With sepia tones and a calligraphy in the credits that imitates the letters written in a pen, Felipe Egas transforms a coffee from Quito into the bohemian place of Montevideo that the widow of the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano I would have imagined to recreate the story in the cinema Love letters. "It is a worthy tribute," says filmmaker Felipe Egas, who was told by Helena Villagra when he showed him the short film adaptation of the original text. She was so convinced that she gave him the author rights at no cost and proposed that she present it to the Montevideo International Film Festival in 2019.
The short film, which bears the same title as the story by Galeano, premiered in Quito in the independent room of the Toledo House at the end of November and has a new week and a half pass for January at the same venue. It is the first work of the Ecuadorian who knew the work of the Uruguayan author five years ago. A Spanish friend recommended him, first, The Open Veins of Latin America and, then, the lonely one followed. Since 2013, I was ruminating on the idea of adapting the fruitless love story of Penelope and Facundo to the screen, but I was living in Europe. "I could not shoot anything of a Latin American icon like Galeano in another place that was not a country in the region," explains Egas.
The occasion began to be forged upon his return to Ecuador two years ago, when he became involved in the teaching of audiovisual arts. The project could not have been engendered without the work and support of its colleagues. Therefore, the filmmaker disdains to specify a figure on the cost of the film. "The budget was minimal thanks to alumni and friends gave me a hand," thanks Quito. The short film was filmed last September on two Saturdays and two Sundays, so that everyone could reconcile it with their other responsibilities.
You can see on the screen the desire to pamper the original story, but also the imperfections of being a first creation. Especially in the performance of the characters that, at times, breaks the cadence of the narrator of the story. Something that the director recognizes. "I have received positive and negative reviews. Among what could have been improved is the performance, but at the same time they have stressed that I have risked making a big adaptation, "he admits. And explains that the protagonist of the short, Natalia Mera, is not an actress, but a friend with a way of being that fit perfectly with the character of Penelope.
"He wanted someone serious and cold," he says, to play the young woman who falls in love with Facundo, abandons him and writes him biweekly letters for years until one day he stops doing it without reason. The actress has a disability so she moves in a wheelchair, but that was nothing more than a complement to her role. "I want to normalize the presence of people with disabilities in the cinema. She won the role, not by quota, but because I do not know another girl that best represents the protagonist, "says Egas, 32, who suffers from spina bifida.
That social background is part of what he wants to associate with his "signature" as a filmmaker. Their next projects will have two more peculiarities: the protagonists will have a name that begins with the lyrics F like yours and women will regain an empowered role. "It is a bit selfish," he acknowledges, mentioning the three ingredients he wants to be associated with his signature, but it is the hunger to grow as the director who speaks. "I would like to get to festivals like San Sebastian, Cannes or Canada. I do not mention the Hollywood Oscar because when you consider yourself an artist, you create art, you fall in love with what you do and it's not about selling it to the big brands. "
But at the moment, while the big jump comes, he has two other projects in mind: a film about kidnappings in Ecuador focused on humanizing the loved one who never returns home and a series of eight-minute productions to viralize in social networks issues of national and international conjuncture from fiction.