The director of Alamar finds truth in semi-fiction.
Mon Jul 12 2010
Fiction and nonfiction combine in Pedro Gonzlez-Rubio’s sublime Alamar, a story of a father and son (starring an actual pre and fils) who go on one last fishing trip before the boy moves from Mexico to Rome. TONY spoke with the director before the movie’s local premiere at Film Forum.
Your work is an intriguing blend of fact and invention. How did you happen on this particular story?
The first idea was to have one person go back to his origins, back to do activities like fishing—one of the most ancestral activities of man. There is a certain romanticism to it. But then I met Jorge [Machado], and I knew the family aspect could be much more interesting. And once I met his son, Natan, I established this other story, focusing on the impermanence of things. If I had done something about a lone man, it would have focused on death. The relationship of a father and son better translated the idea of impermanence and the cycles of life.
There’s also the duo’s relationship with the grandfather, though he’s not really related to either of them, correct?
Correct. The actor, Nestr Marn, only met them for the film. And the trip was done especially for the movie. Jorge actually works as a tour guide in Tulum, Mexico; he doesn’t come from a fisherman background. And Nestr was perfect for a grandfatherlike figure. The main purpose was to shoot a farewell story. I just combined the different elements to create something specific, to reinterpret through fiction.
You’ve had an interesting upbringing—living in Mexico, Brussels, New Delhi. Did those experiences influence your choices here?
Yes, in a way I have this constant feeling that I don’t really have a proper place to call home. I’ve lived all over, and I think that’s one of my explorations in Alamar—this idea of belonging, which connects with the idea of Natan being Mexican as well as Italian.
At the time that you met them, was Roberta Palombini—the boy’s actual (and onscreen) mother—planning to take Natan back to Italy?
No. In actuality, they are separated, but Jorge lives in Tulum while Roberta and Natan live in Playa del Carmen, which are about one hour from each other.
So they didn’t move at all.
Right. Natan sees his father every weekend, and in a very similar environment to the one in the film. That’s why he’s so comfortable in that situation.
Would you ever consider doing a follow-up feature with the same characters?
Maybe at some point I will do one; I don’t know if it would be an optimistic follow-up. This particular location will be very different in ten years time, probably. The idea of Alamar is that everything is in constant evolution—or involution. But Truffaut did it very well with Antoine Doinel.—Keith Uhlich