Sunday, April 8, 2012


The very beginning of the film
With the release of Sirwiñakuy, I've been getting a lot more messages, emails, reviews, and commentaries. It's pretty amazing that people have taken so much to my first film. Something that not many people expect from their opera prima.

The beautiful response that I've had to this film is almost overwhelming, but it's made me think about why I make films. And since lately I've been feeling like I need a break from work, (you know, like, a vacation) I feel the need to revisit and coalesce the reasons that I make films.
 When I first released Sirwiñakuy in theaters in Bolivia the response was mixed, critics divided, some openly hostile, others supportive. The audience as well was divided, but didn't stop watching, word spread that it was a film that needed to be seen, and so it stayed on the big screen for 5 months.

Luis takes Anouk's wrist
Going with Sirwiñakuy to CineKink 2012 was a wonderful experience, and the response was touching. One woman told me that I expressed something with my film that she had never had the words to say. Others simply told me how much they liked and, how great the movie is.

And there were comments in magazines as well. Good stuff.

Now, with the release on DVD and download, that beautiful response has been coming in from all corners of the Earth. I'm amazed by how easily word of mouth spreads over the internet.

A Danish couple sent me some messages and the wife, a prominent Danish D/s blogger wrote a great review that can be read here in English and read here in Danish.

Things get interesting...
The messages read as follows:

Audiences are divided about whether this is rape or love-making
"On the odd click I found 'Sirwiñakuy' last night and decided to purchase and download it. My purpose was for my wife and I to take it in - in bed - as a pleasant conclusion to a 17 hour drive from Austria to Denmark. I feared I might fall asleep at some time during the 111 minutes. That never happened.

Here's a quote from the sparing conversation we had while totally enjoying your movie:

Her: This is an A movie. Not a B!
Me: I agree. It's an A+. .... I never said it was a B, I just said it was low budget.
Her: ... fantastic ....

We were particularly taken by the intricate expressivity of Veronica Paintoux, particularly the facial expressions, signaling the struggle of temptation, urge and reservation.

It takes an excellent director, a great actress and a good eye behind the camera to bring this out in such detail. Come to think of it, another director who has that ability is our own (ie. Danish) Susanne Bier, who recently returned from Hollywood with an Oscar. The movie also reminded us of Lars von Trier's work with dogma movies.

As I said: We were completely taken by the story, the acting, the directing ... and we will definitely watch your movie anew and find new facets on every occasion - just as we have with the classic 'Story of O'."

They went on to say in a second message:

A breach of boundaries?
"Your work is a sovereign example of someone having the guts to do what is right and true for them. Carl Th. Dreyer was criticized to death as Lars von Trier has been all along. I'm quite certain it escapes even Susanne Bier why she's currently (commercially) one floor above you in the tower of film.
In our opinion you're poised to become - you are - big. I think we most certainly 'got it' and the sensations you stirred with your work still linger with us. What more can anyone ask than to make a difference to someone. To give something to somebody. Not anybody but those appreciative and grateful somebodies. Eg. us."

A detail...
I would have to be made of stone for these words not to touch me. Touched, was I indeed. The second message made me tear up a little. It didn't hurt that they compared me to Lars von Trier, Susanne Bier, and Carl Dreyer. That's something that would put a smile on any young filmmaker's face.

To have someone say to me, "your movie touched (insert other positive verbs here) me", or "you said something with this film that meant something to me on a personal level", means so much to me. That I might have impacted another person, even one, in a positive way, that I gave something wonderful to another. That is a big reason why I make films.

Anouk admires Luis' ancestral home
Sirwiñakuy, being my first film, has a lot of "me" in it in terms of art. The soft light, the characters, the way the story plays out. Not every film has so much of one's self in it. This movie was something kicking around in my head and on paper for more than 10 years. It was a part of me. A part of me remains in the movie and will always be there.

I wanted the movie to be right. I wanted to wait for the moment when I could understand the characters, when I had the maturity to make this movie. The story needed to be told carefully, about this delicate, violent relationship. And so they tell me I did.

So... Soul-crushing criticism? Check! Bouncing back with the even better (and better written) complimentary criticism? Double check!

(You might want to have a snack handy while viewing)
I've since gone on to make 2 more films, very different each in their own way. And I don't believe in going back and re-editing. Every film is a new adventure, a new opportunity to learn.

This subject of putting my "self" into my movies has come up more lately because I'm finishing the script of what I hope will be my fourth film. It's about a family of vampires. I play a member of the family. Can a film director make a movie about a family without going over their own family issues? Is there a reason they're vampires? *cough* We shall see. This one is dark, most will find it darker than the last three films.

But even in a dark film, there is an opportunity to give of the light, a thing that shines for someone. Even tears or anger can be a gift sometimes...

You can get Sirwiñakuy on DVD right here and on download right here!

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