Spirited Melancholy

The long bands that had tied her pointe shoes safely together, carrying her through elevated routines, are unraveling. Mia will never dance again, never again feel elated, losing herself in the moment, freed from gravity.

This scene is a peek into Galia Barkol’s new film Then What Happens, still simmering in its pre-production phase. Barkol dares to ask tough questions about our existential nature: who are we, really, when we are stripped of others’ preconceived expectations of us and our own? How are we labeled by our chosen path, and how can we recover the true essence of our being independent of that course? Barkol’s film is a quest for answers to the question of what defines us – as artists and people – when the roles and circumstances that we identify with are taken from us.

Israeli born, New York based filmmaker, writer, and actress, Galia Barkol, is the film’s creator and star. Barkol deeply identifies with Mia, the lead character whom she plays, viewing her portrayal of Mia as a chance to uncover thought-provoking, deeper layers of their shared emotional state of being. Barkol saw an opportunity in the idea of the transitional artist to explore facets of her own identity as a multi-talented artist, and specifically as an actor. Barkol describes: “The film asks ‘who am I without my story’…the magical thing which drew me to acting, and the theme, appealed to me for the film. As an actor you have to be many, diverse characters, but also none. In that way it’s a similar process, of stripping yourself bare, so your essence can still shine through under any circumstances.” As a symbolic exercise to explore these ideas, Barkol created an Instagram for Mia, using it as a vehicle to develop her vision of the film and her discovery of Mia’s character.

Barkol says: “While I am not a dancer, I admire that art form and chose it to communicate how an artistic career, meant to express your inner self, easily overtakes one’s whole identity. What we do becomes such an inseparable part of us, especially in a society that always encourages us to find purpose, to move on and recover swiftly; barging on to successfully and dutifully reach our goals, we often forget the getting there that really counts.”

The film aims to show Mia in this vulnerable state, feeling as though she has lost who she is by having lost what she is. The film is about the internal aspect of being ‘in process:’ starting with an empty space, and filling it with deeper meaning. Mia must discover the layers of her identity when she is no longer able to practice her art form.

“The choices we make are so often subconscious,” says Barkol, yet her artistic voice carries tenacity throughout the nascent project’s presentation. Barkol’s “what if?” questions stir the imagination into an unconscious territory of melancholy, transporting her characters to an existential place from which true transformation can come to pass.

With Mia, a dancer whose budding career is stopped abruptly in its tracks by injury, Barkol asks: “What happens if we have lost the hope of reaching what we have set out for? Do we just forge forward to the next best thing? How do we deal with this particular loss, how much of that feeling of loss is external to ourselves?” The film explores Mia’s coming to terms with the limbo of having to let go of an all-encompassing identity. Barkol seeks out opportunities for her character to examine deeply-rooted anxieties, social mores, and expectations in a milieu of random situations. Mia finds herself immersed in Origami, an art form she would have deemed trivial in her former life. With nothing to prove, nor any ambitions to improve herself, she finds inner calm and refuge in the minutae. Engrossed in an art form so arbitrary and markedly different from the dancer’s previous regimented and high-strung lifestyle, Mia experiences the calming impact of a peaceful resort – where she has nothing to prove or improve upon – and comes closer to her inner self in the process.

This subject of randomness is also accentuated in the relationships portrayed in the film. Often, as Barkol points out, our random relationships are the ones that let us experience an uninhibited possibility of connection with ‘the other,’ and ultimately with ourselves. Barkol speaks to the safe haven of anonymity, and its ability to allow us a unique chance at pure, honest intimacy. The other main character featured in Then What Happens is Justin West, a travelling businessman. Barkol observes his and Mia’s relationship under the magnifying glass in the film. It’s not a romantic relationship, but the pairing conveys one’s capacity to develop a deep connection to a stranger, that while often only temporary, can shift one’s perspective and enable one to see his or herself through another’s eyes. At its core, the film’s narrative circles around the susceptibility of our internal selves towards accepted clichés of who we believe we must be, and explores ways that we can carve out a space in our conscience that holds true to who – rather than what – we are.

Gleefully taking risks and baring their souls, Barkol’s characters show, rather than tell, stories about the weight of seemingly inconsequential encounters and random choices during the process of finding one’s true self. Beyond the scope of time, they carry the message of a young generation forced by unlimited choices to look into a fragile place of the id in an attempt to identify what truly bears meaning and lasting joy. Watch a trailer for the movie here.


