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“I prefer to show and suggest”

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Isabel Ayguavives • Director


- Cineuropa met up with Isabel Ayguavives, the director of The Magnetic Tree, her feature debut

Isabel Ayguavives  • Director

The Magnetic Tree [+see also:
film review
interview: Isabel Ayguavives
festival scope
film profile
is the feature debut by Isabel Ayguavives, a short-film maker from Galicia. It is a co-production between Spain and Chile, shot in the Andean country and based on a real-life experience.

Cineuropa: What is so special about Chile that made you decide to film there?
Isabel Ayguavives:
As a country and a blend of different landscapes, I think it’s an incredible place – because it’s so long, it has everything from deserts to glaciers. But I wouldn’t have gone there to film if the story hadn’t necessitated it: it was a very organic process.

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Because the landscape is especially relevant in your film...
The tale it tells is such an everyday story that it could happen anywhere: who doesn’t have a relative who lives far away, and comes back after a while, and then a big family reunion celebration is put on for that reason? If I had tried to relocate this story to a setting that was closer – in Spain, say – I would have had to leave out things that were at the very core of the story and that had given me the desire to write it. I was then a bit lost: I wanted to respect the raw material – an experience I had while travelling there with a friend – and that’s why we decided that The Magnetic Tree would be set in Chile. We shot it in the Cajón del Maipo, the capital city’s recreational area: that’s where the house was, the main setting. Then we went to other locations, but everything was within a range of a two-hour car journey from Santiago. It was a four-week shoot, which was quite tight.

Was it difficult to convince the producers to film so far away?
Not the Spanish ones (Dos Treinta y Cinco P. C.), because they’ve been the producers on all of my short films. They had been involved ever since the very early stages of the script; then, logically, they were the ones that had the arduous task of finding a Chilean partner (Parox), and so with those two outfits, the funding was gradually built up.

How was that sense of everyday reality that you feel in the film created?
I think it was thanks to a cast that worked very well as a family and who also knew each other: we hardly rehearsed at all – we just chatted. It all flowed quite well.

With respect to the plot of The Magnetic Tree: in some way, will we always be children to those who are older than us?
That’s it – if you maintain a constant relationship over time, then they will indeed see how you develop: you’re a child, and then you’re an adult. But when they lose track of you for many years, normally they will retain the image of you that they had back then.

Do you agree with people who describe your film as “magical realism”?
Perhaps due to the association with South America and because The Magnetic Tree could have something about it that’s a little mystical, but that wasn’t the aim. I drew inspiration from an image that had an effect on me, an element that exists within nature: I didn’t invent it. The basis was something real; people can assume what they like. I’m more about showing and suggesting things. The film poses questions, but it doesn’t give any answers, and nor does it signal to the viewer what he or she should be paying attention to: it’s all very free. You could go back and watch it again tomorrow and read other things into it because you’re in another emotional state, or are feeling more or less lively. At different times of the day, I can feel like different characters in the film with regard to my memories. That’s a contradiction that’s within us: today we might think one thing, and tomorrow another. I’m not one for emphatic assertions: I question everything.

(Translated from Spanish)

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