Colombian-Canadian director Lina Rodríguez’s third feature, “My Two Voices”, a 68 min documentary that through its short runtime artfully orchestrates a polyphony of emotions, colors, textures and voices in its portrayal of three immigrant women.
Produced by Canada’s Rayon Verde, the same production company behind her previous film “This Time Tomorrow,” Rodríguez’s meticulous approach interweaves the voices of Claudia Montoya, Marinela Piedrahita and Ana Garay Kostic as they share their experiences of immigrating to Canada. Energized by a rich soundscape, the film achieves a deep intimacy, while refusing to draw borders, between spaces, between voices, between there and here, who I was and who I am, between I and Us.
Rodríguez is currently finishing her latest film “So Much Tenderness”.
Variety talked with her as her documentary debuted in Berlinale.
The film has a very set dynamic in its form, it restraint: It often decides not to show what one should immediately expect from a portrait. Could you comment?
I had a very clear formal approach. I wanted to evoke a sense of who they were yet I didn’t want to start with a face. I think reading a face gives you an immediate notion, which might not be true, of who the person is. So I wanted to develop a journey where we could get a sense of who they are through the way that they move, through the way that they embody who they are, the things in their lives, the objects, the textures. In my films I’m interested in the small details that make us who we are, so I built through those fragments not trying so much to define them as characters, not trying to enclose them.
The sound, of course, is a big part of that portrayal. Could talk about the process of creating that very detailed and delicate soundscape?
A big part has been the collaboration between Sofia Bohdanowicz and Roberta Ainstein (sound design) who felt free to go and explore how this specific place sounds. We would try to accumulate the sound textures and have sound through their perspective. Sofia was recording bees in the garden or putting the mics inside of a dryer in one of the homes in the basement because of all the interesting echoes. And yet the conversations between me and the women most of the time took place in their bedrooms. It feels different because it has a more intimate texture because it was literally just the three of us. So there’s a lot of mixture of interior and exterior that are simultaneous. I wanted to create a new space that existed both inside and outside, which I think underlines that same feeling that we share, being caught in a middle space.
Structurally the film is not so much concerned with maintaining clear divisions between the characters its portraying. Voices lose their owner as you rely on small details in an almost pictorial way. Could you comment.
So I wanted the sound separately because I wanted to create a space of its own. I organized the sound conversations through themes and images and started from there. It was a very intuitive process where we started to interweave between voices and details. More and more I thought of it as a chorus, not one voice but many. There’s always going to be a new meaning when you contrast what the women are speaking about and what you see or what you hear in the soundscape. The images were from somewhere else and so too the sounds. Once again following these ideas of existing in between worlds.
Your film is very interested in the voices of these women, but could you talk about your own experience as an immigrant?
Ironically, I felt like I didn’t belong when I was in Colombia, before I left and I understood how Colombian I was, before seeing Latin America from a distance. Then I moved to Canada and became an outsider. But before I already felt out of place so maybe I’ve been always in this constant oscillation between feeling out of place and in, which I think is a reflection of the immigrant journey. But I think it’s a reflection of many experiences when we live in a world that categorizes things in binary. Being an immigrant has taught me or has reminded me how really fluid existences are, and that time and space are always collapsing. And that some of these categories about where you belong, are so constrictive and problematic, but you still have to struggle with them. As much as I would like to hold on to something, everything is always passing. So I would just try to use that isolation and those feelings of displacement as a set of tools to try to think about the world.