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Sunday, September 25, 2022

the difficult task of teaching in poor neighborhoods against the advance of drug trafficking

Juan Minujín and Diego Lerman, protagonist and director of Alternate, are ready to present their new film. The international premiere took place this Sunday (September 11), at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The cast of this co-production is completed by Rita Cortese, María Merlino, the Chilean Alfredo Castro, recognized for his participation in films such as Nope Y The cluband a group of non-professional actors.

The film tells the story of a literature teacher who begins teaching at a high school in a peripheral area of ​​the city, where he must win the trust of his students and integrate into a world that is completely different for him.

"How was it working with Juan? You would have to ask him (laughs). No, serious: Juan was a huge ally of this film and a very sensitive actor who understood where the search was going. He was a very big accomplice of this adventure", Lerman defines his relationship with Minujín.  Photo: Martin Bonetto

“How was it working with Juan? You would have to ask him (laughs). No, serious: Juan was a huge ally of this film and a very sensitive actor who understood where the search was going. He was a very big accomplice of this adventure”, Lerman defines his relationship with Minujín. Photo: Martin Bonetto

The plot includes the problem of the advance of drug trafficking in vulnerable neighborhoods and its filming was in different locations on Isla Maciel, Avellaneda, Barracas and Lugano.

After passing through the imminent San Sebastian Festival, where he will participate in the official competition in search of the Golden Shellwill open the Biarritz Latin American Film Festival (September 26) and its arrival in local theaters is scheduled for next October 20.

Almost with one foot on the plane, the talk, first with Minujín and then with Lerman, allows an approach to the genesis of the film and the shooting in the middle of the second wave of the pandemic.

Pandemic and after…

Juan, what attracted you to the proposal?

"In the research I did -sometimes with Diego and sometimes alone- it included going to schools in popular neighborhoods, meeting with many teachers, attending several classes, we were able to see the topicality of the topic," explains Minujín.

“In the research I did -sometimes with Diego and sometimes alone- it included going to schools in popular neighborhoods, meeting with many teachers, attending several classes, we were able to see the topicality of the topic,” explains Minujín.

Minujín: In principle, work with Diego. He is a director that I admire and I have seen all his films. Also, the script, which I really liked. I know that Diego worked on it for many years. I read it and I really liked it. In the middle came the pandemic and we suspended everything, because we didn’t know what was going to happen to the project. So the main attraction was the combination of working with Diego and the story.

A very current story…

Minujín: Yes, in the research I did, sometimes with Diego and sometimes alone, that It included going to schools in popular neighborhoods, meeting with many teachers, attending various classes, we were able to see the topicality of the topic.

Talking with Nacho Levy, from The powerfulSince I was also in the Fátima neighborhood (Villa Soldati) with people from this movement, I verified that the situation is very current. What role does education play as a safety net? You can see how drug trafficking is advancing in the neighborhoods and taking advantage of the weakness of the younger boys.

The cast of the film is completed by Rita Cortese (photo), María Merlino and the Chilean Alfredo Castro, among others.

The cast of the film is completed by Rita Cortese (photo), María Merlino and the Chilean Alfredo Castro, among others.

The advance of drug traffickers

The most vulnerable…

Minujín: Exact. It is very difficult to talk about social policies without talking about drug trafficking. Unfortunately it is so. Leaving the issue of drug use, moral or not, there is something that has to do with the reality that these people live every day.

It is alarming that no one takes the issue seriously, with the complexity and comprehensive response that it should have, not simply point to the punitive. It is a very complex thing to deal with.

Actors “not” actors

Young people participate in the film, who are not professional actors. How did you work with them?

Minujín: They are all boys who came out of a casting of María Laura Berch, who in turn coached them. I think that was the most challenging experience because it always is to work with non-actors. Besides, here it was a complete group that represents the students. Diego likes to look for a certain spontaneity, but the bond with and between them was rehearsed a lot. In addition, I was also in the auditions.

How was the relationship?

Minujín: About the end, something very emotional was generated because we were saying goodbye. For us, perhaps it was a more normal situation because you finished a job and then you get into another one; for the boys, on the other hand, it was something unique because it was the first thing they did. Many of them never imagined acting. The last two weeks of shooting all the school scenes were done.

The raw material of the actor

In these cases in which the characters are almost a carbon copy of real life, to what extent does the actor apply his own experience?

Minujín: I think that even when the character doesn’t have circumstances similar to mine, To a great extent, the raw material with which we actors work is our experience, human and personal. When you take an increasingly microscopic look at that human being, you find more things.

"I always put my experience in the roles, whether in this story or when playing an undercover policeman inside a prison," explains Minujín the genesis of the character.

“I always put my experience in the roles, whether in this story or when playing an undercover policeman inside a prison,” explains Minujín the genesis of the character.

