FILM WATCH: What drew you to this story?
SEBASTIÁN LELIO: Gloria arises from the question of whether there could be a film about the world of women from my mother’s generation, and what this film would be like. It comes from the intuition that a film can sometimes be closer than you think, sometimes even just a few feet away. I wanted to infiltrate this generation’s unknown planet and see what happened there.
There is something moving about these women approaching their 60s who transit through Santiago, Chile, today. Women who fight to find their place in a world that treats them with harshness, who sing in the car, who have been left somewhat on their own, for whom no one has too much time and that, in spite of the years that have passed, refuse to give up and want to keep on feeling, dancing and living. The film reclaims that right, and it does so from the fascination with an endearing woman who is clinging on to life with her teeth and nails.
The music itself is a character in the film.
Gloria is a film about feelings. And music (for what can have more feeling than music?) constitutes a central element in this tale, working almost as a Greek choir, constantly contaminating the story. At the same time, the characters express themselves through music, making the emotions of the songs that they listen, sing or dance to their very own, unconsciously commenting on their own lives, as if the music were a mirror of their own processes and dilemmas.
The film’s soundtrack belongs to Gloria’s generation. It contains songs that range from worldwide hits to Latin American and Chilean cult songs. There are some disco tunes, as well as boleros, romantic ballads, salsas, cumbias, some rock ‘n’ roll and one bossa nova: “Waters of March” by Tom Jobim. This last song is very special to me because it was one of the guides that led me to find the final tone for the film. I aimed for Gloria to have something from bossa nova: a poetic of everyday life, a painful sort of levity, a certain natural charm, a little humor and a little pain, but above all, humanity and emotion.
How did you work with the actors?
Paulina García, the leading actress, was always at the heart of the project. The film was written for her. Her counterpart is Sergio Hernández, an actor that I greatly admire and whom I have gotten to know filming. Both are powerful and magnetic actors, which made things quite a lot easier.
Starting from the basis that if the screenplay is the map, the shooting is the territory (we worked on the screenplay for two years), we generated a set with space for improvisation so that the actors would be compelled to resort to their own intimacies in order to resolve each scene. This allowed for unconscious elements to emanate, material that had “its own laws,” and that finally infected the screenplay with a new strength and ended up becoming the narration’s essence.
GLORIA | Chile, 2013, 110m | Director: Sebastián Lelio
Writers: Sebastián Lelio and Gonzalo Maza
Starring: Paulina García, Sergio Hernández, Diego Fontecilla