Introducing the incredible actor and director Galia Barkol.
If you've ever tried to produce a Indie feature film, you know how many headaches you will endure: the grueling schedule, the mountain of paperwork, the ever-changing permit laws. Add on top of that the description of lead actress AND director, and you had better have balls of steel to even attempt, let alone master the tasks at hand.
Allow me to introduce you to one such woman: Galia Barkol. We asked Galia to fill out our handy dandy questionnaire so that some of you fine readers could glean a little knowledge from her firsthand experience at the actor-as-director's helm.
Tell our readers a little about yourself! What’s your name? What do you do?
I’m Galia Barkol, and I’m an actress, director, writer and producer as well as a body politics activist.
Homegirl is BUSY, and we are HERE FOR IT.
Where are you currently based and what brought you there?
I live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Getting here has been a journey! I grew up in Israel mostly, and I had always dreamed of coming to New York, but it seemed impossible. Eventually, I moved to Paris to study Film. When I heard they offered a Franco-American student exchange program, I applied and got a scholarship that brought me to NYC in my last year of studies.
I fell in love with the city in a split second. Long story short, after graduating, I decided to stay and studied Acting at HB Studio in the West Village. It’s been almost a decade now that I’m in New York, and I have lived everywhere… Park Slope, Bed-Stuy, Greenpoint, Chelsea… and four years ago my partner and I moved to Crown Heights, where all the cool kids are.
The cool kids are indeed in Crown Heights. What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood?
Park Slope. It’s like that song that you happened to hear a lot on the radio when you fell crazy in love with someone – I love the Slope because I happened to land there when I came here, and when everything was new and magical. Doesn’t hurt that it’s gorgeous, too. It was my first home here, and it always evokes fond memories of being held and embraced as a newcomer to this city.
Very well said. You've got a lot of hyphenates going on in your career. I met you on set and got to see you act/direct firsthand (which was brilliant, by the way). Tell us a little about your personal background and how all of those hyphens came to pass.
I was more into music and dance as a kid and teenager. I played classical piano very seriously since I was 5, and I still do. When I was in the army (mandatory in Israel), I came across a book called Philosophy in Films by Henry Unger, an Israeli professor at the Tel Aviv University. I was blown away.
I had never felt particularly curious about cinema, but his book opened my eyes to the power of filmmaking in translating an idea into a sensory experience, which is so much more effective than mere intellect.
By analyzing works by masters like Kubrick, Antonioni and Coppola, I realized that film isn’t just storytelling. To me, the narrative is the boring part. Film is a way to express a worldview. Looking at film in this way made it seem like a whole new field to me - fascinating and full of potential.
After I was discharged, I moved to Paris to study Film. It was one of the most satisfying intellectual experiences in my life. While most of the degree was theoretic, in our last year of studies, we got to do more hands-on work. We helped each other in shoots, and so I got to act in a lot of my peers’ films. I loved it, and so, shortly after graduation, I started studying acting at HB Studio.
When I graduated from HB, I faced the overwhelming feeling a lot of actors experience when fresh out of school. I had to figure out how to get jobs, how to create a name for myself in the industry and to keep up with how it’s constantly changing, and how to survive while doing it all.
I quickly realized that if I wanted to be in something that I’d be proud to share as a work that showcases my talents and skills, the fastest way would be to create it myself first.
I founded Ring the Bells Productions that year, and started creating and producing scenes and shorts, and experimental projects. But I wanted more – I wanted something substantial, and that’s when I started writing my narrative feature MIA.
While I got to play in TV series, virtual reality shorts, and in theater festivals during the time of working on MIA, the film did take over my life and most of my time.
Had I known in advance the amount of work, ups and downs, frustrations, delays and heartbreaks that play into writing, directing and producing a full-length film that I also star in and even play piano in, I would have probably not done it. I imagined it would be a serious undertaking, but had no idea what I was getting myself into. Today I am grateful for the naiveté and openness that I had, and for going through this complex and rewarding experience.
These days I am finishing the film, working on the trailer, and preparing to send it out to festivals.
Now I finally have more time to invest in getting back to acting in projects that I don’t produce, and I look forward to the new opportunities in film and TV that lie ahead.
What are some of your most important lessons working in the entertainment field?
I learned how important genuine kindness is. It isn’t less important than excellence in what one does. I learned that to me, nothing is a bigger turn off than someone who isn’t willing to express doubts and to have open discussions. Being detail oriented and accurate is important, as well as being able to acknowledge mistakes. And most importantly, being present in the room and aware of what is happening outside of one’s head and agenda. I hope to get better at it myself the more I work and experience.
Where can our audience see your next performance?
I look forward to MIA’s premiere and my other upcoming appearances as an actor on screen and in theater. Check out my News and Press Page for updates.
On a typical Friday night, where would our audience likely find you?
It changes from week to week. One thing I do often is pass by at Postmark Café in the Slope, where they have an awesome comedy show - the Living Room Show - every Friday at 8PM. I love the comics they bring, and it’s laid back and fun.
What is your favorite film ever made and why?
Some favorites are:
3-Iron (Bin-jip) by Kim Ki-duk: watching it felt like being walked through a deep meditation. A thoughtfully crafted spiritual piece, so gentle and so powerful.
Blow-Up by Antonioni: that last scene…
Blue by Kieslowski: to me, the whole film is a portrait of a woman’s inner world in a tragic period in her life. Kieslowski is so articulate in how he uses filmmaking tools to create an experience that evokes inner conflict and compassion in the viewer.
When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism by Corneliu Porumboiu: three years after watching it, I am still digesting it. Such a confident, clear and distilled piece that left me wanting more.
Contempt by Godard: that opening sequence…
The Player by Altman: smart, funny and perhaps even too perfect.
I am surprised to say that The Fabulous Baker Boys by Steve Kloves is probably my all-time favorite. Any explanation will be lacking. I just love it because I love the feeling I get watching it.
Who is your favorite artist of this generation?
Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actresses for sure. She takes space unapologetically, and plays interesting roles that she adds so much depth to. I like Miranda July as a filmmaker. Some of her pieces resonate less, but I enjoy listening to her talk, and admire her originality and truthfulness in her work.
Finally, do you like cheese and what is your favorite kind?*
Pecorino and Roquefort. Growing up in Israel, I also love cottage cheese, but good ones – none of those we have here!
And there you have it!!!
Brilliant words from a beyond brilliant lady whose film, MIA, is coming to festivals near you soon!! We will post an update for the film's progress soon, so check back in and don't be afraid to leave questions or comments for Galia below!
*Most important question on here, obviously.