Filmmaker Carolina Moscoso will be part of the International Competition of the prestigious author driven film festival FIDMarseille, premiering her first documentary film Night Vision on July 23. Produced by Macarena Aguiló -director of The Chilean Building-, the film is a brave and multi-layered documentary film that explores the wounds left by abuse, the revictimization caused by judicial processes and how friendship helps to heal. In a video diaries format, the film takes personal experiences to reflect on the silence in the face of abuse in our macho society.
We talked with the director (via email) about the powerful personal exploration she developed in this documentary, how the project was conceived, what she considers is the role of cinema to face events such as abuse and also, about her upcoming films.
-What does the selection in FIDMarseille mean to you?
It is the international premiere, therefore it will be the way and the moment to start showing the film outside of Chile. That matters a lot to me because I really don't believe in borders.
Besides, it is a festival that I like a lot. Although I have never attended FidMarseille (and this will not be the occasion to go either due to the the pandemic) there are always movies by filmmakers that I admire and have inspired me and influenced my way of doing the things I do. So it's actually very nice.
-The videos you recorded of yourself and your environment originally had another purpose. At what point did you decide to transform these files into a movie? How did the meaning of the images change during the editing process?
I started writing Night Vision in Barcelona, where I went to study a Master in Creative Documentary. I traveled with a big box full of old hard drives and tapes. I didn't know what they had inside, but I had the suspicion I couldn't leave without them. I resisted looking at them for a long time.
On the one hand, I wanted to start my film in a free way concerning its form, without conditioning it since the beginning to the archives. But on the other hand, I knew that opening the boxes to other times could be a portal, and that idea scared me. One day I got the recorder from the university, I took it home and started looking into the tapes. It was about 4 weeks: every day the same ritual of watching them from morning until dawn. Obviously dreams, memories and images began to mix. I made a selection and when I finished it, I showed it to my writing class where Marta Andreu was our teacher. I remember that day: many hours of looking at how others watched my secret. After finishing and turning on the lights, the images had changed everything in the room. Marta said quietly "there you have your movie". Those images not only touched me. That first selection was the base of everything, they indicated the route. After that, I looked at the images millions of times, alone, with Marta, with my colleagues, etc., and I got to know them, understand them and feel them, because there were thousands of emotions in them. I don't know if the meaning of the images was changing with the editing process, I would rather say that the images changed the meaning of everything else.
-How do text and intertitles in the film relate to the images? How was this narrative device found in the creation process?
That "device" (I don't like that word so much ... I find it very rigid) was one of the last editing decisions. There was a time when the story, which was all based on the voice over, became too transparent and that transparency did not correspond to the opacity that it sought to create. There was also a speech of the images that was subject to the presence of the voice and thus the protagonist was the word, which we did not want. So, we tried to explore other layers: what is narrated and what is not, what cannot be said and what is actually being said; the voice that fades, the voice that appears. Silence is a historical form of narrative for women, we have had to use the omission in our favor to avoid disappearing with it.
The relationship of the image and the texts and intertitles is very simple: I speak because I am looking at the images, my relationship as a narrator is with them.
-What did you seek to show in this work and how did you face such an intimate process to put it at the service of the film?
5 years ago, when I started with the film, nobody talked about rape. Women hided that they had been raped, mistreated or abused, whether it was because of shame, modesty or secrecy. Culture had managed to oppress us up to that point. It took us so many years to say "you are the rapist", to name them and to understand that "the fault was not mine." I think things started when the silence made me uncomfortable and the only thing I could think of was to make movies. As I got fully into the film, thousands of emotions arose. Pain, for example. So I wanted to talk about that pain, about the wound, about what we do with all the constant wounds. Guilt also arose. I felt guilty and so I decided to reopen the rapist's trial while making the movie. Together with that, I also saw how guilt migrated from myself to the real gulty, the rapist. And the movie was changing with all this. And in the midst of this, feminism appeared at the hand of the "King Kong Theory" -first of all- and then that door was opened forever: comrades who who accompanied me, gave meaning to my process and were a source of inspiration. They showed me that this is not as intimate as some would like. The personal is political over and over again.
-The title of the film refers to being able to see in the dark, can you tell us about how that concept is related to the topic of the film beyond the technical resource?
The film unfolds in general darkness. There are areas that this culture leaves hidden. Powers, themes, emotions, memories, ideas, identities. Night vision raises a glance into these shadows, discovering the darkness as a mysterious, beautiful and fertile place. It is possible to see in the dark. The camera, the cinema, is a way of looking into the darkness and the nightshot effect of handycam cameras confirmed this.
.-How did you work the sound atmosphere of the film? Taking into account that the music was composed by Camila Moreno.
The sound atmosphere, first, was born from the images. The sound of each scene and its different registers from different cameras began to outline some things. The noises, the saturations, an unclean sound, was what made me feel the most how this atmosphere should be constructed.
There was always a lot of music in the material. Many of the friends around me are musicians, so it is usual that archive material had someone singing or playing an instrument around the scenes. One of these friends is Camila Moreno, who has a very important place in the narration and her voice and guitar were in many of the images. When we had the cut quite advanced, Moreno joined the work and with her great cunning (after seeing the film) she had the idea that all the music was made with my voice. And so it was: all the notes, sounds, melodies of the film are made with the instrument of my voice. I think that in the creation prior to the sound, I had been more demure, ordered, more rational, but when the sound began I was confronted to expressionism and to the uncontrollable. And with Mercedes Gaviria, the post production sound producer, we worked that way, creating sound environments that pass without fear between different perceptions of the reality of the material. The idea was to exaggerate everything and accompany the intense feelings of the film.
- Having premiered and awarded at national festivals, how do you expect the reception of Night Vision to be on an international stage? How does it feel to be released at this particular moment?
I don't know, I don't expect anything. It is all so different from how I imagined it. The physical distance affects a lot, I would have liked to see the French watching the movie and giving their opinion, so I feel a certain disconnection with the event. It is a mystery all this, all this time and I let myself be carried away by how it comes and by the virtual experience. It is hard for me to think about the film abroad with everything that happens here in Chile; with the political prisoners, with Machi Celestino dying without anyone saying anything in the public arena and without a social revolt to revive himself in the streets. There is so muchhappening here in this confinement. It's hard for me to think about the premiere and feel it, that's the truth.
-What are your next projects?
I am making a movie called “I will never be a police officer”, part of the personal file that my uncle Jorge gave me, who filmed his whole life at home. My uncle is one of my father's 7 brothers, who are almost all members of the investigative police (PDI). So the archive is very much into police, a lot of guns and a lot of men. The police and the patriarchy. I wonder what leads a man to record his entire life without being a filmmaker.
We are also editing, together with Camila José Donoso, the documentary Históricas, directed by Javiera Court and Grace Lazcano, about the Chilean women's soccer team. In addition, we formed a time ago, in the midst of this pandemic, a collective of filmmakers and other arts called "What to do?". With this group we are working on different actions that make the serious situation visible and press for the freedom of political prisoners, who pay with their bodies the punishment for the revolt and the much-needed demands that we all yearn for.