In the online, We Are One global film festival, performance artist Marina Abramovic talks about pain as a positive transforming agent while filmmaker Alejandro Iñárritu talks about the necessity of being present.

As we, globally, grieve over our life before the pandemic and progress into a post-pandemic world, we need art now more than ever. At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has wavered the professional lives of many artists, filmmakers, and musicians, the global film festival We Are One, showcasing more than 100 films and conversations between notable film producers over a nine-day period, has gone fully virtual for everyone to access around the world. 

Stories of pain and loss

To kick off the festival, the festival opened with a never-released 2017 interview between Serbian-American performance artist Marina Abramovic and Oscar-winning filmmaker Alejandro Iñárritu. 

As a performance artist, Marina Abramovic makes art with her own body. In one of her most notable performances, she sat silently in her chair at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) where visitors came and sat opposite her, staring into her eyes. Many described this experience as looking into her soul. Different from other performance artists, she utilizes her body as a platform for art, oftentimes experimenting with the limits of her body and mind.

Alejandro Iñárritu is another trailblazer in art and filmmaking. He is the first Mexican director to have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and has directed the poignant movies including Babel, The Revenant, Amores Perros, and Birdman (also called The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

While artists Abramovic and Iñárritu may seem divergent in the world of film, they irrefutably have one thing in common: They both have stories about deep pain and loss. 

Transforming agent for change

When engaging with the audience after their conversation, Ms. Abramovic spoke about pain as a necessary and positive transforming agent for change. 

She said, “I think that for me the pain is extremely important. The pain is the door of secrets because only when you go through really extreme pain, you can actually feel the transformation. People don’t change that easily. Nobody is changing. They are always the same shape, doing the same things over and over again. Because we always do things we like, and we do things we like that don’t change. But the things that we’re afraid of, the things that are mysterious to you, the things that are painful – big tragedies in life, accidents, loss of loved ones – they are the big things that really trigger the change. So the pain is, in a way, an incredible positive push into another state of reality.”

This message is quite raw especially in this pseudo-post-pandemic world where many people are dealing with loss, whether it is the loss of a loved one, a pre-pandemic lifestyle, job, or a sense of direction. 

Yet, Alejandro also offered a message to learn to be present in every moment, especially to young people starting out their careers as artists, creators, and performers. This message is especially relevant at a time like now where our lives can feel equally rushed and stagnant at the same time. 

He said, “I will say two things first: most importantly to enjoy the ride… But I think, to learn, to enjoy the ride means that you have to be aware, you have to be present and I think when you are younger, in a way, your mind is so fast and you are so much in every place but not a breath of time. That, in a way that does not allow you to be present, in the real present, and everything becomes a little bit like a dream.”


The We Are One: Global Film Festival is raising funds for the COVID-19 relief fund. Donations are going to the World Health Organization’s Solitary Fund along with other organizations including Doctors Without Borders, and UNICEF. 

Karen Jang is a Generation Z Voice at The Pavlovic Today. She is studying Chemistry at Barnard College of Columbia University and Classical Violin at the Manhattan School of Music. Karen is a graduate...

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