Rodrigo Garcia (director of Mother and Child) allowed me his time on the phone from Los Angeles to talk briefly about his new film being released in the UK on Friday 6th January, 2012 by Verve Pictures.
What is the appeal to you of women in your work?
I dont know, I first wrote the script in my mid to late 30s and found that the men I was writing were all too similar to each other or myself, and writing women allowed me more tools to approach the story with. They were more complex and more varied from one another. But I would not say I am a feminist director with a pro-women agenda, as I feel female characters are more satisfying for me and my work.
What was the genesis for Mother and Child?
I had been working on the script on and off for nine years, the most complicated thing was the structure of putting together Karen's story from 35 years ago up to the present day combining with events that take place but not necessarily at the same time. And then the problem with independent cinema in America especially, is that you can have a good script but you need a big name actress/actor to sell to financiers.
I read that Naomi was the first person you went to in that respect?
Naomi was one of the first but my ideas of actors always changed, and then when we approached her she was pregnant so we waited for her to give birth, but that is her tummy for real in the movie. And the sex scene she shot just 5 weeks after giving birth.
I found Annette Bening's performance to be outstanding, how did she come on board?
Well, again Annette was one of the first people we approached but due to family commitments she could not commit herself and then Naomi fell pregnant and so the window was open for her to take part. I felt her work was first rate on set but only in the editing suite did the appreciation of her work take shape as she went from misanthrope to a sympathetic grandmother.
What was your research for the three women and their backgrounds?
I did research about adoption mostly, but for the women I felt Karen had to be near 50 and no longer able to have children. Elizabeth had to be 35 yet successful in her career but still able to bear children and Lucy had to be near 30 and unable to. Its about the calendar and how it relates to people being able to have children.
What is the appeal of multi-strand cinema and why is it so apparent in Latin American cinema?
I was not conscience of it, and it is seemingly a coincidence because Magnolia has it, Robert Altman has it, Crash had it, it is good for cinema were flukes and destiny are thrusts to the narrative.
Were you nervous shooting a sex scene between a black man (Samuel L. Jackson) and white woman (Watts), still a taboo subject in Hollywood?
I did not feel race was an issue in the film and it did not compel me. What interested me most about race was giving Karen an african-american child - a child she could be close to in terms of proximity and yet be different from her. Karen also falls in love with a Latino man, something that she did not anticipate or presume to happen.
The sex scene I felt had to be about more than just sex and tell us something about Elizabeth - her sexuality, her career, her relationships, her identity.
Its taken a while for this film to reach our shores, in hindsight would you have changed anything?
Oh definitely, you know Truffaut used to say 'you start every film hoping it to be a masterpiece, and at the end you are relieved it is breathing'. The movie is a version of what you had hoped for, however I am happy with work of actresses and satisfied with it definitely.
And on that lovely note, I bid farwell to Mr.Garcia wishing him every luck for the future.
Mother and Child is released from Verve Pictures on Friday 6th January in selected cinemas nationwide.