Ana Katz’s “Sueño Florianópolis” has been generating buzz this week at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, where the Argentine film world premiered in the main competition. Variety’s Guy Lodge praised Katz for keeping “the mood appealingly low-key in this semi-sweet study of a disbanding family on vacation.”
This builds on Katz’s strong record at major festivals. “Musical Chairs” won the San Sebastian Made in Spanish award while “A Stray Girlfriend” was selected for Cannes’ Un Certain Regard. “Los Marziano” was part of the official selection at San Sebastián and “My Friend from the Park” won her the screenwriting award at Sundance.
She has appeared as an actress in a number of critical and box office successes in her native Argentina, such as Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll’s Cannes hit “Whisky” and Paco León’s “Kiki, Love to Love,” nominated for four Spanish Academy Goya Awards, while roles in “Hijos nuestros” and “A Stray Girlfriend” each earned her best actress nominations from the Argentinean Film Critics’ Association.
In “Sueño Florianópolis,” her latest turn behind the camera, Katz brings to the screen a story co-written with her brother and oft-time writing partner Daniel Katz. The tale unfolds sometime in the ‘90s with no cell-phones or GPS, as a family of four bombs down the road in a not-so-reliable Renault on their way to what might prove to be their last collective family vacation.
Mom and dad are, in their own words, technically separated; two psychologists who struggle to follow their own advice, with two teenage children far more interested in enjoying their time away with new friends than with their middle-aged parents.
The Argentine family rents a vacation home from an affable Brazilian named Marco who still lives with his ex and her son on the island of Florianópolis. The two families fill roles for one another they are unable to fill for themselves and each member will come away with memories they are unlikely to forget.
The film is produced by Campo Cine and Prodigo Films in co-production with Groch Filmes, Laura Cine and Bellota Films in association with Film Factory, which also handles sales.
Katz talked with Variety during the festival about South American co-production writing with her brother and balancing her numerous creative outlets.
You are an actress, director, scriptwriter, producer and certainly more. Do you have a favorite job?
The change of roles allows me to approach cinema from different places. When I act in other directors’ films it is like a road trip without driving, observing and following the imagination of another person is something incredibly pleasant. In my own films I am lucky to manifest deep questions on the screen and share them with others. They are processes of a lot of time and work that come with several complications but also satisfactions. Writing is a gift; a job of freedom and execution. I usually write with Daniel Katz (“Sueño Florianópolis,” “Los Marziano”) and with Inés Bortagaray (“A Stray Girlfriend,” “My Friend From the Park”).
Can you talk a bit about the writing process for the film?
The co-writing in this case, with my brother Daniel Katz, called for a fusion that I really enjoy. During the three years that we wrote together we tried to condense the dialogues and the deeper reasons that compelled us to write this story, with slight biographical references. In that process I modified the look with Daniel’s ideas and he helped me to make room for things.
What do you like most about this story you’ve told?
I like the questions, the work of interpellation and that it’s a story about a group of people who indulge in a kind of momentary group confusion. It’s a family that is deconstructed in pursuit of a vacation with promises of paradise. I am interested in fragility, both in the family and in romances.
Also, I like that this is the story about the middle class in Argentina in the 90s. Lucrecia and Pedro are psychoanalysts and try to follow guidelines they can’t meet. It was a very special time in Argentina, which at times seemed to come back strongly.
A number of the film’s surprises happen off-camera, and are revealed through dialogue. How did you decide which transgressions to show and which not?
Ellipses are precious tools that can construe the point of view, in addition to the story. In this film I tried to bond with Lucrecia through simple moments of action which were strong indicators of desire. Many times in the present we don’t know what our memories will be. I wanted to gently deconstruct the moral weight on a woman with teenage children and in crisis with her husband.
Your film is a Brazil-Argentina co-production. Can you talk about that?
Co-productions between Argentina and Brazil were initially driven by competitions created by the audiovisual institutes of both countries, Incaa in Argentina and Ancine in Brazil. With “Sueño Florianopolis” we won a coproduction award with our script (Campo Cine-Prodigal Films). It was a very rich experience, since from the very start it was a genuine co-production.
Why did you want to premiere at Karlovy Vary?
I have always had a special curiosity about this festival, and when I’m here I can see that it’s fabulous in so many ways: the relation to the public with the films, all the functions, and the particular way they look to choose the films.