Diana Bustamante’s Our Film (Nuestra película)
Diana Bustamante’s Our Film (Nuestra película) seems like each a departure and a homecoming for the Latin American producer credited on quite a few Cannes winners, most not too long ago Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Jury Prize-awarded (and Tilda Swinton-starring) Memoria. Comprised completely of stories footage from the Medellín-born Bustamante’s childhood—who grew up within the ’80s and ’90s when kidnappings, political assassinations and blood-soaked streets had been as frequent as choir observe—the “essay documentary” is, because the producer/director places it, “a collage of pictures, repetitions and recollections, constructed by means of the intervention of the Colombian information archive.” And what a visceral collage it’s—from closeups of bullet holes to a zoom in on a classy excessive heel (by no means to be worn once more). Maybe the filmmaker is attempting to divine one thing from the detritus of her previous?
Certainly, left with extra questions than solutions lingering lengthy after the credit have rolled, Filmmaker reached out to the busy multi-hyphenate (who additionally by some means discovered time to function Inventive Director of the Cartagena Worldwide Movie Competition from 2014-2018) a number of days earlier than her movie’s November 11 DOC NYC debut. (The next interview was translated from Spanish to English by Samuel Didonato at Cinema Tropical.)
Filmmaker: Though Our Film (Nuestra película) is your first feature-length documentary, you’re already an acclaimed producer with a number of Cannes winners beneath your belt, most not too long ago Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria. It struck me that Memoria, which you’ve described as “being Colombian in a profound means,” might even have been the title of Our Film. So did Weerasethakul’s challenge (or any of your prior movies) affect this documentary?
Bustamante: It’s not possible to consider ourselves with out influences, together with my very own work on different movies, however past that I feel there are themes that curiosity us greater than others.
Our Film is a part of a course of. Being a filmmaker is just not solely directing or producing, but in addition occupied with pictures—one thing that I used to be maybe capable of discover and examine extra as a competition programmer. In that sense, all of the works I love have an echo in me, in my work, even when they’re very distant when it comes to the aesthetic targets. I definitely didn’t give it some thought whereas I used to be making it, as a result of artistic processes aren’t so self-conscious. Clearly that concept of trauma, of the traza (reminiscence), is current in a really totally different means in Our Film, however this preliminary impulse is undoubtably current in a number of of the movies I’ve labored on.
Filmmaker: I used to be additionally considering that the “our” within the title is sort of telling, because the movie feels nearly like an exorcism for you and your nation. Was Our Film created with a selected purpose in thoughts? Are you hoping to realize some type of nationwide catharsis, or maybe interrogate the historic document?
Bustamante: Really, the title has many meanings that relate to the thought I wish to obtain. On the one hand, I’m eager about digging into the deepest that means of the pictures, to remind us that this occurred to us, as a era and as a folks, and that now we have lived for years insensitive to ache, after a protracted hyper-exposure to violence that makes these pictures lose their that means to us. It’s by means of these pictures, which amassed and amassed till they misplaced their authentic that means and have become empty, that I started to know what movie I used to be attempting to make.
The title Our Film can also be the title of a piece by Luis Ospina (Cali, 1949-2019). It talks concerning the physique dying of AIDS, centered on his buddy, the artist Lorenzo Jaramillo. In my case I used this title, on the one hand, as a result of I needed to recollect Luis; on the opposite, as a result of this movie can also be speaking about demise, about one other physique that’s struggling, however on this case it’s the physique of a complete society. Lastly, as a part of that era that grew up within the midst of these pictures and that actuality, I needed to embrace that era—my era. Just a little orphaned and a bit misplaced.
Filmmaker: You’ve stated in your director’s assertion, “I like the thought of intervention: to intervene. To change pictures in the identical means that our recollections and mnemonic processes alter us: enhancing, creating biases and recomposing.” So, might you discuss a bit concerning the enhancing course of, and what did and didn’t work for the “intervention”?
