An Interview with Javier Corcuera (Director)
Depicting Life Through Music
Q: I was fascinated by the beauty of the music. You succeed in portraying how music is born spontaneously from nature’s inspiration, and the process of how music can mature through the influence of a great musician from the past. Why did you choose music as your motif to depict Peru?
JC: When I thought of filming my motherland Peru, I was sure the best way was through song. Peruvians love songs, and I myself often sing. My idea was to divide Peru into three large regions and express them each through poetry and music.
Q: One striking scene was during the festival in El Carmen where the people sang and danced as they moved towards Amador’s grave. Tell us about their views on life and death.
JC: There’s the underlying belief that life continues after death. Funerals are often accompanied by dance, because they think it’s the way to connect with the land and the local people after death. To dance in full expression of the joys of life means they are living life to the fullest.
Q: We see the scissors dancer being baptized. I was surprised to see that scissors could be considered a musical instrument and would like to know why there was a celebration of it?
JC: In the world of the Andes, music is considered a very mystical thing. Musical instruments are sacred. Therefore not only scissors, but also violins are celebrated. Because the dance of the scissors is physically demanding, it’s traditionally been a male act. This occasion of a female dancer of the scissors being baptized is a very rare one. Her master is a virtuoso of the scissors dance, a truly respected dancer. For him to celebrate her future as an outstanding dancer so sincerely, means that he is breaking with tradition. He is trying to slash open a new era.
Q: Water is a repeated motif throughout the film, as referred to with the river, the lyrics, and in everyday life. What are your thoughts on water?
JC: I think of water as life. This film is about water but at the same time my intention was to depict what life is. And in the traditions of the Andes and the Amazon, water is feminine. That’s why I wanted a female singer’s voice in the film. I thought to express water through her voice. The singer uses song to speak of the joys and sorrows of living, amid other things.
Q: Sound must have been crucial for this film. How did you record sound?
JC: All sound was direct sound. Nothing was recorded in the studio. We used the real sounds from location. We filmed repeatedly and used a part of it. The only exception was the song sung by the woman from Amazonas. As she sings impromptu, we could never hear the same song again. That’s why we could only film her songs one time each.
Q: You speak of Peru as an “invisible country.” Why do you use this expression?
JC: The Republic of Peru has a history of 200 years, but in fact it consists of multiple sub-nations. It’s only officially that the country is considered one. The culture that stands out as representing Peru is mainly the coastal region’s. Actually there are many other languages and lifestyles, music, poetry, and culture in Peru. For example, there are a million people who speak Quechua but there is no education or media communication in the Quechua language. The situation is the same for other languages. Despite that, each culture has prided its strong identity and thus survived through history. I made this film hoping to put this less seen part of the country on display.
(Compiled by Uno Yukiko)
Interviewers: Uno Yukiko, Kano Megumi / Interpreter: Hoshino Yayoi / Translator: Fujioka Asako
Photography: Ishizawa Kana / Video: Harashima Aiko / 2015-10-13