An Interview with Julia Pesce (Director)
The Long and Beautiful Process of Filming the Family
Q: Is the extended family form as we see in the film common in Argentina?
JP: I think my family is special, even in Argentina. Women dominate my extended family—men were always on the outside and never were at the core. It is a unique community. I wanted to record my family onto film and share it with everyone, showing the possibilities of this kind of human kinship.
Q: It took you five years to make the film?
JP: I felt this long process of directing the camera at my family and editing continually to be a beautiful one. I first became determined to complete the film as a professional filmmaker when my grand-aunt died—I mention it in the opening narration. I had been shooting footage from before her death, but I made up my mind that I would continue filming when she actually passed away.
Q: When did you decide to end the shooting?
JP: It was when my sister gave birth to a baby, my niece. While shooting, I felt that it would be the final scene of the film. Later when I tried different variations in the editing, the baby’s birth seemed like the most natural ending to the film and so I decide to stop shooting there.
In the film, the childbirth is only a few minutes long, but actually it took around 12 hours. It went on from 10 am till midnight. I never intended to use the early part of her labor. I wanted to show the impressionable second half. I made sure to film in a way that the audience would be able to focus singularly on the delivery itself. I minimized the movement of people in the frame and set the camera apart from the mother as if it were just watching over the birth. I think it turned out to be a strong scene that incorporates various layers of meaning.
Q: We don’t really figure out who is who in relation to each other—was that intentional?
JP: Yes. I could foresee that the audience could be confused without understanding the relation between family members. Nevertheless I thought it would be more intriguing not to know who is who. In that community, my aunt is sometimes treated like a mother, sometimes like a daughter. I wanted you to experience the richness of the shifting roles of the characters.
Q: Towards the end, in the scene where the family watches home movies, we see you as you are filming them. Why did you include that scene?
JP: I myself belong to this community. In the making of the film, I thought hard whether I should show myself filming or not. I didn’t want to force an unnatural scene for the sake of appearing in it. I contemplated on how I could put myself in the film in the most natural way.
My aunt always loved to record family events on film, like Christmas or trips to the beach. It was a common occasion for the family to sit down and watch home videos together. That’s why I thought if my own image appeared in the home video that everyone is watching, that would be the smoothest way of including myself in the film. Through that scene, I was able to show that I myself am a part of this community, too.
(Compiled by Yamane Hiroyuki)
Interviewers: Yamane Hiroyuki, Ishizawa Kana / Interpreter: Watanabe Ayaka / Translator: Fujioka Asako
Photography: Uno Yukiko / Video: Kimuro Shiho / 2015-10-09