VIFF 2016 Interview: BODAS (Between Them) director Alexia Maltner
By Jason Whyte
Posted 10/07/16 03:43:01
"BODAS is a short film that tells the story of an elderly couple that looks like the perfect portrait of the happy couple to family and friends. They are celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a big party. However, in the midst of the party-planning, an unexpected decision might change the course of their entire lives. Dora realizes that her marriage is coming apart at the seams. At the age of 80, she feels that she's still full of life and she has a lot to live for. On the other hand, Caio, her husband, only sees that they are too old; and, therefore, there's no need to change at this time in their lives. After 50 years of marriage, is it worth sticking together for the sake of routine and convenience? Should they play it safe and be content to conform to "til death do us apart"? Should they be bold enough and chance happiness? Do they have what it takes to go their separate ways? Is age an obstacle to new beginnings?" Director Alexia Maltner on BODAS which screens at Vancouver Film Festival 2016.
I am thrilled to welcome you to VIFF this year. Is this your first VIFF experience and will you be in Vancouver to attend your screenings?
Thank you for having us. We're glad that our film will take part in this great festival. Unfortunately, I won't be able to go due to work-related duties. But, our production company will represent us there for the screening.
Sorry to hear you won't be coming, but you will be here in spirit! Tell me a bit about yourself and your background!
I began my directing experience in the world of theater in 1999, when I directed a play called THE DUMB WAITER written by Harold Pinter, and in 2002, when I directed another Harold Pinter play entitled THE LOVER. After gaining this initial directing experience with theatrical plays, I switched to television in 2003, where I have worked as a director's assistant with several Globo's household names.
My directing assistance contributions in television include work in many productions. Here are a few of them: 2003 mini-series A HOUSE OF SEVEN WOMEN, 2004 mini-series ONE HOUSE ONLY, 2004 soap opera LADY OF DESTINY, 2005 television adaptation of the comic series THE BIG FAMILY, in 2011 THE SHAMELESS, DIDI AND THE ANGLES' SECRET in 2014 and 2015's HOT PLATE. Along with theatrical plays and television productions, I have already directed another film besides BODAS. In 2010, I directed the short film TIL DEATH BRINGS THEM TOGETHER and in 2014 I developed a web series called TORMENTED, which I wrote as well as directed. Many of the titles of the productions I have directed have been translated, as most of them were originally written and titled in Portuguese. As you can see, I have an extensive directing experience. I love directing as much as I love collaborating and I have a deep passion for writing.
Wow, what a background! Now how did BODAS come together for you?
The film is a collaboration with playwright Renata Mizrahi. At first, we started talking about relationships in general and from then on our project took shape. Inspired by her grandparents' life story, Renata wrote the script in which an elderly couple was going through a crisis in their relationship due to a conflict of interest and expectations.
While you are working on a movie, what keeps you going? What drives you, creatively?
I try to understand the characters in depth because as a director I am responsible for creating and conducting beautiful scenes, but if the actors don't buy the idea, the partnership and complicity between director and actor won't happen and the whole project may be compromised. The way I see it, it's my role as a director to get the best performance out of my actors.
What was your biggest challenge with this project, and how did you overcome it?
Our greatest challenge was the time available for shooting the film because we were only given two days to film everything at the location we had chosen.
If you had to pick a single favourite moment out of the entire production of BODAS, what would it be?
When I met the actors and heard them read the script for the first time, I immediately felt that they were perfect for the film. Also, having two eighty-three year old actors that were absolutely devoted to the project was such a privilege.
For the aspiring filmmakers who read our site, I would love to know about the technical side of the film and how you came to the visual design of BODAS.
I used the ARRI ALEXA camera with an ultra-prime lens. The cinematography has an observational approach as if one of the party guests was shooting the events while walking around the house following the characters, being both a participant and an eye-witness, almost like a reflection in the mirror and an extension of Dora. It is from this angle that the decoupage sheds light on Dora and favors her the whole time. Two universes are being contrasted in imagetic aspects, creating, therefore, the two concepts that the film needs to highlight: on one hand the party; proximity, warmth, friendliness and celebration and on the other the couple's separation, distancing / displacement / dislocation / alienation. The subtle of pastel and cream colors go quite well with the apparent quietness, still waters run deep, that is inherently present in old fabrics, which in its turn helps outline the past, the life lived. At the same time the different shades of yellow and beige help develop the idea of time passing by bringing about its vitality and unique eccentricity that composes the psychology behind color and its various hues. The camera movement is fluid; it has a mise en scene flow, a classicist camera invites the viewer to take part in a film whose shooting is clean, has a few close-ups and a lot of zooming out in order to tell the story of the couple's wedding anniversary as if you were reading a classic novel sitting on the sofa and sipping your tea.
What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie to audiences at VIFF?
I hope that people watching the film will reflect upon old age. That they won't think that it's the end of their life span. I would like them to see old age as one more phase in their lives. I wish they would believe that we can always seek new beginning irrespectively of age.
Where is this movie going to show next?
Our goal is to take part in film festival until 2018 and afterwards we intend to sell our film to TV channels and internet from various countries.
If you could show your movie in any theater in the world, which one would you choose and why?
I don't think about a specific festival or theater. I would love to see our film being screened in as many festivals around the world as possible. I wish our story would be seen in every continent.
What would you say or do to someone who is talking, texting or being overall disruptive during a screening of your film?
This situation is extremely uncourteous, but quite common nowadays. I can't control people's behavior. I can only hope that they will notice how inappropriate and impolite this is and of their own volition they'll decide to stop talking or texting.
There are many aspiring filmmakers reading us for our articles and reviews on efilmcritic.com. If you could offer a nugget of advice to them on how to get their start, what would you say to them?
What can I tell them to do? Just start! Go for it! Unlike 100 years ago, today we can make films on mobiles. But, first and foremost, we should study and watch the greatest classic movies so as to get familiar with the language and craftsmanship of the great movie directors. Watching movies is the best way to learn about movie-making.
And finally, what is the best movie you have ever seen at a film festival, and why?
The film AMOUR de Michael Haneke, was very inspirational for making our short film BODAS. The theme of 'third age' is a remarkable achievement in this movie for it makes us wonder about aging. It forces us to face the fact that we will go old. It challenges us to confront our mortality. Another thing that I particularly cherish is the way the actors were directed. It was impeccable. On top of that, the aesthetic choices were highly effective and the script was incisive. In short, like the main character, we know where we are going (there's no way to stop time or death), we know what will happen at the end of the story, but when destiny delivers its final blow it's ruthless, we feel overwhelmed, cheated and devastated.
More information on the film can be found on the film's Facebook Page!
This is one of the many films screening at the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival taking place in beautiful Vancouver from September 29th to October 14th. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to www.viff.org.
Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte