Interview with Filmmaker Claudia Jeanne Esslinger (THE SNOW MIGRANT)

Directed by Claudia Jeanne Esslinger
The (Snow) Migrant uses humor and metaphor to explore our changing climate. A performer in a red kayak is drawn onto deep snow by a darkly clad figure. Left alone, she struggles with the vessel and imagines paddling away. Eventually she is subsumed in rising waters.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

this piece was prompted by two journeys. The first was to southern Chile, where I had the opportunity as an artist-in-residence to explore an ecological preserve and also fly over Cape Horn. I worked in the presence of ecologists and climatologists, some of whom studied the flora of the area and others who left southern Chile for expeditions to Antarctica. They spoke often about the melting glaciers that were causing water levels around the earth to rise.

The other sojourn was a three month stay in Italy. Envisioning the migrant path through southern Italy into Europe was a daily reality, as immigrants sold wares on the streets and stories of deaths during crossings of the Mediterranean were prevalent in the news.

These two jpurneys come together in this piece. It combines concerns about the ever-present climate emergency with a focus on the human cost of that devastation. Through it we can consider the human migrant and the migrating climate with empathy and action.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

Three months, but there is also a gallery installation version which took much longer and a fully dance version which was done by the performer Balinda Craig-Quijada with her students

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Migrating Climate

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?


5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

They gave thoughtful comments and seemed to get the points we were after.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I’m a visual artist who makes films. The two approaches have complemented each other, but I’ve been making independent films for a decade

7. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Your support is valuable as is. I think the amount of films you must show is helpful to more films being shown. Sometimes it seems like a festival already has films in mind…but I didn’t feel this way with you.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Film freeway has been great.

9. What is your favorite meal?

10. What is next for you? A new film?

More connections between films and gallery installations.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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