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Ampliación

About this film

What happens to a film when it is slowed down? Ampliación by Jaime Grijalba Gómez shows us what film is made of in a remarkable way. Having taken a second of footage as a basis for his film, the Chilean director slowed it down to several minutes, making us aware of each and every change in each and every pixel on screen. Hypnotising, engaging and thought-provoking, Ampliación is a study of the nature of the image and of time, infused with philosophical ideas and the realisation that life is eternal.

Nadin Mai (tao films)

Interview with the Director
Jaime, I would like to congratulate you on your film. I often think that contemplative films are simple, but very affective/effective. This seems to be particularly true when it comes to your film Ampliación. Can you tell me a little bit of where the idea for this film came from?

Thank you so much, both for liking it and for choosing it to be part of tao films. The idea of ‘Ampliación’ came because I wanted to experiment with some simple concepts, especially some that I had seen only briefly at times in other movies, like the deceleration of an image, but taken to an extreme that would lead me towards a more acute reflection over the filmed image. So, the idea came when I happened upon a one second clip on my mom’s iPad and I decided that it’d be the perfect subject for experimentation because it would be extreme: one second decelerated to a couple of minutes was something that I hadn’t seen before, and I wanted that every frame and pixel of the image slowly turned, the black frames of the left-hand corner start to disappear, the person in the back starts to slowly move, the sea continues eternally... and then I recorded myself speaking about the nature of cinema, images, quoting a lot of people, but I wasn’t convinced. I recorded the voice-over a few times and then I found out that the image wasn’t really neutral: it was my mother, running in the shore of a beach, so small, exactly as she was hit by the water, my voice changed and it turned into something much longer than I expected and much more emotional and personal.

Where was the film shot?

I’m not exactly sure. I’d like to think that it was at Playa Grande in the small town of Las Cruces. In a way, this one second clip was found footage, and it was either shot by mistake by me or my father, who was with us that day. It’s a mistake because clearly me or him wanted to take a picture of my mom as she was running, but we pressed the record button instead. Who would’ve known what would’ve happened without this mistake?

Your use of super slow-motion has a hypnotic effect. I find it engaging, because one wonders whether or not your picture is actually moving. You walk a fine line there between cinema and photography.

It’s funny because it’s connected to the mistake that originated the clip, the intention of a photograph but it turns out there’s space for movement and even conflict in one second. The slow-motion effect is there to extreme its own existence, of the digital effect, the clip and the idea of stillness. It’s only as the film advances that one starts to see changes in the image, and I’m willing to say that it deserves at least a second watch to see where the pixels start moving first, which pixels change colour, how the digital image is created through this minuscule squares that change shades of colour.

This also brings me to one specific point in your film. At some point you mention “an eternalised moment”. This is precisely what makes me think of photography. A photograph is always an eternalised moment.

When I speak about an “eternalised moment” I’m referring to the idea that no matter what happens, I’d like to say that Ampliación is part of film history. Now in what way or how or where it will stand, it’s only a matter of time. But I'm not only speaking of photographs. Film and moving images in general are eternalised moments. I say here that my mother is frozen in that eternalised moment, because the slow-motion effect creates the idea of a series of infinite photographs that even make up for one second of video, no second should last six minutes. You eternalise the second, the image in it, and at the same time, while making a film about it, you make it part of something that transcends. At least, I’d like to think that it transcends.

Would you agree that Ampliación is a philosophical film?

I’d say it is to certain point. I load it with quotes, names and references from the get-go, but it ultimately is a film about my mother and what I felt while seeing her image frozen, eternalised, fragile and distant at the same time. It’s a philosophical film because it surely tries to ask some questions to which I have no answer to, but I’d also say it’s a personal and emotional film, because I tend to intellectualise practically everything that is part of my life, including my feelings, so it’s pretty close to how my mind works.

I wonder where you would situate yourself as a filmmaker. Would you describe yourself as a slow-film director? Or as an arthouse filmmaker in general?

I’d like to think of myself as someone that is willing to do whatever crosses my mind. The spark of “Ampliación” surged out of a split-second idea at the sight of the one second clip. The same thing goes for every other film that I’ve tried to develop. They’re all different projects, different lengths, different genres, different intentions and audiences. I don’t see myself as a slow-film director, even though I have projects in that vein, so I’d consider myself more of an arthouse filmmaker, but one that is more closely related to the independent aspect of it all, more than the intellectual or artistic side of it.

Are you currently working on a new film project?

Three weeks ago, I started shooting my first feature film, one that I can’t talk about for legal reasons, but that I’m extremely excited about. It’s an absurdist comedy filled with jokes about literature, youth culture and curse words, so a complete departure from “Ampliación”, but they do share a few common aspects. I hope that it’ll premiere in late 2018 at film festivals.

Many thanks for this interview.