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While Prisons Exist by Nicolás G. Wenhammar at the FICM

By: Jaime Garba, reportero (@jaimegarba)

Mientras la prisión exista / While Prisons Exist (2015) by Nicolás Gutiérrez Wenhammar is part of the Mexican Feature Film Section in competition at the 13th FICM.

Gutiérrez Wenhammar studied directing and screenwriting at Bande à Part Film School in Barcelona. His short film Ciudades (2013) was nominated for the Best Short Film at the Gaudi Awards of the Catalán Film Academy and participated in the Mecal Pro Barcelona International Short and Animation Film Festival and the International University Film Festival Chiapas. This year he is also competing in the Mexican Short Film Section of the 13th FICM, with his film Mujer y pájaro (2015), which was presented at the International Film Students Meeting of the San Sebastián International Film Festival.

Analía Goethals, Nicolás Gutiérrez Wenhammar, José Julián Morales Castañón

Analía Goethals, Nicolás Gutiérrez Wenhammar, José Julián Morales Castañón

While Prisons Exist tells the story of Jan, the youngest member of a group of swindlers and pickpockets operating in La Rambla, Barcelona. He is originally from Eastern Europe and his chief desire is to flee from the criminal organization to which he belongs. Jan meets Mariela, a Spanish woman far removed from his illicit criminal world but is also hoping for change. Together they try to escape. The film also was nominated for the L’Alternativa Profesionales section of the Barcelona Independent Film Festival.

Attending the press conference of While Prisons Exist were director Nicolás Gutiérrez Wenhammar, producer José Julián Morales Castañón, editor Analía Goethals and director’s assistant, Luis Fernando Pacheco. The director said:

On the shots used in the film:
“Most of the film is made with dorsal shots because what interested me was how they somehow restrict you from seeing their faces, their expression and what is going on in their head. I thought of a shot that had to do with something prison-like, and the way to do that is the absence of a face.”

On the music:
“The qualities sought in the soundtrack that accompanied the film was to have the same pace, because the film has a slow pace, so I also tried to have the music work as a counterpoint, which during the large main block of the film the music would make you think of another place. When I see some shots of the film I think that the music doesn’t belong there. It’s also as if you were inside the character, as though through her he will seek to escape.”

On choosing the theme:
“I decided on the theme of swindlers because I lived in La Rambla and they operated there. From my apartment I had the chance to see them every day. I started to film them in an amateur way and I began to realize that from above it was very easy to see the trick and the performance, because it really is a performance. From above the show was very evident. They were bad actors, very exaggerated. But at the street level when you’re a tourist, you’re passing by, you come with your family, you’re seeing new things, and it’s easy for you to get distracted and fall prey to their actions. I thought it was very interesting that from one level you fall prey to the performance and once you leave, you realize that you were involved in something else.”

Luis Fernando Pacheco, Nicolás Gutiérrez Wenhammar, Analía Goethals, Nicolás Gutiérrez, José Julián Morales

Luis Fernando Pacheco, Nicolás Gutiérrez Wenhammar, Analía Goethals, Nicolás Gutiérrez, José Julián Morales

Later, the premiere of While Prisons Exist was held before the public in a gala event with a red carpet and the presence of talent. In the question and answer session, the director said:

On the similarity with Biutiful (by Alejandro González Iñárritu):
“I think that apart from the city, there is not much in common since this is a minimalist film and Biutiful is more of a baroque film.”

On what he learned while making the film:
“This film was like a school, somehow like our thesis. I threw in everything that I wanted to try, maybe that’s why suddenly it has so many lines, some don’t continue, others do. But I really threw in everything that I wanted to see how it reacted when it came together with other things.What happens when you put a documentary with fiction? What happens if you put an actor and non-actor together? What happens if you put together a doctor with a person without a profession? I’m still learning, for example in this project I learned other things.”

On if he considers it to be a Mexican film?
“I don’t feel as though it is particularly Mexican, but I never thought about that. What I am very happy about is to present it in Mexico.”

Following you can see a gallery of photos from both events:

Analía Goethals.

José Julián Morales.

Nicolás Gutiérrez Wenhammar

Analía Goethals, Nicolás Gutiérrez, José Julián Morales, Luis Fernando Pacheco.

Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Batel, Nicolás Gutiérrez Wenhammar

Luis Fernando Pacheco, Nicolás Gutiérrez Wenhammar, Analía Goethals, Nicolás Gutiérrez, José Julián Morales

Luis Fernando Pacheco, Analía Goethals, Nicolás Gutiérrez Wenhammar, José Julián Morales Castañón, José Julián Morales

Analía Goethals, Nicolás Gutiérrez Wenhammar, José Julián Morales Castañón, Luis Fernando Pacheco

Analía Goethals, Nicolás Gutiérrez Wenhammar, José Julián Morales Castañón

Analía Goethals, Nicolás Gutiérrez, Wenhammar, José Julián Morales Castañón

Analía Goethals, Nicolás Gutiérrez Wenhammar, José Julián Morales Castañón

Nicolás Gutiérrez Wenhammar, José Julián Morales Castañón, Luis Fernando Pacheco