Paz Fábrega’s “Restless” comes into Ventana Sur’s Primer Corte section as one of the sidebar’s most buzzed titles.
In 2011, Fábregá’s “Agua Fria de Mar,” (“Cold Water of the Sea”) played in San Sebastian’s Horizontes Latinos competition and scooped awards at Lima’s Latin American Film Fest and Rotterdam, after playing well in rough-cut at an outstanding 2010 San Sebastian’s Films in Progress.
“Restless” is a parallel coming of age tale about a teenager who learns she is pregnant too far along to do anything but deliver, and the teacher who steps in to guide the young woman through the process and the life-defining decisions that come along with it.
“Agua Fria” producers Temporal Films back Fabregá once again on “Restless,” co-produced by Tiempo Liquid’s Patricia Velazquez and Marianella Aguilar of Mexico’s Capital Productions.
The cast is led by two non-professional newcomers; Rebeca Woodbridge, who plays the young lead, and Raquel Villalobos – her teacher, keeping in line with Fábrega’s tradition of working with natural actors.
All the team heads on the film ended up being women, a coincidence as it was not something they were aiming for. In fact, the movie was halfway finished before the Fabrega realized the fact. According to Fabrega, it’s a strong endorsement for the Costa Rican industry that something like this can happen without even trying, because there are so many women working in every department of its industry.
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Fabrega talked with Variety about the film ahead of it’s Ventana Sur screening.
What was the inspiration for this film? How did you come up with the story?
I started writing it when I was pregnant. I was influenced by the film “Certain Women” from Kelly Reichardt, although I think in the end “Restless” is nothing like it. I was excited about what it was trying to do and that it existed. It made me fall in love with the movies again. The next day I wrote what was then the basis of this story.
At first, I tried to film it in a very experimental way. That’s when I found Rachel, who at the time was pregnant, and I better defined the story. It was difficult for me at that time because my son was very young and I hadn’t shot a movie for seven years, I was totally immersed in the demands of motherhood and felt lonely and tired. It was strange though, I felt inspired but with a great sense of unease. Physically I could hardly do anything. Pati (Velazquez) convinced me to follow a more traditional route of applying for funds and developing the project. I think it was successful because that gave me a structure and the support that I needed. When we eventually found Rebekah we finished defining the story, just before we started filming.
How do you see film production in Costa Rica now? Is it necessary for a Costa Rican production to find co-production partners in other territories?
It’s hard for me to speak for others, but for my part I’m unrealistic when making movies. I don’t think so much about the specifics of budget and production. I know that even though we’ve managed to make our films, it’s not enough for us. It’s a huge effort to film with the kind of budgets we have. We can’t live on that or produce sustainably.
How was the casting? Yuliana is a deeply emotional character who grows enormously throughout the film but does so with very little dialogue and instead shows it on her face and in her actions. Finding the right actress must have been a necessity.
Rachel, the actress who plays Yuliana, was a very lucky find. I found her in mid-2017 through a mutual friend when she was 18 and pregnant. She is an extraordinary girl with depth and an impressive aptitude for acting. I tried to make her feel comfortable and give her directions so she could do her job. I think something magical happened in the film that she was able to go back to where she was two years prior, when she was expecting her own baby, and relive it by acting it. It almost therapeutic to be able to elaborate on some of those things, to reimagine them, to use them to do something that we were all very excited to do. I also revived parts of my life where I was Luisa and I was Yuliana. It was similar with Luisa, although I met her closer to filming. The two of them developed a very nice relationship and they they relied on one another a lot during the filming.
Who do you imagine as the target audience of this film? Who do you expect to see?
I’m not sure, because I don’t have a very objective look yet at what we did, I’m still too into the movie. But I think there’s a lot of the movie that’s relates specifically to the question of whether to be a mother or not. That may seem obvious, because it is present in the main plot, but I think more important than the way this unfolds is another thing that is a little harder to define. I hope it’s present in the film, something only perceivable to someone who has been through this. When a film comes into the world is the only time you really discover the movie you made. So, the short answer is I don’t know yet, but I’m excited to find out.