SITA | Debuting the “DIABLA” Short Film

Unveiling a Tune of Perseverance

Written by

Cassey Ayala

Photographed by

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Styled by

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Soaring through the cosmos of tuneful prowess and musical artistry, is stylist and DJ Sita Abellán, known as SITA amongst the release of her debut EP Generacion XDISIS. The artist’s discography consists of four sonorous tracks; each revealing electronic beats alongside celestial frequencies intertwined within every tune. While in pursuit of exuding the vigorous essence of her sound, SITA joined forces with director Francesco Calabrese in the creation of a music video for her fierce track, “DIABLA.” Set to take place in the realm of the 1600s, “DIABLA”’s music video embodies the gravity at which resilience and power sit upon in a world of social conformities alongside Spanish actress Rossy De Palma, accentuating SITA’s flair both on stage and off. 

FLAUNT sat down with SITA and Calabrese in a discussion about the artistry behind the film, as well as the influence it emanates among the past and present. 

When did you become familiar with each other’s work?

Sita: I met Francesco several years ago thanks to my friend and manager Enrico. I've always admired his work a lot, and truth be told, I had been looking forward to the opportunity of working with him someday... When the chance came to collaborate with him on this video, I didn't hesitate for a second because I really wanted to create something very cinematic with this video, and he was perfect to achieve the result I desired. And so it was done.

Francesco: I’ve been aware of Sita since she was making waves in the Milan nightlife over ten years ago and then saw her in the BBHMM Rihanna iconic music video. When I met her, though briefly, I was struck by her strong personality and quiet demeanor which is a quality I often look for and hoped we could have the chance to collaborate on something at some point. I just never thought it would have been a music video.

Is the “DIABLA” video a music video, short film, or something else?

Sita: Actually, for me it is. In fact, many people have asked us if there is a possibility for that teaser to become a potential movie. Something that I would love, since I enjoy experimenting with what I am capable of doing, and making this video has allowed me to discover other facets of myself that perhaps I didn't know so well, as I hadn't done much acting in my career and I found out that it's something I also enjoy. To be honest, I arrived at the video shoot without knowing that Francesco had planned so much acting for me... I didn't know I had to speak and perform as such. And I think that's where the magic happens. I also like to improvise, I have done it throughout my career as an artist... improvising takes me to places that I often don't know, and that, for me, is a challenge that makes me learn and discover more about myself, as I mentioned before.

Francesco: I like to think it’s all of the above. Music videos are an ever changing medium. They could be mere advertising for a track or elevate the music or make it part of something bigger but they should never over shadow the music. I think Diabla is a good example of a successful collaboration between artist and filmmaker where we’ve found the right balance and created something meaningful and fun at the same time.

How do you connect the sound of a track like “DIABLA” with a 17th-century setting?

Sita: Well, the thing is, stories about witches and persecuted women have always attracted me a lot. I've always felt a bit like that since many have labeled me as provocative... Art itself, in my opinion, has to be provocative to be interesting. If you see something that doesn't evoke any feeling or question within you, then, to me, it has no message... but I've never really tried to provoke others. It's something I believe I've done unconsciously, not only with my art but also with my way of being.

That said, "DIABLA" is a song inspired by the toxicity of love... hence my references to the apple from the Garden of Eden and the serpent, which many consider to be Lilith. She's a rather important figure for me because her story and perception have inspired me a lot to create many other things like my jewelry brand Lilith by Sita. That's where it all comes from, and the story is connected to the 17th century by the Inquisition and the persecution of witches. For me, I think many have a misconception of what witches really are. I don't believe they're always bad... and that was somewhat the message we wanted to convey in the video.

Francesco: Well, what Sita said it’s what came out in our first conversations, and I thought a story set in that time could be perfect considering the influence that the Inquisition still has on our culture. Plus, the track is quite cinematic. And to be honest, I’ve been developing a feature film set in the 17th century, and I kinda wanted to see if I could pull it off as I’ve never experimented with times further back than the 60’s when it comes to film set ups. I think I can now (laughs).

Where was the video shot exactly? What was it like to shoot there?

Sita: The video was filmed in various locations near Barcelona and Girona. Catalonia truly has magical and special landscapes, and it was a dream to be able to film here.

Francesco: Plus, It was mid-January, so not super easy. But the shoot went quite smoothly.

What were each of your favorite parts of the shoot?

Sita: Ah, where do I even begin? For me, one of the highlights was definitely getting to explore the castle grounds. It felt like stepping back in time, and, of course, dressing up in those beautifully made 17th-century outfits was so much fun. But honestly, the best part was just working with Rossy de Palma, the crew and even my own family that was part of the cast. ​​It was really cool to work with and have my sister Isabel playing the role of my mother, giving birth to me, and with my goddaughter and little cousin Elena playing the role of me when I was a child. Feeling the energy of everyone coming together to create something magical. That's what it's all about for me.

Francesco: It’s hard to tell but I think improvising dialogues with the actors was definitely the highlight as I went on set with something closer to an outline rather than a full script so leveraging everybody’s energy in the moment was quite exciting.

What was it like working with iconic Spanish actors such as Rossy De Palma?

Francesco: Given the narrative nature of the project and the strong feminist undertones, I asked Sita which Spanish actors she was friends with and could bring on the project for a cameo. When I learned that Rossy could have been one of them I wrote that part just for her. She’s probably one of my favorite ever and working with her was incredible not only because of her talent but for her personality too. She’s funny, smart, and commanding. She’s also very collaborative and puts her own spin on any direction I give her, never just interpreting the character but making it her own. But let's not forget Lola Rodriguez, an Icon in the making, in my opinion. Check her out if you’re not familiar with her. Also, Brays Efe and Leīti Sene gave great performances, and without all of them, making this video wouldn't have been as magical an experience.

Sita: Working with Rossy was an absolute dream come true! She brings such a unique energy and presence to the set. It was inspiring to watch her work and learn from her expertise. I admire her a lot because, to me, she's a complete icon, and I care for her deeply. We have a beautiful friendship, and I'm very grateful that she wanted to take on this role because she was perfect for it. Plus, she's just a joy to be around, so down to earth and genuinely passionate about her craft. Collaborating with someone of her caliber was definitely a highlight of the experience for me.

Francesco, what are the challenges of shooting a narrative-driven music video?

Francesco: Every project has its own set of challenges but something like this requires a level of self control and restraint that’s hard to achieve. On one hand, there’s the filmmaker’s need to tell a story and express their ideas, and on the other the professional working for an artist and their obligation to advertise the song in the best way possible. Then comes the challenge of blending it all together despite time and budget restraints. But when both sides somehow align, the results can be quite rewarding like in this particular occasion. And if you surround yourself with the right collaborators, it’s pretty hard to fail.

Sita, you have appeared in other music videos, but this may be your most significant acting work to date. Do you see yourself acting in feature-length films?

Sita: Absolutely! Acting in this music video was such a fulfilling experience for me, and it definitely sparked my interest in pursuing more acting opportunities. I love immersing myself in different characters and narratives, so I'm definitely open to the idea and as I said before I enjoy experimenting with my capabilities, and working on this video has allowed me to explore facets of myself that I hadn't fully tapped into before, that being said, who knows what the future holds?

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Music, SITA, Francesco Calabrese, DIABLA