Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada have just finished “A Movie About Couples”. They are directors, producers and scriptwriters of their own films. They met at the International Film School of Cuba. She is Dominican and he is Spanish. This new film will be released in the fall of this year, and as they explained, the joint work within the framework of their marriage and profession was the inspiration for this new film.
“Oriol and I interpret the alter ego of ourselves, not to try to answer the question of how cinema is made as a couple, but rather to explore the commonplaces of power roles in a relationship and the world of cinema of author, with a rather comical and fun tone”, pointed out Cabral.
Here is the full interview exclusively for Listín Diario:
How are your film works doing in times of pandemic?
This time of pandemic has helped us to finish the post-production of our most recent film “A Movie About Couples”, to rewrite a previous project and to start writing future projects. We have not suffered from any medical complications in our closest family and friendship circle, and in this sense, we feel lucky.
What memories do you keep of when you studied cinema at the International School of San Antonio de los Baños, in Cuba?
From the three years that we spent studying cinema in Cuba, we keep many memories: having met teachers and classmates from all over the world, the films and filmmakers that we discovered and marked us forever, daily life at school and the adventures in the walks through Havana. There we met and became a couple, so for us, the school in Cuba also represents the beginning of our relationship.
His new movie is already sold. What is it called, what company bought it and when will it be released?
“A Movie About Couples” will be represented by Fandango, an Italian sales agency that also represents important Italian filmmakers such as Matteo Garrone, Paolo Sorrentino and Nanni Moretti. We are very excited to work with Fandango, they love the film and see qualities in it that we see as well. We believe that the premiere of “A Movie About Couples” will be held in the fall of this year.
In your case, has it been difficult for you to find who finances your films within the country?
At the beginning it was quite difficult. Our first film, “Tú y Yo”, was self-financed with the help of our relatives. With “Miriam Lies”, we couldn’t get anyone to produce it, so we became the producers of the film and it took eight years to get full financing. We did get to know financial collaborations along the way, such as Banco BHD and the IBERMEDIA, Tribeca and Fonprocine funds, as well as our friend and producer Pablo Mustonen, who helped us finish financing the post-production.
There are many talented young people making films in the DR. What difficulties do you face in your view?
We believe that like everything in the Dominican Republic, the question always depends on the social classes. If you are an upper-class young man, you are closer to business investors who may invest in your film. If you are a young UASD film student, it can be more difficult. For this reason, the Fonprocine fund is so important and must be cared for, improved and expanded. We also believe that some type of economic stimulus, either within the framework of Fonprocine or the Film Law, should include aid for promotion and distribution at the national level and support for films that are selected at prestigious international festivals and in nominations for the Oscars and the Goyas.
What experiences has your award-winning film “Miriam Lies” left you with?
We spent eight years with the script for “Miriam Miente” in our backpack, looking for money to finance it, and then we only had three and a half weeks to shoot it. That was very impressive for us. But after so many difficulties, we understand that it was a great school and that we are now better directors and producers. As directors, it was our first experience directing actors, it was our first fiction feature film, we traveled with the film to important film festivals such as the Karlovy Vary, the BFI London, the Chicago Festival, the Cairo Festival, the Guadalajara Festival , and many more. As producers, it was our first international co-production experience, we held commercial premieres in movie theaters in both the Dominican Republic and Spain, the film was sold to HBO and various airlines such as Copa, Air China, among others. We also won important awards such as the Best Film Award at the Huelva Festival, the Best Screenplay Award at the Gijón Festival and the French Critics Award at the Toulouse Festival, in addition to the Best Film awards at Los La Silla and Best Film Awards by the Dominican Critics ADOPRESCI.
How does a well-run marriage like yours work?
That question, which we often get asked a lot, was the inspiration for our most recent movie “A Movie About Couples”. Oriol and I play alter egos of ourselves, not to try to answer the question of what it’s like to direct as a couple, but rather to explore the commonplaces of power roles in a relationship and the world of auteur cinema. with a rather comical and fun tone.
In our real life, we organize ourselves according to the needs of the project in which we are working. There are tasks within the work of the cinema that I naturally do better or that Oriol does more easily. For example, Oriol is a very good photographer and has an amazing ear for sound. I tend to deal more with writing, distribution and some aspects of production.
What is the most difficult and the most rewarding part of working as a couple?
The most difficult thing about working as a couple is not losing sight of what is most important with the friction and problems of everyday life. The most enriching thing is the company in the most difficult moments and the other perspectives that the couple offers you when it comes to understanding the issues of daily life and cinema.
What would you like to change about Dominican cinema?
It is a complex answer to answer, because we are aware that being able to access the tax incentives of a Film Law in a country like the Dominican Republic is a privilege, almost a luxury. But at the same time, we feel that everything can improve, starting with our own work, so what we want is for the Film Law to continue, but for true talent and quality productions to be taken into account more seriously.
At this point in time with Covid-19 and its variants, is it necessary to completely close movie theaters?
This is a question that is not in our hands to answer, the health authorities are in a better position to recommend to the government what to do at all times. Of course, it is very sad to see empty movie theaters, but we believe that, once a better time is reached and culture and leisure can be enjoyed as normal, people will really want to do things and movie theaters and other places of leisure and culture could take advantage of this opportunity to renew themselves, because trends and customs may change after the pandemic.
What moments, positive and negative, have marked your professional career??
So far, we feel lucky because despite how difficult it can be to get financing for a film or to achieve the film that one has in mind, we have managed to make the cinema that we love and have enjoyed creative freedom.
How has the pandemic affected the personal and professional lives of both?
We really miss seeing friends, having more face-to-face contact with people in general, going to the movies and the social life of before, we believe that this happens to many people.
Do you believe in the importance of criticism?
We believe in the importance of criticism as long as this criticism is made from a deep knowledge of cinema and respect for the profession.
What project are you currently undertaking?
We are writing several projects. If luck is on our side, we’ll shoot one of them at the end of the year.
Are there good screenwriters in Dominican cinema?
A good script is an important element in a film, but what is difficult about making a film, the challenge, is that all the other elements have the same quality: the performances, the editing, the photography, the sound, etc. If one of these elements fails, the others are impoverished.
What changes would you promote for the Dominican Cinematheque?
When we lived in Barcelona, Oriol and I went to the city’s Film Library a lot. Its programming was full of classic films that we had always wanted to see, because of their importance in history, because of their innovation or simply because they made us very curious. We enjoyed retrospectives of important filmmakers, it was nice to spend a whole week viewing the complete works of an author or author, you get used to appreciating traits about cinema that can be difficult to appreciate in the rush of day to day or in other spaces for purposes commercial. We also used to go to small but very interesting festivals because they were specialized, like the Asian Film Festival or the Women’s Film Festival. At that time, the Filmoteca was our cinema house within the city, a kind of sacred temple, he accompanied us and we enjoyed it very much. That is what we would like for Santo Domingo.