Piaffe (2022)

Piaffe screened at the London Film Festival 2022

When her trans sibling Zara (Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau), a foley artist, is suddenly institutionalised, nervous, near mute film archivist Eva (Simone Bucio) takes over Zara’s commission reproducing equine sounds on an advertisement for a pharmaceutical ‘mood stabiliser’ punningly named Equilibri. Yet even as the ad’s director insists that she needs to be more ‘human’ than ‘machine’ for the work, in fact Eva finds her animal side, growing a horse’s bushy tail.

“Our concepts of male and female are insufficient to understand ferns, which are both at the same time,” suggests the botanist Novak (Sebastian Rudolph), who embarks on a BDSM relationship with Eva. (Trans)sexuality is key to this beautifully mannered allegory (named Piaffe for a kind of trotting movement in dressage), where hybridity and metamorphosis rule all, and where Eva’s newly acquired appendage is decidedly penile. Like Walerian Borowczyk and the Quay brothers, artist and director Ann Oren fetishises objects and finds eroticism in the most surreal imagery, as the heroine, like her counterpart in Ivan I. Tverdovskiy’s Zoology (2016), discovers her true self in bodily change. 

strap: In Ann Oren’s tale of transformation, a young woman takes on the foley work of her transsexual sister and undergoes her own changes

© Anton Bitel