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Sundance Film Festival 2022
Anniversary Short
Interview

Natalia Almada 
All Water Has a Perfect Memory
Short

altamurafilms.com

An experimental documentary about a family's loss of a child and the struggle between remembrance and forgetting. The film explores the cultural differences between a North American mother and a Mexican father in the face of death.

 

Hi Natalia thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange time

Like it has fir everyone I think it’s been a time of navigating a lot of uncertainty. But I will say making documentaries trained me to improvise and prepare for the unknown.

Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration or opportunities?

Yes and no.

 
We were in the final stretch of Users when the pandemic broke out. So suddenly we had to figure out how to finish shooting the film and doing all the final post work in this new reality.

The biggest gift Covid gave us was the opportunity to work with The Kronos Quartet who otherwise would have been touring but instead were grounded in San Francisco like us. We were also fortunate that our amazing sound mixer Lora Hirschberg had an opening on her schedule and also lives in San Francisco. Skywalker Ranch had adapted strict measures to keep us all healthy so we were able to work with the most amazing people in an incredible facility. Thanks to a grant from Dolby we recorded music in their amazing sound stage and finished the film in atmos. 

Your multiple-award-winning short All Water Has a Perfect Memory Won the Jury Award Tribeca Film Festival, what did winning this award mean to you?

I made All Water Has a Perfect Memory at RISD where I was doing my MFA in photography. I really has no intentions of becoming a filmmaker even though I was making a short film for my thesis. A professor recommended I send it to Sundance so I dropped a VHS tape into a mail box. I graduated, moved to NY, September 11 happened and a few weeks later I got a call that the film was invited to Sundance. Thats what really set me in course to become a filmmaker. And the most amazing moment was sitting in the bus to the directors lunch at the institute with Lourdes Portillo.

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"And now I love every part of filmmaking and that it is such a rich and complex endeavour that pushes so many aspects of how I think and gives me an amazing way to experience the world and try to understand it."

Congratulations on having All Water Has a Perfect Memory part of the Collection Shorts at Sundance Festival 2022, how does it feel to be back at the festival and did you imagine your short film would continue to have this long-lasting impact?

I’m really honoured to be part of Sundance’s history. All Water is a very personal and experimental film that I think was possible for me to make because I was in art school with no  filmmaking rules to obey and complete freedom. This gives me courage whenever I start a new film.

All Water Has a Perfect Memory is a powerful and truly heartfelt documentary that comes from such a personal place, did you have any apprehensions about sharing such a salient story?

Not about the personal aspect. I find that working in the autobiographical realm actually offers a lot of freedom because you are the authority on your experience. So often in documentaries we are looking at others which is much more ethically complicated in my opinion.

Looking back on All Water Has a Perfect Memory what would you say was the most valuable lesson you took from this filmmaking experience? 

I probably expressed this above but it was the courage to follow my instincts and make films outside the rules.

 

As a filmmaker how important is it for you to have a hand/knowledge of other areas within filmmaking like editing and cinematography and would you recommend emerging filmmakers spend time in other filmmaking departments?

I think this is personal. I love shooting and editing but I also know when I need others to step in. Some people can work better in collaboration. It’s about knowing yourself and figuring out how you work best.

 

Do you think filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the films/stories they want to tell?

Of course. Not only because it’s the most exciting creatively but because the world is always changing and we need new forma and ideas to reflect those changes. It’s absurd to think that the films made today should look like the film made even 10 years ago.

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Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?

No, but I’ve always had a passion for images. And now I love every part of filmmaking and that it is such a rich and complex endeavour that pushes so many aspects of how I think and gives me an amazing way to experience the world and try to understand it.
 

Since making All Water Has a Perfect Memory how much has your approach to your projects changed?

Each project is different for me so this would be a very long answer. Suffice it to say that it the thing which hasn’t changed is my commitment to form and images.

Is there any advice you would offer someone wanting to get into filmmaking?

Not really. It’s cliche but true - only do it if you love it.

And finally, what do you hope audiences will take away from All Water Has a Perfect Memory?

I hope it moves them and stays with them.