×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Colombian Helmer-Producer Oscar Ruiz Navia Talks About ‘Los Hongos’

“Los hongos,” Ruiz Navia's second directorial outing, world preems in Locarno's Filmmakers of the Present section

Founder of Colombian outfit Contravia Films, Oscar Ruiz Navia’s acclaimed directorial debut, “Crab Trap,” was Colombia’s first ever Oscar candidate and won a Fipresci Prize at the 2009 Berlin festival. Ruiz Navia’s helming follow-up, coming-of-age tale “Los hongos” – chronicling two adolescents’ passion for street art – world preemed at Switzerland’s Locarno Festival’s Filmmakers of the Present sidebar. The Cali-born filmmaker (pictured) talked to Variety about his newest film, a Colombia-France-Germany-Argentina co-production, which FiGa Films is selling internationally, and, after Toronto, played Latin Premiere at the Rio de Janeiro Festival, then hit Argentina’s Mar del Plata Festival. It now plays the 4th IFF Panama.

In “Los hongos” there is a blend of a Colombian specific social context with a treatment that is not a straight-arrow realism, normally focusing on the characters’ emotional journey. Is there the idea that the psychology is universal despite that social context?

Right. “Los hongos” is an urban movie focused on the story of two young people from different social origins who have linked up via graffiti art. This means the film somehow isn’t necessarily focused on major conflicts but rather on situations that are very typical of teenagers, linked to a very specific context in Colombia, even Cali. In the case of “Los hongos,” the film aims to frame conflicts teenagers experience everywhere – love, a lack of money, the need to express themselves, freedom, rebelliousness… And I think that can make the film work in many contexts.

Can you describe the film’s aesthetic?

Strictly in aesthetic terms, there is a bet on finding a language that comes out of the narrative, exploring other types of issues. For example, we wanted to develop a graffiti piece and called real graffiti artists, asking them to paint and act for the camera. With other films we’re producing at Contravia such as William Vega’s “Sal” and Angela Osorio and Santiago Lozano’s “Siembra,” “Los hongos” has in common the desire that our raw material shiuld be reality itself, but not necessarily that reality is represented in a realistic way, but more in a poetic fashion. I say that “Los hongos” is a documentary dream.

What is the meaning of “documentary dream”?

I like working in a limbo between something I can control and something that is out of my total control. Although I always had a script up the sleeve, I constantly adapted it to the non-professional actors with whom I worked. In fact, they all are named in fiction as they are named in real life. My fascination for reality does not translate into realism, but on building from contemporary inputs a kind of sensation that is closer to a daydream. I try to give priority to the poetic rather than narrative, investigating the life, evoking memories or putting in front the camera desires that have only happened in my imagination. Then there are things that are out of my hands, and only happen because the people who are there have their own nature.

What connections exist between “Los hongos” and your directorial debut, “Crab Trap”?

There are new questions, almost five years have gone by, but I really think they have a lot in common: the desire for freedom, their characters’ rebelliousness and miscegenation, to say a few things. What I like in the movies is to displace the essence of the universes I choose. And this film, like “Crab Trap,” are faithful to the research I made over a long time. “Los hongos” is a much less minimalist film because the city of Cali, where the film was shot, is a complex place, of many colors and aromas.

John Hopewell contributed to this report

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Yoji Yamada-directed film is to open

    Tokyo Market: Shochiku Launches Horror, Comedy and Mystery Lineup

    Major Japanese studio, Shochiku has the honor of leading off next week’s Tokyo International Film Festival with its “Tora-san, Wish You Were Here.” The film is a revival of a beloved in-house drama franchise, directed by veteran Yoji Yamada, that is set as the event’s opening night gala presentation. Before that, the company has the [...]

  • The Truth

    Singapore Festival to Focus on Asian Excellence for 30th Edition

    For its 30th edition the Singapore International Film Festival has avoided programming novelty and instead focused on assembling excellence – mostly indie titles — from Asia and further afield. The festival, which previously announced local filmmaker Anthony Chen’s second feature “Wet Season” as its opening night gala presentation, announced the balance of its programming on [...]

  • Isabela Moner Dora the Explorer

    Film News Roundup: Isabela Merced Boards Jason Momoa's 'Sweet Girl' for Netflix

    In today’s film news roundup, Isabela Merced get cast opposite Jason Momoa, “Starbright” gets financing and AFM announces its speakers. CASTING Isabela Merced, formerly Isabela Moner, has come on board to portray the daughter of Jason Momoa in his upcoming revenge thriller “Sweet Girl” for Netflix. Momoa will play a devastated man who vows to [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Seeks to Throw Out Gender Pay Gap Lawsuit

    The Walt Disney Co. is seeking to throw out a lawsuit alleging that women employees are paid less than men, arguing that the suit is too sprawling and unwieldy to handle as a class action. Andrus Anderson LLP filed the suit in April, alleging that Disney’s hiring and pay practices have a discriminatory effect on [...]

  • Ford v Ferrari

    Christian Bale, Matt Damon to Campaign in Lead Actor Category for 'Ford v Ferrari'

    Christian Bale and Matt Damon will both campaign in the lead actor category for awards for their work in Fox’s upcoming “Ford v Ferrari,” Variety has learned. “Ford v Ferrari” follows an eccentric, determined team of American engineers and designers, led by automotive visionary Carroll Shelby (Damon) and his British driver, Ken Miles (Bale), who [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content