Violence as a Wallpaper
Nuestra película is Diana Bustamante’s personal, hard-hitting and emotional debut feature. It debuted at DOC NYC and will be screened in more U.S. cities.
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We live immersed in the jocular moving images projected on a tiny screen that fits in the palm of your hand. But 30 years ago, the reality was different for children in Colombia, who received little more than news of kidnappings, crimes committed by drug traffickers or guerrillas from television.
Film producer and director Diana Bustamante has been one of those people, and in her first feature film she took refuge in 600 hours of archival footage to reflect on the impact of violence on an entire generation of Colombians. The result is called Nuestra película (‘Our Film’), recently premiered at DOC NYC.
From Medellín, her hometown, the former artistic director of the Cartagena International Film Festival spoke to AL DÍA.
What led you to direct Nuestra película?
It has long been thought what is the meaning of the images we produce, and in this hyper-production I felt it was necessary to review the images we consume. Thinking about that, I realized that I had a mass of images that came from TV; I realized that I had a special burden with those images that I had seen as a child and I thought about the meaning of those images in the construction of a society like the Colombian one.
You focus on archival images from the eighties and nineties, a hard social and political period in Colombia. How did that situation influence your vision of the world?
We were aware of what violence meant for people, the wear and tear, the debacle of a country and corruption. I think I was aware since I was very young and that made me decide to make a certain type of film related to the peripheral discourse, because this is a centralist country, the power is centralist, white, macho and it seemed important to me that the peripheral was manifested. I think it was one of the duties we had as a country: to recognize diversity from the periphery.
You resorted entirely to archive images... How was that process?
When I started thinking about the film, I was thinking about the images broadcast; but then when we started the research process, the archives that should be public, not all of them are, or those that are public were in a deplorable state. What I thought I would find did not exist or what they had broadcast was very little, well, not very little, there was a lot but not what I imagined. Then the film changed. It was a two-year process of gathering material. Then the editing process was paradoxical, because I knew what I wanted to do but I spent little time on it. It was really in pandemic when I said 'well it's time'. It was two years of research plus the visualization process, which is hard, because it is emotional material and you can't just sit and watch: you have to watch, do therapy and watch again.
Why did you choose the name Nuestra película?
Because it is a way of embracing my generation to understand what happened to us. I’m not interested in making a historical discourse, so I try to generate emotions, and sometimes those emotions are bad in relation to what happens to human beings, who can be anywhere and go through situations of pain and dismay. Also, there is another Colombian film called Nuestra película, by Luis Ospina. Luis and I were very close friends, but he died three years ago, and when I decided to use that name, I was aware of his film. Juana Suárez gave me an idea that Ospina’s film —which is about a painter who is dying of AIDS— is like the degradation of a body, and, somehow, Nuestra película is the degradation of another body, which is society. Those are two films about death, but with different perspectives.