Director Laura Mora on her Colombian Oscar Entry ‘The Kings of the World,’ ‘100 Years of Solitude’

Director Laura Mora on her Colombian Oscar Entry ‘The Kings of the World,’ ‘100 Years of Solitude’

For Laura Mora, whose visceral and poetic drama “The Kings of the World” represents Colombia at the Oscars, shooting in the region of Bajo de Cauca was an act of defiance. 

“I was warned not to shoot there, that it was the most dangerous part of Colombia,” she recalls, adding: “Instead we only came across people who were open, generous and kind.”

“Making a fictional film protected us too as they probably would not have been so welcoming of documentary filmmakers or journalists,” she muses. The production took care to involve communities wherever they stopped, like a gypsy caravan, through villages and towns.

Winning the top awards at San Sebastian and Zurich in the space of just a few days and Mora’s second pic after her breakout hit “Killing Jesus,” “The Kings of the World” follows five homeless teens as they traverse the region to reclaim a plot of land that the oldest among them, Rá, has inherited from his grandmother, seized from her by the paramilitary and now being returned by the government. 

To reach this promised land, they hitch rides atop freight trucks and hitch their bikes to them as they speed down hairpin country roads.

“There may be dangers ahead, but Rá and his merry band of Lost Boys anchor their journey in the firm belief of a future of any kind. And so, even as they face off against racist mobs and find refuge in makeshift brothels, theirs is a story of continued survival,” says Variety’s Manuel Betancourt in his glowing review.

Working again with non-pros, Mora encouraged her cast to find their characters’ voices, creating an emotional landscape and identity for each and improvising along the way. This led to some memorable lines and scenes she and her co-writer Maria Camila Arias (“Birds of Passage”) would never have dreamt of including in their script. 

For instance, in one nighttime street scene shot in the rain, the boys struck their machetes against the wet asphalt, setting off dramatic sparks in the darkness. In another, a prostitute tells one of them: “Behave well so they kill you last.” 

“That’s the beauty of working with non-professional actors, they come up with lines and details you’d never think of yourself,” Mora observes.

Mora’s talent did not go unnoticed by Netflix, which picked up “The Kings of the World” for the Americas and has tapped her to direct three episodes of its much-anticipated series adaptation of literary classic “100 Years of Solitude” by Colombia’s Gabriel Garcia Marquez. 

Film adaptations of the Nobel laureate’s novels have been less than successful so it will be interesting to see how this series turns out. “We are conscious of the risks and hope to stay close to the essence of each character, of the village of Macondo,” says Mora who expects to start pre-production on her episodes by late May after Argentine director Alex Garcia Lopez (“The Witcher”) wraps the first three episodes.

Oscar-nominated Eugenio Caballero (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) and Bárbara Enríquez (“Roma”) are overseeing the production design of the Macondo set, currently under construction in Colombia.

Mora is also developing her third film, another book adaptation, co-writing again with Arias. It won’t be a surprise if Netflix gets involved in this, too.

Read More About:

Source: Read Full Article