Pedro González-Rubio discusses 'Alamar'
The young Mexican director explains his dreamy father-son fishing trip movie to David Jenkins
Mexican-born director and London Film School gradute Pedro González-Rubio made his debut in 2005 with ‘Toro Negro’, a documentary about a hapless bullfighter. His new film ‘Alamar’, which picked up the top prize at the 2010 Rotterdam film festival, blends elements of documentary and fiction to tell the story of a young boy’s visit to his fisherman father.
What sort of techniques did you learn at film school that you used in ‘Alamar’?
‘Film school is good. They teach you the basics, the technical aspects of filmmaking. But it doesn’t teach you taste or give you interests. That comes from your own creativity, life and experience. I enjoy finding out about places and people that are not part of my everyday life.’
Which elements of the film did you write and which were real?
‘I came up with the idea of the trip. I also came up with the story. I didn’t write any dialogue – that’s why there hardly is any. I wanted to portray how the bond between father and son would get stronger and stronger then suddenly, when you least expect it, they get separated. When it came to the earlier scenes, where the boy is packing his bag for the trip, my direction was hands-off. I wouldn’t tell them where to sit or where to stand: they would just do it naturally. I was more like a guide.’
Can you tell us about the father?
‘Even though it feels like he comes from the area where the film is shot, it’s not true. He comes from a village in the jungle. And he doesn’t fish. The location was very important for me as it’s a very visual film and I believe that a lot can be said with a good image rather than with dialogue. I like to portray the inner qualities of the characters and the location: the innocence of the kid,
the purity of the landscape and the expansiveness of nature.’
Did the presence of your camera affect the performers?
‘Not really. A bit for the father. He was very conscious of us and of his role. But when I focused more on fishing and on the physical activities in the film, he appeared more comfortable.'
The impression from Europe is that directors from Mexico form an ad hoc community. Did any other directors help out with ‘Alamar’?
‘Yeah, there’s a filmmaker named Elisa Miller. She saw my work-in-progress and she told me what worked and what didn’t. She’s seven years younger than me. She made a film called “Ver Llover”, which won the short film Palme d’Or Award in Cannes in 2008. I think I am drawn much more to this younger generation, those in their mid-twenties. The older generation would ask me, “Where’s the drama? Where’s the conflict? Where’s the structure?” So I have to tell them that it doesn’t have a structure. I’m trying to use a different language to the norm.’
Did you feel that the final product achieved what you set out to do?
‘Well, I knew that I wanted to let myself go rather than manipulating the elements in the location. I focused more on adapting to their daily routine and from there constructing a movie.’
Are you working on a new film?
‘Not exactly. I am working on something new, but I think I’m going explore love from a female perspective. These two films have been about male characters. I think the next one has to be female.'
Author: Interview: David Jenkins
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