• Flash Competition



Luis Esguerra Cifuentes

Luis Esguerra Cifuentes is a creator of images, in the literal sense. Right from the start, he catapults our eyes and ears into an undefined species-time, on the edge of a world with fantastic plasticity and texture, which has emerged from a dark thickness and its bright core. The director composes the vision of a reinvented nature, of a forest world, where pixels and digital structures blend with the warm, dense vegetation. You made me see the sky borrows a few ingredients from science-fiction – a zone whose access is limited due to the worrying proliferation of a lichen, an exploratory expedition, and the presence of a nonhuman entity signaled by a voice, like a hoarse, electric modulation. But this zone is a refuge. It is home to an animal and human community of beings that live in symbiosis. Here, it is all tenderness and joy. Legs in fishnet stockings melt into the greenery, as if they shared the same bark. People sing. They perform freely. Kisses are exchanged in an atmosphere saturated with a primordial, innocent sensuality. You made me see the sky – a nice title inspired by a song by Shakira – is a mutant film that keeps changing, and it seems to be influenced by Donna Haraway’s thought. It encourages us to reconnect with the buried chthonian powers, and to merge with the trees and with each other. An ode to metamorphosis and to life, with lichen as a model, this totally mysterious futurist dream is above all a sweet tribute to trans women, to bird women, and to Camila Sosa Villada, whose poetry, present in the text itself, carries the memory of a world we hope will come.

Claire Lasolle

The film opens with a forest world whose image remains resolutely enigmatic and impossible to read in its construction, between digital structure and analog density. What technologies do you use? 

The opening sequence merges various techniques at once. The 3D scenery was created from several pictures taken in a real forest. Later, in animation software, I recreated the lighting and other elements of the space, as well as the camera that discovers the forest little by little. Finally, like other scenes, the digital footage was transferred to celluloid film. Both 3D animation and the digital-to-film technique were handy stylistic resources to reinforce the vegetal metaphor and reflection on transformation in the project. 

You call in a science-fiction imaginary with motifs like extraterrestrial life and topics like mutation and transformation. Can you tell us about the writing and structure of the film? What did this imaginary allow you to do?

I think that the writing of the film was built in a very collective way because, although there were guidelines and interests that we wanted to explore from the beginning of the process, I believe that both characters and members of the production team appropriated those searches and transformed them in exciting and unpredictable ways. The film, which was not based on a script in its traditional sense, had a work structure made by improvisation exercises with the characters. These were playful activities in which they — sometimes playing a role and, other times, playing themselves — walked around the forest and its surroundings, freely combining the scene’s elements with their personal experiences. On the other hand, throughout the entire process, there was a strong interest in reflecting on the Mycota Kingdom, the kingdom of fungi, in which one can find supremely queer organisms, with changing and mysterious sexuality, in constant transformation. We wanted the film to address those topics, but more importantly, it was our interest that the film behaved like one of these living organisms. In this sense, the biological metaphor is essential, since it resonates directly with the forms of life that the film intends to portray. 

A conversation anchors the film, incorporating the invention of a non-human language signaled by a very singular sound modulation. How did you go about creating and writing this “voice”? 

Although the film does not propose a straightforward plot, I think it is possible to identify a narrative in which a group of friends decides to visit a forest on the city’s outskirts, despite the warnings and restrictions placed due to a strange moss that recently invaded the area. The characters play, sing, and display their bodies freely there, where reality warps gradually and intertwines with their stories, fantasies, and dreams. The non-human voice that appears on some occasions, then, does not belong to anyone in particular. Quite the opposite, it is a changing entity, which can sometimes correspond to that vegetable intelligence and, in others, it can personify one or all of the characters, and it could also be appropriated by whoever watches the film. This voice was built playfully at the editing stage, combining all these elements. We even included fragments of readings picked by ourselves, and I find it interesting how these different tones mix, blurring the boundaries between the documentary record and fictional games. 

You’re filming a group of people on stage. Who are they? How did you work with them? 

This project was developed as a game and an experimentation laboratory I created with friends. As we progressed and materialized the interests of the film, we called more people to participate in it, not so much because of their acting skills — which in any case they have and are incredible — but because of who they are, because of their way of thinking and their relation to the world, which seemed utterly luminous and coherent with the project’s searches. As already mentioned, the work was very playful, allowing the characters to modify the elements of the film at will and combine them with aspects of their personal lives.

Interview by Claire Lasolle 

  • Flash Competition

Technical sheet

Colombia, Spain / 2023 / 20’

Rights holder
Bruma Cine
Luis Esguerra Cifuentes