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IFF Panama: Patricia Velázquez on ‘Two Waters,’ the ‘Huge Contradiction’ of Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

Since founding production company Tiempo Liquido in 2007 with Oscar Herrera, director Patricia Velásquez has worked on commercials, music videos, short films and features in her native Costa Rica. Velásquez’s short films “Cualquiera” (2008) and “Matias” (2010) gained her attention on the Latin American festival circuit. “Two Waters” (“Dos Aguas”), Velasquez’s first major feature film, is the story of a young man who dreams of attending a special school for soccer that his family cannot afford, and his brother, who goes to drastic lengths to procure those funds. The film showcases the natural beauty of the Caribbean and the perseverance of its people.


What inspired you to tell this story?

The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is a region I got to know well and carry in my heart. Once I graduated from the university I moved there. I wanted to escape the city and its mundane life. There, I discovered a paradise, a place full of beauty. It is one of the most amazing spots in our country, a very special one where the color of your skin and your nationality are not important. It is very rustic and cosmopolitan at the same time. However, it can be very hard on its inhabitants in terms of workk opportunities and survival. That is the reason why I wanted to make a movie about the people from the Caribbean; hardworking people who live in limited conditions. Much of the story written by Oscar Herrera and I comes from our own experiences in the Caribbean, along with some stories we were told.


Did the work of other filmmakers influence your vision for this film?

Definitely! I particularly remember a Mexican movie by Pedro Gonzalez called “Alamar.” It is very different from “Two Waters,” but I think it shows the relationship between a father and his son in a very organic and beautiful way; framed and influenced by its surroundings. I like the way the boundaries of fiction and reality become blurry in the film. I wanted to give that treatment to my movie, with actors who could represent themselves.

There is an amazing generation of Mexican filmmakers we ought to keep track on. They are making a risky yet interesting work; Michel Franco, Amat Escalante, Yulene Olaizola, among others. I should also mention Javier Rebollo – from Spain – who was the script advisor for “Two Waters,” and became really involved in the project; his teachings were very valuable for us.


What was important to you to convey about Costa Rica in this film?

I think “Two Waters” is about the Caribbean, and not exactly about Costa Rica. The history of our country has always been complicated in regards to this particular place. Limon, the province where the story is developed, has always been a marginal area; a banana planted enclave where large populations of African descents arrived from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands. In the beginning, they came to help with the construction of the railroad. Later, they were hired by the United Fruit Company under miserable conditions. For many decades, they were not even considered Costa Rican citizens, and the area is not visited very often due to many prejudices.


Are there any autobiographical qualities to “Two Waters”?

More than just an autobiography, Two Waters” tells my perspective about the mentioned place. I actually got to meet and to care for a lot of the people portrayed in the movie. They have had a difficult time trying to make ends meet. There is a huge contradiction in this place where everything is exuberant and beautiful, yet hard and with too few chances to get a career or a job. Tourism generates some opportunities but also brings about complicated dynamics such as drug abuse and prostitution, which affect mainly the youngest population.


How did you go about financing this film?

The budget for this movie was $360,000, and it came true thanks to the support of Cinergia, Ibermedia, Proartes and some private companies. It was a Costa Rican-Colombian co-production, with the cooperation of Igolai Producciones in Colombia. The process has flowed slowly, which has delayed the film. In Costa Rica, there is not significant filmmaking legislation or funding. Just recently, it was announced that there would be some funding to support film production, but so far, making movies in this country involves a great odyssey.


What message are you hoping to send with this film?

We knew we wanted to talk about the situation in the Caribbean. That was our main character, so to speak. We wanted to show how complex the situation is in such a paradisiacal place, but with so few options to survive and to thrive economically, and where drug cartels started to establish some years ago. We decided to tell the story from an intimate circle, from a family, one full of love.

We consider anyone can be exposed to drug traffic or consumption. It does not have to do with living in a broken home or being “bad” or “poor”. Therefore, we created the characters of two brothers who would do anything for each other, as often happens in real life: One will do anything for his family and its well-being. I hope that people – especially in Costa Rica – change their minds about the Caribbean and start to appreciate it in all its dimensions.



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