I always put my experience into the roles, whether it’s in this story or playing an undercover cop inside a jail. Maybe what I get has nothing to do with me, but if I don’t, I don’t know what else to put.

What was it like finally working with Lerman? Were you able to incorporate or suggest things during the shoot?

Minjin: very many. Diego was extremely open, both in the script development stage, during pre-production and on set. He was very open and awake to see what was happening and what was useful for the development of the film. That interaction was very pleasant.

Do you feel more comfortable doing comedy or drama? What is more difficult?

Minjin: Everything is impossible for me (laughs). Everything is very difficult…

The truth is that it is not noticeable…

Minjin: Seriously, I find everything extremely laborious and difficult in the sense of complex. I have no difficulty starting to work, but I spend a lot of time on it because things don’t come out like that right away and comedy is easier because I’m so funny.

"Diego was extremely open, both in the development stage of the script, during pre-production and during filming," says Minujín.

“Diego was extremely open, both in the development stage of the script, during pre-production and during filming,” says Minujín.

William Coppola on the horizon

Is your next challenge the miniseries on the life of soccer businessman Guillermo Coppola?

Minjin: We came in pre-production a month and a half ago and we started shooting in mid-September. I can not anticipate much and that it will be for the Star + platform.

Are you moving forward with your Atlantis art venture?

Minjin: I’m still linked, but I don’t handle it anymore. It was a beautiful idea that exploded during the pandemic because Many families felt very supported. It has something very nice that is to add a little knowledge of the world, of animals, of flora and at the same time combines playfulness when drawing and coloring. My parents raised me on knowledge and play and I try to pass that on.

Are you linked to another type of philanthropic activity?

Minjin: I prefer to call them social rather than philanthropic. I keep in touch with the people The powerful and I participate in different campaigns such as Unicef.

I highlight the The powerful because it seems to me that it is a group that has the virtue of having generated a huge support network in the neighborhoods. It is as if the entire absence of the State, which is enormous, is covered by these types of communities and groups. I respect and admire them very much.

Substitution: Minujín leaves, Lerman enters

Although after a day of interviews, Diego Lerman’s face shows tiredness, he still has the drive to tell us his impressions of the shoot. One last note awaits him, a round of anxious influencers, ready to surround him with their cell phones and cameras.

"There was a lot of research and teachers and students were interviewed. Then we looked for funding and with the pandemic everything was up in the air. We didn

“There was a lot of research and teachers and students were interviewed. Then we looked for funding and with the pandemic everything was up in the air. We didn’t know if it was going to be possible to do it…”, explains the director. Photo Martin Bonetto

How did the idea of Alternate?

Lerman: About five years ago with the producer Juan Vera, who located a teacher in a suburb of Buenos Aires. He had done some research which he very generously passed on to me. Then I began to write a script that had a first stage alone, then María Meira and Luciana de Mello joined.

There was a lot of research and teachers and students were interviewed. Then we looked for financing and with the pandemic everything was up in the air. We didn’t know if it was going to be possible.

How long did the shoot last?

Lerman: Seven weeks, with the first four quite normal and the last ones very complicated because they worked during the last great outbreak of Covid. We had everything from infections to close contacts and we thought that we would never be able to finish it.

It seems so far away but the filming was done with swabs, protocol and the sea by car. In a week the entire production team fell and they had to go out and look for replacements so as not to stop filming.

From the beginning did you think about non-professional actors?

Lerman: Yes, I was attracted to the idea of ​​crossing experienced actors with the students and teachers who also participate. They had to be trained and trained beforehand. We seek a lot to generate bond and trust, even from improvisation.

Did you find surprises in the selected ones?

Lerman: All the time I was surprised by the reactions. Some were more participatory than others. I felt the concept of a live film where you had to be attentive to catch reactions. The artifices of the cinema were given so that everything would happen naturally.

Did you have any security problems in the areas where it was filmed?

Having to shoot in poor neighborhoods, says Lerman, "we had the decisive support of the people in the neighborhoods where we were filming. We felt very protected and supported by that care."  Photo Martin Bonetto

Having to shoot in poor neighborhoods, says Lerman, “we had the decisive support of the people in the neighborhoods where we were filming. We felt very protected and supported by that care.” Photo Martin Bonetto

Lerman: We have the decisive support of the people of the neighborhoods where we filmed. We feel very protected and sheltered in that care. Everything went smoothly and without any problems. Previously we went to tell them what we were going to do, we sought to generate trust and for them to know us.

How was working with John? Are you rigid with actors?

Lerman: you would have to ask him (laughs). I am very close to the actors, I love that they propose and decide. Juan was a huge ally in this film and a very sensitive actor who understood where the search was going. He was a very big accomplice in this adventure.

CJL

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Reference from clarin www.clarin.com

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