×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson on ‘Summer White,’ Making a CCC Opera Prima

LOS CABOS  —  The first scene of the first feature from Mexico’s Rodrigo Ruíz Patterson sets up the whole drama: Adolescent Rodrigo flicks on his cigarette lighter to see his way down a passageway, knocks on his mother’s door, says he can’t sleep. She lets him in, he clambers into her bed.

“Blanco de verano” (“Summer White”) – a title taken from a tone of paint used to redecorate the house – is not an incest story. It does point up, however, the dangers of a fragile emotional dependence which a loner son in a one-parent family has on his mother.

When his mother’s boy friend moves in, and sidelines and subjugates Rodrigo with his every action, the young son fights back with seething violence, an attempt to make his own home in an abandoned trailer, and incremental acts of arson, a cry for his mother’s attention.

Ruíz Patterson’s short “Australia” was about a desperate character in a normal situation, a woman who can’t conceive, befriending neighbors. Here, the only son of a single mothe, who has invested all her emotional life in bringing him up,  suddenly has to confront losing part of her love.  Ruíz Patterson chatted to Variety about his debut, now bound for Ventana Sur’s Copia Final showcase:

Growing up means cutting an emotional dependence with one’s parents. If “Summer White” is a coming of age film,  it’s a traumatic one because of Rodrigo’s singular situation as the single child of a single mother who’s never had to share her love before. Can you comment?

Popular on Variety

“Summer White’s”  a coming of age film because it’s about the end of childhood (infancia in Spanish), which etymologically means “The impossibility to speak.” It’s a film about how we deal with complex emotions such as love, dependence, jealousy, that we experience for the first time in our lives. If we can’t speak, in what clumsy ways do we express them? I believe that’s the final goal: To observe in an intimate way how difficult human relations are.

The heart of the film is its psychological observance, especially in the battle between Rodrigo and Fernando, his mother’s boyfriend. Fernando’s ever seeming act of generosity towards Rodrigo – teaching him to drive buying a trailer van – in also an act of subjugation and celebration of Fernando’s superiority. Rodrigo himself seems to be unable to really accept sharing his mother. In this sense the film could be seem as a study is unyielding masculinity  Again, could you react?

In my films I like to get into the heads and hearts of the characters, as the first step to find empathy. There’s large psychological observation in this one and it’s as Freudian as it can get. This is of course is reflected in Rodrigo and Fernando’s relationship, driven by male ego, which we tried to make complex and tridimensional, with no good and bad characters. They try to like each other and from their point of views they’re both right, but sadly for them (but not for the sake of the drama) there’s a clear and very classic conflict between them: They love the same woman.

Summer White is a paint tone which reflects light better. Would you say that your film is in any way reflecting a broader social situation in Mexico of children brought up by a single parent, usually the mother?

We’d like to think that the film has a universal theme. This is a story that can make sense either in Mexico, Moscow or Australia. That makes it easy to identify with the characters, with their flaws and conflicts. I was raised myself by a single mother when this wasn’t very common in Mexico. So I wanted to discuss some thoughts about modern union and new ways to be a “family”.

You’re an alum, as your producer Alejandro Cortés, of Mexico City’s Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC). “Summer White” forms part of the CCC’s Opera Prima program, in a long lineage of movies which includes such celebrated titles as Carlos Carrera’s “La mujer de Benjamín,” Jorge Grau’s “Somos lo que hay,” and “La vida después,”from David Pablos. How did that influence the film?

All three are films that I like a lot and I feel close to. I even worked as the 1st AD on “La Vida después” so I was very close to David and to the process of what it takes to make Opera Prima CCC and what that means, creative and production-wise. Jorge and Carlos were both my teachers at some point in the CCC and I learned a lot from them about making films. So I guess the influence must be somewhere in the film.

What are you doing now? I believe you have a documentary in the pipeline….

The documentary you mention is called “Bad Hombres.” It was screened in competition at the last Morelia International Film festival with good reactions from the audience. It’s a direct cinema piece about the daily life stories of a group of deportees who intend to cross back to the U.S. making their way in a homeless community that lives just about two hundred feet from the border. Right now I’m finishing the writing of my second feature screenplay: a black comedy set during Mexico City’s 2017 earthquake.

Summer White
CREDIT: Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson

More Film

  • Richard Jewell

    Box Office: Clint Eastwood Suffers Worst Opening in Four Decades With 'Richard Jewell'

    Clint Eastwood might end up with a lump of box office coal after “Richard Jewell” sputtered in its domestic debut. Despite critical acclaim, the drama about the security guard falsely accused by the media for playing a part in the 1996 Olympics bombing ignited with a dismal $5 million from 2,502 theaters. It’s a disappointing [...]

  • (from left) Tom (Henry Golding) and

    Emilia Clarke's 'Last Christmas' Crosses $100 Million at Global Box Office

    Universal’s “Last Christmas,” a romantic comedy starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, surpassed $100 million in global ticket sales. The milestone is a win for original fare, one that is especially impressive considering the movie was skewered by critics for its wacky twist ending. After six weeks in theaters, “Last Christmas” has earned $34.4 million [...]

  • DSCF0855.RAF

    'Jumanji 2' Rules Overseas Box Office With $85 Million

    Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level” powered international box office charts, collecting $85 million from 34 markets over the weekend. The action-packed sequel kicked off in North America with $60 million for a global start of $145 million. “Jumanji: The Next Level” debuted in a handful of foreign territories last weekend, bringing box office receipts to [...]

  • Rey (Daisy Ridley) in STAR WARS:

    Disney Plus Signs Exclusive Distribution Deal With Canal Plus in France

    Ahead of its launch in France on March 31, 2020, Disney Plus has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Canal Plus Group, the country’s leading pay-TV company. The deal, which was first reported in the French newspaper Les Echos and confirmed by Canal Plus Group CEO Maxime Saada on his Twitter account, marks a new [...]

  • French movie actress Anna Karina smiles

    Anna Karina, French New Wave Star and Jean-Luc Godard Collaborator, Dies at 79

    French New Wave star Anna Karina, who served as a muse for Jean-Luc Godard and appeared in eight of his films, has died. She was 79. France’s culture minister, Franck Reister, announced her death in a tweet, as did her agent, Laurent Balandras, who attributed the cause as cancer. “Her gaze was the gaze of [...]

  • Frozen 2

    'Frozen 2' Sets Record as Disney's Sixth Movie to Hit $1 Billion in 2019

    “Frozen 2” is the sixth Disney movie this year to hit $1 billion globally, strengthening the studio’s sheer dominance over the box office. Those ticket sales extend the benchmark Disney set over summer, with five other films — “Avengers: Endgame,” “Aladdin,” “Toy Story 4,” “The Lion King” and “Captain Marvel” — joining the billion-dollar club [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content