The Diversity of Beauty

INTERVIEW. Your dignity. Your beauty. Think about those
two words when you're on stage tonight, Antony gently encourages the transsexual performers in the show "Turning", as they prepare to go on stage, in London. The scene
is from the upcoming music documentary of the same name. New York-based film-maker Charles Atlas and Swedish-Danish editor Åsa Mossberg are showing us cuts from the film in a tiny editing suite at Bullitt Film in Copenhagen.

"Turning" is a true collaborative project on many levels. In 2006, Antony and the Johnsons and Charles Atlas were touring Europe with the show "Turning", which they describe as a journey through an exotic terrain of innocence, metamorphosis and androgyny. Now the film explores the heart of that performance – the synthesis of Antony's magically alluring and vulnerable
musical universe and Atlas' visual treatment of the 13 turning performers on stage.

Adding another layer, the film takes us backstage, where the performers reveal glimpses of their some-times very hard lives and say how much it has meant to them to be in the performance. "Turning represent freedom, from society and from gender. I feel worthy, being a woman, an artist, a transsexual. Being OK!" as one performer puts it.


Atlas and Aasa
Editor Åsa Mossberg and director Charles Atlas. Photo: Bo Tengberg

Charles Atlas

New York based video artist and filmmaker known for his longterm collaboration with choreographer Merce Cunningham. Has continued his passion for working with amazing performers. Films include works with Michael Clark, Douglas Dunn, Leigh Bowery, Marina Abramovic and Antony. Has made several installations and exhibited work at the New Museum, New York, and Tate Gallery, London, and many other places worldwide. Has collaborated with Vibeke Vogel on several productions such as "Super Honey" (1994), "The Legend of Leigh Bowery" (2002) and now "Turning" (2011).

Åsa Mossberg

Åsa Mossberg has edited more than 40 features and documentaries. Earlier this year she received a Swedish Guldbagga Award
for her editing of Pernilla August's Best Film winner "Svinalängorna". Mossberg was co-editor on "Antichrist" and edited Pernille Fischer Christensen's "A Soap" which won the Silver Bear in Berlin in 2006 as well as a Robert award for best editing. She recently co-edited "Ballroom Dancer", which is opening CPH:DOX 2011.

Bullit Film

Founded 2006 by producers Vibeke Vogel and Elise Lund Larsen. Production catalogue includes feature films "My Good Enemy" (2010), "Profetia" (2009) and "Preludium" (2008) and documentaries "Solange on Love" (2008), "Nobody Passes Perfectly" (2009) and "Turning" (2011). Had to say goodbye to their Chairman Uffe Elbæk in Autumn 2011 when he was appointed Denmark's new Minister of Culture.

The film's editor is Åsa Mossberg. She was introduced to Atlas by the Danish producer Vibeke Vogel, of Bullitt Film, who has worked with them both before. Judging from the current mood in the editing suite, their meeting was a happy one. Working on the film, Atlas and Antony had reached the point where something had to happen.

"They needed a frame and a good editor to finish the film," Vogel says. "I thought maybe it could work. Åsa has a great talent for music and a God-given talent for emotion – that's an important gift."

So, Mossberg went to New York to meet Atlas and Antony. "I remember you had an orange T-shirt with a big question mark on it!" Mossberg says. "We were talking. I told you where I come from in filmmaking, my journey, what I liked when I was a kid. I tried to be as open as I could be …"

Atlas's answer to that question mark was always yes. "When Åsa came, she just started talking and I knew I could work with her. She's my kind of person. Åsa is very familiar with my kind of ideas. Antony and I had worked and come to an impasse, basically. I could have worked with Åsa on any film, but on this one in particular we needed someone who could also take care of Antony's concerns, and Åsa was that person. It's a miracle that we’re all happy now, really a miracle. I told Vibeke, if she could produce this film, she gets a PhD in producing, because it’s really advanced," he laughs.