Just a couple of months before Cannes Film Festival 2018, Colombian director Andrés Ramírez Pulido whose short drama Damiana was selected to Cannes Film Festival 2017 agreed to share his thoughts with CineSud Magazine on Cannes, enjoyments of world beyond the tangible in camera, ideas for next movies and professional guidelines.
“I enjoy the moment when the camera captures something beyond the tangible that is perceivable for your eyes, when an image transmits another layer of reality, perhaps something invisible, for instance, an atmosphere.”
The greatest attraction in the directing films
I think that directing films allows you to relate to people in a different way, moreover, you have an opportunity to see the reality in absolutely another way. I enjoy the moment when the camera captures something beyond the tangible that is perceivable for your eyes, when an image transmits another layer of reality, perhaps something invisible, for instance, an atmosphere. I take pleasure in these moments and would like to find them in order to shoot.
First successful experience of directing
For now I have directed 3 short films. To my mind, El Edén is the most rewarding experience for me as a director. It was an arduous job, we tried some new things and improvised. Every time I watch El Edén I relish it, as it is a kind of movies that I like to watch.
“My personal conclusion after attending Cannes is that you have to continue working as you have been doing before and not do it for recognition.”
Influence of Cannes Film Festival 2017 Official Selection and other festivals
The selection of one of your films in Cannes is great, however, it is not the biggest merit you can have as a filmmaker. Furthermore, being selected at this festival opens doors for you and generates expectations about your next film. My personal conclusion after attending Cannes is that you have to continue working as you have been doing before and not do it for recognition. The selection in the TIFF Toronto Film Festival was also very good for Damiana. The TIFF is a large festival, nevertheless, I did not enjoy it as much as other festivals. The TIFF is a great festival to watch movies, from main stream movies to experimental and independent films. I really enjoy it. But I felt it is more enjoyable and close other festivals like Berlinale or other smaller ones like Vila Do Conde.
Idea of filming Damiana
For a few years now, I have felt the need of observing and portraying the adolescence in the Colombian region (Tolima) where I live nowadays, especially those teenagers who have faced violence and neglection so deeply. I had an opportunity to meet a group of girls who are kept under surveillance in the middle of the woods and this encounter lead me to creation of the fictional depiction of them. By capturing their everyday life and the hostility in which they are immersed, I wanted to explore the intimate landscape of these teenage girls who try to express their longings and fears through their bodies, the only thing that actually belongs to them.
Reasons of choosing the name Damiana for the film
My maternal grandmother is named Damiana. Her name has always appealed to me, but not her, I wanted to pay homage to her name, however the movie took another course. Some people told me not to put that name to the movie, because people would relate it to “Damian” the son of the devil or a horror movie. After doing it, I understood that the main character has an internal struggle, with his desires, his demons, with the violence of his parents, so the tension is also in the name of the film.
Preparation for the production of the project
For several years I have been working with a group of my friends, we have filmed some short films and a feature film together. I feel very confident with them, what is more, inside the team there is my wife, Johana, she is the art director of Damiana, therefore I feel supported.
And the cast of all my films is comprised of non-professional actors. In ‘Damiana’ I wanted to have a cast of just girls, who had a very similar life to the history of the film and had the same experience. As I said earlier, this story was born from reality and I had a desire to work with the same girls who inspired the project.
Location of shooting the scenes of Damiana
I live in Ibagué, Colombia, a small city in the center of the country. The city is surrounded with tropical vegetation that I found attractive to film. So Damiana was filmed in places which teenagers go through every day, a vegetation charged with a disturbing atmosphere.
Running of Colombian production company Valiente Gracia
Valiente Gracia is a Colombian production company, was founded in 2012 with the intention of offering a creative platform for emerging directors. We focus on the creation of innovative and risky art house films. Valiente Gracia is run by me (Director and Producer) and Johana Agudelo Susa (Producer and Art director).
Directing of a full length feature film The Pack
La Jauría is about the violence that children inherit from their parents.
It is the story of a boy who stays in a secluded place in the middle of the jungle, he wants to be a protector of his mother and the desire to kill his father does not stop in him. Now we are in the development stage, looking for funding, we hope to shoot it next year and look forward to releasing it at the beginning of 2020.
My first goal is to continue filming, challenging myself, to move on as a director. I have many ideas on my mind that I want to turn into a film I hope to do for thanks. As a producer I want to contribute to the work of other directors who want to find their voice in the filmmaking.