Award-Winning Movie About Loneliness and Memories at Teatro Santa Ana
By Jesús Ibarra
Natalia Beristáin is a young Mexican filmmaker, graduated from Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC). She is the daughter of actors Arturo Beristáin and Julieta Egurrola, both of whom have great stage and movie careers, and her grandparents were Luis Beristáin (who worked in Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel) and Dolores Beristáin (remembered for the film The Secret of Romelia). Natalia has worked as a casting director and assistant director for long and short films as well as television series. She has also directed some short films herself. The film She Does Not Want to Sleep Alone, to be presented at Teatro Santa Ana on November 15 (as part of the the Bibloteca’s 60th anniversary celebrations), is her feature film directorial debut. Beristáin, who will talk with the audience after the show, gave an exclusive interview to Atención.
Jesus Ibarra: Natalia, belonging to a family of actors influence your decision to become a filmmaker?
Natalia Beristáin: I guess so, but first, on the stage. I did not find what I finally found in movies, a way of expression, so I decided that film was the direction of my path.
JI: How did the idea of making She Does Not Want to Sleep Alone arise?
NB: It came from two important moments in my life. While graduating at the CCC, I was directing a thesis work with a story about an actress who had memory problems. At the same time, my grandmother, Dolores Beristáin, suffered from dementia and had a very strong clinical episode. I was the only relative who could be with her at that time. The film mixes a bit of reality and fiction.
JI: How did you decide on Adriana Roel for starring in the movie?
NB: At some point, while I was writing the script, my intention was that my grandmother had the role, but in fact she died a year before we could shoot the movie. At that time, I did not have an actress. As a filmmaker, having had someone in mind for a role and then suddenly to lose her was difficult. I knew Adriana from the National Theatre Company, where I was the cast manager. I had seen her acting in a tribute to playwright Victor Hugo Rascón Banda, playing a Polish, alcoholic woman lost in a train, and when I saw her, I said, “She is the one.” I sent her the script and three days later she had read it and asked me, “When do we start?” Adriana was quite generous to me. She was an experienced actress and I was a novice director, so it was the balance of the scales. She knew how to make our knowledge equal. She had many years of not making a starring role in the movies, only small parts.
JI: How did you choose Mariana Gajá to play the granddaughter?
NB: Experts suggest that you should not write a character with someone in mind to play him or her, but I cannot resist. Mariana had worked with me in the thesis work and I always had her in mind for the role. She has a great ability to form and format a character.
JI: Tell us about the awards your movie has won.
NB: First, in 2012, it was selected to be exhibited at the Critics’ Week at the Venice Film Festival, along with six other debuts from Italy, Romania, Germany, China, Belgium, and Sweden. Then it won the award for the best Mexican film in the Morelia International Film Festival in 2012, which opened up opportunities for the film to continue with life for a while. Two years later, we are still traveling with the film. In July 2013, it won the Jury Award at the Durango 5th Film Festival. Then in April this year, it won the Yellow Robin Award at the Rotterdam-Curacao International Film Festival, over four other films from Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Cuba, and Jamaica. This award supports filmmakers from Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean and it consisted of an amount of cash and selection for display at the upcoming festival. Finally, Adriana Roel won the Ariel (Mexican equivalent of an Oscar) for the best actress award, and the film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Mariana Gajá), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Debut.
She Does Not Want to Sleep Alone is a restrained and intimate drama about loneliness, memories, and family relationships. Amanda’s (Mariana Gajá) life changes dramatically when she has to take care of her alcoholic grandmother Dolores (Adriana Roel), a retired actress who now lives on her past glories. After a difficult beginning, the two women discover they have more in common than they thought.