BAGATELLE is a social satire art-house film in the vein of the masterworks of Otar Iosseliani, Luis Buñuel, and Pierre Étaix, who are major influences. It explores betrayal as a quintessential human foible and attempts to show us who we are without passing judgment. Produced in rural Texas and photographed on S16mm film, BAGATELLE shuns dialogue and tells the story visually. Taking on surrealism, it makes chamber music, the Texas countryside, humanity, and pettiness collide in a grotesque encounter.
BAGATELLE is about Natalie, a foreign cellist who comes to Texas in search of a better life. Like many of us, she is modestly talented and not very dedicated. The one thing she feels strongly about is comfort. In pursuit of comfort, she commits a series of petty betrayals, starting with her fellow musicians, then her husband, and finally her instrument and her calling as a musician.
Self-imposed constraints will define the visual style. Among these are bans on sync dialog and scene coverage. The story and all character relationships are conveyed as visually and succinctly as possible, while long takes emphasize the time that is irreversibly slipping through Natalie’s fingers. Close-up shots and reaction shots are proscribed from the film’s vocabulary.
Over the past two years, the project has accumulated a number of significant resources. Kodak expressed great interest in the picture and has pledged support in three separate grants of donated S16 mm film stock, first through its own initiative, then through the AFS Kodak grant, and finally, through the Kodak/Kickstarter initiative pledging a total of over 15 hours of free S16mm film. Additionally, BAGATELLE won the Panavision New Filmmaker grant providing the project with a free Arri SR3 S16mm camera package, courtesy of Panavision in New Orleans, LA. FotoKem in Los Angeles offered low student rates for processing and transfer that no other lab in the country could match. MPS in Austin awarded the film $3000 worth of grip equipment as part of our Austin Film Society grant. Finally, our successful Kickstarter campaign announced by Kodak at Tribeca film festival gave us a net $20,000 in cash ($35K goal less Kickstarter fees and rewards expenses).
About the Filmmaker
Daniel Levin (Writer/Director/Producer) – Born in Russia and raised in Texas, Daniel graduated from USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles with a Master of Fine Arts in film directing. His graduate thesis film Moment Théâtral (2007) received the prestigious Jack Nicholson Directing Award. Most recently, Daniel produced the animated feature film Purim: The Lot (2013), which is now available on home video and VOD. He directed the documentaries Kaltag, Alaska, and Kamchatka: The Salmon Country in association with the WWF. Daniel lectures on filmmaking at universities and colleges around Houston, Texas.