×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

IDFA: Colombia’s Carmen Torres’ Talks IDFA Doc ‘Dawn’

First-time feature director Carmen Torres follows up the domestic premiere of her autobiographical documentary “Dawn” at this year’s Cartagena Intl. Film Festival in Colombia (FICCI) with a European premiere at the 2018 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).

Addressing head on the question of nature versus nature, Torres tracks down her biological mother to ask why she gave her up for adoption, and reflects on the relationship she had with her adoptive mother before her untimely death when Torres was only 13 years old. Across oceans and continents, Torres looks to answer deeply personal questions that turn out to be entirely universal: Questions of family, history and identity.

The film is a co-production between Señal Colombia and Spain’s Playtime Audiovisuales, and was selected as this year’s best Colombian film at Cartagena.

Torres talked with Variety ahead of IDFA about sharing her story, meeting her biological mother and confronting the truth that was hidden from her most of her life.

At what point in your search did you decide to start filming?

I’ve been filming what’s happening to me for years. It’s like I take notes of what catches my attention, trying to keep it with me. When I first decided to go and look for Jacinta, I took some photos and filmed moments that seemed important to me at that moment. The next time I went I brought a video camera, but the filming was really an excuse to be there. Then, I needed a year before seeing what I had filmed, because that second meeting with Jacinta provoked mixed feelings. It was in that viewing that I realized I wanted to make the film relating the encounter to the images I collected over the ten years prior.

With the benefit of hindsight, what does this film mean to you now?

I went to look for my biological mother, Jacinta, believing that she would offer the origin of my identity. But, what happened was that I reunited with my mother Teresa, and learned that my origin had always been there. Through the process, my memories of Teresa dominated the mother role. It’s a strange thing, but when she gave me up for adoption Jacinta gave me a mother, which I lost too soon. Then when I met Jacinta again 40 years later she gave that to me a second time. I think the film shows something that is in the end very simple: a mother is the one who was there, not the one who gave birth.

Do you think that knowing your biological mother changed how you self-identify?

When I started the search I thought I was going to discover my origin. But when I met Jacinta I understood that my origin is not in my blood or the place where I was born, but where I started to be who I am. The beautiful thing is that this discovery is not only mental, but emotional. Thanks to the movie, my mother Teresa is present in my life again, and I understand how to live with the absence a bit.

Did it bother you that your adoptive mother never told you the truth about your real mother?

It never bothered me. At times, when she told me the different stories, she diverted my attention and I wondered why she did it. But now I feel a deep tenderness. It moves me to know that she hid this out of her fear of losing me.

Did you have any fear or concern about telling such a private story with your first film?

To a point I felt ashamed, thinking: “Who could be interested in my story?” But as I proceeded I felt the need to share not just my story, but that of those who have lived something similar. One thing I will never forget was at the end of a screening a foster mother approached me and said: “I have always been afraid my daughter wants to look for her biological mother, but after seeing ‘Dawn’ that fear is gone.”

More Film

  • Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona'

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Wins Worst Easter Weekend in Over a Decade

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters. “La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as a reliable box office draw. Even so, “La Llorona” and [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content