Interview with Cuban film director Carlos Machado Quintela

piscina-filme-cubano-f-icaic

Our thanks to Peter Jordens for preparing this post.

La Piscina [The Swimming Pool], the 2011 debut film of young Cuban director Carlos Machado Quintela (1984), was shown at the 4th World Cinema Festival in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (August 7-18, 2013). La Piscina provides a minimalist view of the lives of four lightly disabled youngsters who spend a carefree day during their school vacation in and around a swimming pool. Not much happens and little is said during the 66 minutes of this unconventional film that slows you down and evokes peacefulness and intimacy with a dash of humor.

Carlos Machado Quintela talked about his movie to Federico Besamusca of La Chispa and Tessa Stevens of CultuurBewust. Here are excerpts of the two interviews (translated from the Dutch).

FB: The brochure of the World Cinema Festival emphasizes the absence of Cuban clichés in your movie. What do you think about that?

CMQ: This film is first of all the film of Abel [Arcos, who wrote the screenplay] and Carlos. We wanted new faces, new topics. Not a dancing mulatto girl, swaying palm trees, cigars, prostitutes, rum, or migration. For that matter, we could have made the film anywhere: in the Netherlands, Germany or Cuba. I prefer not to place La Piscina in a specific genre or see it as a metaphor. It is not about politics, not about disabled people, not about minimalism or about avant-garde. The film is what it is, La Piscina.

TS: What message did you want to pass on to your audience?

CMQ: The idea is that people should create their own movie in their mind. Recently someone told me that he did not come to the Q&A, because after seeing the movie he had so many questions in his head that he preferred to sit outside on a bench to think about them. That’s what I like: that the movie poses questions so that people will start to construct their own movie inside their head. Otherwise, for me the movie is more about what we lack than about what we have: one has to keep trying to overcome all obstacles. I like that: that people continue to do things even though they do not achieve what they want. That’s something I witness in my country every day. The willpower to keep fighting is something that I really value in people.

I have tried to do something new, to not use the same actors you see in all Cuban films. I also thought that the pool was a nice place for the film, because when you see the youngsters in the pool, their disabilities no longer stand out.

FB: What does the art of film mean for you personally?

CMQ: Film for me is a tool to gain insight into the incomprehensible world around us. The least you can do is ask yourself questions about unclear moments in your life. I think that lack of clarity is vital, especially because of the amazement that it generates. That’s why I believe that a film actually begins when the credits roll. The moment your hear a voice in your head saying, “Hey, what was that all about?”, that’s when the movie starts.

For the original interviews (in Dutch), go to http://www.lachispa.eu/artikelen/zwemles-in-la-havana and http://www.cultuurbewust.nl/film-75769-interview-la-piscina.

The trailer of La Piscina can be watched at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kNd5G0zFgo.

Two reviews (in English):

Deborah Young calls La Piscina “on the borderline of experimental . . . contemplative and enigmatic”; see http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/swimming-pool-la-piscina-berlin-421678.

Jonathan Romney calls it “a gently rewarding immersive experience . . . hypnotic and atmospheric”; see http://www.screendaily.com/reviews/the-latest/swimming-pool/5052099.article

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