“My movie is about five women from Venezuela, from different backgrounds and generations. They draw a portrait of a chaotic society and allow us to take the pulse of a population in distress. It represents a sort of barometer of the worsening critical situation in this Latin American nation.” Director Margarita Cadenas on WOMEN OF THE VENEZUELAN CHAOS which screens at #HotDocs25.
Great to have you here at HotDocs! Are you going to be attending your screenings?
Yes of course! I will be present at every screening, all of which will be followed by a Q&A session. This is my first time in Hot Docs.
Tell me more about your process of getting this documentary project together!
This film was an urgency for me. I had to quickly find allies to start the production and to go to Venezuela in the most discreet possible way. First, I had to finance the beginning of the shoot. At that time, I found a female investor whose financial support allowed me to go to Venezuela and start the production. After that, I found two producers, two distributors and another investor. All women! I also obtained a lot of help from many other people. All of them wanted to back me up on this project, as they realized the importance of making such a documentary.
How long was your process from beginning to end and did you have any challenges during the filming process?
The process lasted 15 months. The first challenge was to find five women, each of different age, social background and ethnicity with courage to take part and testify barefaced. The second challenge was to work in a totally clandestine manner due to the regime’s censorship. Also, we were filming in the very dangerous city of Caracas. The final challenge was to get all the material safely through Venezuelan customs and into France.
How long did post-production take and editing the final product together?
The post production and editing took nine months.
Throughout the whole process, what kept you going while making this feature? What drove you? How much coffee are we talking about here?
The one thing that really kept me going and drove me was the knowledge that day by day, I was getting closer to my aim of showing the world the real truth of Venezuelans’ daily lives. Having said that, I must admit, I did drink gallons of coffee.
A very technical question, but what kind of cameras and editing equipment did you use to capture this documentary?
As we had to be extremely discreet, we used two small cameras. The first being a Reflex Canon EOS 6D Mark II camera body with Zeiss ZE lenses from 28 to 135 mm. The second was an Osmo DJI 4K Pro. We also shot with spy lenses. For the sound, we used different types of easily-hidden wireless microphones. We edited the film with Final Cut Pro 7.
What excites you the most about presenting this to HotDocs audiences?
The thing that excites me most is the fact that Hot Docs is such a highly esteemed important festival. Therefore, I hope that many people will get to know about my film and the chaotic situation in my homeland.
After the movie shows at HotDocs, where is the movie going next? Are there any other festivals coming up?
After Hot Docs, I will be launching my film in France and going to Oslo and Barcelona for special screenings. In the last seven weeks, I presented my film in festivals in Prague, London, Geneva, Copenhagen, The Hague and Frankfurt. I also went to the United States, where my film was released in Florida and North Carolina.
How do you feel with the theatrical experience versus streaming debate for documentaries? Are you okay with the movie going to streaming/digital only, or do you strive for the theatrical experience?
In my point of view, the theatrical experience is extremely important and more fulfilling. For instance, when you see my film in a theater, you have the time to immerse yourself in the film and connect with the characters. You have the opportunity to feel the music, hear every sound and take in all the details, while being touched and moved by it all. However, even though streaming is a way of obtaining larger audiences, I think that the experience is not the same. One’s attention could easily be disturbed by the environment during the viewing, thus significantly reducing the effect and intensity of the movie.
What is the one piece of advice you would say to anyone looking into making a documentary short or feature for the first time?
I would advise the person to make a documentary on something they are passionate about.
And finally, what is your all time favorite documentary feature film?
My all time favorite documentary is I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO by the Haitian director, Raoul Peck.
Follow this movie online by visiting www.femmesduchaosvenezuelien.com!
More info on the film screenings and HotDocs can be found at www.hotdocs.ca!