YIDFF 2015 International Competition
Our Last Tango
An Interview with German Kral (Director)

The Drama in the Dance of Tango

Q: Tell us how you decided to use the love story as the core of the film?

GK: I first thought of making this film when I saw Wim Wender’s film Pina (2011). At the beginning I thought of making a film about tango dancers in Buenos Aires. Then the idea of featuring María Nieves Rego and Juan Carlos Copes arose. I was initially hesitant about focusing on these two famous dancers who you could say are too famous in Argentina. But when I met María in person, she was so charming and intellectual that I was drawn to her as a human being. Later I read Juan’s book and became interested in the difficult yet strong relationship he had shared with María. That’s how I came to feature their love story as a centerpiece.

Q: The opening and closing scenes are the only times they appear together in the film. It must have been arduous to film them together.

GK: It was really hard to get them on camera together. When the project began, they both agreed to be in the film, but only under the condition they won’t be filmed together. In the beginning I thought I could film them separately and edit the sequences so that it would look like they are in the same space. But after some time Juan announced that he won’t do it. By that time I wasn’t able to call off the project, so I started filming just María. After a few months of filming and when I was editing, Juan’s wife contacted me. When I told her what the situation was, she promised to talk to Juan about it. Shortly, Juan decided to appear in the film and I was able to film him. Later, they agreed to be in the opening and closing together, and the scene of their separation was shot.

Q: There’s abundant reenactment footage. Was that in your initial intention?

GK: I did plan for dancers to perform episodes from the couple’s past—to dance out María and Juan’s lives, so to speak. The idea for the two to converse with the dancers who are playing out their lives through dance—that too, was there from the idea stage. Since María and Juan are Argentina’s top dancers, it was important for me to portray them properly. But because of the constraints of not being able to film them together, I decided to ask young dancers to play them instead. The dancers and choreographers I worked with were all of the internationally finest caliber befitting for the reenactment of leading tango dancers María and Juan.

Q: Some methods you used in the reenactment, like lifting María with a cable, were not obvious choices. What kind of message for the audience was on your mind?

GK: The most important thing for us was to convey the story of María and Juan. So I didn’t have any “message” in mind—it was only about how to tell the story best. And since their love story was what had moved me, I wanted to show it properly through cinema. Moreover, it was important to use an approach that would affect the audience’s emotions and provide them with pleasure, with entertainment. I wanted to show the beauty of tango on the cinema screen. That’s all.

(Compiled by Tanaka Minemasa)

Interviewers: Tanaka Minemasa, Inagaki Haruka / Interpreter: Yoshida Miyako / Translator: Fujioka Asako
Photography: Suzuki Noriko / Video: Kawashima Shoichiro / 2015-10-10