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SAN SEBASTIÁN 2022 San Sebastián Industry

Bruno Santamaría Razo and Guillermo Ortiz Aparicio • Director and producer of Six Months in the Pink and Blue Building

“All of us, beneath what we project to others, are hiding something”

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- We chatted to the director and producer of the Mexican title that took home the Best Project Award and the DALE! Award from the Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum

Bruno Santamaría Razo and Guillermo Ortiz Aparicio • Director and producer of Six Months in the Pink and Blue Building
(© SSIFF)

After scooping the Best Project Award and the DALE! (Development Latin America-Europe) Award handed out by the European Film Agency Directors Association (EFAD) and the Conference of Ibero-American Audiovisual and Cinematographic Authorities (CAACI) – or, in other words, the two top prizes at the 11th Europe-Latin American Co-Production Forum of the 70th San Sebastián Film Festival – the Mexican project Six Months in the Pink and Blue Building now enters a new stage focused on shoring up its production and internationalisation. The film, directed by Bruno Santamaría Razo and produced by Guillermo Ortiz Aparicio for Ojo de Vaca S De RL, is a coming-of-age story about a ten-year-old boy trying to understand his sexuality while his dad is misdiagnosed with HIV. His family grinds to a halt in order to give the boy somewhere to take refuge and to stop him from being scared. But despite the good news, an irreparable rift has been created in the family unit.

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Cineuropa: What made you want to embark on this project?
Bruno Santamaría Razo:
When I was a little boy, my dad was diagnosed with HIV, and six months later, they confirmed that it had been a mistake. They were six very intense months for my family, with doubts and fears that we didn’t actually sense, because in fact, there was a very upbeat and loving atmosphere, with two parents trying to shield their children from sensing the tragedy. When it all turned out to be a bureaucratic error at the hospital – concerning not only my father, but also many other people whose tests had been mixed up – we celebrated, but days later, my parents got divorced. That makes you wonder: why would such a happy piece of news cause a rift in the family? My imagination started to run wild, and I began to interview different mothers and fathers. I started to understand that for many of them, having a family entails protecting the children from what’s going on inside of them. The driving force behind the movie is to try and understand how a loving environment is built up, with this desire to protect the other, despite the fact that, in the long run, the bad stuff, the stuff we carry around inside of us, ends up surfacing. For me, it’s important to understand that all of us, beneath what we project to others, are hiding something, be it out of fear, insecurity, protective instinct or caution.

Do you fully maintain this autobiographical essence, or is it fictionalised with elements that are made up, or perhaps plucked from other people’s stories?
BSR: When it comes to writing, I do research into other people and other families, and read books… In the end, it’s a completely fictional story, albeit framed within a personal context.

Were those other people who experienced the same thing and who took part in your research going through the same process of reflection as you?
BSR: The film originates from an event linked to HIV, but that’s just the starting point. The movie is not about having HIV in the 1990s; it’s about trying to hold on to the idea that everything is fine within a family, and sooner or later, it just explodes. This has undoubtedly happened to a lot of families.

Does it also involve the idea of painting a portrait of Mexican society in that era?
BSR: A sizeable part of the film unfolds inside the building where the story plays out, but in terms of the sound and in the odd exterior shot, it was important to be able to sense the presence of that era. In 1996, Mexico had not yet progressed to the point where people with HIV would not have to worry about dying, which makes this a fundamental context. In fact there’s still that worry, even today.

Given your participation in this forum to extend the international reach of your story, did you feel the need to bring it to Europe? Did you have anything particular in mind?
Guillermo Ortiz Aparicio: To start with, being at the forum has been a wonderful opportunity, and just being selected was already unbelievable for us in Mexico: we knew the boost it would give us would be fantastic. We had a great experience while we were here; we had some brilliant pitching sessions, and of course, it gives us the chance to get involved with Europe. We’ve had some proposals that we want to look into, and they’re going to be great. And now that we’ve received the two prizes, it’s an even bigger boost – it’s going to be wonderful.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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