Argentine Competition

3 questions for María Álvarez

The director of Las cercanas talks about her film, participating in the Argentine Competition.
3 questions for María Álvarez

How did the idea for a documentary about the Cavallini twins come about?
I saw Isabel and Amelia Cavallini for the first time through the window of a McDonald’s. They were eating. I took a picture of them because at the time I was writing a fictional script about two elderly sisters. In that script, I wanted to capture certain peculiarities of the relationship with my own sister. The Cavallini twins seemed like a good visual reference for my story. Months passed before I ran into Isabel and Amelia again on the street. They were both arm in arm, close together, like a couple. I couldn't help but go over to talk to them. They told me that in the past they had formed a piano duo. They never married or had children so as not to interfere with their career as pianists, so as not to separate. From that moment I knew that, once again, reality had surpassed fiction.
This is now the third film that you have made in which elderly people have an important role. What interests you especially about this relationship between old age and art?

I think that perhaps it is the search for references, as a kind of question about what would be the best way to grow old, which is the same as asking myself what is the best way to live. And I think the only thing I can see is that the best way to grow old is in contact with art, with that superior world that takes away the weight of the earthly ailments that come up and are strengthened and accumulated over the years. Growing old (living) with art as a religion.
Is it ethically different to make a film with and about the elderly? What particularities does it present?
I don't think about the age of the people who participate in my films. I see them as people in an instance of life that interests and challenges me. But they are not just any old people. They are special people. What attracts me to them are their experiences, their expressions, their sensitivity and their memories. I am attracted to people who have experienced many things, but above all, who have a particular way of seeing the world and their own lives. People who are capable of laughing at themselves, who have a great sense of humor and creativity when remembering and transmitting their experiences. And by proportional logic: the longer the time, the more experiences. I am attracted to the years of experience as reflected in certain personalities. In any documentary with people –be they children, adults or elderly people– what has to exist is a link, a pact between the people portrayed and the filmmaker. No matter what the age of both parties is, that bond should always be very honest and careful. I would say that the same should happen when portraying a dog or a plant. It is done with the eyes, a camera, a microphone ... But always passing through the heart first, even if it sounds corny.