Latin American Competition
3 questions for Maximiliano Schonfeld
The director Jesús López talks in detail about his film that is participating in the Latin American Competition.
How did the idea for the story come about? What was the writing process with Selva Almada like?
When we began to work on the project, the story was much longer. There was a character who traveled around the province, like the parable of the prodigal son, and the story of the dead cousin was just a part of the “initiating” journey of this young man from a small town. After a lot of going here and there with the writing, Selva and I decided that the best thing was to focus on the driving narrative in this wasteland that leaves a young man dead and in which another takes his place. The work with Selva focused mainly on the construction of the characters. I created little dramatic arcs and she took care of building the characters in a more literary manner. Often, these descriptions also served as new scenes within the structure that was already there. Also, she contributed a lot to refining the dialogue, giving them more substance, and making a connection with the way that we speak in the province of Entre Ríos.
Without giving away too much, the film has a breaking point with shades of the fantastical. How did you approach this aspect in the script and in the direction?
I think the fantastical emerged from the need to connect the mystery of the landscape with the stories that inhabit this place. The wilderness, the land, the river, the dusks… We never dwelled upon the contemplative beauty, but rather we tried to open a dialogue with the mourning, the young people that go away, the absences, the small quotidian actions. All of that which perhaps suggests a kind of insular melancholy, for us continues to be attractive, and that attraction is unexplainable. The fantastic in the order of the quotidian, of the simple, born from the most primitive of fears, like death of the fear of being alone.
After seeing the film, one is left with the magnificent car race scene. How hard was that to film?
We set up that sequence as if it were a whole film by itself. It has another kind of narration, of elements in play, a more classical premise if you will. So we were obligated to a kind of training, to work using references from other films, to move away from the tone of the rest of the film. Plus, we had very little time to film it, but we had a very sensitive technical crew, the kind that share a calmness even in the most complicated of times.