Experimental Short Film | COLOR | Sound | 7′ | 2023
“The Silence of Kore” is the second short of a film series created by the queer performer Emilianno Zapata and the director Paulo Mendel. The first short, Hygieia, took part in an exhibition at Museu da Imagem e do Som (Sao Paulo), and was selected for the Buenos Aires International Film Festival and the 35th Image+Nation Festival Film lgbtqueer Montreal.
Based on the myth of Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest, and Persephone aka Kore, Queen of the Underworld, the short film “The Silence of Kore” portrays the reunion of mother and daughter separated between the worlds of the living and the dead. Inspired by the Eleusinian mysteries, the queer fantasy film uses elements associated with post-horror to re-signify the cycle of all living things, and fear becomes enchantment.
The Silence of Kore is a fragment of the Myth of the Queen of the Underworld, where Persephone aka Kore, ascends and reunites with her mother Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest. The cult of these two Goddesses, whose disobedience was anarchic to the designs of the Gods Zeus and Hades, defying the laws of life and death, turned into the most revered of the secret religious rites of ancient Greece. The Mysteries at Eleusis were practiced for over a thousand years, promoting benefits in the afterlife, but part of its transformative rituals of consciousness-alteration remains unknown. For these reasons, this enigmatic festival is also associated with the etymology of the word “mystery” in different languages.
According to the myth, Kore, as Persephone was known as a virgin girl, was kidnapped by Hades and became queen besides him, a pact sealed with a pomegranate, the “fruit of the dead”. Demeter’s emotions towards the absence of her only child define the changing seasons on Earth, and therefore govern the cycles of nature and all living things. Her grief and anger initiate a period of starvation. To avoid the extinction of mortals, Zeus makes a deal with Hades so that Persephone would periodically return to her mother, which would guarantee part of the year with flowering seasons and new harvests. The story has different versions. In some, Hades had forced Kore to eat some pomegranate seeds. In others, it was her choice to eat them to stay with him in the realm of the dead. Unlike the invisibility commonly assigned to her in the Greek myth, the film portrays Persephone empowered over her own destiny, and not as a passive character guided by other’s decisions. In a way, it’s a myth about the passage to adulthood, and Persephone becomes the woman she wanted to be.
In the Silence of Kore, Demeter is played by Larissa Luz. Her calls to Kore are the only words said and sung in the film, and while glimpses of Persephone’s emotions can be seen in her eyes upon her returns to earth, they remain mysterious. Inspired by the Eleusinian Mysteries, this queer fantasy short film uses elements associated with post-horror to depict a relationship that is separated between the worlds of the living and the dead. With Persephone as the main character, played by Emilianno Zapata, the film re-signifies the cycle of death and rebirth, and fear becomes enchantment.
- VIFF – Vienna Independent Film festival | Vienna, Austria
- The Artists Forum Festival of the Moving Image | New York, United States