An enigmatic subject makes a decision. He packs up some possessions, leaves money on the dining room table, and finally leaves an impoverished house, perhaps planning never to return. Hours later wake up Tamara (Angels cross), a woman with an intellectual disability, who is surprised by the absence of her brother and it is not long before she experiences the eerie loneliness. But everything takes a turn when, later on, she finds a lonely baby at a newsstand and decides to take her with her … This is how the drama Tamara and Catarina (2016), directed by Lucia Carreras, pays attention to the victims of abandonment and the way in which they can provide mutual warmth, even if it consists of a fleeting coexistence.
Four years after its world premiere and facing its premiere on the MUBI platform, Cinema PREMIERE He spoke with the film’s director and screenwriter, who told us about some of the production details, the nature of the story, and also about his future film projects.
The search for sublime realism
For the filming of Tamara y la catarina, which took place at the end of 2015, the locations included exteriors of the State of Mexico and the Historic Center of CDMX. However, more than 50% of the script took place inside Tamara’s house, which alone required three weeks of filming and made it difficult to use a genuine home to solve those scenes indoors. Thus, Lucia Carreras agreed to build a fake house in a television forum, with surprising results, although she originally was not convinced of such an idea.
«Working in the forum didn’t beat me. I think filmmakers are very given to prefer locations. It is for a matter even of sensation. But Jay Aroesty, who is the production designer for the film and who also did the production design for Days of Grace, he told me not to be afraid.
«He is a specialist in spaces, in terms of construction. So one of the advantages with which he convinced me was: ‘We will be able to reproduce the house that you want, that is, as you want it. As it is in your head, draw the plan for me and I will do it that way ‘».
The filmmaker was inclined to have a reference address in the municipality of Naucalpan, whose preliminary search was not easy. For the director, it was important that the house chosen was a single story and gray in color, characteristics difficult to find in colorful neighborhoods and where people “make the effort to keep building” upwards. Finally, a facade complying with these requirements was found and the team of Tamara and Catarina erected a forum movable and detachable house, which respected the dimensions of that authentic home.
«The advantage we had [en el estudio] it was nothing but the inner wall [la que divide la habitación de Tamara y el comedor] it could move. They could all be moved, the house was a puzzle, but what we did was not move the outer walls but basically just move the inner wall to make space for filming. And the ceiling had openings for the [fuente de] light is never inside the house but always comes in from outside, and that also gives it a more realistic feeling ».
Since he began writing the script, Carreras predicted a film full of opaque colors, arguing a reflection of “how I see Mexico City.” The filmmaker comments that the lighting included gray filters during filming, and already in post-production she chose to subtract color saturation from the filmed material.
«The images I had [en mente] and I think that they are managed to recreate in the film they are a poetic decadent thing. It is not pornomery, but there is something sublime in these gray walls, in these giant walls of houses, and houses and gray houses […] The art was very thought so that everything was thrown towards gray and we tried to work with few bright colors, basically so that the bright colors that stood out were those of Tamara, which are red and pink. Red, Catarina, and pink because it is her favorite color.
The fateful loneliness
In the story of Tamara and Catarina, it is not only the titular characters who must live together in an unexpected way. Upon learning that Tamara is sheltering an abandoned baby at home, Doña Meche (a neighbor, played by Angelina Peláez) decides to help her take care of the little girl, as well as providing her with the foundation of a good mother. Being also a lonely character, the old woman is soon absorbed by an unusual family dynamic, where three generations of non-consanguineous women form an emotional bond. However, Lucía Carreras tells us that at no point did she plan to be completely carried away by that light of hope.
«I was always very clear that it had to end in a realistic way. It was not an ‘And they live happily ever after’. It is not a film of that cut, it is a realistic film. My intention was to make a film that moves between two lines: the moving and the hard, the painful of this reality. It couldn’t have a one hundred percent hopeful ending.
The director claims to have explored several unflattering endings for the film, looking for the one that would be reached “more organically.” On the other hand, he was always aware that Tamara and Catarina would focus on the abandoned characters and not on those who left them alone. According to Carreras, it is up to the viewer to tell himself Eeas invisible subplots.
«The film talks about loneliness and abandonment, because all three are abandoned. Doña Meche is abandoned by her children, Tamara is abandoned by her brother, and the girl is somehow abandoned by her parents. And I wanted the story to be about the three of them. That the characters who abandon them were totally absent, except Paco [el hermano], which is the trigger for the story […] It was important to me that the point of view was theirs and what they experienced during those five days.
Four years away …
Tamara and Catarina was presented worldwide at the Toronto International Film Festival 2016, but it would not be until two years later that it would premiere commercially in Mexico. According to Lucía Carreras, that occasion – at the end of 2018 – would have been the last time she watched her most recent feature film, because she thinks that revisiting it is something “very painful.”
“I don’t know of any filmmaker who watches and watches his films. It is very difficult because as time passes, you begin to notice more things […] What you always see are the mistakes you made, the things that didn’t convince you. You do not see what you achieved, but you see the opposite«. So no, I prefer not to see them [ninguna de mis películas]».
The Mexican filmmaker mentions a scene that was extremely difficult to conceal a microphone shadow, which slipped in during filming and that she cannot ignore. However, what he does enjoy is receiving feedback from the public, as happened at the ReelAbilities Film Festival 2020, made up of titles about characters with disabilities and where Tamara and Catarina appeared as the opening film.
«It is very nice to discover the layers that a film has in the reading that different audiences make of it. I am super proud of Tamara and Catarina. It seems to me a very nice film, it seems to me very forceful […] I think it’s a very well made film.
Years ago, the Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences awarded this production three Ariel Award nominations, including Best Female Performance for Angels cross, who did not win and this does not stop generating confusion in Lucía Carreras. On the other hand, both the 47-year-old director and her lead actress won something more valuable than a statuette, and it was “a very intense, very strong, very intimate and very beautiful friendship.” Associates, founded the production house Mothercine, whose original objective was to build Cruz’s first opera, entitled Mixtec knot, an upcoming feature film where Carreras makes his debut in the production department and which (its release postponed due to COVID-19) will tentatively start a festival run next year.
Finally, about her next feature film as a director and screenwriter, the winner of the Ariel for Best Original Screenplay (La caula de oro) commented to Cinema PREMIERE be waiting for funds and advanced some production details.
«The intention was to film this year, but hey, we already know what happened … It’s a project called Posthumous And I have never said what it is about, nor will I ever say what it is about, because it is a project where the important thing is the revelations that are made within the story and it is very difficult to describe it without counting the revelations. It is a super small project. They are two characters, a location, a set, a night. So it’s very intimate, it’s very personal […] It is built from fantasy or magical realism. ‘
Tamara y la Catarina, written and directed by Lucía Carreras, has been available through the MUBI platform since November 29.
Lucía Carreras Tamara and Catarina
Toño Guzmán I have a very bad memory. Out of solidarity with my memories, I choose to lose myself too. Preferably in a movie theater.