• First Film Competition



Lorena Alvarado

Spending the summer in the family home in Caracas, Ena takes up residence with her grandmother, Mamama, and her father. Her father literally lives in books, and has undertaken the crackpot endeavour of saving Venezuela’s literary heritage, although we don’t know exactly from what, or why. After finding a postcard hidden in a book, Ena sets off on a quest for the mysterious work of a writer, Rafael Coronado, who seems to have used several pennames. Los Capitulos Perdidos does not follow up on these promising intrigues. On the contrary, Alvarado sketches them like so many false leads, preferring to leave dangling the narrative dimension. Understated and elliptical, Los Capitulos Perdidos creates atmospheres and stasis from which a sweet melancholy emerges. The character of the grandmother is irrevocably losing her memory. The young woman is trying to remember; her father is chasing after the rare works he still hasn’t found amongst the pile of dead leaves that, for Venezuela, books seem to have become – some great readers are dead, others have left to cross the Atlantic. We learn little about the socio-political situation – it’s an off-screen situation permeating the family bubble in echoes, allusions and reverberations. The filmmaker adds a hint of sadness with the imposing bookcases, the large empty rooms in the house and the desolate urban spaces. A vague sense of abandonment hovers over everyday life. From what personal story or collective history do the lost chapters of the title come? What we’re left with is what can be saved from being swallowed up by the torpor of summer, which we sense threatens the characters to their very core: the tenderness between the members of this family, a motorbike ride that offers our lucky eyes the vibrant energy of frescoes in Caracas, the modest sharing of a love of literature, and a poem rescued from oblivion.

Claire Lasolle

You built a family fiction in a house in Caracas. How did your project come about?

The project originally started because I wanted to make a documentary about my father’s bookstore, so I started bringing my camera to Caracas and filming him. But in the process, I kept imagining fictionalized scenes and daydreaming of other places across the city where I wanted to shoot. As time passed, I started getting further and further away from the desire of making a documentary. I also realized that I wanted to include myself in the story, but I didn’t know how. I had a big eureka moment when I realized that my sister, Ena, was actually the missing piece—that I could live vicariously through her in the film. That’s how the story became about Ena’s trip back to Caracas, confronting her idea of home and memory loss.

How did you involve members of your own family in the writing of the film?

Once I realized that the film was about these three family members, I asked my dad and grandmother if they would like to participate and their answer was immediately yes, no questions or doubts. I wrote a rough script and storyline, but the process of shooting was very loose and spontaneous. For most of the production, the crew was just me and my childhood friend, José Ostos (Producer and DP), so it really felt like spending time with family. Ena was very involved in the creative process of the film; we would come up with a lot of the scenes together. The hard work became mostly about trying to create the circumstances for these scenes to occur naturally. Even though my father and grandmother were very engaged and participative, they didn’t always fully understand what we were doing or how it was going to become a film.

Can you tell us about these books and your relationship with literature?

My father opened a used bookstore when I was 14, and that’s where my sisters and I would spend most of our afternoons and weekends. We were constantly rummaging through the shelves and overhearing visitors talk about books. I think this gave me a sense of never-ending discovery and curiosity, and it helped that our father always made us feel like we could read anything. He is so passionate about books as artifacts; he can grab a book and know roughly in what year it was printed, the type of paper that was used, and its publisher. I think he taught us to respect books as both works of art and time capsules.

The music conveys a dreamlike, childhood atmosphere. How have you thought about its place?

I think the harp is such a magical and mystical instrument. It really transports me to a dreamlike state. The soundtrack is a collection of classical pieces that I selected in a very effortless way; they just kind of came to me. I love that you mention that the music creates a childlike atmosphere, because I feel like my gaze is very childlike. I see the film as my fantasy of Caracas, so it has an innocence that the music really accentuates.

Several comments allude to the socio-economic context in Venezuela. Why this choice of off-screen treatment?

All of my life, my idea of Venezuela has been hijacked by politics. It’s been very hard for me to have a sense of where I’m from without it being painted and tainted by the government. The socio-political crisis in Venezuela is so intense that it is frequently at the forefront of our filmmaking as a country. I purposefully wanted to stray away from that and instead allude to the situation in subtle, un-dramatic ways. I wanted to create a connection with my home that was more intimate and timeless. Ultimately this is a film that happens in Venezuela, but it’s not about Venezuela.

Can you comment this beautiful title Lost chapters?

I think a lot of people that leave their country have a fragmented sense of identity. I moved away when I was 19 and always carried with me an unresolved nostalgia, a sense that there was a parallel imaginary life happening without me in Caracas. For years I felt as if chapters had been ripped off from the book of my life. In the film, Ena’s grandmother can’t remember her children. We see photographs of loved ones and we learn of a son living in another country, but she still can’t fully remember. For her, it’s also as if certain chapters from her memory have been ripped off.

Interviewed by Claire Lasolle

  • First Film Competition
19:0026 June 2024Artplexe 1
11:4527 June 2024Variétés 1
18:0030 June 2024Artplexe 2

Technical sheet

Venezuela / 2024 / Colour / 67'

Original version: Spanish
Subtitles: English, French
Script: Lorena Alvarado
Photography: Lorena Alvarado, José Ostos
Editing: Lorena Alvarado
Sound: Armando Añez
Cast: Ena Alvarado, Ignacio Alvarado, Adela Rodriguez

Production: José Ostos (La Mala Films), Tyler Taormina (Omnes Films), Lorena Alvarado (La Mala Films), Emiliana Ammirata (Discordia Cine)
Contact: Lorena Alvarado (La Mala Films)

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