Rosario Garcia-Montero who has studied film in Lima, NYC and in San Antonio de los Baños garnered numerous awards and nominations for ‘Las Malas Intenciones’ (Bad Intentions), her first feature length film which premiered at Berlin back in February and was chosen by Peru as their official entry for Best Foreign Film to The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. In ‘Las Malas Intenciones’, a beautifully dark and amusing film, 9 year old Cayetana, played precociously by Fatima Buntinx, finds solace in martyred heroes from Peru’s bloody past during the turbulent 80’s when guerrilla attacks were an ever present threat. Rosario, in her own words, considers herself the “slowest blossoming new face of independent film”but with a debut as memorable enough for me to think it was truly one of the best films of 2012, she’s right on time.
LatinoBuzz: It seems that some Latin American filmmakers are exorcising their countries demons through their work and art – would you say that was true when making ‘Las Malas Intenciones’?
Rosario Garcia-Montero:When making the bad intentions. I definitely exorcised 5 or 6 demons, 30 smaller demons a few children phobias, but also I exorcised my country collective demons and some of the upper classes.
To give a small example, I even fixed some of Peru’s needs for some triumphs. I made Peru beat Brazil 6-0 in soccer! But I’ve also too exorcised demons and the collective trauma of certain social classes.
LatinoBuzz:Your lead character, Cayetana has all the markings of a classic coming of age character. If she had to form a circle of misfit friends made up of characters from other coming of age films, who would they be?
Rosario Garcia-Montero: ‘Let The Right One In’ –vampire girl. ‘Spirit of the Beehive’, Ana & her Frankenstein friend. The Romanian girl from the film ‘The Fall’. The arrogant ‘Rushmore’ boy and the girl burning her dead animals in Rene Clement’s ‘Jeux Interdits’. And most of the characters in my short films like the Indian mortician from ‘Are You Feeling Lonely?’ All of these characters would keep Cayetana company, because what do they have in common? They all have in common this sense of not fitting in.
LatinoBuzz: ‘Las Malas Intenciones’ is your first feature film – what kind of feeling was it to have your whole country supporting you and pushing you to be only the 2nd foreign film nomination from Peru?
Rosario Garcia-Montero: In Peru we’re always torn between sentiments, but nevertheless, these types of events are what unite and raise the esteem of a country. This kind of news generated great expectations in the entire population and mobilized and united different sectors who generally are very antagonistic towards each other.
LatinoBuzz: How was your experience in raising money for the film?
Rosario Garcia-Montero:It’s an experience that begins and never ends. To make films in Peru was and is heroic.
LatinoBuzz: Where do you see Peruvian cinema in 5 years time? And what do you see your role in it?
Rosario Garcia-Montero: In the 90s some years maybe 1 or 2 films were made. That was our reality. After that a new generation began. Now I think we have more than 20 films a year, so that is real progress. I see myself in that next wave.
LatinoBuzz: The film has a great sequence in which Cayetana shows her admiration for Historical Peruvian figures such as Tupac Amaru, Jose Oyala & Miguel Grau. Who have been your own personal heroes in life?
Rosario Garcia-Montero: Cayetana has admiration for people who have left a mark on the collective Peruvian imagination. But personally, Cassavetes, Buñuel and my personal hero and to whom I dedicated this film is Maria Jimena Pinilla, my big sister.
LatinoBuzz: Who do you think Cayetana grows up to be?
Rosario Garcia-Montero: She might become an archeologist or digging graveyards. Or ghost hunter trying to communicate with the dead heroes. But there is always a chance that she becomes a filmmaker.
Once I asked my little actress Fatima Buntinx–during the shoot what she wanted to be when she grow up and she said: “I want to be a mother”
LatinoBuzz: Usually the process of a writer is a lonely one. How did you feel once you started shooting ‘Las malas….’ and all of a sudden you had to share these characters with the world and they now no longer belonged just to you?
Rosario Garcia-Montero: It’s shocking to be 5 years writing a script and then suddenly a 1st AD begins to chop up your film in scenes, sequences, inserts – the film shoot looked more like a brick factory factory and you worry about the creative process. At the end in the editing and sound process the film recovered its beauty. So now I learned that you have to faith that things at the end will work out. It’s an interesting lesson in learning to trust others.
LatinoBuzz: What made you believe that you could, against any odds, become a filmmaker?
Rosario Garcia-Montero:I always said, only when I finish my first feature film that I will be able to write down on the immigration information papers that you fill out on the planes: ”Occupation: Filmmaker”. Before I would write “Occupation: Parasite”. So it’s a matter of perseverance, the parasite which transforms elegantly into filmmaker.
LatinoBuzz: I loved that you used an Afro-Peruvian character, which is seldom seen in South American films. Did you write the character with that description?
Rosario Garcia-Montero: Im glad you ask about him. I love Melchor Gorrochategui (who plays Isaac). He was one of the most amazing casting “accidents”. In Peru when you are trying to cast Afro-Peruvian actors, there is very few. So I began looking for real characters in the street. The first casting call I did, all the non actors came to my casting they felt intimidated by the lights and cameras and literally escaped. So I found a new casting person that would go to their homes and have tiny camera. Melchor had never acted and he had never driven a car, so sometimes instead of rehearsing we would make him learn how to drive. Yes, it is true that in a certain high class in Lima, employees were black. So Issac in a way speaks of this Lima, disappearing with him. An old Lima. Finally, he is being replaced by a bodyguard who tells us that everything has changed and not necessarily for the better. Issac is a melancholy character. He’s like a flame that extinguishes but one of the few that connects with Cayetana.
LatinoBuzz: Was there a particular film or filmmaker that inspired the aesthetic of ‘Las Malas…’
Rosario Garcia-Montero: ‘The Return’, a film from Russia that I watched with my cinematographer. The way they use the color desaturation. Cassavetes’ ‘Faces’, for the rawest acting. Buñuel – ‘The Exterminating Angel’, one of the most inspiring films. Fellini’s ‘Notti Di Cabiria’, greatest character study. And ‘Jeux Interdits’ – darkest film from the 50’s. A sleeper.
Written by Juan Caceres and Vanessa Erazo, LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow @LatinoBuzz on twitter.