Room 23

A surrealist experience of doppelgängers who never meet, confined within a small space that only provides bizarre occurrences which forces them to unravel their brain, accept the unexplainable and embrace the blurriness and bloody nature of existence.

  • Amy Azzopardi
    Director
  • Amy Azzopardi
    Writer
  • Ylenia Kay
    Key Cast
    “Doppelgängers”
  • Amy Azzopardi
    Producer
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short
  • Runtime:
    2 minutes 48 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 26, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    70 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
    Malta
  • Country of Filming:
    Malta
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    Yes
  • Malta Youth Film Festival

    Malta
    June 3, 2020
    Most Creative and Original Concept
  • Kinemastik International Short Film Festival

    Malta
    October 2, 2020
    Official Selection
  • Malta Film Festival

    Malta
    January 8, 2021
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Amy Azzopardi

Amy Azzopardi is a filmmaker based in Malta. Her love for the arts arose when early on in her life she started cutting up strips of texts and pieces of images to combine new stories and characters. Currently, Amy works as a part-time video editor, and spends the rest of her time still mostly cutting up and jumbling pieces of texts together to get new ideas and inspiration. She is currently following a Bachelors degree in Creative Media Production at the MCAST Institute for the Creative Arts in Malta, and is set to graduate later this year. Amy wrote and directed the short experimental film 'Room 23' which won the award for 'Most Creative and Original Concept' in the 3rd year of the Malta Youth Film Festival 2020. Her dream is to be within the proximity of David Lynch’s existence, and in the meantime is building up her body of work as a filmmaker.

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Director Statement

I like to think that there are two main ways we can look at things in life. One is viewing the world through our eyes where we get to witness events and see them sharp and clear, fully saturated in their everyday roots. Then there is the second way; the way we look at things in our head; slower, softer, hazier, almost like an impression of the life we experience, and it fuses with our hopes and dreams and fears. Almost like an impression of a dream itself. Everything feels large, as if that moment expands and allows access to a reality we hadn’t seen before.

'Room 23' occurred in a point in my life where I felt like I had nothing to lose as an artist. My past work only turned out to be a fraction of what I wanted it to be, because I was so set for it to be perfect that it started to lose any heart it had, both mine and the project’s.

Another part was that, yes, I was doing it for me, but an even larger part of me was doing it to impress other people and so it started to lose myself and in turn become a cacophony of what I thought different people wanted. But with 'Room 23' it was different.

'Room 23' was created through a series of thirty personal stream of consciousness entries, where I dedicated time every day for a month and wrote the thoughts that floated through my brain at the time. It’s through these ‘observations’, if you will, that I created the soundscape, the audible whispers of words in the short film, and the images that created the narrative of 'Room 23'.

I didn’t really set out to say anything in particular with this film. I just purely wanted to let my brain wander out and play, and I think that little expedition had a lot to say without me knowing. Like uncovering dim-lit rooms at the back of my brain containing all of these bizarre elements and suppressed or difficult parts of myself. It’s like something which helped redefine my understanding of the human condition and the different realities within one living experience.

It’s quite hard to describe what 'Room 23' is about, but I like to say it’s about doppelgängers residing within the same place, experiencing different occurrences but never quite end up meeting; they’re only connected through the sounds. It’s reminiscent of older times with its 8mm film look, however it wasn’t made to look like this for the purpose of nostalgia, but rather to distress the HD footage I had similar to a Dadaist manner.

When the concept of doppelgängers occurred in one of my stream of consciousness sessions, I turned to Freud’s structural model of the psyche: the id, the ego and the superego. This helped me characterise these multiple identities which represent the different parts of our psyche. There is no fixed perspective in the film, to show the various aspects of one’s character, which I believe is important because as human beings, we’re not one fixed identity, we contain multitudes. The use of multiple exposure was vital to represent this by having copies of the same person within one shot. Similarly, superimposition to create a rather confusing image; a vital component to represent the way we grapple to understand and try to contain all these different aspects of ourselves within our own sole body.

Maya Deren was a large inspiration when it came to the use of this technique, accompanied by the influence of her dream-like movement within her work and the certain stylistic elements she makes use of such as reflective surfaces and doppelgängers which play a large part in this work.

Likewise, the sound design had a large role within the film to create the atmosphere, which was mostly constructed of unnerving ambient sounds inspired by the soundscapes in David Lynch’s films.

'Room 23' is actually quite rich with symbolism, and takes heavy inspiration from other works which I adopted and adapted in a way to help interpret the random ramblings of my brain. Mainly, the 1903 'Alice in Wonderland' in the way it approached the story in such an unusual and odd manner and 'The Cut Ups', 1966, by William S. Burroughs, which particularly influenced the nature of the film and how it appears to be like a short-circuited dream of sorts. The 2016 French film, 'Raw', inspired me with its use of rich symbolism in creating depth, and lastly, a quote by author Nathaniel Hawthorne about how “happiness is a butterfly” which helped me understand certain things I wanted to say, and consequently, aided with the direction of the story.

I have to admit that 'Room 23' takes you on a bit of a strange ride that isn’t for everyone to enjoy. The experience might be uncomfortable and odd because it has bizarre imagery and dream logic that might even confuse or disgust certain people. But if some will experience it with an open mind, I think it will provide quite an interesting ride that leaves a lot of room for thought and interpretation.