Why She’s On Our Radar: Chilean director/writer Marialy Rivas turned heads at the just-wrapped Sundance Film Festival with her sexually provocative debut, “Young & Wild.” Rivas, an award-winning short filmmaker (her short "Blokes" screened at the festival last year), walked away from this year's edition with the World Cinema Screenwriting Award, which she shared with her co-writers Camila Gutiérrez, Pedro Peirano and Sebastián Sepúlveda.
“Young & Wild” centers on Daniela (Alicia Rodriguez), a 17-year-old girl raised within a strict evangelical family who secretly writes a sexually charged blog.
Rivas was inspired to make her foray into feature filmmaking after coming across a similar blog spearheaded by Gutiérrez, whom she approached to become one of the film’s co-writers. At the Sundance awards ceremony, Gutiérrez gave the best sound bite of the night in accepting her award: “I don’t speak very well English,” she said, “but I want to say thanks and have a lot of sex.”
What’s Next: Rivas told Indiewire that she has just finished another script with Gutiérrez, entitled “Princess.” She describes it as a religious drama, centered on an 11-year-old girl and set in the South of Chile. It’s based on a true story. “It’s kind of like ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ in a way,” she said.
How did you come upon Gutiérrez's blog that inspired the film?
I had a photo blog at first, around 2005 – somewhere where you post a photo a day and add some text. Most people would just post a picture and say nothing. Then I discovered her blog. It was a mixture between very blunt sexual tales and the tender evangelical story of her youth and her church. Naturally, I was really drawn to it. After six months of reading it, I knew I had to do something with it. I knew it was a movie, but I didn’t know whether it was going to be a documentary, a mockumentary, or a fiction.
I later met with her and we started.
Did you ever take part in the blog, or did you stay on the outside as an observer?
I posted on it as myself, before thinking of making a movie. So when we met, we knew each other as bloggers.
So you were interacting actively?
Yes (laughs). I was one of the fans.
What about the blog spoke to you?
At the beginning, I didn’t think any of it was real. I couldn’t grasp whether she was old, young, and/or lying. I could tell she knew how to write; she had a way about her. She was actively doing something on purpose with the way she worded things. She expressed herself in contradictions like, “I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of Hell.” Those kinds of statements are very dramatic for a movie. I was drawn to that fracture inside her – everything about her was dual. That was really appealing.
How did you two collaborate on the script?
At the beginning, we did a series of interviews. I just wanted to know everything I could about her. After those, I met up with Pedro Peirano, one of the writers of “The Maid.” We structured a fiction based on her life, half fiction, half-truth. Then I wrote the first 15 pages of the script and asked her to write all the dialogue and the voiceovers. We then went back to Pedro, who doctored it.
In the end, the script kept changing during the shooting of the film. I’d call her constantly during the filming to get her insights. It was a true collaboration.
This film was made in Chile, a very conservative country. Did you make this with a mission to push people’s buttons, to get people to think outside the box?
For me, it’s like falling in love. If I fall in love with a story, I’ll do it. I don’t fall in love with stories that are merely out to provoke people. It’s the other way around with this. I fell in love with it, and then realized, yes, it will push boundaries.
Of course for me, movies have to raise questions, especially in a country like mine. For me, it is something I feel the need to do. So I guess, somewhere in the back of my head, there is that notion.
What do you make of America’s aversion to sex in film?
For me, it’s very strange. There’s so much violence in North American film. You would think that’s more unnatural to a human being. At this point, I think sex gives you pleasure, makes you happy. So I don’t understand why they censor so much sex and they don’t censor violence. If you put violence into people’s souls, it’s just going to bring sadness and pain to everyone around. And sex, if you do it on consent and you try not to hurt other people, it’s just going to give pleasure to you.
For me, I think it has a lot to do with the culture we live in. It’s all about guilt with sex. We have this notion of guilt with sex, which I don’t have inside of me. For me, sex is very natural.