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Pool Version

About this film

A filmmaker, who reflects upon his work. A film that appears to consider its own nature, its being, its observations. There is a shoe floating in a pool, quietly, slowly. And there is a woman who seems to be merely drifting, floating through her life. A graduate of film.factory, Gonzalo Escobar Mora has created with Pool Version a self-reflexive film, using it to think about his role as filmmaker, as an observer, as a voyeur. Posing questions about himself, Mora inevitably also poses questions about the viewer and entangles us in a contemplative study of what film can be.

Nadin Mai (tao films)

Interview with the Director
Gonzalo, your film Pool Version has been made at film.factory in Sarajevo. I’d like to know about your way into filmmaking. Was there a certain event which set your development as filmmaker in motion, or has there always been a strong interest in making films rather than merely watching them?

I did not always want to be a filmmaker. My plan was to study anthropology at first. I wanted to study cities, people, human relations, history, conflicts… When I started college, and took some anthropology courses, I also started to explore photography. Some time after, images started to compete with words. I could not help but focus my attention on how images could speak differently than text. I felt that images could better represent the complexities of what I was interested in cities, people, human relations, history, conflicts… I think of images as less despotic, allowing more room for doubt.

I find the beginning of the film very interesting. You position the camera on a low level and we observe a woman from a distance. We cannot hear anything she says to the man who joins her at the table twice. We can only see her gestures. To me, this feels like a voyeuristic position and it’s almost uncomfortable to view this because it feels at times as though we shouldn’t be there, albeit it’s a perfectly innocent scene. It’s merely the camera position that creates this feeling.

This film is a personal response to how I felt at the time in regards to my position as filmmaker. Basically, while developing a script, I met a woman at a cafe in Sarajevo and asked her to act in my film. Our mentor Bela Tarr recommends to spend time with your cast, to begin to know them, as he strongly believes that as directors, we work with personalities and not with characters. I established a certain friendship with this woman, Aida, and she began sharing some aspects of her life. After a while, this began to feel uncomfortable, as if I was using her, in the name of “art”. This feeling started to affect the direction of my writing, and after having encountered the swimming pool location, I started to see ways of connecting how I felt, and the multiple conversations with Aida. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks before the shoot, Aida got sick and I had to look for a professional actress, which ended up working for the best, considering the constraints of the project. A lot of times things seems to organise themselves.

This scene also establishes straightaway the importance of sound (or silence) in your film. Pool Version is a very quiet film, even though, especially in the first scene, the image says otherwise. We should hear people speaking, for example. Instead you give us access only to the sound of music, seemingly coming from the radio. Can you tell me more about your approach to sound in film?

I wanted a hermetic feeling for the beginning of the film, to go along with the voyeuristic aspect, as well as with some disconnection; just like when one uses headphones. I generally try using sound to narrate and to create atmospheres, but I still think I have a long way to go in paying more careful attention to the sound within my films.

Whenever you show us a scene that is set inside the pool, it is almost as if the pool is one of your film's main characters. It's got this strong presence, and yet it is quiet and still.

I definitely liked this ambiguity. The pool for me was as visually interesting and dramatic as it was a little ridiculous. It was a perfect match with the dynamics I wanted to suggest, regarding my intentions as a filmmaker and what happens in real life. I guess this location could actually reflect my brain somehow.

There is a self-reflexivity apparent in Pool Version. Are you investigating yourself, your role as a filmmaker, your processes?

Definitely. This occurs constantly in my work. I believe this comes from my background as a visual artist but also from my interests and past experience in documentary filmmaking. I have always found it necessary to question and sometimes to include the role of the maker. I think this helps to maintain a critical standpoint. I am always struggling to find ways of doing this without limiting the structure of a narrative.

After Pool Version has been screened at several festival, what's next for you?

I am currently editing a new short film that I managed to shoot in Colombia, before I moved back to Chicago recently. Apart from continuing to make short films, I would like to continue my visual art explorations. There is also an option to combine a couple of undeveloped projects and ideas into a feature film. That’s the way my writing works.

Thank you very much for this interview.

Thank you!!