Interview with Award Winning Director Carlos Asse

Di Vito “Nik H.” Nicoletti

Carlos Asse is an award-winning Mexican film director currently based in Los Angeles, California. His film Contracorriente (“Against the Stream”, in English) has positioned Carlos among the film industry in both the US and Mexico. Contracorriente premiered at the universally acclaimed Cannes Film Festival in 2019 and had its Mexican premiere in October 2019 at the Oaxaca Film Festival, one of Mexico’s biggest and most celebrated festivals, which is commissioned by the renowned Sundance Institute.

In an interview with Carlos, he spoke about his process as a director, his career and how he’s background has shaped him to make Contracorriente.

Hi Carlos. It’s a great pleasure to have you as our guest on Vocespettacolo.com. Lets’ start from the first question...Carlos, how would you describe Contracorriente in one sentence?

Contracorriente is a drama that portrays the confrontation of two brother regarding their mother’s illness. Alberto, the protagonist is very sentimentally attached while his brother is the practical and rational type of person. They both want the same: to keep their mom safe, but their means to achieve that are different, and that’s what the film is about. It’s about detachment, unity and letting go. It’s an ode to motherhood”.

Definitely a relevant subject matter. What inspired you to shoot such film?

The film is dedicated to my grandmother. Many people think it a biographical or semi-biographical film, but it is not. It is very inspired by how my grandmother’s aging has affected my family and our relationships and dynamics, but I also wanted to celebrate the mother figure of a family. I think our mothers are a very important factor in our development and growth, whether she’s a biological mother or not.

Is this type of story and genre the one you want to keep pursuing? How did you get to this point?

I am very attracted to dark and raw stories. To stories that study the human condition and resilience, to the beauty of nature and imperfection. This is the type of stories I want to keep creating, but regarding genre, I have been experimenting with a few other genres that I think would be an asset to this type of stories. When I started film school I wanted to make horror films. Or that’s at least what I thought. Now I am sure I don’t want to do them at all, but I think the process of getting to this point was essential. It is through this process of trying things, liking and disliking my own work, that I got where I am today. I think the constant job of a filmmaker is finding our own voice, and those horror short film I did in film school definitely helped me understand why I don’t want to pursue that anymore.

How long did it take you to create this film?

From the moment I had a script written until we finished post-production it was about a year. Although we didn’t shoot for a long period of time, having limited resources always means you need more time. I used that time to contact the right actors and actress for my film, to get the crew necessary, to develop a visual language that told the story on the script visually, and to get the funds necessary to pull all of this off.

Tell us more about the success Contracorriente has received lately.

Contracorriente premiered at the Cannes Film festival in a section out of competition at the beginning of 2019. It has been officially selected in multiple festivals like the Oaxaca Film Fest in Mexico, and in the US like Short+Sweet Film Festival, Panafest LA, and won an Honorable mention in Berlin and the Best Short Film Award at the Short Film Factory festival in Bucharest, Romania. The film is slated to play at more festivals in the first half of 2020.

How was the experience of showing your film to a Mexican audience in Oaxaca? How do you feel about that?

It was great. Contracorriente was shot in Los Angeles but I definitely tried to infuse some of my identity on it. It was great to go to Mexico and be able to screen the film there. Although there was a very multi-cultural and international audience, the majority was Mexican and Hispanic, and I was very happy to see the reaction of the audience to my film. I definitely look forward to attending more festivals like that one in the future.

Lastly, any deserved shout-outs?

Yes, of course. Contracorrinete would’ve never become a reality without the support I constantly receive from my parents and my sister. Dan Lopecci, Silvia Curiel, Carlos Trevi and Rodrigo Sandoval (QEPD), my actors, who brought the best attitude and the best performances to the set every day. Huge thanks to Carlo Mendoza, the cinematographer, who was an elemental asset to this film. Benjamin Tolentino, the editor; Lucas Villemur, the composer, and many more colleagues and crew members that helped me bring this story to life. Most importantly, to my grandmother, Sofia, to whom the film is dedicated. She’s an inspiration to me every single day.

www.carlosasse.com

IG: carlos.asse

BIO

Acclaimed Mexican Filmmaker Awarded Around the World Directs Contracorriente

Carlos Asse is an award-winning Mexican film director currently based in Los Angeles, California. His film Contracorriente (“Against the Stream”, in English) has positioned Carlos among the film industry in both the US and Mexico. Contracorriente premiered at the universally acclaimed Cannes Film Festival in 2019 and had its Mexican premiere in October 2019 at the Oaxaca Film Festival, one of Mexico’s biggest and most celebrated festivals, which is commissioned by the renowned Sundance Institute.

The film touches on the importance of family and how sometimes we lose sight of what’s most important to us just to prove someone else wrong. As Carlos mentioned “Contracorriente portrays the confrontation of two brother regarding their mother’s illness. Alberto, the protagonist is very sentimentally attached while his brother is the practical and rational type of person. They both want the same: to keep their mom safe, but their means to achieve that are different, and that’s what the film is about. It’s about detachment, unity and letting go. It’s an ode to motherhood”.

Dan Lopecci plays Alberto, the protagonist of the story, co-starring in the film with actress Silvia Curiel as Isabel, the mother. Director Carlos Asse collaborated with award-winning cinematographer Carlo Mendoza to bring his vision to the screen. Mendoza’s films have received international acclaim by the Academy, Cannes, and he has received awards by internationally acclaimed festivals in Europe and Asia. He was recently made part of the Philippines’ Cinematography Hall of Fame for his work in numerous projects.

“Working with Carlo was a privilege. His understanding of story is inspiring, and the numerous questions he asked about the script allowed us to develop the visual language we created to best portray my characters and their story. Carlo knows how thankful I am for working with me on Contracorriente” – Asse mentioned.

The film was edited by Benjamin Tolentino and scored by Lucas Villemur, who Carlos mentioned is an extremely talented composer and he will definitely be working with Lucas again in the near future.

Carlos shared that Contracorriente helped him discover his voice as a filmmaker. “In film school I was exploring different genres and plots, but Contracorriente is way closer to what I want to keep doing and the type of stories I want to keep bringing to the screen”.

Contracorriente has been officially selected in multiple festivals in the US like Short+Sweet Film Festival, sponsored by The Los Angeles Times; and Panafest LA commissioned by NBC Universal to name a few, and won an Honorable mention in Berlin and the Best Short Film Award at the Short Film Factory festival in Bucharest, Romania. This film has not yet completed its successful festival run.

Carlos is definitely someone to pay attention to in the upcoming years.

Fotografo: Yarden Lior

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