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.



Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Fernando Meirelles The Two Popes

    AFI Fest Adds 'The Two Popes,' 'Aeronauts,' Alan Pakula Tribute

    The American Film Institute has added “The Two Popes” and “The Aeronauts” as galas during the upcoming AFI Fest along with a tribute to the late director Alan Pakula. AFI had previously announced that the romantic drama “Queen & Slim” would launch the 33rd annual festival on Nov. 14 and close with the world premiere [...]

  • Julie Andrews

    Julie Andrews Recalls Husband Blake Edwards' Battle With Depression

    The line to see Julie Andrews at the 92Y wrapped around the square of a sprawling New York City block. Seventy years since the start of her career, 60 since she asked “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” as Lerner and Loewe’s first Eliza and 50 since she sang “The Sound of Music” before the Eastern Alps [...]

  • Bloodshot (Vin Diesel) in Columbia Pictures'

    Vin Diesel Comes Back to Life in 'Bloodshot' Trailer

    Vin Diesel is coming back again and again in Sony Pictures’ first trailer for “Bloodshot.” In the forthcoming superhero adventure, Diesel portrays Ray Garrison a.k.a. Bloodshot, a soldier who gets rebuilt by a corporation following his death. The clip, released Monday and scored to Johnny Cash’s rendition of the ballad “Memories are Made of This,” [...]

  • Bouli Lanners Teams With 'Peaky Blinders'

    Bouli Lanners Teams With 'Peaky Blinders' Director Tim Mielants on 'Wise Blood'

    Bouli Lanners, the Belgian actor-director of “The Giants” and “Eldorado,” is teaming with “Peaky Blinders” helmer Tim Mielants to direct “Wise Blood,” an English-language film that will star “Game of Thrones” actor Michelle Fairley and Julian Glover. “Wise Blood” is a Belgian-Scottish-French co-production between Versus Production, Barry Crerar, and Playtime, which will handle international sales [...]

  • Bombshell Charlize Theron Megyn Kelly

    'Bombshell': Why Charlize Theron Was Terrified of Playing Megyn Kelly

    Charlize Theron is getting some of the best buzz of her career for channeling Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell,” but the Oscar-winning actress admits she almost turned down the role. “I was shit scared,” Theron said during a question-and-answer session following a Manhattan screening of “Bombshell” on Sunday. Partly, she was worried about portraying someone who [...]

  • Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner's Hazy

    Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner's Hazy Mills to Co-Produce SAG Awards

    Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner’s Hazy Mills Productions have joined the SAG Awards producing team. The guild announced this morning that Kathy Connell will once again serve as the show’s producer along with Hayes and Milliner in partnership with Avalon Harbor. “Attending the SAG Awards has always been a pleasure and a privilege for me,” [...]

  • Maleficent Mistress of Evil

    Box Office: Why 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Fizzled

    Despite nabbing first place at the domestic box office, Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted significantly below expectations and demonstrated that even the most powerful studio in Hollywood is susceptible to missteps. The follow-up to 2014’s “Maleficent” kicked off in North America with a lackluster $36 million bow, an underwhelming result for a film that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content