Most people in Greece know Rafika Chawishe from her theatrical work and recently, from her cameo appearance in Alexandros Avranas’ ‘Miss Violence’.
A graduate of Greece’s National Theater School and London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, with additional studies in Philosophy in Athens and Linguistics in London, Rafika Chawishe has managed to build an impressive resume despite her young age.
Recently, Chawishe starred in Brecht’s ‘The Jewish Wife’, directed by Fenia Papadodima, and the young actress has also worked closely with Peter Brook’s team, under the supervision of Bruce Meyers, with whom she will be presenting new work for Greece’s National Theater in autumn.
Scene from ‘Miss Violence’
The list of films Chawishe has been in may not be very long, but apart from acting, she has also directed two short films, the most recent of which (‘Afterwardness’) took her to the Locarno International Film Festival’s Filmmakers Academy, a program which seeks and supports new talents from around the world. Her experience as a director has helped provide her with a new perspective on the filmmaking process. Chawishe points out that: “The narrative tools cinema offers, such as editing and music, contribute to the way the story is told and the end result.” Even though she doesn’t consider herself a director, Chawishe likes exploring areas that deal with fear: “I like it when people are stripped of their masks and titles. This is what led me to experiment behind the camera. I like the cinema of Diaz and Carlos Reygadas, a kind of cinema that doesn’t just tell a story but rather incorporates elements of documentary. Especially when they manage to communicate the realism of the documentary with the poetic qualities of narration.”
Scene from ‘Afterwardness’
News of her collaboration with Lav Diaz for his next film ‘From What it is Before’ is a source of joy since the acclaimed Filipino director is one of the most interesting voices in cinema today. Renowned for his films of epic durations, his most recent ‘Norte: the End of History’ was an official selection at Cannes last year and was included on many film critics’ lists of the year’s finest films. The two met in Locarno. According to Chawishe: “He was presiding over the jury there and he saw my short film, which was presented in the talent campus and asked me if I wanted to audition for his next film.”
‘From What it is Before’ will begin filming in early 2015. The story takes place in the Philippines during the American-Spanish war of 1898, which sparked the country’s war for independence. As Chawishe explains: “The film is about the country’s war for independence from Spain and is told from the perspective of a young European woman living in the country at the time.”