An Interview with German Kral (Director)
Because I Myself Was Enchanted by Pío Leiva
Q: What made you, a director from Buenos Aires, want to make a film focusing on Cuban music?
GK: In Buenos Aires, I was shooting a documentary about a taxi driver. At that time, I sent an email to Wim Wenders, who is someone I respect, about another matter. And then he suggested that I might try making a film featuring young musicians. Initially I was intending to make a pure documentary, but a lot of different ideas and storylines started to emerge after I met Pío Leiva and the young musicians and lived together with them.
Q: Why did you mainly film Pío Leiva?
GK: Because I myself was enchanted by him. He is really charismatic and I felt his warmth and sense of humor. When we ate together, he was drinking beer and puffing cigars from the morning. And at the same time, the young musicians really respected and loved him. And Pío Leiva immediately got to know the young musicians and enjoyed himself. I mean, he is known as a master of improvisation, and he really got in the groove when he was jamming with the young musicians, and as you can see in the film, he even improvised rap. I’m really glad that I made him the main character.
Q: Why did you cast a taxi driver as manager and guide for the film?
GK: While we were doing research on location, we took taxis repeatedly. There are two kinds of taxis in Cuba. One kind is expensive, like the ones in Japan, and there are also cheap taxis, where different people catch rides together. I always took the cheap taxis, and when I was talking to the woman who was doing research with me, a bunch of people jumped into our taxi in the midst of our conversation. That seemed very vibrant to me, and was really interesting. So I came up with the idea that the driver of a taxi Pio took by chance, would introduce young musicians to him, and they would form a band and tour.
Q: I heard that Wim Wenders was teaching at the film school you attended.
GK: When I first met him, I was speechless with excitement. I’m still like that, even now . . . (laughs). I actually took a class of his in 1994, and I worked with him at that time. That was the film The Brothers Skladanowsky, which is between documentary and fiction. That film was selected for the Tokyo International Film Festival in 1995. Wim Wenders is really a creative person, and it is very stimulating to be with him. Just watching what he is doing is a great learning experience, and he really taught me a lot.
Q: What do you think of the fact that this film premiered in Japan at YIDFF 2005?
GK: I am truly delighted to have been invited to Yamagata, and am very happy that film premiered here. YIDFF is a truly wonderful film festival, and the quality is extremely high, even compared with other festivals around the world. I hope the festival continues for many years.
(Compiled by Sugawara Daisuke)
Interviewers: Sugawara Daisuke, Nakajima Asami / Interpreter: Saito Shinko
Photography: Sato Akari / Video: Yamaguchi Mika / 2005-10-11