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Home page > Interview-Portrait > Vega, Daniel and Diego (18 May 2010)

Daniel and Diego Vega Directors of ’Octubre’

Daniel and Diego Vega

October is "purple month" in Lima. It’s the colour of the habits worn by thousands of people during the biggest religious procession, adoring the image of the "Lord of Miracles". In the Vega brothers’ first feature Octubre, a moneylender, his newborn son from relations with a prostitute and a devout mature single woman from the neighbourhood see new emotional attachments grow during this special period.

How did you come up with the story presented in Octubre?

Diego: It’s quite difficult to explain […] it was a long way and the only thing that remains from the original story is a bill (a fake bill, like in Bresson’s film) which doesn’t really "travel" so much. We wrote 10 versions of the script so the differences are quite big. But if we had to choose what made us get to the final character and conflicts I’d say that from the beginning we created kind of "unstructured families": either a family member was missing, or they had very particular relationships with one other. We started writing about 5 unstructured families and ended up telling the story about an "attempt to build a family".

Placing the story in such traditional month for Lima might imply that the city has a strong presence in the film. Is this the case?

Diego: We decided to set the story in October because we believe there are miracles happening in the story. But when we say miracles we mean "small things" with the power of changing people’s lives. Regarding the city’s presence, Octubre is more of an "inner" film where the city has its presence through the characters. I think you can feel [Lima], but we believe we’ve done a very universal and simple story that could happen anywhere.

How do you divide tasks during the creative process?

Diego: We’ve done just one short and one feature together, so we can’t yet talk about a working method. As I’m a screenwriter, I’m the one who sits down for writing when we start and Daniel works more on rewritings. But the key is to talk a lot. We bring up the topics, books or films, and we have long conversations that normally end abruptly because one of us falls asleep.

Daniel: During shooting I take care of the visual part and Diego works with the actors, but everything is discussed beforehand and very clear for both of us. The idea is to avoid stepping on one another’s indications.

When you first began to consider making films, what did you think of Peruvian cinema?

Diego: When I first thought about making films I was living in Madrid and was completely alien to Peruvian cinema. I was studying Economics and had seen very few Peruvian films (mainly Francisco Lombardi’s). Later when I decided to study cinema and went to Cuba I had the opportunity to watch plenty of films and more cinema from my country.

Daniel: If I’m really honest, I thought of it more as a dream. I got back to Peru in ’99 after ten years living abroad. I crashed with reality. I had to start to look for a job and I didn’t know anybody. It was very difficult. I remembered just a few days ago, that when we got the first recognition for the script of Octubre in 2006 by the Fundación Carolina and the Casa de América in Spain, I decided to go because it was a great opportunity, but I had to leave my wife and son here for 2 months. And we weren’t exactly rich. One day my wife called me and said "I don’t have a dime to buy food". I was there in Spain and my family was here having difficulties. Looking back I say it was worth it, but at the time, I thought about giving up a lot.

How do you see Peruvian cinema now? As part of a new generation that are selected in Berlin, Venice, Sundance, and Cannes.

Diego: We’re still excited with the selection for Cannes, so now all is great. But we know there’s a long way to go and this is just the beginning. If we don’t keep working and trying to improve, this won’t become a career. What we need in our country are filmmakers with long careers, making many films of different genres (horror, noir, comedy, experimental, etc.). We need to create new references for the upcoming filmmakers.

By Laslo Rojas

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