Focus on: Craigslist Allstars

Finnish-born filmmaker Samira Elagoz explores truth, intimacy and human connection while filming unscripted first meetings

feature (adelaide) | Read in About 3 minutes
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Craigslist Allstars
Published 24 Feb 2020

Your techniques in film have been described as candid and transparent. Do you believe your work has been able to capture a true depiction of two strangers getting to know each other? Is this truth important to the work?

I definitely have an aesthetic of depicting the average, imperfect human body without trying to make it more or less than it is. Especially as we live in an artificial world full of idealised images.

The reality in my films is born from the interaction – an interaction that wouldn't be there if the camera was not present. So of course the ‘real’ of the camera and the ‘real’ of the situation are different. It’s not that the film is showing us the truth, it provokes its own kind of truth, a focused truth.

Social connection and intimacy is often said to be waning in the presence of sophisticated online platforms for meeting and conversation. Is Craigslist Allstars a testament to the decline, or the increase, of social connections in this highly online life?

It’s interesting that the section of ‘Personals’ for meeting people doesn’t exist anymore on Craigslist. So if not a testament, then at least the movie is a relic of time. I have always been a kind of digital romanticist. I think online platforms give you the chance to redefine yourself. There is an instinct to be less private with online strangers, more honest. I think that sexuality and romanticism online are as real as they can be in real life. In fact I believe that online we get to connect in a more honest way, at least honest to ourselves.

The disconnect or superficiality people often project onto online interaction has always existed in my opinion, perhaps even more so. You have said before that you noticed there was a missing element online of women portraying men. How important is this balance of portrayal to you in your work?

I think not only online but in the whole of art history. There is this assumption that women’s sexuality is existing for others to use, not for herself. It is seen as self-destructive and shameful. For the longest time it was frowned upon when women would use their bodies or sexuality in their art, even though male artists could use women’s bodies. I wanted to make films where I have agency, and don’t justify being sexual, or present myself in a manner others might find uncomfortable. The efforts to escape the male gaze became a bit fruitless. So I decided to kind of court it – to fuck with it.

How have these interactions changed the way you view human interactions and experiences?

I did learn that anyone, with the right amount of attention, can become a film star.