With jet black hair and even blacker outfits, Riyo and Lui Nemeth star in a short film by Laurence Ellis for i-D. The camera follows them through the corridors of an old seaside hotel, as if they were characters in a survival horror video game, soundtracked by loud hums, lost voices, crashing waves. It’s all rather mysterious, so we asked Laurence to explain the ideas underneath it all.
What’s the concept for the film? It was never supposed to be dark although it did turn out to be quite eerie. We had lots of talks with Riyo and Lui about their childhood and growing up in Tokyo. From these discussions Luciana, Duncan – the writer – and myself would meet up to discuss these recollections. One intriguing part was the time spent in their father’s shop and this feeling of creating their own world and ways of amusing themselves as young children. This became a starting point for them being in a hotel room together and something of a play of a day enacted within this space. Murakami, the ambiguity of narrative and occurrences also informed the piece. The idea of the hotel was interesting. Whilst you inhabit it you make it your own to a certain extent, by the hour. It can be so many different things depending on the person who inhabits it. It can both confine you or liberate you. Somewhere to run from someone or to visit someone. It affords us anonymity. The space changes and the beds are made by the unseen. The space like a void, non-controlling and always overbearing.
Why are you interested in sisters, and why did you want to shoot Riyo and Lui? I first met Riyo (though she doesn’t remember) when I assisted Mark Lebon years ago whilst I was still at uni. We made a film with her father Christopher. So when I met Riyo at my friend Tyrone Lebon’s birthday years later I instantly remembered her. The funny thing was I never really clicked that they were sisters and there were two of them, for a long time – although I would often see them in dark surroundings, in clubs or parties – I thought it was one person.
What was the location you used, and how did you find it? We shot at an old seaside hotel in Bournemouth, you can see France from the windows. People, and especially young people don’t really go on holiday in England very much anymore, especially to the seaside. It felt very much like a space from another time we had chosen to remember. You could see the hotel once used to be very grand but no-one really visited anymore. A relic of times gone by. It was also out of season and it was incredibly peaceful, almost hallow. Riyo and Lui seemed perfectly at home in this setting. There seemed no reason for them to be there, but just right too. Space to breath and the sound of the sea.
Text: Dean Kissick
Photography: Laurence Ellis
Styling: Hanna Kelifa
Art direction: Luciana Britton Newell
Hair: Mari Ohashi
Make-up: Lucy Burt at Premier Hair and Make-up
Set design: Georgina Pragnell
Photographic assistance: Khalil Musa
Set design assistance: Virginia Walker
Talent: Riyo and Lui Nemeth. Tweet @PRIMITIVELONDON
Look one: Riyo wears dress COS. Gloves Marni. Necklace Lulu Frost. Socks Falke. Shoes Dr. Martens. Lui wears dress COS. Look two: Lui and Riyo wear dresses and belts Erdem. Socks Falke. Shoes Dr. Martens. Look three: Lui wears dress Valentino. Riyo wears dress Gucci.