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[Interview & Promotion] – Laura Plancarte – ‘Tierra Caliente’ – A Feature Film


Posted October 14, 2015 by

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Interview with director, Laura Plancarte:

To begin with, let’s talk about your latest film ‘Tierra Caliente’, what is the film about?

It is the story of a family from the state of Guerrero, Mexico. As they go about their normal lives, they are caught in the crossfire between the Narco and the military. The film tells the story of how the Narco kidnaps the husband of ‘Daughter 2’, and how one hundred taxi drivers set out on a search to try to find him. It explores and how the tragedy affects Daughter 2 and the rest of her family. The screenplay is a transcript of conversations from the family recorded over a period of two and a half years. Actors play the members of the family to protect their identity, but we are able to hear the actual recordings throughout the film, to remind the audience that these people are real

How did you get involved with the film?

I wanted to portray Mexican tragedy of the drug war through a perspective that wasn’t sensationalist. When I met ‘Daughter 1’ on a bus and she told me her story and the story of her family, I felt compelled to make a film about them because I realized that this type of story and emotion is what we were missing in the media reports. Through their story we are able to see how complex the drug war is, and at the same time we are able to see how in Mexico, regardless of the dangerous situation, that people still have a sense of community and of solidarity. When I learned that 100 taxi drivers went on a search to look for their missing colleague who had been snatched by the narco, I was inspired by their courage and their passion to save their co-worker. I felt that I needed to join their fight to seek a better future for Mexican people. Going on this journey with real people who are fighting to survive changed my life.

Lets discuss the script, as we understand it is based on transcriptions over a two-year period…

Yes. I worked with the family for a period of two and a half years. We worked on interviews but mostly the family auto recorded their daily life. I believe that it’s almost impossible to capture someone through an interview but you can only come close by achieving an intimacy, which allows him or her to forget that they are being observed. We started working through this method originally for safety reasons but with time that I realized that this was actually a great method to allow me to show their life in an honest way.

One of the greatest challenges of the film was writing the script. I had more than 500 hours of recordings and while writing they where still recording, so the script needed to change and adapt as we were developing and shooting. I needed to select only the material that would construct a story that could work as a film without losing the essence of the daily life of the family and the sense of passing time.

While you have great experience with Short Films, ‘Tierra Caliente’ is your first feature film, how have you found the transition?

It has been the greatest adventure of my life. I have learned loads, have met really interesting people and have made important bonds and connections. Five years ago I met director Fernando Mirelles and while talking to him at a BAFTA event, he gave me one piece of advice: “If you want to make a feature film, make short films, video art, work commercially, so the day you have the opportunity to make a feature you’ll be prepared.”

I think Tierra Caliente came at the right moment in my life, and I’m very proud of the work we have achieved. It has been an incredible process of collaboration. I had a great cast and an amazing crew. I worked with two really talented DOP’s and two fantastic editors and with a great production designer.

As ‘Tierra Caliente’ is a true story, are you hoping to achieve anything with the film? Or is it purely an entertainment piece?

Definitely I think it’s not only an entertainment piece. I strongly believe that the film can join with other projects that are seeking a better future for Mexican people. It was the first time I worked with real people and I have to say that it changed my life for the better. I learned that there is no stronger story than reality and that you can be as creative when working with reality as in fiction. You have the opportunity to give a voice to people who need to be heard, and to show the world these urgent, hidden problems. I think that initiating dialogues and asking questions about situations that haven’t been tackled in an appropriate way is a responsibility and people do have a voice in it.

What are your influences as a Filmmaker?

I’m a very diverse sort of person. I love David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Darren Aronofsky, Steve McQueen, Pierre Perrault, Erroll Morris, Joshua Oppenheimer, Sam Mendes and Carlos Reygadas.

What is the next step for you? Do you have any other projects in production?

Currently, I’m working on my next film called Brothers, with Roast Beef Productions. This film tells the story of two Mexican brothers who have crossed illegally to the US four times, they have been jailed, and deported, and had all sorts of dangerous adventures along the way, and yet regardless of all this, they still dream about returning to the US. The film asks the question: why do they want to go back? What are they really looking for? I’m very excited with the making of this film because the immigration problem between Mexico and the US will be portrayed through the encounter with a family, showing us that to achieve a dream first we need to know the name of the dream. It’s not the American dream but the Mexican escape.




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