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CANNES L'ATELIER '06 INTERVIEW: Jose Luis Torres Leiva: "I am interested mainly in speaking about so

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire May 24, 2006 at 7:30AM

Every day through the end of the 2006 Festival de Cannes, including weekends, indieWIRE will be publishing interviews with filmmakers participating in the L'Atelier du Festival, which according to Cannes, "was created in 2005 to reveal a new generation of filmmakers through the world, whose works, still at the project stage, might one day be honoured by being selected for the Cannes Film Festival." Eighteen filmmakers were given the opportunity to participate in an e-mail interview, and each was sent the same questions.
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Every day through the end of the 2006 Festival de Cannes, including weekends, indieWIRE will be publishing interviews with filmmakers participating in the L'Atelier du Festival, which according to Cannes, "was created in 2005 to reveal a new generation of filmmakers through the world, whose works, still at the project stage, might one day be honoured by being selected for the Cannes Film Festival." Eighteen filmmakers were given the opportunity to participate in an e-mail interview, and each was sent the same questions.

Director Jose Luis Torres Leiva is at L'Atelier with his feature film project, "El Cielo, La Tierra y La Lluvia," a story set in the Chilean South that L'Atelier describes as a film about "the blending of man and his environment."

Please tell us about your previous work, including information about your recent films and other creative projects.

In 2004 I premiered a feature documentary called "No Place Nowhere" about the life of a popular neighborhood in the port of Valparaiso. Although it had the chance to be presented at several international film festivals (Rotterdam, Vancouver, Biennale, Mar del Plata, Jeonju, etc.) I could never release it commercially in my country, mainly due to the fact it was finished in video and was ignored throughout its route among national film festivals. Last year I presented a short film called "Women Workers Leaving the Factory", inspired in the "primitive" method of filming of the Lumiere Brothers. The short film has had a wonderful life of its own through many important festivals and it has brought great happiness to me.

At this very moment I am beginning the editing of a new documentary I shot last year. It is called "The Time That Rests" and it portrays the daily life of one of the oldest mental institutions in Chile. By the end of June I will begin work in a new "silent" documentary called "The Works", and thanks to the aid of the Hubert Bals Fund of Rotterdam Film Festival I am also writing a new script of what will be my second fiction film called "Summertime."

Please tell us about your new project. What is it about and what inspired you to pursue this new project?

The movie is called "The sky, the earth and the rain". It is a very simple project. It deals about the life and relations of three women and a man in the south of Chile. Their silences, their encounters, walks, strolls and jobs. It is a visual, atmospheric movie where human and landscape fuse onto the same level. I am interested mainly in speaking about solitude and isolation but not as a negative consequence, but rather as an internal process of learning.

"El Cielo, La Tierra y La Lluvia" director Jose Luis Torres Leiva. Photo courtesy of the filmmaker.

What do you hope to accomplish for the project while you are in Cannes? What are your specific needs to continue developing your new project?

I do not wish to put too much expectations about what is to happen at Cannes. The sole fact that the project has been selected to participate in the Atelier is an incredible, unique chance. The main need now is to find financing to shoot the movie. In Chile we have gathered no support from national funds, although we have had the luck of obtaning international support from the Fonds Sud (France), Hubert Bals (Holland) and a scholarship grant from Fundacion Carolina (Spain.) I trust we will be able to initiate shooting by the end of this year.

What are some of your favourite movies and influences, including other films and filmmakers, as well as other creative influences? Which films are you most interested in seeing at this year's Festival?

Many are the directors and movies that have influenced me.

The first one of them is Robert Bresson, but also Abbas Kiarostami, Yasujiro Ozu, Chantal Akerman, Jean Marie Straub & Daniele Huillet, Pedro Costa, James Benning, Tsai Ming Liang, Hou Hsiao Hsien, Maurice Pialat, John Cassavetes, Jia Zhang Ke, Jacques Tati. Victor Erice, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Jean-Luc Godard, Naomi Kawase, Jean Eustache, Roberto Rossellini, Philippe Garrel, Michelangelo Antonioni, Kenji Mizoguchi, Bela Tarr, Claire Denis, Glauber Rocha, Werner Herzog, Bruno Dumont, Artur Aristakisian, Nobuhiro Suwa, Eric Rohmer, Sharunas Bartas, Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Ingmar Bergman and many others. Among Latin American directors I am very interested in the work of Lucrecia Martel and Lisandro Alonso.

I do also have an obsession with the movies created by the Lumiere brothers and their cameramen. I was very impressed to have had the chance of seeing so pure, perfect works where the director is absolutely "erased." Some day I would like to work in such a manner. Furthermore, the two movies I have been most impressed by in these last years have to do with this: "Ten" by Abbas Kiarostami and "No Quarto da Vanda" by Pedro Costa.

I look forward to discovering this year in Cannes the movies by Pedro Costa, Bruno Dumont, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Lisandro Alonso, Nanni Moretti, Aki Kaurismaki, Claire Simon y "Hamaca Paraguaya" by Paz Encina, "India Song" by Marguerite Duras, "La Drolesse" by Jacques Doillon, "Harvest: 3000 Years" by Haile Gerima and the short films by Norman McLaren. I don't think I will have enough time to see it all!


[Get the latest from the Festival de Cannes throughout the day in indieWIRE's special Cannes '06 section.]

This article is related to: Interviews