Rubén Rojo Aura's (Mexico City, 1984) first shortfilm, “Northern Highway” was produced in 2007 thanks to the IMCINE National Short Film Competition and winner of numerous international festivals awards. In 2009, he coproduces the documentary film documentary “Ella(s)” (David Baute) which receives the Biznaga de Plata Derechos de la Mujer of Malaga Film Festival, and the Malvinas Award, in Trieste. In 2015, he directs the documentary “The nightingale and the night. Chavela Vargas sings to Lorca”, with a remarkable tour of festivals. “Courage” is his first fiction film.
iFilmFestival: Tell us a bit about your most important film so far.
RRA: “Alma (Marta Aura) is a 76-year-old actress who is slowly going blind and fears losing her place in the theatre company where she works. Alejandro (Simón Guevara), her 54-year-old son, in an attempt to recover from alcoholism, returns home to her after spending several years in Madrid. The crisis experienced by each character will lead them to recognise themselves as mother and son. A work of fiction based on the director’s family. A sensitive drama in which the acting challenge lies in the characters interpreting themselves.”
iFilmFestival: What were the key challenges making it?
RRA: “Courage is a work of fiction, but I like to say that it is a project of cinematographic family catharsis: the main characters are based on my mother and my brother and they play themselves. The script, despite being fictional, is inspired by these real people, by their own truths. In moments that happened in the past but whose effects still run through their veins. Finally, and after a long editing process, I found the right way to tell this story. Although it was an analogy of reality in “pure fiction”, there are nods at the viewer so what happens within these two characters / people can be analysed. I am interested in staying within “the truth”, our truth, at least. And I think that was the main challenge in this movie. It was not just transferring the script to images, but explaining much more than what the script said. Because what really interested me was talking about life, about looking back and not understanding how you ended up where you are, wounds so deep that all your energy is spent on not wanting to see them, because it would be too painful.”
iFilmFestival: What’s one aspect that you’re particularly proud of?
RRA: “Courage is a very personal project, and that is why I think is also honest, and I am very proud about that. It's a film that uses simplicity to get closer to its audience. It is about us, our doubts and daily struggles, our hesitations and fears, our defects and weaknesses, of that part of ourselves that we sometimes try to cover up with a smile but can be found within us.”
Trailer: Coraje (2022)
iFilmFestival: How did you get involved in filmmaking?
RRA: “I was born in a family of actors in Mexico. Since I was a kid I was very close to theater, so it was the most natural path for me.”
iFilmFestival: What new projects are you working on or are you hoping to work on in the future?
RRA: “Right now I'm writing a new film: "A wall under water". A project selected by Script2Film, a workshop in Greece made by the Mediterranean Film Institute, to finish the script.”
iFilmFestival: What role do film festivals play?
RRA: “Festivals play a very important role for auteur films. With them, the chance is given for people from other latitudes to have the possibility of seeing films that would otherwise be impossible.”
iFilmFestival: What is your advice to filmmakers tackling the festival circuit?
RRA: “Like almost everything that has to do with making movies, you have to be very patient, and above all, persistent. The film will, sooner or later, find the right channel for it.”
iFilmFestival: How do you see the future of film?
RRA: “It seems to me that currently the cinema, in the world, is still very elitist. I hope that it becomes more democratized and that we can see stories told from new and different points of view.”
iFilmFestival: Which filmmaker do you admire and why?
RRA: “I admire many filmmakers. It is difficult for me to name just one; mainly because as my way of seeing life changes and evolves, I am interested in different ones.”
iFilmFestival: What film have you recently seen that you have admired in one way or another?
RRA: “I recently saw Tomas Vinterberg's Druk. I think it's a very smart film.”
iFilmFestival: Thank you Rubén for answering our questions!
Interview by iFilmFestival on September 17th, 2022