Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

LatinoBuzz: Natalia Smirnoff Director of 'Lock Charmer' On Premiering Her Film at Sundance 2014

Interviews
by Vanessa Erazo
January 29, 2014 8:30 AM
2 Comments
  • |


Lock Charmer

The annual indie showcase known as the Sundance Film Festival just closed this weekend. Of the more than 100 movies that premiered at the fest this year five were Latino. In the U.S. Documentary competition was Cesar's Last Fast on the labor leader and United Farm Workers co-founder Cesar Chavez, and Marmato, a look at gold mining in Colombia. Natalia Smirnoff's second film Lock Charmer (El cerrajero) and the Chilean thriller To Kill a Man rounded out the World Cinema Dramatic section. In Frontier Films, a showcase of movies that experiment with traditional storytelling, was Living Stars a fun peek into different people's homes in Buenos Aires as they dance to well-known pop songs.

In case you missed out on the action in Park City, Utah this past week we got to sit down with Natalia Smirnoff, director of the Argentinian film Lock Charmer, fresh off its world premiere at Sundance. She shares the time that she locked herself in her home and had to call a locksmith to open the door. Trapped inside her house and with nothing else to do she started writing Lock Charmer that very day.

Natalia Smirnoff

Where are you from?

Argentina

What city do you call home?

Buenos Aires

When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker?

At 21 first, but really at 32

How did you find out your film got accepted to Sundance?

I received an email from my sales agent with a beautiful letter. It was amazing. I was at home.

What's a movie you are embarrassed to admit you really like?

The Avengers

You studied engineering, worked as a journalist and in theater -- how do these different experiences inform your storytelling?

I think there's always some things related to systems engineering in my scripts, some mechanism or mathematics in some way. For the other side, doing interviews could be similar to directing actors, it has the same procedure in common. And well, I learned a lot being an Assistant Director and a Casting Director. I learned how to play, how to break the rules on the set, how to shoot, and how to make it a better place for better performance.

How did the idea of this film come to you? What was your inspiration for this story?

One time I locked myself in at home, in a strange way. I woke up and when I tried to open the door, it was completely locked. With a second lock I hadn’t locked the night before. After a few friends tried to help me open the door with other keys, etc., I had to call a locksmith, on a Sunday. It was expensive but he could open it. During the three hours I heard a lot of voices from outside, including my son (5 years old) and my mother (he had slept at her house that night), a friend's neighbor and even when the locksmith arrived and started to say that he would open, I could't do much more than sit, wait, try to understand who locked the 2nd lock and start to write Lock Charmer.

This is your second film was it any easier or harder to make this movie? Did you feel any pressure to live up to the success of your first film?

It's a mix. It was easier and more complicated at the same time. Easier because I'd already made one but in the middle the rules of sales and distribution on cinema change a lot. All markets got more difficult and a lot of funds disappeared or reduced their help. That part was difficult.

What do you hope to achieve with your film? What sort of impact do you think it will have?

I hope that many people will see the film and feel empathy with it. If they feel or could understand and put on the skin of the main characters, I'm really happy! I always think that it's incredible how cinema allows us to know and to be close to people that are really far from us.

Written by 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.

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

2 Comments

  • PRADIP BIWAS, INDIAN EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS, INDIA | June 17, 2014 3:16 AMReply

