Tides, A History of Lives and Dreams Lost and Found (Some Broken)

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Tides: Enacting Liquid Voice in Film through Voice coaching
This practice-based research investigates the dynamic relations between voiceover and experimental film montage, applied through the coaching of Emma Taylor, who provided voiceover in the film Tides (dir. Alessandro Negrini, 2016). The film invites us to discover the story of Derry during the Northern Irish conflict from the point of view of the River Foyle, which became the liquid wall dividing the two communities.

Research question:
The research focussed on a central question: how can we communicate a liquid quality through voice in combination with other media? A secondary question investigates the specific rendering of the voice of the river in creative relation to the rhythmic, visual, sound and conceptual elements of the film.

Methodology and findings:
I experimented with voice training traditionally used in laboratory theatre environments; the challenge was to apply, on film, these theatre-based techniques. I selected and adapted Stanislavskian principles, and Grotowski-Molik-based voice and body techniques, and used them in conjunction with dialectical modes based on Eisenstein’s approach to montage, which provided the theoretical background to the practical investigation.

The result was a dialectical use of voice, whereby a repetitive pattern that reflected the flow of the river was interwoven with specific variations of rhythm, pitch and colours. By employing this approach, the voice possesses some stable 'water-like' qualities for the entire film, whilst creating variations according to the different situations. For example, in the opening of the film (4.00-5.10, example 1 in attached chart), the pitch contour of the voice ranges from high (and ‘warm’) to low (and ‘cold’) pitch and timbre), applying the use of internal images from Grotowski-Molik approaches (treating them as a score), imitating the movements of river tides and setting the pattern for the film as a whole.

Premiered at Festival Palermo Sole Luna International Film Festival, Palermo, July 2016

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDerry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Reference text: Outcome
The film gained immediate international recognition and won a quite impressive number of awards, some of which for the sound and the voice of the actress.

Example of review:

‘Tides – A History of Lives and Dreams Lost and Found (Some Broken)’, a film about the River Foyle, has won several prestigious awards on the international film festival circuits.It has won its 4th award since its release, winning the Special Mention Award at the international “On The Road Film Festival” in Rome.
The jury, who praised the film as “capable to investigate the theme of “border” in an unconventional and very poetic way”, praised Tides for “Best protagonist: the river”: the voice of the River Foyle is Northern Irish actress and former drama student at Magee College – Emma Taylor.
Derry based film director Alessandro Negrini, who attended the award ceremony said that he is “touched and so glad to see how this little story about a far away river can translate into other people lives, making them think about their lives, and yes, their dreams.”
‘Tides’ , is a dreamlike and visionary portrait of the River Foyle in Northern Ireland, where the story is narrated from the point of view of the river: the river becomes the protagonist, telling us its autobiography.
The film recently won the Special Mention Award for Best Film at Milan International Film Festival.
It also won Best Cinematography Award at Sole Luna Film Festival in Palermo and Best Film Soundtrack at Treviso Doc Festival, receiving so far four awards and six nominations since its release last June.

Impact and dissemination
Besides circulating in international festivals, the film premiered in Derry with a great open-air event, a very participated and successful screening at Ebrington Square, right by the river Foyle itself.
Here a clip of the event:
Here the official trailer of the film:
Outputmediatype: Film


  • Film
  • Voice coaching
  • Voice over


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