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Inside Out 2015 Women Directors: Meet Na Torres – ‘Liz in September’

Inside Out 2015 Women Directors: Meet Na Torres - 'Liz in September'

Na Torres is currently a
director/writer/producer who brings experience from all areas of filmmaking to her work. In 1985, Torres won the Cannes
Festival Camera d’Or, among twelve other international prizes, for directing
and producing her debut feature “Oriana.” She co-wrote, produced and directed her second feature, the 1993 comedy “Celestial Clockwork,” winner of four international awards and
distributed in the US by October Films. 
She directed and was the executive producer for the Fox Searchlight romantic
comedy “Woman on Top” with Penelope Cruz, which screened in the Official Selection of “Un
Certain Regard” at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for Best Director at the
2001 Alma Awards. In 2007 she co-wrote the romantic comedy “Prada To Nada,”
produced by Odd Lot and Lionsgate. “Habana Eva” (2008), a film she co-wrote and
directed, received 9 international awards as Best Latino Film. (Press materials)  

Liz in September” will premiere at the 2015 Inside Out Film Festival in Toronto on May 30. 

W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.

NT: Alone on vacation, Eva’s car
breaks down, leaving her stranded on the road. She ends up at Margot’s Inn, where
she meets Liz and her group of gay friends. Liz makes a bet that she can
seduce the straight newcomer in three days. No one knows she has a terminal
cancer and that she has already [accepted] the outcome. Eva, who has lost her
child to the same illness, falls for her and finds redemption, sharing with Liz
the most courageous act of love.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

NT: I believe love has no boundaries; it can
happen across sex, race and social status. Eva doesn’t fall for a woman: She falls
for Liz because they move each other, and they complete each other in their personal journey. Also, the film gave me the possibility to state that homosexuality is not
surprising or extraordinary. It is just as it is, as normal as having brown
eyes or long hair. We humans share the same joys, worries, desires, fears, even
the same uncertainty about death.  

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

NT: To adapt this very American play [Jane Chambers’ “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove”] from the
early ’80s to a contemporary Venezuelan story without losing its essence. The
play focused on friendship, the fear of being outed, the
difficulties of how being gay affected personal and professional relationships,
the painful price a gay life often had 30 years ago — with humor. Things have
thankfully changed significantly in the 21st century, though we still have to
deal with real, underlying homophobia in almost all countries. I wanted to
talk about today’s struggles: marriage, children, equal rights. Not
aiming for tolerance, but for equality and respect.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are
leaving the theatre?

NT: That we all have the same emotional needs,
pains and satisfactions; that no one is inferior because of their sex or sexual
orientation; that everyone has the right to choose when and how to leave
this life if suffering from a terminal illness.


W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

NT: Never accept that it is more difficult for women
to direct films, even if it is. Just go for it.

W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your
work?

NT: That I prefer form [rather] than content, meaning that
beauty prevails over depth. But I think, as Godard said once, form is content.
And it’s true; I love beauty in its largest sense. Beauty can be found
anywhere — you just have see it and frame it. Maybe that could be taken as a bit
conventional or superficial.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how
you got the film made.

NT: In Venezuela, we are lucky to have state
funding, though film distributors can participate. All Venezuelan movies are independent. We just have to put together a good and feasible project.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

NT: Julie Taymor’s “Across the Universe.” Brilliant,
original, masterful, extraordinary sensibility and craft. I also loved Jane
Campion’s “The Piano” for the same reasons.

 

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