With barely time to celebrate two well-deserved wins – including New Narrative Director – at Tribeca, horror darling Michelle Garza Cervera will be in the selection at Fantasia with her feature debut Huesera. The film will have screened BIFAN and Switzerland’s Neuchâtel Fantastic Film Festival, where it will continue the ominous tale of Valeria, played by Natalia Solián (“500 Million Red Shoes”), whose dream of motherhood is dissipated when she is born by a dark power is cursed . As darkness and evil descend upon her, she is forced to embrace a tradition that may be her only hope.
Three years ago, Garza Cervera graced Fantasia with her short The Original, and Huesera sees the themes of love, desire and death revisited in color, now with a kaleidoscopic complexity. Cinematographer Nur Rubio Sherwell uses color itself and framing to set the mood, and composers Gibrán Androide and Cabeza De Vaca use Foley to paint some moments of stillness and frightening impact. Directed by Garza Cervera and co-written by Abia Castillo, “Huesera” is produced by Machete Cine (“Leap Year, La Jaula de Oro”), Disruptiva Films and Señor Z. XYZ Films takes care of another source for big treasure US theatrical release.
diversity spoke to Garza Cervera ahead of the film’s participation at Fantasia.
Can you tell us something about the co-writing process for “Huesera”?
I started writing it in 2017. I learned about my grandmother’s family history. I had never heard her story. She was a woman who made a decision similar to Valeria’s. And hearing her story moved me so much that I felt like I had to make a film about this kind of process. Then I met my co-author thanks to a business trip where we had to share a room in Acapulco. Abia is an amazing screenwriter. She gave some notes that I immediately thought, “Oh my god, I need to text this woman!” We ended up writing 13 versions of the script, t3 rewrites. We like working together. We have a TV show together. We have three more films in development. We write everything together and have a very strong connection to the theme of motherhood and many other aspects of the film.
So it was a very nice process. It was difficult to understand how the being had to function. The Huesera in the film is a special entity; It has its own rules and it took a lot of time to cook it. It has gone through many phases.
In the film you use elements of horror and magical realism to tell the story of Valeria. What inspired this approach?
I’ve done a lot of short films and everything I’ve done has always been horror and genre. i really love it And I love how there are tools to tell physical things from everyday life. And I knew for many years that I wanted to make my first film a horror film. And I found that this theme combines perfectly with horror. But I always kept in mind that “horror” was there to serve the process, not the other way around. I never meant to be like this, oh I want a very scary moment. It was always the other way around, so in that moment Valeria is feeling something and from that feeling, what horror moment can I construct? And something that’s primarily family drama? When we got lost in the horror, we withdrew. And so the horror is very controlled.
How would you articulate the way Valeria’s secrets and history feed into her character and story?
I feel like she’s lying to herself. She’s made many choices in her life to live up to expectations. It was just really important for me to have this character who doesn’t want to look inward because she’s afraid to touch those feelings, afraid of doubt, and then build a supernatural unity that brings her back to that point. It brings her back to confronting, to confronting the choices she’s made.
You used color in the film to affect the mood of certain scenes. Can you tell something about your approach to color?
Sometimes we were afraid it would be too subtle. But I’m really happy to hear from people who are seeing it now that they’re noticing it. We wanted to have primary colors at home, like red, yellow, blue. Something that feels very harmonious, but it’s awful, you know? And that’s what the cameraman and I always had in mind. We didn’t want a dark world horror cliché. We wanted it to feel unsettling. And also the cobwebs, we really wanted to make that present in every shot. Cinematographer Nur Rubio Sherwell, I’ve followed her for years and felt her sensibility was exactly how I envisioned the story.
https://variety.com/2022/film/festivals/michelle-garza-cervera-huesera-tribeca-fantasia-1235327374/ ‘Huesera’ director Michelle Garza Cervera on her Tribeca winner