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Tribeca Film Festival: 'The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye'

The WNYC Culture team asked five New York filmmakers showing their work at this year's Tribeca Film Festival five questions about their life and work.

Monday, April 25, 2011

When filmmaker Marie Losier ran into performance artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge in the early aughts, she had no idea that the chance encounter would become the film "The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye." P-Orridge is known for her take-no-prisoners attitude and participation in the bands Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV. In her film, which is set in New York City, Losier documents the relationship between P-Orridge and her partner in art and in life, Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge, as the two undergo a variety of processes to look alike—in a unified state they refer to as pandrogyny. WNYC's Julia Furlan e-mailed with Losier, who is based in New York City but was spending time in Buenos Aires, about how she got the idea for the film and her favorite movie set in New York.

Julia Furlan: How did you come to "The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye"?

Marie Losier: I first saw Genesis perform seven years ago, at the Knitting Factory, the now legendary club in Tribeca. Watching him perform was pure enchantment. His words from the stage hovered somewhere between song and speech—deeply poetic, primitive, at times frightful. It completely hypnotized me. I knew immediately that I had to film this perplexing and powerful figure, perhaps as a way of understanding what I had experienced, but moreover to have proof of the existence of a being I was convinced had arrived from somewhere else! In a typically miraculous New York City coincidence, I met Genesis at a gallery opening in Soho, in one of those sardine-can spaces where you can barely walk and hardly breathe. Being relatively small, I got pressed into a corner where I inadvertently stepped on someone’s toes. I turned to apologize and there was Genesis smiling, his goldcapped teeth glittering down over me. We spoke briefly, but in that time I felt something special had passed between us. He asked me about my films and gave me his email. Whether it was fate or pure clumsiness, this marked the beginning of an artistic collaboration that would develop into a close friendship for seven years of shooting.

JF: What was challenging about shooting the film?

ML: Everything! It was so new to me witnessing the most layered, intense artistic and love relationship between Genesis and Lady Jaye. Facing a band which was not filmed before, Psychic TV; facing death with Jaye passing away and yet having to take care of Genesis, and continuing the film. Filming daily life and finding a way to show Genesis' rich past career linked to her love life today with Jaye and not doing a biopic. Gaining total trust and open doors, which was actually quite fast and will last now forever. 

JF: What's your favorite movie set in New York City?

ML: There are so many. But I love "The Existentialist" from 1949.

JF: What do you want a New York audience to take away from your film that maybe another audience wouldn't?

ML: The film is set in New York City and it has a feel of the New York from the '70s, so I think it will bring back a lot of memories of old good New York. And also Genesis lives in New York City, so it has a resonance as well as for me.

JF: Who is the one person, living/dead who you'd want to see this film?

ML: Dennis Hopper! And grandfather, who I loved so dearly and lived much with.

"The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye" will be screened on Monday, April 25 at 7 P.M. at the AMC Loews Village 7 - 2. It will also be screened on April 27 and 28.

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