Klaudia Reynicke is a Swiss-Peruvian screenwriter, cinematographer and film director. Her first documentary ¿Así son los hombres? (2013) was presented at Visions du Réel and received the Public Prize at the Festival Filmar en America Latina. Her first feature film Il Nido (The Nest) premiered at Locarno, São Paulo, Lima and Santa Barbara.
In an exclusive interview with Filmatique, Klaudia Reynicke discusses religion as politics, power and profit, the hallucinatory qualities of the Catholic church and her next projects.
FILMATIQUE: Il Nido (The Nest) traces the story of Cora, a 19-year-old woman who returns to the town where she spent her childhood on a sabbatical. What inspired this particular story of homecoming, and why did you choose to tell it through the eyes of this young female character?
KLAUDIA REYNICKE: The inspiration of homecoming comes from the idea that a person like Cora, still being a young adult, needs to find out more about herself and relates this need to her roots, in other words, to where it all started for her. Furthermore, Cora grew up in a strong community and for her, there is some pride in being accepted as part of a clan. She feels this group could fill her solitude, her own gaps.
I chose to tell the story though the eyes of a young female because— by bringing her into contact with such a strong Christian community with religious beliefs and celebrations— it confronts both the community and the character with the type of limitations needed to break a chain that relates to heritage, beliefs and culture.
Cora is pushed by her family to become the next incarnation of the virgin Mary, but the fact that she refuses to inhabit that type of female figure is a protest to her family's old standards and views.
FLMTQ: Soon after Cora's arrival in Bucco, the community begins unraveling around her after a long-buried crime comes to light. What was your inspiration for this element of the narrative; and what motivated you to explore how the complex dynamics of a community, especially a religious one, can reveal themselves to be more delicate than they appear?
KR: I was inspired by an event that happened in a small town near the alps of Switzerland in 2001. One morning I read in the news paper that a 6-year-old boy had been found in the snow, unconscious and half naked. The paper said the boy had been attacked by a dog, but the description didn't make sense. A few years later, I read in another newspaper that the family of the boy had opened a case because they had never believed the explanation of the dog. Instead, the boy's family accused children from the town.
When I decided to write this story, I was interested on how the guilty kids from the town would grown up, not having been able to repent for their actions. I decided to bring the story in a religious context, to talk about the duality of Christian actions, which to me brought a parallel between the dynamics of a small town and the power of certain people in the community. Religion is belief but it's also politics, power and profit. I was interested in mixing all this together within a small community.
FLMTQ: Cora's reckoning, or awakening, is heightened by the fact that her father is the mayor of the town. How did you conceive of these two competing male figures in Cora's life— her father and the stranger—and how did you seek to differentiate them from each other at a symbolic level?
KR: Her father is the mayor of the town, but he is also one of the guilty kids. He was able to bury his terrible past actions in a part of his brain, and tried to become the highest representation of "good" he could manage. Cora's admiration of her father is also partially defined by his status. On the other side, it was important to give the illusion that the stranger was the crazy person, the liar, the nobody, to see how far Cora would fight in order to discover the truth.
FLMTQ: The fictional town of Bucco is the site of reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary, its economy sustained by Catholic tourists and pilgrims who come in search of those visions. As the film progresses, however, an almost hallucinatory quality takes hold wherein it becomes difficult to discern the boundaries between these visions and reality. How did you seek to blend these experiences cinematically?
KR: Religious visions, as a marital apparition or belief in miracles can be seen as hallucinatory. The only thing that makes them not hallucinatory is that they're part of the Catholic church. To me, it became natural to blend these experiences together.
FLMTQ: Il Nido (The Nest) is your first feature film. Can you please discuss the challenges you faced in getting this film made, and how you overcame them?
KR: Il Nido was a great school. I had written a longer script but because of the lack of money in production, we had to cut it short only few days before shooting, and I can still feel this when I watch the film.
But I was lucky to work with a great crew and experienced people, so any challenges we had were always taken as almost necessary and without crisis. I come from the world of documentary film, so it took me a bit of an effort to direct actors but it also made me fall in love with it.