Madi Piller
Peru / Toronto

In 2020, Cecilia Araneda spoke with Madi Piller as part of a multi-year curatorial research project on Latin Canadian cinema. This is a brief extract of her research.


Madi Piller is a filmmaker, animator, programmer, and independent curator currently living and working in Toronto, Canada. Her abstract, nonrepresentational and poetic images are drawn from film explorations in Super 8, 16mm and 35mm, as well as photography and video. The resulting imagery is strongly influenced by diverse animation techniques and styles. Piller’s Madi’s films have been screened at film festivals, alternative spaces, and contemporary art venues nationally and internationally including TIFF Wavelengths; the Festival du Cinema Jeune, Paris, France; Bienal de La Imagen Movimiento, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and the Melbourne Animation Festival, Melbourne, Australia. She is additionally a recipient of the Chalmers Arts Fellowship. | madipiller.com


Research Notes

Madi Piller has been traveling for a while. She is a French national born in Peru who lived in Colombia for 7 years before leaving for Canada because of Colombia’s troubles, to join her sister and parents who had immigrated earlier. In between these major stops, there were professional meanderings to places like Miami and France, where she lived for two years. In Colombia, she worked in an ad agency shooting and producing commercials. Through this work, she gained experience in animation, and this would eventually become her entry point into independent film. Later, in Toronto, she work focus on work on the border between animation and experimental film, as a rejection of the industrial ad / TV culture she had worked in previously.

Piller’s maternal grandfather moved to Peru as a young man in the 1920’s escaping Romania’s mandatory military service. He had wanted to travel to the USA, but they were not accepting Jewish people at the time, and so he made his way with some friends to Peru. Her paternal family was originally from Poland but had made its way to Frankfurt long before the start of WWII. Her grandfather would be saved during Kristallnacht and was taken 200 kms south, into France, by an SS Commander.

Much of Piller’s body of work is about uncovering what was intended to be forgotten and giving light to histories that were intentionally destroyed. More recently, she has focused herself on Austria, the jewel of the Third Reich empire that Hitler sought first before expanding outward. Piller’s work in Austria seeks to understand Vienna under Naziism and what was erased from history there; her work mediates architectures and non-architectures, and considers what could have been. She works within a space of consideration that societies are built not only by what has been officially remembered, but also by what has been strategically omitted and erased. And, ultimately, Piller’s work carries the weight of being the first generation after the war, examining erasure and suffering, and seeking a pathway to healing.


Filmography

  • The Angel Outside (28 mins, 2019) 
  • Not Moldova, 1937 (13 mins, 2019)
  • The Shifting Sands (9:26, 2018)
  • Into the Light: The Film Resistance (3:42, 2017)
  • Sunday Solitude (4:00, 2016)
  • My Elliot (3:31, 2015)
  • Bacchanal (15 mins, 2014)