Latin American Competition

3 questions for Pablo Giorgelli

The director of La encomienda discusses his film, participating in the Latin American Competition.
3 questions for Pablo Giorgelli

Stories and anecdotes have come up around the filming of La encomienda. How was your filming process?
Despite having shot in the middle of the pandemic (September 2020), in another country (the Dominican Republic), with strict care and protocols, I especially enjoyed and had fun filming this movie. It was beautiful and I learned a lot: filming in water is another world. There are other issues to take into account in comparison with a conventional shoot: the floating of the objects, which are constantly moving, makes it difficult to put together the shots, the water tires the actors and oneself a lot, you exhaust yourself much faster, the climate of the Caribbean changes every moment. Anyway, in two or three days I already felt like a fish in water. I am a director who likes to be on set, close to the actors, so I was floating on platforms or in the water sometimes. Anyway, it was all very difficult and amazing at the same time. Perhaps the biggest challenges were the storm scenes and the underwater ones, because I had never filmed those kinds of scenes and also because we didn't have the Hollywood-style resources ... But all of that was largely offset by the delivery of a technical team and a bulletproof production, without which, truly, this film would not have been possible. But, beyond these considerations, at the end of the road, for me, always, inescapably, the most important thing is the work with the actors. This is where I focus when I film, and in the setting of the camera, and in La encomienda the result is spectacular. The three actors in the film (Ettore D’Alessandro, Henry Shaq and Marcelo Subiotto) do an impressive job. They are the movie.

The film clearly shows the prejudices, inequalities and abandonments typical of the modern world. How did you manage to incorporate all of these elements into a shipwreck story and in what way did you want to address them? 

The film is constructed from two central lines: on the one hand, the political line and, on the other, the one most linked to survival. From the first moment, it was essential for me to tell the political context in which the story unfolds. That is precisely THE theme that the film talks about. The script had already been written with this in mind as its true north. What happens to the characters happens precisely because the world works as it does, under the rules of an inhuman capitalism that generates inequality, pain, and whose consequence, paradoxically, is not empathy but exclusion and racism. What are these men doing there, floating adrift in the middle of the sea? The entire film is built from this premise, looking at this system that works as a machine to generate marginalized people, desperate people whose only option ends up being migration and there are few times that things turn out in line with the amount of hope that launched each of those trips. Then, the plot of survival, logically, focuses on Pietro, Abreu and Benel, in their fight against that salty and sterile, infinite environment, which appears alien and hostile to them every second.

Family is what moves the character of Benel and is a feature present in all your filmography. What are you interested in exploring about those ties that, in this case, serve to tie the story of two castaways with society?

I'm interested in family ties. It's almost the only thing that, for now, motivates me when it comes to thinking about a movie. The themes that give me the strength and the desire to get into the gigantic and beautiful problem of making a film have to do with exploring these ties. Otherwise it is very difficult for me to sustain a project over time, which, in my case, is always several years. To achieve this I have to be in love with what I am going to do. There must be something, a mysterious and inexplicable force that takes me by the hand; and there I go, blind, magnetized behind that force, not quite knowing what I am doing, or why, or for whom, but I advance with such confidence that sometimes I do not recognize myself. It is basically a matter of desire and conviction, an act of faith, almost a religion. And today that religion is manifested in the work on family ties.