A tale of circular maternity

Interview with Romina Paula

By Young Film Critic Pablo Staricco

Romina Paula is still processing her thoughts. The Argentinian playwright, writer and actress presented her directorial debut De nuevo otra vez (Again once again) at the Bright Future Main Programme of the 48th IFFR and the experience has given her plenty of new experiences.

For the up-and-coming director, one of the most exciting episodes so far was watching her own film −which stars herself, her German-speaking mother and also her 4-year-old son− for the first time in a big screen. Not just big...huge. De nuevo otra vez had its World Premiere at the Pathé Cinema with the presence of some of the crew and also other Argentinian colleagues from Paula, such as the actress and her friend, Pilar Gamboa, and the director Mariano Llinás, who directed Paula in a small role in La flor (also screened at the IFFR).

Beyond the exhilarating encounter of her own work with the audience, Paula is also feeling two more things. She feels proud about having completed the movie within the sometimes complicated Argentinian film industry, and also she's surprised about how "kind" she felt the whole process was.

Paula was motivated to dive into filmmaking through Argentinian producer Diego Dubcovksy, from Varsovia Films, who was eager to adopt one of her novels. She, however, had already been writing some "audiovisuals fantasies" that she felt secure would be a good fit for cinema.

"This is a movie that shines through its text", she says, recalling her previous work in theatre and literature that here is mostly represented in a series of monologues that intertwine in the drama. "There are scenes that they were like stagings that would unfold in the screen. This is where I feel more secure: in words".

In De nuevo otra vez, Romina plays a woman that shares her name and has come back to her mother’s home in Buenos Aires with her young son, as she tries to make sense out of a personal crisis with her husband. Or maybe there is no crisis at all, but just the necessity of spending time alone, as Romina −the character− ponders in the movie.

"I think doubt can be more powerful than affirmation", Paula said in a Q&A for De nuevo otra vez after one audience member was appalled by the character passiveness. And while the story doesn’t show Romina making huge life-changing decisions, there’s a lot of personal issues being dealt with in her daily life actions, as she revisits old friends, explores the idea of a new love life and most importantly, sees how her relationship with his son evolves in this new environment without a prominent father figure.

Although there’s a lot of autobiographical aspects on her debut, Paula is not afraid of how her public persona is going to be perceived in the future. Yes, she made her childhood house her film set and worked closely on making her mother, a non-actress, improvise her scenes, but she still thinks the world of De nuevo otra vez stands by itself as a separate entity. And while Argentinian cinema has developed a recent taste for the exploration of single parenting −with Anahí Berneri’s Alanis being a great recent example− Paula thinks there’s just not enough movies about it, specifically about maternity. "There's just never enough information about this experience", she says.

After seeing her own film more than two times in Rotterdam, Paula is amazed by how circular maternity has become like a theme in her story. She is also surprised about seeing aspects of her son in the face of her own mother, whose child photo composes the poster of the film, and also how both female lead characters present both infantile and adult attitudes throughout the story.

"It's like what Saussure says about synchronicity and diachrony overlapping in one merged timeline", Paula reflects. "I'm seeing me, my child, my mother, and all of us in the same space and it’s going to stay there forever".

Before its official release in Buenos Aires, De nuevo otra vez will be part of the Copenhagen International Documentary Festival. The movie international sales are handled by La Compañía De Cine.

And while she's ready for getting back to the theatre with a new play in 2019, she's also eager to get back behind cameras. "Of course I would make another one", Paula says about developing a new feature. "But I'm still searching for a new audiovisual fantasy".

Photo in header: Romina Paula at the premiere of De neuvo otra vez