Award-winning filmmaker and digital producer, Salvador Cantellano, specialises in documentary to exploring themes about cultural diversity, community and connection to place. His practice is a blend of fine arts, screen media, community arts practice with a hint of pop culture and flair. Salvador came to the Australia as a refugee in 1989 at the age of five with his parents who escaped the Chilean dictatorship (1973 – 1992). This experience has played a major role in shaping his artistic practice, seeing the world through a bi-focal lens.
Salvador is currently undertaking a PHD research program at Griffith University, investigating collaboration models in Documentary filmmaking practice, exploring climate change communication, cinema and community engagement.
Art has the power to open up a safe space for conversations that can be difficult to have.
The themes in Spirit Orphan, Fire, Identity, Climate Change, Displacement, Art, Community and Belonging, have arisen from Jenna’s personal story, and are connected to place. Yet they are increasingly becoming universal themes as more people across the globe are facing displacement from devastating bushfires. In this context, the film hopes to amplify the urgent need to voice the impacts of Climate Climate amongst our communities to build resilience and solidarity. The links to global warming are subtle, while the raw emotion is not.
Jenna shows us that through opera she can express emotions that words can not convey, and through her words, we can begin to understand the value of opera in a contemporary light.
We have chosen to shoot this film using vintage lenses as a metaphor that softens the vista along the fringe where we reside. We point the camera into the light to remind us of the floodlights at the evacuation centers as dawn approaches into the smoke haze. Inspired by the agency and mesmeric tones in Jenna’s operatic voice, we begin to experiment with Documentary and Cinematic Romance to understand the intersection between ethnography, social science and art. In this work we make a conscious effort to decolonise our practice and let the texture reveal our spiritual connection to country and place.
Jenna’s story resonated with me due to our shared interests and values through community-engaged practice. I admire Jenna’s view of the world through her migrant experience, science background and journey through opera. By chance, I grew up not far from where Jenna’s story takes place, and this was a beautiful opportunity to return home and pay my respect.