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Diego Hernández

Diego Hernández
Those who saw Los Fundadores (FID 2021) know that Diego Hernández skilfully transforms the little he has into film sets and the few friends he has into exquisite characters. In Agua Caliente he continues his artisanal production methods to create something which is quite literally ‘home-made’ – shot within the walls of the flat where he was locked down with his mother over several months. She is mischievous and complicit and embraces the fictional game that the director has fun gradually constructing, cunningly blurring the boundaries of reality. A broken boiler, a birthday, a marriage proposal – we never know whether these events are real or fictional, as they successively disrupt the boredom of the everyday, but they are undoubtedly a sign of inventiveness at work and also of clever staging, as joyful as it is inspired. (Louise Martin Papasian)

Interview with Diego Hernandez

You shot this film at home during the confinement. How was this project born? How long did the shooting last?

I started filming in March 2020, when the pandemic started. At first, it was just a way to play and spend my free time, there was no script or expectations about it. I had a tiny little lens that I bought for my camera and it was the perfect opportunity to use it: the camera became a toy. I think that was the essence of the project from the beginning, the idea of having fun and playing despite such difficult times. There was an exploration of my home with the camera: a new way of interacting with my own space. My house is still in the middle of its construction, and the idea of something that is halfway done was interesting to me, it was related to my personal life, with the idea of growing up and maturing, the transition to adulthood. It’s a moment that I am living and it seemed interesting to me that it happens in confinement because everything is more complex.

However, the film began to take shape when I decided to point the camera at my mother Graciela. It was several months of recording, but not like a normal shooting. Some days I filmed a lot and others I didn’t film at all, I wanted to always be motivated by enjoyment and not by the responsibility of finishing a project. We built many scenes from repetition; at night I would watch what I had filmed and the next day I would try it again in another way because I had all the time to do it. I think there is a type of cinema in which there are many stages and steps before starting to shoot, but here taking the camera was precisely the first step.
I worked on the project simultaneously in the virtual classes of two great teachers and friends: Héctor Villanueva and Mariel Miranda.

The film focuses on your intimate relationship with your mother Graciela, who plays herself with great naturalness and humor, and whom you invite to participate in the elaboration of the film by imagining sequences. How was the collaboration with her?

It began as an observational record of her daily life. Soon I began to give her small indications that would serve to build the scenes, but I noticed that the scenes where she acted best were when she was having a lot of fun. My mom loves comedies and much of the tone of the film was the result of her humor.
The project was also an opportunity to better connect with her. I think sometimes it’s difficult to talk about the way I make films with people outside the industry. In that way, the film was the perfect way to show her what I do in my craft. She got involved, to the point of proposing several scenes. Even in the film, I’m asking her how she wants me to film her. I thought it was important to give her the power to decide how she is going to be seen. We were spilling a lot of our personal lives and it can be awkward. I asked her and Melissa if there was something they didn’t want to show. In the end, it is always collaborative work.

You have fun setting up scenic games, installing elements that disrupt daily life, playing with the limits of fiction. How did you work on the staging?

During the shooting, I thought a lot about the role that fiction plays in everyday life. I think that during the pandemic, fiction became much more relevant and it really caught my attention. Despite being a very realistic and mundane film, I liked the idea of inviting the audience to question it, to feel that at the end of the day it is still a fictional construction.
I think that fiction was also what the film needed. When I was in the middle of editing, I didn’t know how to finish it and I invited Melissa to work with me on the story in a more conscious way. Fiction was also a way to explore the possibilities of our own lives.

Once again you occupy all the positions in the film. How did you go about editing the film?

What I like most about cinema is the crafting. I love to be involved and take care of all processes. Editing happened at the same time as writing and shooting, it was all one process. I really liked that filmmaking became an everyday activity.

Interview by Louise Martin Papasian

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Technical sheet

Mexico / 2022 / Colour / 66’

Original version : spanish
Subtitles : english
Script : Diego Hernández
Photography : Diego Hernández
Editing : Diego Hernández
Musique : Zadkiel Troncoso
Sound : Diego Hernández, Fulvio Cortez
With : Diego Hernández, Graciela Rodríguez, Melissa Castañeda
Production : Diego Hernández & Melissa Castañeda (Violeta Cine)
Filmography : Los Fundadores, 2021
Tijuana, 1997.