If I had to guess I would say the line between doc and fiction is drawn based on the relationship between director and character/subject, i.e. how much directing of their actions and words is really happening? Back to Alamar, my favorite of the two, the following is pasted from an interview with the director over kinocaviar.com:
Pedro González-Rubio When I moved to Playa del Carmen some years ago, probably driven by my childhood experience, many things had changed. What once used to be a fishermen’s village now was the epicenter of the fastest growing urbanization in Mexico. At this tourist-oriented development area, I’ve witnessed the lack of environmental awareness, the destruction of an extensive coral reef to make a long dock for cruise ships, the destruction of hectares of mangrove along the coastline to build big chain hotels, polluting the sea with sewage water, hence affecting the whole ecosystem of the area and pushing many of its species to an ill-fated future… By photographing and developing a story based on the current relation between man and his habitat in Chinchorro, I intend to portray my love for this region and the admiration and respect I have toward the lives of its fishermen.
words on music and editing:
"PGR Yes, music is very present in my everyday life, and it was also present when I filmed. Usually with an iPod I’m listening to guitar music by someone like Agustín Barrios Mangoré (from Paraguay) or very Berber music from the North of Africa. I like Moroccan, but I like all types of music. It has inspired me a lot. It gets me the tempo. Even gospel.
During the editing I use a lot of music. And then I take it out. And then what stays is the rhythm. So when they are crossing on the big boat, father and son, and father is holding his child in front of him with one arm wrapped around him, and we’re all feeling very seasick, well all of that scene is made with a song from Sweet Honey In The Rock, which is an acapella gospel-soul, all-woman group. I edited that scene with their song, “Wade in the Water.” I remember that scene was so powerful for me with that song, its rhythm, and then I took the music out. Just the spirit remains there. "
DS I think you’re right about that rhythm being really felt, present, without being conspicuous, and it leads to another one of my questions. In the film itself, the final product, either from the beginning or in the end when you edited, how did you decide how to use music — how much to keep in the film and where to use it?
PGR I wanted to use just one theme. The film begins with this theme and it ends with the same theme, to make a circle, the cycle of life. It was composed for the guitar, but then I invited a friend who plays the oud, Fausto Palma, to interpret it, because the oud is more ancient than the guitar, and I wanted that sound of an ancestral instrument for this ancestral film.
words on the opening:
DS [...] I’m wondering how you decided to open the film with the black-and-white family photos and home movie.
PGR It’s their own footage. It’s photographs and a video from their own archive, because I tried another beginning. We did a beautiful scene of Roberta and Jorge. It started with a farewell between mother and father. But it didn’t introduce the characters properly. So I really needed something very short, and real, in order to engage the audience with the story of their lives, to give the audience enough information so that then I could start writing poetry. The mother understood that when she was getting Natan his shower; there is enough information already to know who is who.
DS That opening is very immediate.
PGR It means, “We met like this. It was beautiful.” Then it’s like ping pong: Roberta says this, Jorge says the opposite… Jorge’s more of an idealist, the same as me. And the mother’s more a rationalist, saying, “Well, Jorge, we just don’t work together. It’s as simple as that. We’re not together because our realities don’t match.”
Sparse highlights from the great spinning sphere of publication.