    LOCK CHARMER REFLECTS MAGIC REALISM

    By PRADIP BISWAS, THE INDIAN EXPRESS,INDIA
    Natalia Smirnoss of Argentina makes a tremendous revelation by making her second feature film LOCK CHARMER. Set in Buenos Aires during a three-week span in 2008 when the city was said to be invaded by a mysterious fog, reason being unknown. The story unfolds 33-year-old Sebastian (Esteban Lamothe) who finds himself dealing with the double whammy of a quaint ability with the news that he may soon become a dad. The rumour appears to be a bombshell dropped by Sebastian’s casual stay of five months with Monica (Erica Rivas). The twist is that Monica is all against an abortion. She is psychologically prepared to raise the child on her own and has no interest in tucking up Sebastian into family life. We have here a power of woman’s empowerment. It upsets Sebastian to a great extent. Nevertheless, the situation forces Sebastian to confront his own baggage, a chronic inability to commit, and unravel feelings about his bohemian father (Sergio Boris), currently living quietly outside the city.
    However, that low-key dramaturgy gets a little spark from Sebastian’s special power, which is never recognized by a logical explanation. It is to be noted that which everyone presumes is a strange side effect of the fog. Here is fog is metonym. Sebastian isn’t too keen on the ability to attract wide attention but he can’t stop himself from blurting out the truths whenever he’s absorbed in natural job. At such a time, he meets Daisy (a charming non-pro Yosiria Huaripata), a Peruvian housemaid who quits her job when Sebastian reveals that her boyfriend has been stealing from her boss. With nowhere else to go, she moves in with Sebastian and encourages him to use his talents to help people. Of course, the person he most needs to help is himself.
    Although Natalia carefully dodges the complex ploy for a love triangle to develop, a magical mystery is planted with a touch of magical finess like that of fog which is never predictable. The film displays an easy odd-couple rapport in Sebastian and Daisy’s scenes together — including a quirky ritual involving an egg — which presents the film’s primary pleasure. Lamothe acquits himself well enough as a likable leading man, but the role doesn’t demand very much. It said each part and movement is steeped in some mystery occurrence. Some critics find it a “wisp of melancholy comedy”. This critic fails to appearance of lingering fog that is set to set the ball rolling. Natalia makes his Locksmith imagine the simple concept — a locksmith gains the mysterious ability to intuit the secrets of his clients. The structure is finely patterned and is kept elliptical till the end. Natalia with a sincere work of course wins our kudos

  • PRADIP BISWAS, THE INDIAN EXPRESS, INDIA | June 12, 2014 9:07 AMReply

    LOCK CHARMER REFLECTS MAGIC REALISM

    By PRADIP BISWAS, THE INDIAN EXPRESS,INDIA
    Natalia Smirnoss of Argentina makes a tremendous revelation by making her second feature film LOCK CHARMER. Set in Buenos Aires during a three-week span in 2008 when the city was said to be invaded by a mysterious fog, reason being unknown. The story unfolds 33-year-old Sebastian (Esteban Lamothe) who finds himself dealing with the double whammy of a quaint ability with the news that he may soon become a dad. The rumour appears to be a bombshell dropped by Sebastian’s casual stay of five months with Monica (Erica Rivas). The twist is that Monica is all against an abortion. She is psychologically prepared to raise the child on her own and has no interest in tucking up Sebastian into family life. We have here a power of woman’s empowerment. It upsets Sebastian to a great extent. Nevertheless, the situation forces Sebastian to confront his own baggage, a chronic inability to commit, and unravel feelings about his bohemian father (Sergio Boris), currently living quietly outside the city.
    However, that low-key dramaturgy gets a little spark from Sebastian’s special power, which is never recognized by a logical explanation. It is to be noted that which everyone presumes is a strange side effect of the fog. Here is fog is metonym. Sebastian isn’t too keen on the ability to attract wide attention but he can’t stop himself from blurting out the truths whenever he’s absorbed in natural job. At such a time, he meets Daisy (a charming non-pro Yosiria Huaripata), a Peruvian housemaid who quits her job when Sebastian reveals that her boyfriend has been stealing from her boss. With nowhere else to go, she moves in with Sebastian and encourages him to use his talents to help people. Of course, the person he most needs to help is himself.
    Although Natalia carefully dodges the complex ploy for a love triangle to develop, a magical mystery is planted with a touch of magical finess like that of fog which is never predictable. The film displays an easy odd-couple rapport in Sebastian and Daisy’s scenes together — including a quirky ritual involving an egg — which presents the film’s primary pleasure. Lamothe acquits himself well enough as a likable leading man, but the role doesn’t demand very much. It said each part and movement is steeped in some mystery occurrence. Some critics find it a “wisp of melancholy comedy”. This critic fails to appearance of lingering fog that is set to set the ball rolling. Natalia makes his Locksmith imagine the simple concept — a locksmith gains the mysterious ability to intuit the secrets of his clients. The structure is finely patterned and is kept elliptical till the end. Natalia with a sincere work of course wins our kudos.

Email Updates

Latest Tweets


Follow us

Most "Liked"


  • Venice Film Festival 2014 Picks by Richard ...
  • LatinoBuzz: Gael Garcia Bernal is Winning ...
  • European Film Promotion Selection for ...
  • The Industry Club 62nd Edition of the ...
  • Sundance Institute Expands Support for ...
  • The St Petersburg International Media ...
  • Napa Valley Film Festival Announces ...
  • Children of War: Dir. János Szász on ...
  • Adopt Films to Release African-American ...
  • Conversation with Victor Erice at the ...
Site Meter