There’s a lot to be said about the new wave of Chilean filmmakers these days that are
drawing much deserved attention to that region of South America. Arguably one
of the most noted has been Andres Wood whose latest film, ‘Violeta fue a los
cielos’ (Violeta went to heaven) a bio-pic of Violeta Parra, a folk singer who
helped pioneer the Nueva Cancion movement in Chile that would soon play pivotal
roles in the social unrest in other Latin America countries. Francisca Gavilán poignantly and lyrically unfolds before us as Violeta in this beautiful rendering of an artist who believed she had a
song to sing and she sang it to the end.
LatinoBuzz: I think you have
a way of capturing the identity and soul of Chile at particular periods in its
history. Was making films about Chile something you felt you always wanted or
needed to do?
Andres Wood: When I start thinking of a film to make, I don’t have any
“big” concept or idea like to represent the soul of the country. I
would be paralyzed. First I get in love with the characters, then with small
anecdotes and at the end something like the context. I do believe that film has
to be very personal. And my imagination is Chilean. The way we see things, the
way we talk, the landscape, our contradictions. So, it is not something that I
look at intentionally but it is something that I like a lot that is in the
LatinoBuzz: Why film?
Andres Wood: I have been always a film lover. I got in love with
the process of making a film. I believe in the power of a film to help, at
least, create a conversation.
LatinoBuzz: With this incredible wave of Chilean filmmakers winning
awards and the Oscar nod for ‘NO’ – given the filmmakers are not too far apart in
age – how much did living under the dictatorship do you think influenced the
filmmaking and voices of you all as artists?
Andres Wood: The dictatorship affected all the society in different
ways. Some people were politically affected, others were affected because they
were not aware of what was happening, others were in favor, others against,
some were victims, some were murderers. Everyone was affected due to economic
changes (for good and bad). It is impossible to do a film that doesn’t have
some footprint of the dictatorship.
LatinoBuzz: With Violeta now immortalized in a beautiful film of her
complex life, do you think it’s time that Victor Jara’s story should now be
Andres Wood: I would love to
see a film about Victor Jara. It is still to make one complex because the trail
against his murderers is still open. He is one of the inheritors (with Angel
Parra and others) of Violeta Parra’s legacy. And as Violeta he is a true and
complex artist with many talents and incredible bravery.
LatinoBuzz: Violeta was obviously a public figure – what was the casting
process like? And what was the collaboration with Francisca as a director like?
Andres Wood: The film is based on the performance of the actress. We
were so lucky to find Francisca. She worked almost a year preparing for the
role. We didn’t expect her to sing but after her work with Angel Parra, she
sang all the songs in the film. Her understanding of the character helped us to
rewrite and improvise a lot. It was a joy to work with her.
LatinoBuzz: Was there anything about Violeta that you related to
Andres Wood: I wish I have something of her. I can tell you only my big
LatinoBuzz: With a lot of Latin American film’s being co-productions
with companies overseas and in some cases, between several countries, does that
ever affect the creative process?
Andres Wood: Co-production between production companies between
different countries is an act of faith. You have to choose your partner
believing that they want to do the most original film that we can. Of course
there are legal restrictions but I have been lucky enough that our partners
always have helped us to keep the soul of the film.
LatinoBuzz: Who is the person that you admire the most?
Andres Wood: My wife. Admiration and love go together.
LatinoBuzz: Your favorite journey?
Andres Wood: The South of Chile.
LatinoBuzz: What’s your next film?
Andres Wood: I am in pre-production of a miniseries for Chilean TV related with the 40 years of the military coup.
For information about
Violeta Went to Heaven and screening times, check out: http://bit.ly/10eHD8X
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 and Facebook