Latin American Competition

3 questions for Nico Manzano

The director of Me & the Beasts talks in detail about his film, which is part of the Latin American Competition.
3 questions for Nico Manzano

The film has equal parts melancholic, comic, critical and fantastical overtones. How would you define it?
When writing the script, there was a change of course when detailing the scenes, even after confirming Jesús Nunes as the lead actor. The first rundown of Me & the Beasts projected a more dramatic tonality that finally served as the bulk of the story, but in an act of demystifying honesty it gave way to a more nutritious and diverse idea. Curiously, it became a more interesting story when we relaxed the tone and allowed the contrast of these shades that you mentioned to enter. For me it was also important to deconstruct that abstract idea of “Rockstar”, which is already a bit outdated, but –although it sounds paradoxical– to use that in favor of playing with a certain psychological remnant of the character. Andrés in appearance does not resemble the cliché we know, but he is mobilized by a big ego and we found it fun to put that to the test.
Masked beings are hypnotic. How did the idea of including them come about and how did you design their aesthetics?
Their presence was already very tied to the idea of a sound. To give a bit of context, the film's music existed before the film and belonged to a series of compositions that I had been working on with Nika Elia (Sexy Bicycle), one of the composers of the soundtrack. The voice of the beasts are vocalizations with a series of effects. It was already a resource that we used a lot, and it allows the entry of a more abstract character devoid of lyricism. Visually, we tried to make them allegorical to the sound elements of the songs: the sun and the breeze. That is why we selected the color yellow and a fabric that reacts elegantly to movement. The inspirations for the design were varied: Obatalá (Orisha of wisdom), Muku brand dresses and contemporary designers such as Muriel Nisse or Damselfrau. I think that Lucía Dao (wardrobe) also managed to give a psychological value to the clothing of the rest of the characters, a state of mind that also dialogues with all of this.
It is your first feature film after directing music videos. When did you feel like making movies and how was the challenge of moving from one format to another?
I come from music. When I was 18, Boom Boom Clan (a Venezuelan trip hop band) saw my photographic work and offered me the opportunity to do the visuals for a concert at UCV with Nuuro (now known as Arca, singer and producer of Björk). Music at the time was my priority, so I took the opportunity to approach through the back door. I ended up getting so excited that I didn't stop making music videos. After studying cinema, the idea of making a feature film was present, although none of the scripts I had written totally won me over. An effort of this magnitude cannot be started without being convinced, no matter how much you want to debut. The real challenge was producing the film alongside Alan Ohep and the entire team during the time of the protests. In Venezuela the situation had changed a lot: cash was already in disuse and the quotes from our suppliers were only valid for 24 hours due to inflation.