Elizabeth Rakhilkina, an alumna of New York University, is a filmmaker whose Chekhovian screen adaptation short film Sleepy won the Best Female Director award in Moscow Indie Film Festival. Born and raised in a Russian province, schooled in South England, and currently residing between Texas and New York City, Elizabeths’s work has been screened in festivals across America, Europe, and Africa. Her artistic voice is informed by her expatriate experience and marked by her interest in the bizarre, queer, marginal, and paradoxical complications of human existence.
With lush camerawork reminiscent of the expressionist illustrations of Óscar Mariné, a mise-en-scène of backwood isolation meant to recall the emancipatory photography of Francesca Woodman, and as silent and minimal in its approach to language as the romantic poetry of Miguel Hernández, New Flesh for the Old Ceremony is at core a surreal love story meant to evoke the vagaries of passion and the visceral pangs of grief.
From pre-production to production to post-, this film was conceived as an exploration that its director, Elizabeth Rakhilkina, underwent together with her all-female cast in a joint attempt to decolonize the female body from the pornographic leer of pop culture. The film intertwines lesbian desire, so usually coopted and exploited, and the aging female body, presented usually as nothing but motherly and devoid of yearning for the sensual, through bold and unapologetic depictions of sexual tension meant to intensify and highlight the surreal nature of romantic relationships.
Through constructing a heightened reality where beloved family dogs can devour a person, bones and entrails and all, only to end up possessed by their victim, where a lover’s goodbye can only be consummated by ritual murder and feast, the film serves as a hyperbolic metaphor for love and sexual desire intended to be every bit as exaggerated as the real thing so often feels.