“The Place Beyond the Pines” director Derek Cianfrance and “No” star-producer Gael Garcia Bernal spoke to Indiewire at the TIFF Talks held during last week’s Toronto International Film Festival.
Having his film acquired by Focus Features literally hours prior to sitting down with Indiewire put Cianfrance in high spirits. “It’s kind of a dream to wind up with them,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of respect for the films that they’ve made.”
Despite his previous film, “Blue Valentine,” being very well received at Sundance in 2010, Cianfrance hasn’t always been so lucky. “The first film festival you go to without a distributor, there’s a lot of pressure because you don’t know if you’re ever going to find a home,” he said. “I feel very fortunate with these last two experiences because I did have an experience in 1998 with my first student feature “Brother Tied” which went to Sundance and no one wanted to talk to me afterwards. I’m still waiting for somebody to call me up and want to distribute that one.”
“The Place Beyond the Pines” dwarfs his previous film in scope with a story that examines several generations of a family. “I was always interested in what happens to things over time,” he said. “Looking at people’s faces over time. I love old faces and I love to see what time does to things. It can be a beautiful and very violent thing sometimes.”
Ryan Gosling stars once again, this time as a bleached-blonde bank robber sporting a face tattoo. “A day before we started shooting, Ryan said to me, ‘I think we made a mistake with the face tattoo. I think we should get rid of it,’ and I said ‘That’s what happens when you get a face tattoo: you wish you didn’t and there’s no going back now.’”
Gael Garcia Bernal had a lot to say about the political implications of his latest film “No,” a fictionalized account of the events that ended General Augusto Pinochet’s Chilean dictatorship in 1988. Bernal plays an adman recruited by the “No (more Pinochet)” side to design a television campaign encouraging people to vote.
“Everyone has a story to tell in Chile about the dictatorship and about what happened during this campaign in ‘88,” he said. “We talked to a lot of the people that were involved in the campaign. They never thought this was going to become a movie, so they were pretty surprised and very open to talk about it. Especially people from the ‘No’ campaign. It was very hard to find people from the ‘Yes’ campaign because they lost. Nobody holds themselves responsible, so it was very difficult to talk to them.”
Director Pablo Larrain opted to shoot the film on analog with a 4:3 aspect ratio, allowing the film to seamlessly incorporate archival footage. While Larrain was not present on Sunday, Garcia (who has directed several shorts himself) was able to address questions regarding these aesthetic choices.
“Nowadays, there is a nostalgic feeling with that material,” he said. “It’s how we saw TV in the ’80s, it reminds us when TV mattered. Now it’s different. In those days, if it wasn’t on TV, it didn’t exist.”
The downgraded visuals worked on another level as well. “The dictatorship period was a very horrendous period. It looked bad, it smelled bad, it was just a bad moment. That can’t be HD, it can’t look beautiful. It has to look rough, it has to look horrible.”
Bernal also mentioned that the plethora of footage they shot might be cut into a miniseries.
“No” will open in North America early next year.