In May, filmmaker Lester Hamlet will start the shooting of his next movie Ya no es antes (It is no longer yesterday), based on the theatre piece Weekend in Bahía, by Alberto Pedro,and will only use two actors and one set. The plot focuses on performances by Violeta Rodríguez and Hugo Reyes as it develops from the moment the two characters, Mayra y Esteban, meet at the apartment of one of them. The film will last 90 minutes in real time and will have additional scenography. It is a coproduction between The Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC by its acronym in Spanish) and a Canadian company with which Lester produced his previous film Fabula.
“Two people, a white limbo and promises looking for confirmation”, said its producer when referring to the synthesis of the film.
Lester, also the director of Casa Vieja, talked to OnCuba about this “new and huge” challenge, as he definedit.
What’s new in this version of Weekend en Bahía, a piece that will shortly become 30 years old?
This piece by Alberto Pedro is one of the biggest successes of Cuban dramaturgy from the 80’s and early 90’s. It was applauded by the audience in the production stared by Mirtha Ibarra and Ramón Veloz. Today I feel that even though it has been almost 30 years from its premier, it has not lost its validity. It talks about promises and love and is very romantic but it is also crude in its dramaturgical development. It is a huge challenge for me because I only rely in two actors and one set to convey all that.
This will be your third full-length fiction film inspired in a literary work. Why do you choose theatre pieces?
That’s the basis of my training. Theatre is my school; it was my first major and these pieces: Casa Vieja, as well as Doña Rosita la soltera always inspired me and motivated me to turn them into movies. I think it wasn’t enough for me or perhaps the resources the theatre provided me to tell these storiesweren’t enough. I always felt they demanded more. The movies now give me that chance, the chance to play with that level of realism and truthfulness.
How was the selection of the actors?
Violetaand Hugo make a great pair, which I found perfect for this story. They had played a couple already in the soap opera Apesar de todo and in the film Mañana by Alejandro Moya.
What kind of movie will it be?
It will be a script film, with drama and performances. It will be difficult because both characters have infinite reactions and change of moods or dramatic registers and they gradually reach certain climax with which we can have fun, the actors and the whole staff for the movie.
Couple’s communication in a single and closed space has been previously seen in the cinema, though not particularly in ours. What referents did you use?
There are referents in Brazilian films as Yo se que te voy a amar with the performance of Fernanda Torres, and also the Soviet film Sin testigos. These kinds of films are absent in the Cuban cinema, but I do know that Tomas Gutierrez Alea had devoted a lot of time working on a version of this piece but he couldn’t produce it. So, in this sense, it also pays homage to this great maestro. I think one of the reasons I also got interested in this piece was to try to find out what Titon saw in it. Thus, I gradually fell for the characters and I committed myself with the story.
Why did you choose that tittle?
Because it is no longer yesterday, it is no longer time for promises or children’s play. This film deals with adulthood, the tragedy of realizing we are getting old in solitude and distant from love and caress; it is a story about happy pasts and unexpected and uncertain futures, where ex lovers place the cards on the table to reveal secrets and find out truths.
What’s the story of Mayra and Esteban?
Who hasn’t made a promise for love? Who hasn’t felt that infinite taste of promised loyalty and has kept it as a weapon to defend utopias and memories? How many of us don’t protect tenderness from the perpetuity of an oath? When we first meet Esteban and Mayra they had already loved each other, shared their saliva and illusions in the midst of social processes that eased the impossible and make us dream and dream about imagining and imagining to lie. And that’s the story in a Cuba that refuses to loose its memories and protects itself far away from solemnity. A reencounter between those who didn’t have another option; Mayra didn’t have another option when she left the country and neither did Esteban when he stood still, trapped in it. This reencounter allows them to take their clothes off and to look at each other in the eyes once again and to desire to welcome the other again and perhaps forever. And with promises made.The perpetuity of a name in a soon-to-be newly born would define their love back then, and now it is time to face each other and make questions and confessions between fears and different perspectives having changed with time but being the same from back then. Their homeland and its people have changed a lot, many promises were not kept. They are ashamed to look the other in the eyes and not feel owners of truth or justice.