POV: Your films have broken new ground in interweaving narrative techniques like using symbolism, with more tradition documentary techniques, like interviews. Can you talk about how you use metaphor in the context of making a documentary? For instance, what were you trying to convey with the shots of women’s hands, feet and the crosses in Senorita Extraviada? How do you develop your visual “language” for a film like this? Why do you think this is an effective way to tell this particular story?
Lourdes Portillo: Metaphor and symbolism is so pervasive in our subconscious and in our dreams, and I only attempt to extract those elements from the reality of the situation and use them in the making of a film. I find they are more poetic and can touch our hearts so lightly and profoundly.
With the hands and the crosses and the shoes I was trying to convey thematic elements of the situation, without actually explaining them because it would be so complicated… there was too much information to convey. Their rhythmical appearance gives us the emotional message.
First I look at my film, I look and try to find its core and what it is that I am trying to say? What are my subjects trying to say? I look at its visual location and I discuss this with the very talented cinematographer Kyle Kibbe and together we develop a visual style based on just about anything we chose.
Once it is shot, then I work with another very talented editor, Vivien Hillgrove, we use all the visual signs and story and rhythms and focus and we create the film that you have seen. The composer Todd Buckelheide, is a most crucial member of this gifted team, he writes the music based on our temporary score and the entire film comes alive.