PROFILE: Sophie Soobramanien | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image from Ou est la pouce?

The question of identity and where we belong is one which many of us face. As a child of Mauritian immigrants, it’s a subject which Newcastle-based filmmaker Sophie Soobramanien has been keen to explore, so she travelled to the Indian Ocean island in 2018 alongside her mother. “I have always felt a disconnect from Mauritian culture, and in my practice I’ve been trying to explore these diasporic conditions – the way we distance and pull closer to our ‘roots’, furthermore discovering and making new roots. I wanted to interrogate the authority and seduction of an image. From looking at old photographs I found myself nostalgic for moments I never experienced, and my romanticised sentimentality was behaving as a barrier to a more nuanced and complex understanding of the island, and my parents’ lives there.”

Returning to the UK with footage which would become Ou est le pouce? – screened at Tyneside Cinema on Thursday 22nd August as part of the Projections project – she realised things hadn’t quite played out as she’d hoped. “I wanted to find something rooted, a connection, those filmic gems that would edit themselves. What came through more prominently were the in-between, inconclusive moments where it’s a little awkward, and the subtle frustrations that go with it. I think this sort of footage underpins a common struggle of trying to locate meaning.”

The ‘le pouce’ of the film’s title is as multi-layered as her subject matter; meaning ‘the thumb’ in French, it’s also the name of Mauritius’ third highest mountain, which Sophie could see from the window of her uncle’s house where she was staying. “The mountain became a totem of the project for me inhabiting those eminent feelings of waiting, journeying and proximity.”

Sophie’s ultimate attempts to connect with a place and heritage she felt tied to has resulted in a piece of work that she describes as “probably a weird and wild ride.” Initially appearing to take the form of a travelogue, Ou est le pouce? quickly unravels as the images and filmmaking begin to question themselves. “The audience can expect familial interactions, personal tangents, experimental form, some relatable situations, some less so; a whole smorgasbord of subjective wanderings.”

 

 

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