Thursday, 15 January 2009
La Mujer Rota
LA MUJER ROTA, THE MARIO TESTINO–PRODUCED FILM DEBUT OF 26-YEAR-OLD ARGENTINE DIRECTOR SEBASTIAN FAENA, IS A LUSH, VISUAL MASTERPIECE THAT HARKENS BACK TO THE GOLDEN DAYS OF ARGENTINIAN FILMMAKING. WHEN A TALENT LIKE THIS CALLS, YOU'D BETTER PICK UP V What would you say your film is about? SEBASTIAN FAENA It’s about falling in love and having your heart broken. It’s about being obsessed and going in circles, like being in a cage and not being able to see anything else. V Right from the first frame, what’s immediately striking is how stylized the film is visually.
SF I like the idea of film as a series of moving pictures. I follow my instinct on what is beautiful. In this case, I find it in the life of this bourgeoise girl growing up in turmoil around the city. The late ’30s to early ’50s were the heyday of Buenos Aires films—it was called the period of “Las Películas de los Telefonos Blancos” (The Films of the White Telephones). During the days of Evita, there was this idea of imitating Hollywood and this desire for a kind of stylized beauty and fantasy in film. These films mostly ended in murder or suicide. Nowadays, I’m really against neorealism and the notion that foreigners want to see a gritty sort of reality in a place like Buenos Aires. V Tell us about your heroine. SF My fiction heroine is very close to my real self, so that makes it hard for me to talk about her. I can talk about Dolores Fonzi, the actress who plays the part. She’s a star in Argentina and also the brightest, prettiest girl I ever met. With one look she can kill you and then bring you back to life. I guess I’m not the only one who believes this—she won the Best Actress award from the Argentine Actors Guild for her performance in my film. V Looking at stills, one might think Hitchcock. Watching the film, one might think Almodóvar. What do you think of these directors? SF I am very much inspired by Hitchcock, Douglas Sirk, and Antonioni. As far as Almodóvar goes, yes, as my film is spoken in Spanish, I can see how the rest of the world would think that. But more than anything else, what Almodóvar and I have in common is our mutual love of Tennessee Williams. V How did you get your start? SF Growing up in Buenos Aires, I worked on many short films with friends from high school. Then at 16 I started making my living as a fashion photographer. When I finished high school, I went off to college at Columbia in New York. I dropped out when my script was finished and went back home. I knew I wanted to make it into a film and I knew it had to be fast. The original producer was my best friend from school, and the whole thing was pretty intimate. When we ran out of money halfway through, we stopped postproduction for a while and I escaped to the country and lived with my dog while waiting for something to happen. I would go into Buenos Aires on the weekends, and one night, with dirt under my nails and dressed like a bum, I met Mario Testino at a friend’s house. He was in town shooting for American Vogue. He saw the rough material and gave me the confidence and support to complete it.