Leticia Dolera • Director of Perfect Life
“What’s life all about in 2019?”
- Leticia Dolera gives us the inside scoop on Perfect Life, a double award winner at Canneseries now screening at the San Sebastián International Film Festival
Leticia Dolera (Barcelona, 1981) is flying high: not only was Perfect Life (consisting of eight 30-minute episodes) crowned best series at this year’s Canneseries festival, it also won the special performance award for its three leads. You can catch it this week at the San Sebastián International Film Festival, in a special screening a full month before its release on Movistar+. As the festival gets ready to go live, Cineuropa caught up with the series’ co-star, co-writer and co-director to find out more.
Cineuropa: Where did you get the genius idea for Perfect Life?
Leticia Dolera: I had already written a great tome setting out all of the character arcs and plot points for each episode, and a draft version of the script for the pilot when Movistar + commissioned the full series. At that point I realised what a huge task I’d taken on and decided to share the writing with Manuel Burque. Manuel and I already knew each other (he appeared in my first film, Requirements to Be a Normal Person [+see also:
film profile]) but we’d never written anything together before. I’d read some of his work and I felt that we had a similar approach, letting the characters guide the story — that’s what got me interested in him. Although we were friends to begin with, in the process of writing our friendship grew and we got to know each other much better. The stories we tell in the series grew from questions that I ask myself, things that strike me as disturbing, scary or worrying, both to me and to the people in my life: what do we mean when we talk about success and failure? What role does social media play in our lives? What makes a family? Is it possible to change course in life? Or in other words, if you’ve built a solid life for yourself and, on paper at least, achieved everything you set out to, can you suddenly come to a point where it doesn’t make you happy any more, and can you rip it up and start again? How disorienting would that be? And ultimately, what does a perfect life look like? Which of the goals we set ourselves are really coming from our own desires, rather than being passed down from our families or our culture? The series confronts these questions head on. It doesn’t try to answer them, but rather to share them with the audience through the characters. We take a hammer to certain social constructs like the idea of the superwoman, the nuclear family, success... not to say that they are wrong or right, but so that viewers can put them back together in whatever way they see fit.
Comedy is a great way to broach heavy topics.
It is, and without being too preachy. The series has no moral compass; it won’t tell you what path to take. What it tells you is that we are all walking together, just trying to do the best we can.
Why did you change the initial Spanish title, Déjate llevar [“Get carried away”], as the series was presented in Cannes, to Vida perfecta?
It’s a really interesting question. It all came out of being selected for Canneseries and having to come up with a title that would work in English. I didn’t like the way Déjate llevar translates into English. We did some brainstorming on different titles — at this point we were already in post-production, having completed filming — and that’s when Perfect Life came to mind. I loved it, because it got right to the heart of what the series is about, and I suddenly thought: Why can’t we just call it that in Spanish too? Because while Déjate llevar was like the spark that first got me writing the series, wanting the characters to just let themselves go, I don’t think that’s all the series is about as a whole — it’s about something deeper and more complex than that. It’s not about saying carpe diem, not at all; it’s about asking yourself questions: what’s life all about? What are we up against? What are we afraid of, and what’s holding us back? In fact, there’s something about the sound of the English title, Perfect Life, that I like better than the Spanish.
It’s a title that gets turned on its head as the series unfolds...
Because that’s how things are: sometimes life capsizes you and leaves you floundering. Nothing is forever, and nothing is certain. Your life will get turned on its head again and again.
(Translated from Spanish)
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