“I wasn’t one of those kids who dreamed of becoming an actor and seeing himself on the big...
The Vega Brothers
Text: Paula Montebruno | Illustration: óscar ramos
“Latin America is the talk of the film world,” says Daniel Vega, a young Peruvian filmmaker who won an award at Cannes 2010 with his brother Diego.
Two neighbors in Lima – a loan shark who unexpectedly comes across a counterfeit bill that he can’t get rid of and a desperate woman, devoted to Our Lord of Miracles – plus a touch of black humor. This is just a brief description of Octubre, the film that catapulted Peruvian directors Daniel and Diego Vega into the movie industry’s major leagues.
The film received a warm reception from critics and audiences alike and has been shown in such diverse countries as Germany, Lebanon, Russia, Argentina, Brazil, Korea, Israel and Latvia, among others. A successful run at various international film festivals – including those of Toronto, London and Santiago – has resulted in a number of awards and special mentions.
One of the most important honors to date has been the “Un Certain Regard” Jury Prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, an award that recognizes young filmmakers and their projects. It was a prestigious and unexpected boon for this directing team, whose first feature – produced on a limited budget, with support from foreign funds for film production and development – was the culmination of a long period of hard work.
Several months have passed since Cannes, yet despite their success and many accolades, the Vega brothers still have their feet firmly planted on the ground. Their love of film began during their college days, and they know that this is just the beginning. They want to keep on making movies and are already in the process of preparing their next feature. We talked to Daniel Vega about their plans, their influences, their awards and what it’s like to work with a brother.
What did the Cannes recognition for Octubre mean to you?
“Just being selected for Cannes meant a lot. So, winning was a huge boost, both for the film and for us, professionally. It had direct and important consequences for our work, but you have to keep working. Otherwise, you may be left with nothing more than an anecdote.”
Did you expect to win the award?
“Winning an award at Cannes was like a dream. No matter how much confidence you have in your work, winning at the most important festival in the world is heavenly. It was a very welcome surprise.”
What did you learn from that experience?
“That you always have to keep your feet on the ground. Film festivals just last a few days. It’s all great at the time, but you can’t get too caught up in it or you’ll lose sight of what’s important. You have to realize that it will end.”
How did you end up in film?
“By chance. Our family didn’t have any ties to film. When we were kids, we’d go to the video store, and everyone in the family would rent something from a certain genre. I was into U.S. comedies, while Diego loved gory horror movies. But my real interest in film came when I was starting out at college, studying communications. Diego, meanwhile, was studying economics. After finishing his studies in Madrid, Diego returned to Lima and began to work with a Danish trader, eventually going to Copenhagen to work. While he was there, he realized that it wasn’t what he wanted to do. He quit and went to Madrid to take the entrance exam for the San Antonio de los Baños Film School in Cuba. Once he was there, he did nothing but eat, sleep and breathe film.”
How do two brothers direct a film together?
“Very patiently. We work on the production together throughout the entire process. The screenplay starts with Diego, who’s a screenwriter, and then I write. But we always communicate back and forth. During the shoot, we divvy up the responsibilities. We try to keep our notes and ideas together, so we don’t give conflicting directions (which has happened). Up to this point, it hasn’t been that complicated.”
Who or what are your main influences?
“I like to watch all kinds of movies. A lot of the time, the films themselves inspire me more than certain directors. And there are many that I like and that always inform my visual imagination. But while you’re shooting, you don’t have a certain film or style in your head. I think that you unconsciously start to find your style based on what you like.”
What do you see for the Latin American film industry?
“In countries like Peru, the term ‘industry’ may be a little hasty. Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and even Colombia – they’re all way ahead of us. But Latin America is the talk of the film world, and that’s important.”
Could you give us peek at your next film project?
“Our next film is still in the process of being written. It’s the story of an honest civil servant. We’re going to approach it with humor.” in
Im a director because, of all the things that I can do, I like observing the best....