Murmurs: a paranoid romance in Sarajevo by Graeme Cole

murmurs split screen 01Graeme Cole, a British filmmaker studying at Bela Tarr’s film.factory, is making a warped romantic comedy called Murmurs. The film all takes place in one apartment in the hills outside the city, where a video artist (Hana, played by local artist Elma Selman) entertains her date – a mystery man she met on the internet. When they become trapped in the house, Hana begins to believe he may not be who he claims to be.

Made In Sarajevo

Filmmaker Graeme Cole brings together two of his favourite on-screen collaborators to make a film that probes the meaning of intimacy and trust and does not shy away from exposing the ridiculousness of human beings (especially when we’re trying to look our best).

Working under the mentorship of Béla Tarr at the Hungarian auteur’s film.factory in Sarajevo, Murmurs is being carefully crafted by a small international team of artists to produce a funny and hypnotic romance with a bittersweet tang. As film.factory students, the crew were honoured to have workshops with some of the greatest living filmmakers, including Guy Maddin, Gus Van Sant, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Carlos Reygadas, Pedro Costa, Cristian Mungiu and the Quay Brothers, in the months leading up to the production.

Murmurs borrows from the conventions of ASMR videos to create a fictional world that is both stylized and familiar. It has the intimate ‘filmmaker next door’ feel that Graeme has previously cultivated in movies such as his musical It’s Nick’s Birthday, or his cardboard-and-glue adventure series Universal Ear.

In order to complete the film, Mr Cole and his team need to raise further funds, so they have set up an Indiegogo campaign. With 48 hours to go, they have reached 63% of their target.

When asked about the core plot of the film, Mr. Graeme said that “It opens with one of Hana’s videos.  She’s putting on make-up and tells us she’s invited a chap she met on a dating site over to her place to cook dinner together. We get the sense that she’s a bit eccentric.

Then Ed arrives and there’s immediately a tension between them.  They totally click, but something’s not right.  He ends up staying over, and we see them getting to know each other, to open up.  Hana likes him, but it’s clear she’s fragile.  She’s not left the house for a year and a half and she has trouble trusting him. As Ed’s behaviour becomes weirder, it begins to seem like she might be right.”

When asked about what excites him the most about this specific production compared to other films you have produced, Mr. Graeme replied that the “The actors.  I’ve worked with Elma and Lockwood before, but never both together.  As I said, the first time they met was in the middle of a scene.  It was a total gamble, to fly Lockwood over to Bosnia and cast him with a stranger without doing any tests, especially when they’re the only ones in the movie.  But they’re both super playful, creative performers.

We improvised the scenes from a story outline I’d written, which was also a first for me, to work without written dialogue.  It means we get these great spontaneous moments as Ed and Hana – but also Elma and Lockwood – are getting to know each other.  They surprise each other.

I’ve found so many gems in the edit suite that I didn’t even notice while we were filming.”


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