Interview with Filmmaker Irene Blei (A LETTER FROM LETICIA)

A LETTER FROM LETICIA played to rave reviews at the April 2018 Under 5 Minute FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The idea of this film came at the moment we were working on an hommage, 38 years after the kidnapping of a group of school mates by military task forces in 1976/1977, seeking for pictures in which the missing students could be seen. There weren’t so many photographs in those days, so any document could be useful and I insisted in looking for and gathering old school report cards, notebooks, or drawings too.

During that search, our friend Claudia brought this letter, addressed to her by Leticia and kept, and it was really touching for me. After all that time, and aware of what had happened, every line in this letter sounded meaningful to me, and I so intended to make it visible. It was a coincidence that at the time I was then experimenting with watercolor painting.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

It took me about five months.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Animated Documentary.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Facing sadness was the worst part of it, and also dwelling with some of our former school mates emotions, that had been contained for so long. I literally cried over the painting of each tear in the film.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was highly moving to have a film done by yourself seen and understood in another country, another hemisphere, in a differet context by an audience with whom I did not share a common past or idiosyncrasy. I feel deeply grateful to the Festival for this brilliant idea of getting audience feedback.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I intended to make the real story, which affected so many people and not only Leticia Veraldi, widely visible through this letter. There have been at least 30000 victims of state terrorism in Argentina. After so many years facts are still not well known, even in my own country. Picturing it was difficult because of the lack of images, just some photos, and I felt like not showing her at all as a painted portrait. But that was impossible, so I reduced showing a drawn girl as less as possible. I thought that watercolor and transformations could help me avoid a direct, figurative approach. I also tried to place myself in that moment of Leticia’s life and youth, going back to the images that the text brings about.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I am a great fan of Canadian, Russian and Czech Animation. So I have seen some of these films hundreds of times, because as a teacher, I also show them.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

FilmFreeway is really easy and friendly. I love it.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Maybe some by local artists: Mercedes Sosa, Leon Gieco, Charly Garcia. And also Brazillian Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso ad Raimundo Fagner.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I am taking part in an animation jam with other women animators. Then, a new film, and maybe a book too. Meanwhile and besides: I will be busy with some workshops or seminars. I enjoy teaching as much as filmmaking.

_____

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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