In a relatively short time, the young director Fernando Eimbcke has become one of the most original voices in Latin American cinema. With a mere three movies to his name, he's one of the few auteurs working outside the standard subjects of drug trafficking, crime and magical realism. His movies tend to focus on young people living ordinary lives and coming to terms with impending adulthood. To call them coming-of-age films wouldn't do justice to the larger truths they carry. His latest, Club Sandwich, is no exception; it deals with a single mother (María Renée Prudencio) who takes her son Hector (Lucio Giménez Cacho) to a resort during the low season.
The first part of the movie finds them bonding over sunscreen application, discussing Prince's sexiness and ordering the title meal. Things change when more guests arrive to the hotel, one of them being Jazmín (Dánae Reynaud), a sixteen year old who catches Hector's eye. Suddenly he doesn't want to be with his mom for long, he starts noticing he's growing a tiny mustache and secretly washes his underwear so that his mother won't notice the accidents he's been having at night. The film is a delight made even more special by the naturalistic performances of the three lead actors. Reynaud in particular brings a sense of mischief to a character that could've been villainized by a lesser actress. I asked the charming Dánae about working with Eimbcke and when she realized she wanted to act. You'll relate to her profound love of movies (after the jump).
TFE: Dánae, how did you become involved in this project?
Dánae: This is a very small world. I'd done some short films with CCC students [one of Mexico's most prestigious film schools] before and one of them knew someone who knew someone who knew someone and before I knew it I was doing an audition for Alejandro Caballero. A few weeks later I got a callback from Fernando. At first I thought I wouldn't get it because I looked older than the character.
Were you a fan of Fernando's other movies?
Dánae: Ultra fan! In high school I wrote a paper on Duck Season and I think The Look of Love is my favorite of his short films. I think that Fernando is a very honest, simple man, which is why I like his work. He's loyal to his stories and really wants to tell them; he's not looking for money or commercial success, these just happen as consequence of his work. I really admire him.
When did you realize you wanted to be an actress?
Dánae: During my first theater class when I was six. When the class was over I ran towards my dad, hugged him and told him I wanted the next class to start right away.
Dánae: I believe I was truly lucky, not only because my first featrure length was directed by someone I admire but because the entire team was truly wonderful. Everyone respected each other's work, it was a very human crew and well, spending an entire month at the beach wasn't too bad either ha-ha. Obviously there are larger productions with busier schedules, more sets etc. so this was a truly wonderful way to begin. We were all like a family and working with María Renée and Lucio was a constant pleasure...
What did you learn from Fernando as a director?
Dánae: That less is more. Fernando is one of the most humane and sensitive people I know. He's the complete opposite of the stereotypical film director who doesn't listen to anyone else. Fernando does everything so that the experience is fun and that everyone has a great time. I learned many things (probably more than he would think) but more than anything I learned that loving what you do, can only lead to great things.
How do you think that Fernando is able to portray teenagers in such an effective and honest way?
Dánae: I think it's a time of many changes and transitions and I understand why Fernando finds it fascinating. I believe he knows how to portray it because he knows how to observe it. He understands it because he measures it, he studies it... more than a profound Freudian analysis, I think Fernando is a great observer and that's why his look at people is so honest.
Did you see yourself in Jazmín?
Dánae: Yes and no. Jazmín has a lot of me, for example her insatiable curiosity and we also share things we like. We're also both only chilldren, we like silence and our parents met on the same beach! But we're quite different, she's braver than me in many aspects but she's also more inhibited. It's strange. Jazmín dares do things I would never do, but on the other side I feel more comfortable around people. I guess if she and I were on vacation we'd get along wonderfully, but in my regular life I need to be around people more than she does.
How did you prepare for your romantic scenes with Lucio?
Dánae: Before filming began we did exercises at Cinepantera, but in order to establish a connection between the characters. We didn't prepare ourselves in a specific way for certain scenes but it wasn't necessary, Lucio's a very cool guy and we never had any awkward moments or anything similar.
The film is starting to appear in international film festivals. How do you think people will react to it?
Dánae: I honestly have no idea. This is the first time I've starred in something that will be seen by these many people. I hope people like it, that they listen to our story and give Fernando and our crew more opportunities to keep on working. It's a beautiful story and it deserves to be seen.
What are some of your favorite movies?
Dánae: I'm quite the cinephile and would probably need at least a list with 50 movies to begin with. But off the top of my head...Micmacs (Jeunet), La planète sauvage (Laloux), Mary and Max (Elliot) and Eternity and a Day (Angelopoulos)
What would you want to be if you weren't an actress?
Dánae: I really like to write and eventually I would like to direct films as well. I also want to tell my stories.
Last but not least, international distribution is quite crappy (to say the least) and we rarely get to see much of what's being made in Mexico. What are some of your recommendations for us?
Dánae: I would say watch everything! I think the best that could happen to our industry is for distribution to improve, that way you'd be able to see the good and the bad and criticize it, which would force production to improve. I truly think Mexican filmmaking is having one of its great moments and there are many interesting things to watch. We still have a long way to go, but I believe this should inspire us instead of being discouraging.
Thank you Dánae and best of luck with the film!
Club Sandwich plays during the festival on 10/01 and 10/08. Not to be missed are Eimbcke's two previous films which will be screened as part of the Emerging Artists series, both Duck Season (which made Nathaniel's top ten list in its year) and Lake Tahoe play at the Walter Reade Theater on 10/01. See them and come back and join the discussion!