The emotional music of Serafina Steer comes to Cork

  Serafina Steer's latest album was produced by Jarvis Cocker.  Picture: Gus Stewart/Redferns via Getty Images

JARVIS Cocker protégé, Serafina Steer, an accomplished English singer/songwriter and harpist, will perform her live re-score of Amer at the Cork Film Festival on Friday as part of a Giallo night at Triskel Christchurch.

Amer is a 2009 film written and directed in the Giallo style by French directors Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani. The Village Voice’s review of the film stated that “those unmoved or alienated by the porn of pain may be left flopping as nervelessly as one of the movie’s severed limbs”.

Giallo is a 20th century genre of literature and film which, in Italian, indicates crime fiction and mystery. In the English language, it refers to a genre that includes elements of horror fiction and eroticism.

Amer is about the sexual development of a character called Ana who lives on the French Riveria. Steer says that composing the score for a section of the film has been quite challenging.

“The film is a lot bloodier than I was expecting. It references a period of films that was very niche and quite hammy in a way. The blood is so obviously fake. While it’s weird to get too overly serious about the genre, I do have issues with it being terribly misogynistic and violent.”

Steer admits that she wondered whether she should go anywhere near a film that has such a weird portrayal of women. “But then, in another sense, I thought it would be quite interesting to be able to do something with the sound track to show the horror in a different way. I wouldn’t like to say that Amer is misogynistic but it’s of a genre that is. The film plays with the way women were portrayed in ’70s films.”

Describing the film as surreal and nightmarish, Steer says it deals with archetypes around fear, sexuality and violence. “It’s full of tropes and devices that happen in horror films.”

Steer, who has played at Triskel Christchurch before, says she wanted to do something really loud for the score. “I never really set out to do something very frightening but I would describe the score as bone chilling. I really love the idea of the sound growing around the church, taking up the whole space. I’ll have to see how it works out. It’s part chance. As soon as people see an image and hear the sound, their minds will start bringing the elements of the film together in a way you can’t imagine.”

Steer will be accompanied by Danish percussionist Jacob Smedegaard. Her most recent album, The Moths Are Real, was produced by Cocker.

“Jarvis is really amazing and inspiring, so working with him was a great experience. The harp is there throughout the album, with some quite lush sounding strings on some of the songs. It’s kind of non-folk harp that’s in the tradition of Pink Floyd psychedelic or prog folk.”

The Giallo night includes a midnight screening of the most well known of Dario Argento’s Italian horror films, Suspiria, made in 1977. Steer says the screening of this film helps makes sense of Amer, putting it in context.



* The Patience Stone (Gate 1pm)

Directed by French-Afghan writer Atiq Rahimi and based on his own prize-winning novel, this is a subversive and absorbing interior life portrait of a young Afghan wife left to tend her comatose husband.

* Cinema Paradiso (Cork Opera House 5.30pm)

Cannes Grand Jury Prize winner and Golden Globes and Academy Awards winner for Best Foreign Language Film, this timeless tale of inter-generational friendship and love of cinema is one of the most beloved films.

* Apocalypse Now (Cork Opera House 8.30pm)

With a stellar cast and some of the most memorable set-pieces in film history and endlessly quotable dialogue, Francis Ford Coppola’s epic film about the war in Vietnam is nothing short of a masterpiece.

* XL (Triskel 9.15pm)

An hilarious, exhilarating and confronting portrait of alcoholism, hedonism and moral turpitude, with the last-party-before-rehab to end them all, and an allegory for a post global financial crisis European Union state mores. One of the wildest rides in this year’s festival, with the Icelandic director present to speak about the film.


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