May 16, 2021

Elvira Lind and Óscar Isaac take humanity in prison to the Oscars


Los Angeles (USA), Apr 18 (EFE) .- The emotional and humanistic story of a prison worker has brought director and screenwriter Elvira Lind and actor Oscar Isaac to the Oscars, who with the short film “La mailroom “also aspire to foster a debate on the crisis of the penal system in the United States.

“We not only punish the person behind bars but also all those around him who love him,” Lind told Efe.

“It is important to remember that when someone receives a long sentence … we are also destroying the lives of many other people,” he added.

“The Mail Room” will fight for the Oscar for best fiction short film against “Feeling Through”, “The Present”, “Two Distant Strangers” and “White Eye”.

For the Danish Elvira Lind and the Guatemalan Óscar Isaac, this project was special long before landing at the great cinema gala since they married in 2017 and have two children in common.

“I wrote ‘The Mail Room’ with him in mind because he’s my favorite actor, as you can imagine …” he joked.

Lind explained that it was “fantastic” and “a lot of fun” to work with Isaac, one of the most requested Latino actors in Hollywood thanks to “About Llewyn Davis” (2013), “Ex Machina” (2014), “Show Me a Hero “(2015) or the third trilogy of” Star Wars “.

“He has an incredible way of transforming. He also really understands my humor so it was a magical collaboration,” he said.

Although Isaac is an executive producer as well as the protagonist of the short, Elvira Lind and producer Sofia Sondervan would be the two people who would receive the Oscar for “The Mail Room” if this short finally won the statuette.

LETTERS IN THE DARK

With Alia Shawkat rounding out the cast, “The Mail Room” puts its focus on Richard (Isaac), a correctional officer tasked with a new role within the jail: reviewing inmate correspondence.

This task should be one more routine task in a cold and dehumanized place, but Richard gradually begins to get emotionally involved with the cards that pass through his hands.

Lind, who makes her fiction debut with “The Mail Room” after years devoted to documentaries, explained that the short story was something she had had in her head “for a long time.”

“I listened to a podcast years ago about men writing letters to a woman they were in love with. And then they found out that this woman was actually a man scamming them and stealing money,” he explained.

However, Lind said that those prisoners, although they were left “heartbroken” when they found out the lie behind those letters, they later missed that human contact with the outside, no matter how false it was.

The filmmaker also reflected on the “ambivalence” displayed by Richard, who “tries to identify with the people he works with” on both sides of the bars.

“But it is not emotionally related to the concept of the death penalty,” he clarified.

“He thinks, ‘That’s not up to me.’ And I think that’s a small-scale reflection of how we can all see it, that we think it has nothing to do with us when, in reality, we are part of a society and a country that supports the death penalty in many states, “he said.

In another sense, Lind emphasized that Richard is a very lonely and isolated person even though he is not locked up in a jail like the inmates in “The Mail Room.”

“Those letters are like a soap opera in real life to him. He reads them and they are so romantic and beautiful … Maybe it’s the closest Richard has ever been to romance. I don’t think he’s trying to steal that love from you. He just sees it as An entertainment, he swallows it all, he loves it and thinks: ‘Oh, here comes a new chapter …’, “he argued.

Finally, Lind spoke about the sometimes comical and always emotional tone of this short film and opined that, instead of a much more intense or deep drama, “The Mail Room” can appeal to the public’s reflection on the penal system ” laughing “with this story while” understanding “the problem behind it.

David Villafranca

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