Continued from last week: click here to read the first part.
We left the story of Martina Amati (Ama) after her time in the plateaus of Tibet, with the film Altitude (2005). Amati had parted ways with MTV Europe in London, and was now shooting shorts for the likes of Amouage Perfume and The Discovery Channel. It was at this time she decided to take the individual plunge, and her debut in directing dramatic shorts began.
The later years of the previous decade saw Amati produce three shorts. A’Mare was the first in 2008. Amati very much desired to make a short film in her native Italian language, and chose to film on the coast of Sicily. The fourteen-minute story of two Sicilian boys who row out to sea, only to witness the dark side of the Mediterranean Sea, was actually well ahead of the times.
“The themes of the film actually resonate more with recent times and news reports than I realised at the time. It was something that had always been happening. Actually, the actor who played the immigrant was an immigrant himself, and this was his first job since arriving in Italy.” A’Mare won the Certificate of Excellence from BAFTA along with the UNICEF award at the Bilbao Short Film Festival in 2008, among several other accolades to its name.
Her success with A’Mare led to her next film I-Do-Air (2009) being shot back in the United Kingdom, entirely in a swimming pool. This time only eight minutes in length, I-Do-Air depicts a young girl at the local swimming pool, trying to imagine being underwater whilst hesitating to enter. I-Do-Air won the BAFTA for Best Short Film in 2010. “It’s actually very frustrating when you are on the shortlist at the BAFTA’s. You do not know until the day that you are in the running, so it actually all happened very fast for me.” Amati now found herself at the height of the limelight and highly respected within the short film scene.
Chalk (2011) was the final piece in her line of shorts. Chalk tells the story of two young gymnasts, developing their craft amidst the early trials of adolescence. Amati found the production more strenuous than the previous two films. “I think there was much more of a creative conflict within the production of Chalk. I loved working with the girls, I can say that.”
Amati is slightly more reserved in her feelings towards her third dramatic outing. This did not stop the film from attaining another BAFTA nomination and BIFA Win for Best Short Film. “My feelings about it aren’t quite as fond as A’Mare or I-Do-Air, but people out there still liked it.”
There were a few short projects over the next few years in collaboration with fashion designer Bella Freud. Submission (2011) was a short on a group of women training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Je t’Ecoute (2013), a musical, art and fashion piece, depicting model Lara Stone singing the title song to a young girl. Both have gained wide praise from the short film community.
Amati would always remain attached to the concept of freediving and underwater shoots. “If I ever had one regret it would be that I didn’t expand upon that little animation I left at Palazzo dell’Arengario. In 2012, I was given that opportunity from The Wellcome Trust Large Arts Award to work on what would eventually be Under.”
Under premiered in 2015 to wide acclaim. The multi-screened film installation showed Amati and a group of freedivers in an underwater presentation that amazed audiences. “The centrepiece of the installation had a large white screen horizontally hanging over the audience's heads as they watched.” The other screens of the installation also geared towards giving audiences an idea of the sensations of freediving through moving image and an eerily atmospheric music.
Today, Amati lives in London with her husband and son. As our interview drew to a close, I asked her what her advice would be to young aspiring filmmakers. “The best advice I can give is always stay true to who you are as an artist. If you make something you do not care about, it will show.” Amati’s artistic identity flourishes within her films. It is why they are widely revered. It is why she inspires the confidence of the sources that fund her projects. Her stalwart presence is present in all of her work.
Upon asking her what the future holds, she remained cryptic on the subject. “Maybe a few things, but nothing that I’ll discuss right now.” We were okay with that. Whatever Martina Amati has in store for us in the future, we are confident it will be something to behold.