Originally published during Raindance Film Festival 2020
During her husband’s funeral, Maritere receives an unexpected visit from Angela. Maritere’s overprotective son Fernando notices the strange interactions between the two women. Who is Angela? What was her relationship to Maritere’s husband? Feelings from the past are awoken and all is not what it seems in this comedic short.
Hi Pati thank you for talking to TNC, how are you held up during these very strange times?
It’s been very strange indeed, especially changing the ways we think about and how we develop projects, not to mention how we interact with people inside and beyond our communities. Thank you so much for the opportunity to have this conversation about our short film The Mistress.
Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?
Absolutely! Creating films or art works has become the way I reflect on and venture to understand the world. Earlier this year, I was lucky to be part of an online exhibition of artists from the Bay Area (USA) and Puerto Rico dealing with the repercussions of the pandemic on our queer communities and spaces. You can find more information about the exhibition here.
How much did your time at Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV in Cuba prepare you for your filmmaking career?
This international film school in Cuba trained me in many ways not only to develop a filmmaking career, but also to do so in a place with very limited resources. That has certainly helped me to develop projects in my home in Puerto Rico, where there is barely any support for emerging filmmakers.
Congratulations on having The Mistress selected for this year's Raindance Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of short films?
Thank you! I feel very honoured to be part of Raindance Film Festival this year, especially for having the work we’re doing here in Puerto Rico seen and our queer voices heard.
This will be your UK Premiere, does this add any additional pressure on you?
Not at all, our team is very happy to have our UK Premiere at such a prestigious and well-known film festival. We are very excited for the virtual festival to start and hopeful we can also be part of the festival physically some day.
Can you tell me a little bit about The Mistress, how did this film come about?
The story for The Mistress was initially inspired by an anecdote by the sister of my co-Screenwriter and co-Producer Adrián Pérez. Later Adrián and I shut ourselves in an apartment for a week and developed the full-fledged story for what ended up being the screenplay for the film. We didn’t have any money as we had just come back from our studies in Cuba but we did a crowd-funding campaign, and along with the raised funds and our wonderful cast and crew who donated their time to work on the film, The Mistress came to life.
What was the inspiration behind your screenplay?
The initial idea grew and developed with the interest on having the elderly queer community’s voices heard. We wanted to tell this story that might have happened to our grandmother, aunts or mothers, who maybe weren’t given the same opportunity as Maritere to try another chance at love.
What would you say has been the most valuable lessons you have taken from making The Mistress?
I would say the most valuable lesson has been that films are made with love or are not made, someone or everyone in the crew must be in love with the story in order to tell it. Fortunately for us, our cast and crew immediately fell in love with the screenplay and thanks to them we now have this very tender, loving, and subtle short film.
Looking back is there anything you would have done differently?
I would have liked one more shooting day, to be honest, we managed with two because everybody on set was donating their time. But I would have liked the extra day to delve into some of the scenes with more time to fine-tune the cinematography, and play more with improvisation between the actors.
Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?
It was back in college (Vassar College in New York) where I first watched a film outside of Hollywood. In Puerto Rico, we grew up with Disney and superhero films because of our colonised political status with the U.S., and that has pretty much thwarted the growth of a national cinema here. Unless you had a friend or family member who was a cinephile, you watched Hollywood films. So imagine the first time I watched a film outside of that world, it was an Italian film I remember, I was immediately captured by the medium and kept going, kept watching, and eventually started making.
"Unless you had a friend or family member who was a cinephile, you watched Hollywood films."
Has your style and the approach to your work changed much since you started out?
I believe my style and approach change constantly as I grow and continue to learn the craft by watching films and making them. I don’t feel pressured into adopting one style or another, but instead, try to experiment every time I can to figure out what works for me but most importantly, what works for the story being told.
Do you think filmmakers should push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?
Definitely! I think it’s part of our growth as filmmakers to push those boundaries, to break them into pieces and turn them over, to explore different ways of storytelling within film, to even break away from the traditional way we are taught to tell them. If not, we’re essentially telling the same stories over and over, and we know that has to change, especially in order to support the communities that have barely been represented in these mainstream spaces.
Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
I would advise a fellow filmmaker to find the people you want to work with, the people who can get on the same page as you but also question you along the process. Films are made by a group of people, not just one, and the dynamic within that group influences directly the end result of the film.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from The Mistress?
From watching The Mistress, I want people to consider their own family members, especially the older generation, and the oppressions (big or small) they might have gone through and might still be going through now. Think about them and maybe give them a bit of freedom with the empathy you could offer them; this can be anything from a conversation to a simple action, but sometimes the people closest to us are the ones who support us the least.