Since its US premiere at 2012 Tribeca Film Festival a lot has happened to Una Noche and director Lucy Mulloy. She continued to garner awards and nominations including three at Tribeca that year, one being for Best New Director for of a Feature Film. But nothing was more eventful and at times overshadowing than when life imitated art and two of her actors, Javier Nuñez Florian and Analin de la Rúa de la Torre, defected in Miami (Daniel Arrechagan showed up alone to the premiere at Tribeca). They have since applied for asylum. Una Noche will be presented by Spike Lee and released by IFC in New York and Miami on August 23rd with more cities to follow. LatinoBuzz caught up today with Lucy and decided to re-visit our interview with Lucy Mulloy. (original publication date: April 18th, 2012)
It's safe to say that Lucy Mulloy was born to make films. Her awards cabinet will tell you the exact same thing. As an NYU student, the native Brit was nominated for a Student Academy Award and has gone on to win numerous accolades including the Emerging Narrative Talent Award in 2010 at The Tribeca Film Festival where she is making her U.S. feature film debut with Una Noche this week. Una Noche is a labor of love that has been years in the making. It stemmed from a short film idea Mulloy had upon visiting Cuba and listening to the people's stories. And it lovingly shows on screen. Cast with non-actors Una Noche is a non judgmental look at Cuba through the eyes of people whose nostalgia for the Revolution fades every year along with their dreams. In Una Noche, Lucy captures the pulse of Cuba and with her portrayal of youth and its beautiful juxtaposition to the decaying architecture of Havana.
LatinoBuzz: Since Una Noche premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2012 what have you learned about making a film and how do you think you've grown as a person?
Lucy Mulloy: On a practical level I learned that you need to have an awesome post production manager. Maya Rudolf is an angel who has been amazing during this whole process. I love and adore shooting 35mm film, but post has been painful - removing dust, tweaking the colors for each different stock etc. It has been worth it, but it is costly and labor intensive. I have learned that you need to work out your post deals ahead of time and anticipate tweaks from the QC test... all these things that honestly I would rather not know about, but need to know for the next film. Believe me, I am very aware that these are great problems to have. I am so excited that the movie is coming out and I am really grateful to receive our Tribeca Film Festival award with Company 3 so that we could produce the film as I intended it to be. You have asked how have I grown as a person? Can I get back to you on that once I start making the next movie? I cannot wait to work with actors again and get back behind the camera, get into the editing room. That is when I feel like I'm growing. Perhaps most profoundly over this last year I learned that a movie can transform lives completely, beyond my wildest dreams. The actors are here in the states, a world away from Cuba. To witness that transformation in their lives has been pretty incredible. It's also been amazing to see people at festivals all over the world relate to the movie and respond to the story. That has been really inspiring.
LatinoBuzz: Who put the camera in your hand?
Lucy Mulloy: NYU did. Sandi Sissel, our cinematography professor, told us to sleep with the camera. She is fantastic and was really encouraging. In your first days at NYU grad film they throw you a 16mm camera, a roll of black and white film and say come back with a short movie in a couple of days. It was very liberating and took away the stigma attached with shooting being too complicated. We were given the chance to mess up and to get comfortable with the camera. It was a great time to experiment. It's exhilarating to hear the flutter of film and see the flicker of celluloid passing though the lens as you shoot.
LatinoBuzz: You are having daiquiris with Hemingway, his drink of choice, at the famed Floridita bar that he used to frequent in Havana, he's drunk and being good old Ernest in fine form, what would you ask him?
Lucy Mulloy: I’d ask him to take me fishing.
LatinoBuzz: You studied politics at Oxford - how much politics went into the writing of the film and what evolved during your time in Cuba?
Lucy Mulloy: I went to Cuba in the first place because I was curious about the system. That was before I ever thought about making a movie there. I was not out to make a political movie. I wanted to tell a story that felt real about people and emotions, things that are familiar to me. The film is about three people who come together and change one another. Their circumstances and their perspectives within the context of their society are all very different. I am not interested in telling people what to think about Cuba, but more in exploring the characters’ journeys.
LatinoBuzz: If you could sing a love song to Cuba -- which is it?
Lucy Mulloy: There are a few songs that come into my head, but the one that takes me to a warm Havana evening is Francisco Cespedes, Remolino. We used to play it over and over. Maite and Yanelis would sing along when we were going crazy in pre-production late nights. Hearing it takes me back to Cuba and the lyrics are about being taken away, about a love that is overwhelming... it's about sacrifice and distance. When I am in Cuba I miss my family and friends outside and when I am not there I miss Havana. As soon as you land in Cuba, there’s a feeling that comes over you in the heat; it's in the air, it’s something I have not felt in any other place. I miss that.
LatinoBuzz: With wonderful indies such as 'Pariah', 'Mosquita Y Mari', 'Entre Nos', 'Yelling to The Sky', 'Circumstance', 'Una Noche' etc. we are seeing emerging female talent behind the camera - are you hopeful? And what does being a female in the film industry mean to you?
Lucy Mulloy: There are a lot of women making great films. They are making independent movies, forging their own ways, selecting their own teams. None of the films cited are industry films. There is no question about whether women can make great movies. Clearly they can, but the question is whether they are being invited into the studio system to make them. Progress needs to come from within the industry – they need to catch up and embrace more female directors.
LatinoBuzz: Any part of the journey of making this film you deplored?
Lucy Mulloy: No, some parts were hard, but I learnt so much making this film. I am much more equipped now for the next movie. I have been very much involved with the production side of Una Noche and this has taught me a lot. It’s a huge privilege that I was able to bring the script into fruition.
LatinoBuzz: I wondered when I saw your film if the cinema of Humberto Solás and Tomás Gutiérrez Alea influenced it at all?
Lucy Mulloy: I loved the movie Soy Cuba (Mikail Kalatozov). I saw it after I came back from Cuba the first time and it blew me away. It is so masterfully made, pushing boundaries cinematographically. It inspired me for sure.
LatinoBuzz: You can pick any actor from history to direct. A leading lady for him from history? Set it anywhere in the world. Who are they and what's the plot? Go.
Lucy Mulloy: I would choose young Marlon Brando and a young Cathy Tyson. It would be set in Tunis in 2040 where she would be his drug counselor. As he comes off his addiction he would become more obsessed with her.
LatinoBuzz: You picked 3 wonderful non-traditional actors -- what is your hope for them after Una Noche has reached its destiny?
Lucy Mulloy: I would love to make another movie with them. I know that they all want to pursue careers in acting. I think people usually like what they are good at. They all have a natural talent. I really hope that they get to act more and do what makes them happy. I was very lucky to find them.
For more information on UNA NOCHE please visit: http://www.unanochefilm.com/
Written by Juan Caceres and Vanessa Erazo, LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow @LatinoBuzz on Twitter and Facebook.