Night cap with Capacocha

Meeting with...

An interview with Tomás Pernich, director of Capacocha

la mouche cf Can you explain the choice of title? What does it specifically refer to in this film?
Capacocha is an Incan word (from the Inca Empire, in South America) which means Sacrifice. Not so often they use to sacrifice human beings, most of them children, in order to have a good season. It was sort of an answer to their God, the Sun God. A gift to the sun for his gratitude. Nowadays, the Capacocha still exist, however they don’t sacrifice human beings, instead they bring small gifts, most of them made by the same people who brings them (necklaces, jewelry, food, snacks, small works of art) and they put them in their houses or in some special places in their towns. For them, for the Peruvian people, it’s a way to still connect with their roots, but also the roots that relates to all of us: nature itself, the universe that gave us birth. In my film, there is a sacrifice, and there is a Sun God as well, but it’s not as explicit as it seems.

la mouche cf Was the fire in the church inspired by a real incident?
The fire was not inspired by any real incident that I know about. I wrote it thinking that the lead character had to have a very difficult reason to get away from his country and also, in a visual way, I could play with this event at the beginning of the film in order to captivate the audience.

la mouche cf What or who inspired you the character of the priest?
I think the story is inspired by a moment in my life and a friend that I had. Also, few years ago, I traveled to Bolivia and Peru and I discovered beautiful countries, and also very intimate people, very quiet people. I’m very quiet as well, so when I wrote the script, I had many things in my mind from my own life. First of all, I tried to do a sort of mob story, because I like them very much, but secondly, I thought of myself in that story, a quiet man with a lot of contradictions, with faith but also a very big quote of nihilism in his heart. He is a survivor, just like me, but the difference is that he is in a very complicated position in his life and that leads him to the betrayal. I don’t consider myself a traitor with others, but I understand that feeling, at least in my own self.

la mouche cf Can you tell us more about the imagery of the film? There are some surreal and very picturesque sequences. Who are your cinematic influences?
I have many cinematic influences, but not a favorite one, it depends on my state of mind. The surreal moment in the story, at least for me, happens at the beginning. In this scene I wasn’t trying to emulate any of my favorite authors, but I think that Luis Buñuel appears a little bit there. The cross setting on fire and the screaming face that appears throw the fire is a very Buñuelesque imaginary. But when I wrote Capacocha, I wasn’t thinking explicitly about cinematic influences. The only thing is that, when I was ready to roll, I thought about Spike Lee a lot, I remembered Do the Right Thing (because of the treatment of the characters, and the environment), and also because I wanted my story to happen in the summer of Buenos Aires. I wanted to deliver some extra heat to the situations. I also thought about Alan Parker’s Angel Heart, because of the hot weather that increases throw out the story. In fact I waited to do the shooting in the summer, although I had the money to it earlier; I had to wait almost a year. To be honest, I don’t think I could reach that kind of texture to the maximum expression (because the weather was cloudy most of the time), but I had this movies on my mind for sure.

la mouche cf What sort of freedom would you say the short format allows?
I think that is a sword with two sides. Of course you have a bigger freedom that you could have doing it with a big studio, or with a feature film in which you have a lot of compromises. But we don’t have to forget that the short film is, for many directors, a way to train the eye, a way to train their cinematic skills in order to have the experience to make a long film in a future. So I think the freedom exists, of course, but if you want to tell a story, to make a narrative short, you also have to put yourself some limitations in order to tell your story in an efficient manner. There are lots of paths to do this also, but telling a story with images has their own rules, the same as writing. And is the same with poetry, you think you have the freedom, but if an idea does not express the way you want, then you have nothing at all, just pure chaos. I’m not saying I’m against chaos, I love it, in fact it’s necessary and unavoidable, but it depends what you want to do, and when you want the chaos to be part of your work.

la mouche cf If you’ve already been to Clermont-Ferrand, could you share with us an anecdote or story from the festival? If not, what are your expectations for this year?
This is the first time of my life I travel this far from home, I also don’t know Europe so it’s all very new to me. It is also the first time that I’m in the competition of a big festival like this and not as a spectator, so… I don’t know what to expect, I guess I’ll find out as soon as I arrive. I’m very happy, I’m very excited, and also very nervous, but I’ll try to relax, enjoy the city, the festival, and have a good time.

Capacocha is being shown in International Competition I13.

Bonus: discover the video presentation of the film by the director.

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