Tanja: The Sound Voice Project

Concluding the installation of The Sound Voice Project, Tanja stole the show bringing tears and thought-provoking silence.

Tanja was screened as part of The Sound Voice Project installation at Sheffield DocFest, though all words were written entirely by the writers at Cinamore.

The installation involved three mesh screens for which projectors alternate and a surround-sound orchestral score by Hannah Conway, each manipulated the emotion of sound, and the visuals to invoke a strong reaction, but none other was pulled off more successfully than Tanja.

Opening the film with archive footage taken from Tanja’s phone, telling her two children, aged four and two respectively about how Mummy was due to undergo a tracheostomy as a result of rapid cancer putting her health at risk.

Partnering this with an operatic rendition of her very words overlayed atop in an almost Phantom of the Opera mirror, the voice of Tanja, and how her identity shifted after losing the ability to speak.

The themes of identity, and how it partners with the voice were tackled in all three of the shorts by composer Hannah Conway, writer Hazel Gould, video designer Luke Halls and sound designer David Sheppard as part of The Sound Voice installation, though with Tanja the invoking reaction was much more personal.

Whereas the previous two spoke about individuals, Tanja contextualised by presenting the film at first through the lens of her children.

How they see their mother, and how their understanding of their mother is accessible to them whenever their curiosity takes hold.

Further, with the film having a stylised overlay of the operatic singer replicating the famous visuals of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, it takes on an additional level of context.

One of fear, and understanding, with the mask of the play, much like the overlay in the film, is a metaphor for vulnerability and a misunderstanding in the wider world.

Additionally, concluding with a replicated delivery from Tanja of her earlier archival footage played synchronously hit home the truth of Tanja’s life.

Her life has changed affecting those around her, but seeing the burden she carries with this truth is her strength as Tanja.

A voice is as much a signifier of our identity and is often overlooked as to how much of a part it has in shaping who we are with Tanja’s being a deeply personal, and raw insight into how her world and her perception of the self changed as a result.

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By Conor Riley

Conor is the Founder and Editor for Cinamore, a publication focused on giving power back to journalists. As a portmanteau of the word 'Cinema' and the Italian word for love 'Amore', Cinamore aims to highlight the love that we all carry for the art of the moving image.


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