva Anastasiadou-Stange. Thirty years later, in 1997, shortly before she passed away, Anastasiadou-Stange gave a copy of that essay to her student Roman Gerodimos. Twenty years later, with Mr Badura-Skoda's kind permission, Gerodimos has produced a short film based on that essay: Essence.
Essence is about harmony, diligence and beauty. It is about the struggle of the individual to create and belong in something that is bigger than the self. It is about our need to hope, believe and love. As Mr Badura-Skoda notes in his essay, "everybody has the capacity of vision"...
Essence is an experimental short movie with autobiographical elements. It challenges conventional genre boundaries - part essay, part docufiction, it features a narration by British actor Sam Booth, as well as three original recordings of works by Bach, Schubert and Brahms, and a full soundtrack. It stars veteran Greek actress Olga Damani, as well as a group of first-time actors from three continents. The five Women of Essence capture the narrator's lived experience across different life cycles.
Filmed on location in eight countries (Argentina, Austria, France, Greece, Italy, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay)
Essence moves across space and time in search of the forces that drive us.
One of the principal filming locations was the beautiful neoclassical building of the National Conservatoire of Greece. This gem of interwar Athens is where Eva Anastasiadou-Stange spent decades as a piano teacher. It is there that Gerodimos met her and spent much of his youth studying music. It also there that Kimon Maragoudakis and Mara Kaisari - the two artists featuring in the film - studied the piano. In October 2017, the creative team of Essence was kindly granted permission by the director of the National Conservatoire, Mrs Hara Kalomoiri, and, after very many years, returned to that beautiful building to film Essence. Maragoudakis performs Bach's Prelude & Fugue in C sharp minor (BWV 849) and Kaisari performs Schubert's Impromptu No 3 in G flat major (D899). Both performances were recorded live and on camera in the Conservatoire's main concert hall.
The second principal filming location for Essence was Schloss Leopoldskron; a historic palace in Austria, which since 1947 has been the home of the Salzburg Global Seminar, a unique space bringing together current and future leaders to shape a better world. The final principal location was El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires - arguably one of the world's most beautiful bookshops. Additional footage was shot in Havana, Montevideo, London, New York, Paris and Rome.
Essence is funded through a combination of self-funding and crowd-funding by a passionate community of 120 supporters on Indiegogo, with additional support from the School of Journalism, English & Communication and the Centre for Excellence in Learning at Bournemouth University, and from Amagi Radio in Greece.
Essence is a labour of love and bringing it to life would not have been possible without our funders' support. Thank you.