Will the feature length La Americanita be the same as the
There will be several important
differences between feature and short. Among other things, the main characters will no longer be cousins, they will be half-sisters.
Why did you choose to do a film about Cuban-Americans?
My stepfather and his relatives are Cuban-American and they've all
been a huge part of my life since I was less than a year old. Iím
also married to a Cuban-American and I speak and write fluent Spanish.
as a red-haired Anglo who speaks Spanish with an accent,
I've never truly been considered part of the Cuban-American community.
I'm fascinated with issues of belonging, language, race, appearance,
and how a person's cultural identity is formed -- all themes of
great importance to the story in my film, La Americanita
(The American Girl).
What are your cinematic influences as a filmmaker?
Films that try to capture reality
as closely as possible and sometimes blend documentary footage with
narrative, like Alfonso Cuaron's Y
Tu Mama Tambien, Peter Sollett's Raising Victor Vargas, Ken Loach's Family Life, Tomas Gutierrez
Alea's Memories of Underdevelopment, Agnes Varda's Vagabonde
and Jim McKay's Our Song.
During the shoot, I asked my cinematographer,
Doug Glover, to roll camera between takes, to capture the beautiful
little impromptu moments when the actors were just relaxing and
being themselve. I later included many of those moments in key sections
of my short film.
Why did you choose to shoot your film in Miami, Florida?
For budgetary reasons, I originally wanted to shoot my film in San
Francisco, which was where I lived at the time.
However, there isn't enough of a
Cuban community there for my film to have felt authentic.
Plus, it was the Miami-ness of the
story that resonated with me. Having lived for many years in that
city, I knew from firsthand experience what it was like to be trapped
in one of those sunny, suburban homes, forced to listen to endless
stories about Cuba, a country I'd never known or visited.
What was the shoot like?
It was wonderful because everyone worked really hard and was really
professional. But it was also awful because I had such a small crew
-- which meant that I had to produce, direct, art direct and cater
the film myself.
The other thing that made the shoot
tough was the fact that I had to live with my 5 crew members in the house I'd gotten
to shoot the film in, which happened to be completely unfurnished
when we first arrived.
We only had one car, no telephone
or internet connection and we were miles away from any stores.
Still everyone was a really good sport and helped out a lot. My
gaffer cooked dinner for us almost every evening, my actor/sister-in-law
helped me pick out all of the actors' wardrobe and my DP helped
me shop for furniture and props. But they probably couldn't help
feeling a little disappointed.
I think they thought they were going
on a trip to the beach in sunny Florida and instead they found themselves
stuck in the far, far reaches of the Miami suburban wasteland!