Ian Haydn Smith: In terms of recent films, Los Debutantes comes from the same stable as Amores Perros, not so much in terms of culture or geography, but in its structure, more so than Pulp Fiction. Did this film have and effect on you and what other films did you draw on?
When we were shooting Los debutantes, Amores perros wasn’t released yet here in Chile. So this film didn’t affect or have any effect over us. We did study other films when we were preparing the shoot: in terms of structure Kurosawa’s Rashomon, for Gracia’s character Gilda had an important influence. Marlo Brandon in On the Waterfront was very important as well for developing Silvio’s character. All Martin Scorsese’s films were a big influence. David Lynch with Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart affected the way we worked with colurs and textures.
Were there many changes made to the script or structure during the shoot or editing stage?
We made a long journey with the script, we rewrote it more than twelve times in five years. The POV structure appeared in draft seven or eight. While shooting and editing the main thing was cutting and cutting. The script was too long. In addition we had to take out four characters!
Is the complex narrative structure something that you would like to continue in future films, perhaps playing with time more?
Maybe. It depends on the film. I am not wedded to any style or structure. Anyway, time is the most important tool in film making, it’s the essence of our work, so if I continue making film, I will have to continue playing with time.
There has been criticism that too many of the films coming out of Latin America portray its countries as violent places. Although this may not be representative of the actual output of films made every year, are you concerned with people adopting such a narrow view or do you feel that the films are capturing a real problem in many countries?
I don’t care what some people might think. What I think is that films coming from Europe and the USA are much more violent than films from Latin America, and nobody cares, but if they come from Latin America it provokes criticism. I don’t know why some people want Latin cinema to be just folkorical and to use nice landscapes. If films are violent, it must be because violence is essential part of our lifes. We don’t need bullets to feel unsafe or in a violent society. The daily news is definitely more violent than films.
Did the recent resurgence in the popularity of Latin American cinema make the funding of Los Debutantes easier?
No. the funding was very difficult and low for Los Debutantes and still is difficult for me. If somebody wants to fund a project, please let me know!
Do you see the trend continuing, with more films being made?
Yes, there are more film each year, and that is great. There are many reasons – fewer dictatorships, more money for culture, the success of Latin films in USA and Europe, more film schools, new technologies, etc.
And in Chile? Do you see film-making community growing larger there?
Larger and larger each day! It’s the same thing all over the world.
Was Los Debutantes made with an international audience in mind?
I really didn’t had a clear audience in mind, I just wanted to have my own debut.
Would you like to shoot a film outside Chile?
Yes. And I have all ready done it. I shot it in my film school in Cuba, a docuemtary in Haiti, Dominican republic and Paraguay. My next feature project, called 199 Tips To Be Happy, is going to be shot in Spain, and I would love to shoot all over the world. If there any British producers interested, I am available…