Arami Ullón • Director
by Giorgia Del Don
- Cineuropa talks to Paraguayan director Arami Ullón, who now lives in Switzerland, about her feature debut, El tiempo nublado
El tiempo nublado [+see also:
interview: Arami Ullón
film profile], the first documentary by Arami Ullón (who won the “Regard Neuf” Award for Best Debut Film and the Special Mention of the Swiss film industry at the Visions du Réel Festival in Nyon), shown recently in the new “Swiss Panorama” section of the Locarno Film Festival, is as personal as it is universal. Ullón reveals her deepest fears with a rare sincerity that we hope she will retain in her future films.
Cineuropa: Was the theme of El tiempo nublado born out of urgency, because of the condition your mother's health was in, or was it something you had already wanted to deal with for a while?
Arami Ullón: I think it was a combination of the two things at one specific moment in time. El tiempo nublado was first conceived as something in writing. I had already been working on the theme together with my mother: I was writing short stories, essays, things that had to do with our relationship, and at the same time her health started to get worse, and the person who was taking care of her wanted to leave. I believe that it was at that moment that the idea for the film really took shape, fuelled by some sort of urgent need to resolve the situation but also by the necessity to look back on and review my own story.
Was it difficult to deal with such a personal topic in your first feature film?
Most people tell me that this is a very difficult film to have as your first, but I did not see it that way. The writing and development process came very naturally to me. I think that the whole process was more of a very pressing need inside of me, rather than a film. The editing was probably more analytical, but everything we did before was very visceral.
Was it not “risky” to appear in this film yourself? How did that come about?
First of all, I would like to make it clear that everything you see in the film was shot by our director of photography (Ramón Giger). I had worked with him for a long time before we started shooting. I needed him to understand my way of working and what my real intentions were. It was also important to me that he showed me what he was capable of. All this to have some sort of a common language between us. The decision to appear in front of the camera was definitely risky but also honest, a decision that made me take complete responsibility for my own film. I had to take responsibility if I really wanted to explore my own story.
Do you think that the theme you deal with (your own intimate story) can resonate not just on a personal but also on a more universal level – in other words, the relationship between parents and children in general?
I think both are the case. On the one hand, the film is therapeutic, and I never, not once, wanted to deny that, because that had always been my original intention. Before I ever thought of El tiempo nublado as a film for an audience, I saw it as an exercise for myself, to work out my own personal and intimate issues. But ever since we started showing people the film, it automatically became universal. It seems that the audience does not see me, but their own story. People talk to me after the screenings and tell me their own stories, what they experienced while watching the film, and how they related it to their own lives. That is why I believe the film really has the ability to take on a universal meaning.
Is El tiempo nublado also a film that talks about the Latin culture, and the specific way in which parents and children relate to one another?
Interestingly, when the idea for this film and the possibility of making it both materialised, I was already living in Switzerland, and I guess the simple fact of living in this country is something that contributes a lot to my vision, that pushes me to think about and compare how I feel in relation to my parents and how the people around me feel about these same problems. The way people relate emotionally to this problem is not the same for everyone. So I do think that El tiempo nublado deals with reality, not just a Latin American one, but also one that resonates with all the other societies in which family still plays a key role.
(Translated from Spanish)