YIDFF 2013 International Competition
Parts of a Family
An Interview with Diego Gutiérrez (Director)

Ties that Bind My Family and “Me”

Q: You had been filming your parents over the years. What made you decide to make it public?

DG: It’s not as if I had a plan to make this film. I was initially shooting for a film about a book my father wrote. My mother seemed upset that my father would only talk about himself and his book. When she found out that I was filming him, she became even more irritated. So I filmed an interview with her, just because she hadn’t been represented in the film. When I returned to Amsterdam and reviewed the interview footage, I decided that the film will be about their relationship. It became the start of a three-year production period.

Q: It must have been tough to observe your own parents’ icy relationship. Did you ever feel torn between being a filmmaker and being a son?

DG: From the beginning of the shoot, I never tried to play either filmmaker or son as two different roles. They talked to me from the other side of the camera, and I talked to them as their son. I wanted this film to show our relationship as it was. My parents seemed to reject each other like magnetic opposites, but I felt that this extremity itself embodied the possibility for them to re-connect. In all relationships, even those divided by deep chasms, I believe that just a small realization can bridge differences. Nevertheless in their case, the deadlock seemed hopeless. Towards the end of the film, you saw how their once close bond was disappearing. But after the film was done, my father told me, “I said in the film that I want to die alone, but now I regret that statement.” I hear my mother now calls for my father when she is unable to sleep at night, especially after she had a heart attack this February. I heard about these new developments only after I finished writing my director’s statement for the YIDFF catalogue.

Q: Your parents seem to accept your camera in a natural way. Were they not concerned how their relationship would be shown in the film?

DG: However “wintry” their relationship is today, they love each other deep inside. Further, there was a trust between us before and behind the camera. Only under these conditions, was I able to film them as they truly were.

Q: Did your understanding of your family deepen through the making of this film?

DG: I made this film first and foremost for my own deeper understanding. I make documentary in order to understand myself better. This film happens to be about my family, but that’s not the reason I chose them. If I’d film strangers or people I don’t know well, that still would not hide myself. Whoever I choose as my subject, the character becomes a mirror that reflects who I, the filmmaker, am. So firstly, I need to learn about myself. And then I need to see the world through myself. That’s why I make documentary.

(Compiled by Yamaguchi Nobukuni)

Interviewers: Yamaguchi Nobukuni, Miyata Mariko / Interpreter: Kawaguchi Takao / Translator: Fujioka Asako
Photography: Nogami Taka / Video: Nogami Taka / 2013-10-14