Showing her first feature film at Raindance 2015 Laura Plancarte took some time out from working on her next project to share some words of wisdom with us.
I’m from Mexico and my career comes originally from the visual arts. I’m a performance artist, an installation artist and a video artist. My work has always been interdisciplinary and I really like to combine (mediums) because I think with different mediums you are able to express different thematics; sometimes a different thematic has a different need
I came to do a one year film diploma in London and I thought that I was going to do this diploma in order to enrich my tools as an artist but what happened (was that) I fell in love with filmmaking. I said this is what I actually need to be doing. Filmmaking is the interdisciplinary art; as a writer/director you can have that creative role the same as the artist, creating from nothing
I think being a woman in any kind of discipline is difficult and we are still fighting to have equal opportunities. For me being a woman in power, before in art and now in film, you need to be extra nice because if a man says things directly it is taken as being assertive and if a woman does the same it can be taken as rude
[The industry] is unbalanced. There are not the same opportunities and still people feel women should be in wardrobe and make up and nothing else. I think it is starting to change, I see in London there are all sorts of different organisations and festivals promoting women in film but I think it is still something we are fighting for and I think the most difficult part is when the woman is the one in charge
In Mexico we [were shooting] and we were entering a very difficult world and I needed to play a role of a sweet lady, like I am naïve and I don’t understand what is going on, for the sake of the film and my own sake and also to not have any confrontation. But I realise it is the same here [in the UK]; I have to do it here also. I think the challenge sometimes is that you need to pretend certain things that if I was a man I could just come out and say directly
I [am interested] in things where people are trapped in really difficult situations (like in Tierra Caliente) and people who don’t have a voice in the world. I think as artists and filmmakers we are privileged in having a voice so I said I need to use my own voice and give it to the people who have an urgent need
You need choose your battles; you know you will be able to turn around the boat but in a different way because in the end, and not only being a woman, in general life we need to choose our battles. I think if I started again I would tell myself choose your battles and not fight every detail
I was travelling [in Mexico]and what is happening there is appalling and when you are Mexican you see it closer, I said I need to do a social project and give my voice to people who don’t have it. There were lots of artists doing things about what is happening but for me they become part of the sensationalist circus looking at images of dead people and I don’t believe that is adding anything and I didn’t want to do anything like that
I couldn’t find the angle [for Tierra Caliente] and I think that is when life brings you what you are looking for. I met this woman and she told me the story of her family, I was so moved and I knew this was the story I wanted to tell. For me it was an example of regardless of how brutal the violence in certain regions of Mexico are there is still community, still solidarity. A small percentage of people are doing awful things but the bigger part of the population have the strength to rise above it. So the film has 2 sides.
[My] next project [is about] 2 Mexican brothers, they have crossed illegally to the US 4 times and they were planning a 5th time. These 2 guys have lived everything related to the Mexican/US immigration thematic; jail, honesty, dirty; they have lived it, why do they want to go back? I discovered they have this anxiety which becomes like an engine searching for something they have learned to call the US but has nothing to do with the US. What the brothers really lack is a sense of belonging, a home, they call it the US and they will never find it as they are looking in the wrong place and this is true for many Mexicans. As Mexicans are we really looking for a dream or escaping a reality?
I don’t like to work in an orthodox way. I like to work with real stories but I like to show them in a different light. I think documentary today has a lot of possibilities