About Galia Barkol: NYC-based Israeli actress, writer and filmmaker, Galia Barkol has a multidisciplinary soul and international background. She is passionate about filmmaking, screenwriting, music, and mostly about bringing round, complex characters to life – characters that are often nudged to reconsider questions that had been answered too soon, too fast.

Galia founded Ring the Bells Productions in 2013 – an avenue for her to marry her passions for Cinema, Language and the Performing Arts, to express her voice fully and explore new territories. Read more.


Sir Andràs Schiff – Building Bridges for the Next Generation of Pianists

“One has to use that freedom, and that requires a lot of courage. Not everything is in the score. I am sometimes called old-fashioned when I use both hands with small time lapses in between. I do this very often, and it feels stylistically correct and very pleasant to me. Most pianists use both hands very accurately and in a totally synchronized fashion. But then there is the tradition of building in small freedoms – a tradition that is known all the way to Bartòk who himself played his chords arpeggiated, although they were written as a simple chord. You cannot possibly say that he didn’t know how to play his own music.“

Vika goes wild – a classical pianist taps into her passion for rock

“I don’t feel like making debates about it, and I don’t want to know what some people will say about my choices,” she says. “I just want to play music I feel a deep connection with.”

Her success happened quickly once people started to take an interest in her YouTube videos. It was Vika’s getting to that point that took years of wrestling with perfection.

Lera Auerbach – excessive ease of aesthetic discovery

The process of her own artistic creativity is at the heart of her contemplation and observation, and often shows up in her most original scores. It is perhaps precisely because of her distinctive eye for its conceptual framework and orchestrated architecture that Auerbach’s aphoristic shorthand becomes true commentary. “Dying from a paper cut,” the author remarks on her own, sometimes overwhelming struggle with the little things in life.

Pianist Inon Barnatan – Classic Role-play

s the first soloist in the history of the New York Philharmonic, or any other world orchestra to my knowledge, Barnatan will be playing a sequence of contracted collaborations with the New York Philharmonic, including three different concerto performances during three seasons, as well as chamber music with musicians from the orchestra.

Between Fire and Ice – Adrienne Haan brings new energy to Cabaret at Café Sabarsky

   (all photo credits: Rob Klein)   Adrienne Haan’s diabolical Weimar Berlin Cabaret “Between Fire and Ice” was a great fit for the unique Cabaret series at Café Sabarsky, which is primarily devoted to German and Austrian music of the 1890s to 1930s. The Viennese-style café in the Neue Galerie, named after the museum’s co-founder [...]

Pianist Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner – “Music can make the world a better place.”

“Music can break down barriers because it speaks directly to the heart, connecting people through its common language,” says the young man sitting across the table with great conviction, as he brushes away a strand of long, blond hair from falling over his lively eyes. From the get-go, Llewellyn’s enthusiasm is contagious, and remains the [...]

NYCA – building communal platforms for pianists

Many details on how NYCA can reach its full potential are still crystallizing and its members are still proactively exploring different ways of audience development and the broadening of dynamic collaborations within different artistic genres. A music festival is on the list of possible further endeavors. It would include master classes and possibly extend the reach of the orchestral experience to a younger student body. Another niche of performances will be covered by a series of NYCA’s house concerts under the title “Soirée des artistes”. The series is planned for New York, Berlin and locations in China, and geared towards satisfying the increasing demand for private music events, including hosted dinner parties.

Pianist Adam Golka – given great responsibility to upkeep pianistic tradition

When asked what this means concretely and ideally, Golka says: “Schiff has been an inspiration my whole life and it certainly is some sort of validation to be invited by such a [high-caliber] artist. It stimulates me to aim to attain such a high level of artistry for myself, and it of course helps stir the course of a career, which is always unsure. Often you try to push for things to happen, get connections….and then nothing happens. I have to remind myself to not try too hard, since sometimes the best things really happen when you just concentrate on the essential – being better at the piano. Now, it’s a little surreal to have his name attached to some of my performances, and while it’s a great honor, it also puts a great responsibility upon me not to disappoint.”

Bridging Music and Poetry – Mohammed Fairouz and David Handler at Le Poisson Rouge

In times like ours, there is an imperative to use and value language more carefully and thoughtfully – a need to listen to and admire thoughtful language as part of our day-to-day lives. Our highest forms of linguistic expression are a defining element – and reflection of – our humanity.”