Andrés Waissbluth, a Chilean director who bet for a Children Movie. Elephant, The Horse will premiere in New York

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Andrés Waissbluth is Elephant, The Horse director, a movie that is in Colombian theaters these days and will have its New York premiere at The Museum of Modern Art next April 2nd and 8th. This is a co-production among Chile, Colombia and Mexico that took around 9 years of being made.

Waissbluth visited Colombia before its release and talked with CineVista Blog about what this experience has meant for him, to make a children movie, a segment that is far from being exploited in Latin America and it is more complicating to reach teathers into that region.

As a father, Chilean director has told the necessity to going to cinema with children and choose our own stories. “It is now that Latin American cinema has stopped its production of this kind of movies. We had great masters of children, youth and familiar cinema like Chespirito and Cantiflas in 70s and 80s. After that, there was a big gap that was filled for some Mexican movies casually. Mexicans were the inheritors of that and they still have a lot culture of children stars”.

In the last 10 years, for instance, Mexico has produced more than 15 movies like “El Jeremías”, “La Leyenda de la Nahuala” and the international successuful saga “Una película de huevos”. The other Latin American country that has tried to produce for this target is Argentina and the director explained: “Argentina has things like Violeta and all those teenage products. But, what is unexplored a lot is child’s adventure. I think this is new on Elephant, The Horse”. The feature film has had a good reception with children and teenagers. “I never thought that it would work good with 15 years old guys, but on the exhibitions they have enjoyed a lot, specially with the love story. There is more than a movie on Elephant, The Horse: we have the child’s story; the first kiss one; and the ultra classic, in 2D, animations”.

Co-productions in Latin America have contributed to produce films for this target, taking the marketing risks to compete with Hollywood and its incredible technique. Director said: “I think this gap in our cinema is serious, it is really unfortunate that we don’t make this kind of films. Cinema shapes our children’s brain, fills  them with references, feeds their imagination and shapes their values. It has a super power. But what we have now is children wanting to be American, but they are not”. Talking about that, In Colombia during 2016 was released 316 titles that represented 61.438.550 moviegoers. 24% of this consume was represented on Disney films. In fact, the most-watched movie was “Finding Dory” with 2.785.971 audience”.

It is a hard task to make this production with the strong marketing Hollywood allocates in order to cover every corner in the world, but at the same time, it is a necessity to make our own stories for children without expectations to finish with its hegemony. In this respect, Andrés Waissbluth explained: “I don’t believe Latin-American movies can finish with that, but we need to try to put a balance and make movies that offer our own imaginary, identity, idiosyncrasy and values without it means that they are less entertaining and exciting. We have to compete as equals”.

In fact, Elephant, The Horse is technically well executed, full of colors and using different resources which entertainment is guaranteed for parents and children. “When we decided to make a children film, we had to study some referents and the genre itself. We watched American productions that put the bar high for us. We couldn’t take our kids to theaters to watch movies they aren’t going to like. Then, what we did is to take everything that works well in American films beyond the topics and values. We had a great learning experience about the use of color, shots and camera”.

Movie has, indeed, a universal design of production. They took some references of classic movie “Pinocchio” and all Pixar filmography. The horse was inspired on “The never-ending story”, the novel written by Michael Ende and adapted in a 1984 film by Wolfgang Petersen. Besides this animal, there is a serpent in the story that is called “diva”, because they had to make special cares like putting air conditioning exclusive for its.

The genesis of this film was inspired on real story of Lalo Parra, who was a Chilean folklorist and composer. This story changed from biopic to child’s story with fantasy and adventure after Parra was not able to tell the same story every time they met. “The story had always something common: he was 10 and his brother 8 when they were behind a Colombian Mexican circus 124 miles from their home”.

This is the only part the original story keeps. On Elephant, The Horse we see two little brothers, one of them a comic fan, who embark on the adventure to release the grandfather’s horse in order to fulfill his last wish. “In 2010 uncle Lalo died and I had promised to make the film, so I decided to make it by taking the heart of his story. This one would be a film for kids. I tell parents that this is a story that feeds their children in a real positive way”.

One of the child actors is Ana Sofia Durand, who experience as actress is fundamental in this movie. Waissbluth said about directing children: “I thought it would be more difficult and, respectfully, it was easier than directing adults. But, you couldn’t make rehearsals with them, you have let them to be in order to get their spontaneity. You couldn’t make they repeat because star to perform bad. I made improvisation sections with them, so they forgot the camera and learned to respect the marks. All that was fun for them”.

To choose the main characters took more time than production had expected. They spent two years to get the two little brothers of this story. “We took such us long time because we were looking children in Santiago and we found “digital boys”, they hadn’t the innocent look we needed. When we traveled to some towns whose people have more contact with nature, we found these children”.

Elephant, The Horse has had positive reception as film festivals as theaters and audience has asked for a sequel. “We, in fact, are writing the idea, although we are not sure if this will be a sequel or the beginning of a series. This one really exciting me”.

Chilean director is developing a new story, it is a drama titled “Muertos Vivos”. “I like genres and I don’t like repeat me, in fact, I have a biblical idea and a western”. Waissbluth has two other feature films: “Los debutantes”; and “199 recetas para ser feliz” that talk about brothers. “For me, brotherhood relationship is the most important in life that lasts forever: parents die, your couple hasn’t been with you during your first years and we don’t know she or he will be with you all the time, but brothers will be with you during your entire life. It hasn’t been a rational decision, but when I look back I realize it”.

The premiere exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art in New York will be next Sunday, April 2, 2:00 p.m and Saturday, April 8, 4:00 p.m. Tickets for first and second exhibitions will be on sale next March 19th and 25th. The last exhibition will be followed by a discussion with director. This year, film will be also on Peruvian and Mexican theaters, but dates haven’t confirmed yet.

More details:

Interview with Sandra M. Ríos (@sandritamrios)

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