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The blog of the Venus Anh project, with images for each of the 55 Scenes in the epic poem and commentary by author MLSund.

Venus Anh images shown for the first time!
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On May 18th, 2018 all 55 cinematic images for the Venus Anh story were shown for the first time during a poetry reading in Rome at the Casa Internazionale delle Donne. The poem was read in Italian by Marilina Marino, a wonderful young actress based in Rome. About 40 people attended the event and all were greeted upon arrival by two members of a reenactment group, "Gruppo Storico Romano”, who were dressed in full costumes as Roman soldiers.

 

Author and photographer ML Sund was at the event and was thrilled with the result. “It’s amazing to see two years of writing and photography finally come together and be presented in this intimate story-telling format! I want to thank everyone who attended our event and also the generous people at Casa Internazionale delle Donne for providing a perfect facility for our premiere presentation!”

 

After the event, audience members provided feedback: “Incredible cinematic images” said one participant from the USA. “We really enjoyed the poem which contains hidden deeper messages within the story!” noted a couple from southern Italy. 

 

MLSund is organising future similar poetry readings and image exhibitions in Italy and elsewhere in Europe and North America in 2018. “We will raise some funds for women’s charities at future events. I’m really looking forward to meeting you at an upcoming event and hearing about how some messages within the poem are relevant in your life!”

 

Keep up to date on future events by following Venus Anh Facebook page.

ML Sund
More images coming soon!
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Thank you everyone for following along through the first few scenes of the Venus Anh epic poem! We will pause our weekly photo blogging for now as we discuss with publishers the book production with all the images included!

 

 

Stay tuned for updates! And check out the Venus Anh page on Facebook for backstage photos.

ML Sund
Venus Anh - Behind the Scenes
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Up to today, my blog posts have featured the first of the cinematic series and profile series photos produced for the Venus Anh story. We are now moving ahead with the publication of the illustrated edition of the Venus Anh book. It will contain all photos, nearly 100, and will be available in 2018. On this blog, you’re now going to see exclusive behind-the-scenes photos taken during the photography production during 2017 along with more commentary about the book. I’m excited to share the illustrated book and I’ll keep you up to date on everything Venus Anh!

 

 

In the photo: Lead actress Eleonora Utini and Writer/Photographer ML Sund on the last day of shooting at Rome, Italy.

 

 

On this blog, throughout 2018, I'll post exclusive behind-the-scenes images taken during the photography project, along with more commentary about the story of Venus Anh. You can now purchase the epic poem in paperback or eBook at any retailer including Amazon and Barnes&Noble. And I’m excited to share with you the fully-illustrated book, with nearly 100 images, being published later in 2018. This story is a work of historical fiction that emerged during my travels through parts of Europe and the Middle East, where I experienced patriarchal customs and behaviors in certain societies that are essentially unchanged from ancient times, and where social and economic progress are always sadly far behind. I hope you participate weekly by sending your comments and questions to to info@mlsund.com, "Like" my Facebook page and “Follow" on Instagram and Twitter!

ML Sund
Scene VIII: Colloquy at Bithynia
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Scene VIII: Colloquy at Bithynia

111 BC

 

 

 

 

The scene in the poem:

 

"If you desire

To thrash a slave,

Tell of your anger first to me." – Mother Anh

 

In Scene VIII we see Mother Anh’s nurturing qualities and leadership skills emerging as she begins talking with her slave master about his occasional rough treatment of slaves. Master Elpidius initially dismisses her advice, but later softens his approach according to her requests and achieves better productivity in his workshop. Mother Anh solidifies her role as a quiet, behind-the-scenes influencer who helps stabilise her new Bithynian “family”.

 

 

 

 

The image: Mother Anh peers up at Master Elpidius while imploring him to treat his slaves with more compassion. The setting of their discussion in a quiet wooded area of Bithynia provides a balanced and pleasing composition, which contrasts with the tension obvious on the faces of both characters. It is telling in this scene of the story that Master Elpidius, with his obvious dominance in terms of his authority and physical size, yields to the influence of his slave, a wise and caring Mother Anh. This image was taken in the village of Tassara in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. 

 

ML Sund
Scene VII: Tuesday's sunrise
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Scene VII: TUESDAY’S SUNRISE

 

111 BC

 

 

The scene in the poem:  After spending her first night in the Kingdom of Bithynia alone in the carriage, Mother Anh is awoken on a Tuesday morning by Master Elpidius who’s come to collect his newly purchased slave. Master Elpidius, a former Roman soldier, is a renowned metalworker and artisan of military implements. Along with his team of 20 slaves, he produces prized hardware that is sought after even by local royalty. It’s significant in this story that Mother Anh begins her new life on this Tuesday morning – it is hereafter the spiritual day of the week that marks the beginning of her freedom from abuse.

 

 

The image: Lit with a warm glow at sunrise, the scene in the forest seems a bit mysterious yet inviting, a place where Mother Anh’s new life begins. Master Elpidius looms over Mother Anh in a commanding pose; his grasp of her arm is secure but not harsh.

 

Master Elpidius is a somewhat mysterious character, and his wardrobe gives some clues (and raises some questions) about the man. Some elements of Master Elpidius’ attire are typical of Roman citizens’ dress during the late Republic period (from about 200 BC to 27 BC) like his off-white woollen tunic worn under his toga. However, his toga’s crimson colour is unusual (togas were normally white). It’s true that crimson is a colour famously associated with ancient Rome, used mostly on military clothing, shields, flags etc. But on tunics and togas it was used sparingly, in thin strips, which identified the wearer as a Roman senator. Master Elpidius’ completely crimson-coloured toga signifies that he did not adhere to common Roman practices – indeed he did not even live within the boundaries of the Roman Republic at the time, but rather he was just outside the border in the Kingdom of Bithynia (present day Turkey, near Istanbul). It raises the question: why was he living outside the Roman Republic? Was it by choice? Bithynia was a neighbouring region with a similar culture whose population admired Rome. Bithynia’s monarchy was friendly with Rome and relied on her military assistance to repel attacking forces from surrounding tribes and empires. Bithynia was a safe and convenient enclave for an independent or even expelled former Roman soldier to live in. Another clue to Master Elpidius’ contrarian mind-set is his red Phrygian cap. This style of hat originated in the ancient country of Phrygia in Anatolia, adjacent to Bithynia. It was commonly worn in the region, and is similar and easily confused with the pileus, a cap worn by emancipated Roman slaves. Thus, Master Elipdius’ cap may signify his sympathy with slaves although he utilized a team of 20 in his workshop.

 

As a side note, the Phrygian cap continued to be used for centuries in Europe to signify liberty. It was strongly revived in 1787 during the French Revolution. The famous cap also adorns the top of the seal of the U.S. Senate. Click here for more information on the history of the famous Phrygian cap.

 

 

The making of the photograph:  Shot in the Emilia-Romagna Region of northern Italy, this photo was taken during late afternoon amongst the trees where there was indirect and diffused sunlight all around. The camera position was low, nearly at ground level, to provide a “from below” perspective of actor Angelo Luca Barilaro (“Master Elpidius”) which gives a more heroic perspective of the character. I initially had actress Ysabel Loh (“Mother Anh”) lay her head down on the deck of the carriage. But while shooting, she spontaneously lifted her head to look at Angelo, and I think we caught the perfect pose – it provides a powerful connection between the two characters!

 

ML Sund