Eksklusivt interview: Walking Distance

Kategori Interview af - februar 16, 2016
Eksklusivt interview: Walking Distance

Vi fik her på siden tilbudt et eksklusivt interview med den mexicanske instruktør, Alejandro Guzmán Alvarez, og det kunne vi selvfølgelig ikke sige nej til. Interviewet fandt sted i forbindelse med Hr. Alvarez’ besøg her i Danmark, hvor hans film Walking Distance har verdenspremiere. Til de interesserede, vil han være at finde her i landet de kommende dage.

Det, der følger er ganske enkelt interviewet:


What compelled you to make Walking Distance , is society’s condemnation of the obese an issue you care about and if so why?

As contradictory as it may seem, I never thought that obesity was the main theme of the film. For me it was always only part of a context. Itzel’s mother and brother suffered a genetic disease that did not allow them to move easily because it caused a lot of pain.

For them getting out of bed and going to the kitchen or the bathroom, became a long and painful odyssey. This paradox of making long trips just a few meters inspired Itzel to write Walking Distance that directly translated from Spanish means “short distances”.

However, she didn’t want to write about the disease directly and found many parallels with people who suffers morbidly obesity. Federico is suffering from his condition, but we don’t see him making a diet or jogging to lose weight. A story like that would have never interested me. Fortunately this movie is about something else.

For me is about three misfits who finds solace in friendship and art.
Imagine, a man weighing 200 kg that doesn’t want to leave his house, a boy who loves comics, but doesn’t have any friends his age, and finally a man whose life is controlled by his wife. During any normal circumstances, they couldn’t have been friends, because they don’t have anything in common. Nevertheless, the wonderful thing about this story is how people, who are so different, can build a strong, complicit relationship.


How did you find Luca Ortega, who plays Federico?

For me the hardest part of making this film was to find the actor who was going to play the role of Federico. From the beginning, I wanted to work with someone who actually suffers from morbid obesity.

My casting director and I visited several hospitals where they treat this disease. We met many people with weight problems, but at the end of the day, no one else [but Luca Ortega] was able to convince me. That’s because, for me, the person who was to interpret Federico’s part had to meet three basic conditions to get the job.

The first was, as I said, he had to suffer from morbid obesity, and if not, at least be someone very big, to make it look and feel as if he is really suffers from the disease. The second was that he had to be charismatic. The camera would have to love him. 98% of the film is Federico infield, and if someone did not empathize with this character from the beginning, the film was practically death before it even started. One night my photographer phoned me. She was in a movie premiere and told me that she saw somebody who probably could work for the role. His name was Luca Ortega and he was one of the musicians, who was playing at that party.

I began to stalk him on Facebook and I send the script, so he could read it. He answered me two weeks later, and told me that he would play the role under one condition – he had to compose the music. A couple of days later I did a screen test with him and he was fantastic. He is a natural actor. He left everyone with their mouths open.


Why did you choose to premiere it in Denmark?

I did not chose Denmark, Denmark chose us.


Is there something you hope people will take with them, when they have seen Walking Distance?

I love films that remain in my mind and heart. An image, a sensation. I aspire to make this a movie, that can follow someone throughout their lifetime.


What was the biggest challenge during production?

Working in Federico’s house was the biggest challenge. The set was literally falling apart. We had to reinforce the floor to avoid it from collapsing. On top of that, it was a rainy season and we had to stop shooting every afternoon, because the ceiling gave off water that could damage the equipment. It was like filming inside the Titanic.


Was there something that surprised you, when you set out to make Walking Distance?

When my casting director and I were looking for an actor to play Federico’s role, I went to group therapy with many people, who suffered morbid obesity. All the stories that I heard left me impressed and moved. I could make a movie based on each of these testimonials.

There was this taxi driver who preferred spending his entire month’s salary on food, rather than pay the rent. Such decisions eventually got him into a lot of troubles with his family, because they were very poor. I remember when he told me: “I am a junkie, you know… If I feel lonely, I eat because I feel sad. If I feel happy, I eat because I feel happy. If I feel angry, I eat too”.

There is no happy obese man.


What have you learned from the process of making this movie and what will you do different in your next project?

Making a movie is a very difficult thing to do. So many sacrifices have to be made during the process, but it is worth it if, as a director, you are honest with your own material. Making movies takes a lot of time too. Walking Distance took me almost two years and for me it was like breaking a personal record.

In comparison, I have this colleague in Mexico that spend around five or eight years finishing a project. For a film director it is very easy to lose your enthusiasm and direction during that time. I learned that a project should not take too much time. Of course, it depends on the movie that you are making, but if it takes you more than three years, you have to learn to let it go and look to new horizons.

This post was written by
Grundlæggeren og chefredaktøren på siden. Med min baggrund inden for medievidenskab, og forkærlighed for film, håber jeg at kunne dele mine oplevelser med andre – på forholdsvis interessant maner.

1 kommentar on "Eksklusivt interview: Walking Distance"

  • Bemærk at instruktøren besøger Gloria i København på premiereaften torsdag, 18.2., 18:30
    og
    Nicolai Bio på lørdag, 20.2., 17:30

    Nikolai (Off-Kino)