«The unplanned was the real experience»
Nicolás Torchinsky presents his film, running in the Argentine Competition.
In the remote lands of the Argentine Northwest, between deep dark nights and eternal landscapes, director Nicolás Torchinsky dives into the daily life of an elder couple to reveal an intimate and sensitive experience. Through an intuitive evolution, the documentary assumes the position of a faithful portrait of a whole life, captured exclusively by the eye of the beholder.
What can you tell us about the research that took you to the story of this married couple?
The film was never a “project”. We wrote no script, no treatment, no synopsis and no aesthetic proposal. It was an experiment born in a particular situation, from the suspicion that it could become a film and as, fortunately, we had the means to produce it -the possibilities the new technologies offer and the collaboration of friends-, the organization and the energy to make it.
We met the married couple that stars the film during a trip to Tucumán while we were looking for locations for a short film. During that trip, my friend Mirta Soria invited us to spend a couple of days in her parents’ house. Living under the same roof, we had the idea of making a movie with them. Some mental pictures and some notes guided us during the process. The film itself, however, wa founded during the mounting. I have the feeling that everything that really matters of that experience was what we didn't plan and happened, as a miracle, in front of the camera.
What was the path you had to design to be able to audio-visually capture the decline of the gaucho lifestyle in the Argentine Northwest?
I have the feeling that, in any case, in the film, is the world of the protagonists which is slowly declining. What was authentically deciding in the way The Centaur’s Nostalgia was made was the mounting tasks and the collaboration of the team that joined me in the adventure of its making. I think the most important thing during this process was to find the appropriate distance to approach the protagonists and whatever happened in front of the lens. Most of the time we faced situations we could not control and it was crucial to understand how to approach the characters, the action and the location from the camera.
The film was shot mostly outdoors, with natural light and the wind of the hills of Tucumán as scenery. How was it, working with the director of photography Baltasar Torcasso, and the sound designers Sebastián González and Sofía Straface?
Baltasar suggested working mostly with natural light and, if we needed reflectors, using the devices we already had at the protagonists’ house, in order to be true to the location and its original conditions. We decided to use a very sensitive camera that allowed us, most of the time, to shoot without using reflectors. That was how we avoided being invaded by the deployment of equipment, so as to build an aura of intimacy with the protagonists.
As regards sound, Sebastián and Sofía suggested constructing a very expressive soundtrack. We didn't want to work with sound within a realistic context or aesthetics. Instead, we tried to exploit the film's highest expressive potential using only the very few elements we could lay hands on.
Although this is an observational documentary, there are some scenes that show there is a fictional reconstruction behind that conveys certain sensations. How did you develop that thin line that divides documentary and fiction?
The material mixing is something that occurred naturally during the making. We didn't stop to think if we were making a documentary or a fictional film. I think this possibility of experimenting goes hand in hand with the development of new technologies that enables you to produce and make audiovisual work in new ways. The subtle balance between different types of materials is an accomplishment of the mounting work. Along Ana Poliak we spend quite a long time working on the precise way of joining these images that belong to the material we were in contact with during the whole shooting experience.
Certain influences can be perceived in The Centaur’s Nostalgia, for example, the work of the Argentine documentarist Jorge Prelorán, as well as the fictional work of the Mexican filmmakers Carlos Reygadas and Amat Escalante. What were your referents when it came to designing the making of the film?
I have the feeling the film cannot be labeled as pertaining to any of those traditions, in spite of how much I could admire any of those artists. In any case, the experience of spending so long watching movies and thinking about cinema is carried within oneself. My relationship with the film, at least until now, is an open one. I think only after facing the spectators I will be able to understand or formulate my true perspective about it.
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