Alejandro Loayza • Regista di Utama

– Il cineasta boliviano ha ricevuto quattro premi al Festival di Malaga con il suo primo lungometraggio: una pellicola sensibile che combina codici del western con l’ecologismo

This article is available in English.

utama [+leggi anche:
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emerged triumphant at Sundance and garnered even more success (and trophies) at the 25and Málaga Film Festival, where it won the Golen Biznaga for Best Latin American Film, as well as the Silver Biznagas for Best Director and Best Music, as well as the Critics’ Special Jury Prize (read the news). Its director, Alejandro Loayzanow finds himself in France, participating in a series of other gatherings, such as the one in Toulouse, but he was kind enough to take our call and answer a few questions.

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Cineeuropa: Do you live in Europe now?
Alexander Loayza: I live in Madrid and I study a Master in screenwriting taught by Mediapro and Complutense University. I will be in Spain until August, but I plan to make Madrid my base of operations, and twirl between here and Bolivia.

Your first film does not yet have a distributor in Spain, but this is the case in France. What is the situation in the rest of Europe?
On May 11, we will release the film in France, and we have guaranteed distribution planned in Switzerland and Denmark.

What does mean utama mean?
It means “Our housein the Aymara language; phonetically it sounds great and applies to any language. It’s easy to remember, so we didn’t have to look for another title, although in France they added the subtitle “Tierra Olvidada” [lit. “The Forgotten Land”].

You were a photographer before you started in the cinema, and you also have made short films and worked on a television series.
I started my professional career doing something unrelated to cinema, something that guaranteed me more money, that’s why I studied advertising, then I took part in a photography workshop: c is where I fell in love with photography. After that, I discovered the motion picture camera and loved it even more, so I started working as a cinematographer. When I realized the responsibilities a director could have, I wanted to take it on myself, so I started directing music videos, and that was the transition for me.

Your past career as a photographer is evident in utama, with all this beautiful framing.
Absolutely, because I have more talent for images than for words. I had such a clear idea of ​​what the film should look like that I drew the whole storyboard. When the DoP, Barbara Alvarez, came to embark on the project and we started talking about the film, she had the same type of film in mind, with its light and framing. Everything went very easily. And that’s why I’m doing a Masters in screenwriting, because images come naturally to me, but words don’t so much. The first draft of the screenplay utama was 43 pages, and I was sure I could film it using just that, but they pressured me to expand it to 75 pages.

It’s a film that expresses a lot through images., like pure, unadulterated cinema.
Silence can say a lot more than words, and looks certainly say a lot more because the way people look can’t hide how they feel. I wanted to use all that, the looks like the silence, and I wanted the unexplored landscapes to speak too. Likewise, I thought that in a relationship involving a couple who have lived together for so many years, which is the case of the protagonists, there would be no need to talk a lot, because everything is said through small gestures or phrases.

That’s where these wonderful non-professional actors come in.: this old married couple. I guess you enjoyed their natural spontaneity when it came to throwing them.
I think the process was really beautiful and we had fun. I shared the script with them, even if there are directors who don’t, in order to get the most natural acting out of it. But I did, and we rehearsed together.

utama sometimes looks like a western, and it’s also a love story with an environmental subtext How did you manage to combine these aspects so easily?
I worked on the script a lot, based on a step-by-step plan, then I divided it into index cards and stuck them on a wall to find that balance. I had it all there, visually, and the script gradually gained depth over time, fleshing it out. Which was born from my collaboration with my brother Santiago Loayzaa producer, and my father, Marcos Loayza, who was a script consultant. The Uruguayan co-producer, Federico Moreiraalso participated in this process.

But I guess pull in this desert, with its extreme climatic conditions, alongside the herds llamas, it couldn’t have been easy.
Obviously, it’s an inhospitable climate: we filmed during the only viable season, spring, because in winter, as soon as the sun goes behind the clouds, the temperature can drop very quickly to minus ten degrees, there is sandstorms and very windy. That’s why we were dressed like desert people, although llamas are very intelligent animals. We used three groups of them, and they’re so smart that by the fifth or sixth take, they knew what they had to do. Of course, it’s always difficult to film with animals, but llamas are so photogenic…

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