Dana Rotberg was born in Mexico City and graduated from Mexico's Centro de Capacitacion Cinematografica. She has won numerous awards for her films, including Best Documentary from the Mexican Film Academy for Elvira Luz Cruz, pena maxima (85) and the NHK Filmmaker's Award at Sundance for Otilia Rauda (01). Her other features include Intimacy (91), Angel of Fire (92), and White Lies (13).
White Lies is playing as part of the Contemporary World Cinema program at TIFF.
Women and Hollywood: Please give us your description of your film playing at TIFF.
Dana Rotberg: White Lies - Tuakiri Huna is a story about 3 women and one unborn child. Through the encounter between these characters we reflect about wounded and broken identities, choices of survival and redemption, confrontation and solidarity, and the sacredness of life.
It is as well, and mainly, a story about forgiveness.
WaH: What drew you to this script? If you are the writer too, why did you write this script?
DR: Being a mother has confronted me with my deepest and most unexplored sense of belonging, of life purpose and self. The story Medicine Woman by Witi Ihimaera, which I based the adaptation for my script on, was the vehicle for me to explore the experience of Motherhood, the most primal and universal symbol of identity, continuity and life. That is the main element that ignites and fuels the narrative of this film.
WaH: What was the biggest challenge?
DR: To remain true and loyal to the story I needed to tell- the story that was boiling in my blood- and at the same time honor and preserve with integrity the cultural identity and the cosmogony of the Tuhoe [Maori] people, to whom this film belongs.
WaH: What advice do you have for other female directors?
DR: Honor your wisdom. Tell the stories that matter to you and never, ever pay any attention to whoever may judge your expectations of excellence and preciseness in your work as "outbursts of a neurotic and demanding PMS bitch."
WaH: What is the biggest misconception about you and your work?
DR: I don't know. I don't pay much attention to misconceptions.
WaH: What are the biggest challenges and or opportunities for the future with the changing distribution mechanisms for film?
DR: The only challenge I see in the future is the survival of the uniqueness of the voice of each film maker and story teller, in the pandemonium of a globalized market that is transforming the film audience into zombie consumers of an identical, lame and repetitive formula.
WaH: Name you favorite female directed film and why.
DR: Every film made by Jane Campion. All of them are powerful, profound and precise films. Each one is told from a place of sharp emotional intelligence within the structure of a poetic narrative that flows with intensity and a lyrical rhythm. They are all different and all full of beauty.