Bustamante: Reminiscence formation is fascinating as a result of it’s fluid. Recollections are to a big extent a re-creation that’s made by means of many interventions. I used to be eager about how these pictures—which in our present context we give them the worth of “a reservoir of reminiscence”—had been additionally prone to this re-signification.
This concept started to take form as a result of there was a really explicit reminiscence I had of one of many pictures I used. Once I had the fabric and was capable of enlarge it, I noticed that what I believed was a stream of blood falling from a stage was truly a crimson electrical cable. I then questioned concerning the normalization of blood—why it was simpler for me to recollect a stream of blood, which didn’t exist, than to see one thing much less macabre and as apparent as a cable.
It was there that the thought of intervention and enlargement took on extra power. The enlargement is an try and direct the gaze, however it may additionally take it to a different degree of non-obvious studying, one thing rather more summary. Within the enhancing course of, the selection of fabric had lots to do with that too, with what acquires a totally totally different that means when enlarged; not as a result of it reveals “proof” or one thing like that, however as a result of what you get again is not a picture, however an thought.
Filmmaker: I”m additionally inquisitive about your “deconstruction” of sound, the way it suits into what you’ve known as “a collage that creates the feeling of concern that surrounded our lives as Colombians for many years even at the moment.”
Bustamante: Final week, the movie was seen for the primary time in Colombia on the Worldwide Documentary Movie Competition. Seeing it with this viewers for the primary time was essential for me, to complete understanding the movie I had made.
The sound is charged with one thing that I used to be occupied with lots, and it was unbelievable and haunting. The movie is stuffed with ghosts and moments the place the density of the sound strikes you to a different place, which is clearly not the information, however the weight of these pictures. They’re like “gaps,” like a break within the narrative, or not less than that’s how I needed to construct it by means of the sound.
The sound design was considered in two methods: First, to take care of that “roughness” of the fabric, by no means attempting to make it cleaner however quite the opposite, to protect its deterioration (which within the case of the magnetic archive has many sound “ghosts”). This was as a result of the character of these supplies was not conservation, however reuse. I used these sound “ghosts” as an expressive half, they usually helped me to create these moments the place I used to be eager about taking us to a spot of concern—the place we don’t totally perceive what’s being stated, however there’s an oppression, a weight by means of the sound. The start and the top of the movie are made with the identical supplies, however the development of the sound tries to realize that concept of concern, of one thing ghostly as effectively.
The sound designer Waldier Xavier was an unbelievable associate within the “anti-technical” concepts that I needed to attempt with the fabric, as was the editor, Sebastián Hernández, who needed to deal much more with my experimentation. Between the three of us, we achieved precisely what I used to be eager about with the picture and the sound. A type of extra plastic, extra materials expression of the fabric as a complete physique.
Filmmaker: Repetition is a significant element of this “essay documentary,” though repetition is definitely a desensitizing mechanism, a method to normalize violence. Are you finally reclaiming or reinventing Columbia’s historical past by means of its use?
Bustamante: Our Film is just not a historic movie within the sense that we normally perceive historical past. Though all the fabric refers to a really particular interval and occasions within the latest historical past of Colombia, I intentionally neglected many different occasions of the identical years—such because the bombings or drug trafficking—exactly as a result of I needed to deal with the thought of accumulation, and I needed to return to human beings.
I didn’t desire a single character to develop into the middle of a cloth that is stuffed with people who find themselves not there, and who don’t have any relationship to any explicit individual or to trafficking. That concept about Colombia appears simplistic to me. That’s why, because the story is constructed, what I do is choose. In that choice and accumulation, these pictures start to lose their that means, and the reference to the victims. They develop into statistics and stop to have names, as an alternative they develop into numbers and piles of issues—of our bodies, footwear or coffins. That accumulation that we see occurred to us as a society, however it occurs on a regular basis on this planet. The hyper-production of pictures doesn’t lead to them making extra sense at the moment, however maybe the alternative. It’s like pornography, a repetition that results in the emptying of that means. In that sense, it appears to me that we are able to learn them in one other means, return to them with different questions.