Recommended by Enrique takes place in Del Rio, Texas, a tiny border town that, as the introductory voiceover admits, you’ve probably never heard of. It follows a very ambitious, very superstitious young actress, there from out of town to shoot her first film, a low-budget horror flick. The film’s crew consists entirely of overly excited teenagers, however, and the director never shows up. Staying in the same shabby motel is a lone cowboy, there to perform a mysterious job, waiting for his contact to come back to Del Rio.
The two protagonists never meet, and their storylines never intersect.
This is because, as co-director Rania Attieh explains, “in every other movie with two characters, they do cross paths. We made a conscious decision to make something a little different, so you’re not getting what you’re expecting. You’re going on our ride, not yours.”
Attieh and Daniel Garcia’s second feature film had its world premiere at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival as an entrant in the narrative competition. After the screening, Attieh and Garcia did a Q&A with the audience about their unique film, inspired by a strange but unforgettable event from their own lives.
When asked which character came first, Attieh said they began with the story of the actress, taken from their own experience. She and Garcia have been collaborators for 14 years, and the inspiration for this film came from the very beginning of their working relationship, when they were in college together and went to Del Rio to work on a film set. “When we got there,” she recalled, “it was just a bunch of teenagers, and a director that was 35. We were all young, and he was 35 and disappeared all the time, and every now and then he would hire an actress from Austin that he would find on MySpace or whatever. And she would come down to Del Rio and she would have to be in that situation.”
“It was always so interesting for us,” Garcia said, “to be there as 19 year olds, and getting into this new world of making films, and seeing these actors coming from out of town, and saying, ‘oh, wow, what is their experience of this?’” Using the actress’s perspective of the bizarre situation as a point of entry was crucial to how they structured the film, and necessitated the introduction of a second protagonist. As Garcia explained it, they created the whole new character of the cowboy because “if we were just going to do a whole feature on the film set part, or the actress part, we figured we might have to explain everything, we might have to tell the whole story over an hour and a half. And we didn’t want to do that; we wanted to keep it kind of mysterious…we wanted to make a film from [the actress’s] point of view. And if that person came to that town, they wouldn’t know the whole story. They wouldn’t know everything about this director; they wouldn’t know everything about this set. They would just get a very limited view, and that’s what we wanted to show.”
So the cowboy was created to balance the film with a second narrative thread, but the details of his character were inspired, as Attieh explained it, by her and Garcia being “on a weird noir binge—like 1950s, 1940s American noir—and we thought, ‘oh, wouldn’t it be nice to have a Latino cowboy noir, but with a modern twist?’”
Mary Sollosi / Intern Blogger