Fever Dream - directed by Claudia Llosa, co-written by Llosa and Samanta Schweblin

(L to R) Guillermina Sorribes Liotta and María Valverde in 'Fever Dream'

(L to R) Guillermina Sorribes Liotta and María Valverde in 'Fever Dream'

Born in Lima, Peru, director Claudia Llosa studied filmmaking at University of Lima and Escuela TAI in Barcelona. Filmmaking it seems in her family’s genes: her uncle Luis Llosa directed the cult film ‘Anaconda’ starring Jennifer Lopez. Claudia Llosa’s first film ‘Madeinusa,’ which chronicled the coming of age of a young girl in a fictional, extremely religious Peruvian village, played many film festivals including Sundance. Her second film ‘The Milk of Sorrow’ examines lingering trauma on women in Peru through the lens of the folk belief that this trauma is passed to children through breast milk. The film was met with widespread acclaim, resulting in Peru’s first nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards, although it did not win.

Released in 2014, Samanta Schweblin’s novel ‘Distancia de rescate’ uses elements of psychological fiction to explore the after effects of Argentina’s current environmental problems. The film adaptation, renamed ‘Fever Dream’ in English, follows desperate mother Amanda (María Valverde) as she works through a delirious state to find her daughter. Featuring a powerful supporting performance from Dolores Fonzi, Llosa and Schweblin have crafted an unnerving thriller that serves as both a damnation of Argentina’s lax environmental practices, but also a hymn to the supernatural bond between parents and their children.

Fever Dream’ is now streaming on Netflix globally.

Fever Dream

"Pay attention."
62
R1 hr 33 minOct 13th, 2021

Claudia Llosa and Samanta Schweblin talked to Moviefone about their movie.

Moviefone: How did you come to work with Samanta Schweblin on this adaptation of her novel ‘Distancia de rescate’?

Claudia Llosa: I was lucky. A close friend sent me the book, telling me I should read it because she thought I would like it. I hadn't even finished reading it when I already felt physically transformed. There was something in the novel that impacted me, not just emotionally, but also physically. I'm talking about intense emotions that have transformed me. I had this feeling of certainty that I wanted to do this, I wanted to adapt this for cinema. I'd never had that experience before. I never meant to adapt a novel. I never read with a view towards that. I normally read as a normal reader, not with the idea that I want to adapt things for cinema. There were a lot of components that I was familiar with, but also the structure was so different and so innovative. There's this dialogue between Amanda and David that opens up the opportunity to explore within the architecture of cinema a completely new world. That would allow us to open up not just the timeline of the story, which has many layers, but also innovate with this off-screen voice, which gives orders and conducts a dialogue with the viewer. There's a 3D level that is added on because of that. Then the idea of the rescue distance was such a wonderful concept. It is something that I could connect to, and I felt that many parents, mothers, fathers, children could feel close to as well.

MF: Was there any folklore or culture that inspired the initial story?

Samanta Schweblin: Folklore as such, not in particular. But the idea of migration or transposition, the idea of what happened in the greenhouse, the idea of a woman that can cure things that medicine cannot cure, which seems so far-fetched? Well, it is part of Argentinian reality, there are areas of the country in which medicine does not have a reach where that kind of alternative kind of thinking does take place. That is something that you see in a lot of Latin American novels, I grew up in a city, but I remember that there were all kinds of superstitions, like you needed to do a sign of the cross or otherwise x thing wouldn't happen.

Llosa: Yeah, there were all these superstitions where you have to take an egg, and then you have to move it in front of your face. And then when you open that, if it was black, then there was a disease and the disease had been transposed to the egg. That kind of stuff.

MF: Can you talk about the film’s unique soundscape?

Llosa: It was an incredible experience working with that kind of sound. There were many sound layers. One is the actual sounds internal to the story, which is very rich. At the same time, there's something which is a threat which penetrates to the pores and is very subtle. I wanted for that to seep little by little into the sound. We worked with [composer] Natalie Holt. She was so good. She manages to create this emotion. I wanted for this to build up and build up, to create this sensation of a mother who is capable of everything to get to her daughter. Then the third component was done by a Peruvian musician, Jamie Oliver, who lives in New York and teaches at NYU, and he was my neighbor when we were kids. And so I called him because I know that he works with musical instruments that he creates, that are torsion inducing instruments. He works with things that sound like birds, but they actually aren't animals; it's music. I wanted for him to help us to create that world, for example, when they get to the greenhouse. I wanted to create this feeling that is very intense. The mix of these three layers is very important.

MF: Could you talk about the significance of the story’s rural setting?

Schweblin: At a symbolic level, I think that Latin Americans, for a long time, we had this idyllic view of the countryside as very bucolic. It's where you chill. It’s where you find beauty. Everything is so natural. Then all of a sudden, all those rural areas were industrialized and became poisoned and dangerous. We cannot really understand what goes on there. So it was important for me to think about this conflict.

Llosa: For me, it was very important for the story to be deeply rooted in this very specific universe of the Argentinian countryside, which is so bucolic, but I also want for people to feel that this could be anywhere. It could happen next to your house. It could be in the fields of California or in Spain. This is not a problem that can be confined to a specific place. It's a problem that happens everywhere. This for me was very important. I wanted to succeed in creating this architecture, which is not politically connected to a specific place. Well, it is, it is deeply rooted to where it is, but at the same time, it could be anywhere else.

MF: How did you craft that story’s nonlinear structure?

Schweblin: When there’s a linearity, which then loses its margins, there's a different way of tackling storytelling. There's the intention of going over something that we already know, we're going over something that Amanda has already seen many times, but now she needs to see it in a different way, entering it from a different side. So you see things in a different order, without understanding them or trying to understand them. There's an anecdote that I remember with a lot of affection. When we got to a point, I got together with Claudia for a week, and it was very intense. We were deciding how to mix the past and the present. It became really exhausting. We moved all the furniture in the room. We were working all over the walls so that everything was free and everything was available to us. We put everything up there until we were super sure of the path that we wanted to follow. I never thought that writing could become something so intense.

Llosa: There was no other way to tell the story. It had to be done this way. We needed to understand how Amanda was going through this confusion with this fever dream that she's trying to figure out. We needed to have a fracture in the space timeline. That fracture is the only way to understand how one needs to separate them and be able to unite again. We needed to do that. It sounds like a stylistic choice, but when you are so deep into this material, you'll find it so intense, and you cannot articulate it in any other way. Then it becomes clear to you that it is the only path that one can follow.


Runoff - directed by Kimberly Levin

(L to R) Tom Bower and Joanne Kelly in 'Runoff'

(L to R) Tom Bower and Joanne Kelly in 'Runoff'

A former biochemist, writer-director Kimberly Levin’s feature film debut ‘Runoff’ is a blistering thriller about the cost of running a family farm in the modern United States. A Nicholl Screenwriting finalist and IFP Narrative Lab (now called Gotham Fiction Feature Lab) fellow, Levin’s film follows Betty (Joanne Kelly) as she tries to keep her farm afloat and family from falling apart. When her neighbor makes her an offer to use a creek on her land as a dumping ground for toxic waste, she must decide what lines she’s willing to cross in order to keep it all together. Shot on location on a real working farm, ‘Runoff’ shines a light on the economic cost of keeping this country fed and the harsh realities faced by our small farms in today’s economy.

Runoff

Runoff

R1 hr 30 minJun 26th, 2015