Ana Elena Tejera on “A Love Song in Spanish” / interview

The director, artist and actor was born in Panama in 1990. Frequently combining diverse audiovisual formats with live performances, her work includes “Festival de la Memoria” which recontextualised urban spaces with performance and installations of images from political archives. She also worked on the restoration of part of Panama’s film archive at the Filmoteca de Catalunya. Her debut film Panquiaco premiered at the 2020 International Film Festival Rotterdam. She is an artist in residence at Le Fresnoy – Studio national des arts contemporains in France.

What was your starting point for “A Love Song in Spanish”?

The exploration begins with finding the archive of political movies form Panama almost in the trash. At the beginning of the restoration, I came across military images that I had never seen a story that is not spoken in my country. Neither in school nor in social circles had such images been show, I was fascinated! These images led me to work performance with the army of Panama and to begin to explore their story. This is how these experiences gave me the strength to explore more of my family history which like the images, had been unspoken and desired to be erased. However, it is difficult to put words to the feelings associated with the military period, both in my country and in my family. And also the sensations were difficult to understand, the tension, aggression, love, fear existed together in the same space. Are the word enough to describe? Sometimes the words do not exist and there are the bodies with their memories and sensations. What I found was stories with holes and photos with mushrooms covering the faces of the persons relate of the story. I found the bodies of the characters that inhabited those stories and the spaces. This is was available and what I used. Without forcing the words to be concretized, I proposed to my family to do this performance and focused on the body, on the everyday and on how that memory was in those movements.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

I love when my grandmother dances! It was beautiful and transformative for both of us. When she was young, she was forbidden to dance and move her body in the same room where we did the scene. And now she returns to the same place, in another vital moment and manages to dance in that room. In that dance inhabit the two sensations, fear and the desire for pleasure and freedom. For me the cinema happens to make a form to revive, to transform, time begins to be circular and we find ourselves at different levels of a spiral. Being able to return to the same place and give it another energy is something that touches me.

What do you like about the short form?

It is a format that allows me to experiment, to make notes and essays of feelings and thoughts. It gives me great pleasure to edit in short formats and especially play.

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To find out more about A Love Song in Spanish, go to 0:12, 8:37and 11:03 in the video.

Photo © Daniel Seiffert

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