Edgar Jorge Baralt on “Ventana” / interview

Born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1988, he studied film and video at the California Institute of the Arts. His work deals with the effect of spatial changes on identity, perception and social relationships, which he explores through multiple cinematic possibilities.

What was your starting point for “Ventana”?

During the summer of last year, as the pandemic had started a second wave in Los Angeles, I was going through old family albums and scanning photos. I came across a picture of the living room window from the apartment where I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, which I have not returned to in eighteen years. The parallel between domestic spaces (one which I had been spending most of a tumultuous year in lock-down and the other encapsulating memory, loss and childhood), became the backbone to investigate the uncertainty and contingency of that moment.

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

When making a film, the moments I cherish most are the ones that I could not have imagined when I first set out, but only arrive at them through the making of the film. In this case, the scene in which the voice-over switches from English to Spanish is such a moment, and one of my favorite ones. It destabilizes the order and structure that the film had set up to that point. When that voice-over comes in, the point of view through which we understand the film shifts, and the rules change. Suddenly, it’s no longer a nostalgic look at the past, but an imaginative and attentive look at the present and possible futures.

What do you like about the short form?

The short-film is great in contradictory terms. In one way, it exists outside the pressures (commercial and aesthetic) of feature-length work and therefore more free to explore different modes of seeing and understanding (and producing). On the other hand, it is also direct and to the point. It is this tension between wandering and straight-forwardness that attracts me to the short form. And in a practical sense, for me, it demystifies the sense of weight and intimidation that ideas for films sometimes carry with them. Making a short film is less about a careful balancing act of spinning plates, and more like picking up a musical instrument and singing what needs to be sung.

Photo © Christina C Nguyen

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