This weekend, the third and fourth year students of the UBC Production program will be showcasing their work in the Persistence of Vision (POV) film festival. Films featured at past POV festivals (which is in its 28th year) have made it into international shows including the Toronto, Vancouver, Berlin, and Cannes Film Festivals.
I sat down with Natalia Andrea, fourth year student in the Film Production program and director of this year’s POV festival, to chat Sci-Fi, filmmaking, and diversity in film.
Can you tell me about yourself?
Of course! I’m originally from Ecuador, and I came to UBC in 2013 – my first time in Canada. I thought I was going to study psychology but I’ve always had a passion for film so I decided to apply to the program in my second year.
Why did you choose to study film?
Where I come from, film industry isn’t really a thing so it wasn’t something I grew up thinking I could do. But then, just being abroad and here in Vancouver it felt like there were so many more opportunities. Luckily my parents were really supportive of me trying something else out, so after my first year I did a film workshop in L.A. to make sure it was something I was sure I wanted to do. After that, I knew I wanted to stay at UBC and get into the film program here.
Film is really important in my life right now, especially directing and producing. It’s been working together with my classmates on lots of different projects, and especially this year because we each got to direct and create our own film. So we worked not only on our own films, but we got to help on everyone else’s as well.
What is your film, Pieces of Light, about?
My film is based on my relationship with my grandfather, because he’s really the reason why I’m here. It’s about a young programmer who was raised by her grandfather but grows distant from him because of her work, and through the film she realizes how important he is to her – he’s always been there for her, and now she has to be there for him.
What filmmakers are you the most inspired by? Did anyone influence the piece you created for this festival?
It might be because I grew up with two brothers, but I’ve always been really inspired by J.J. Abrams. I really wanted to try something like science fiction with cool visual effects, but on a much smaller scale. I got to do this with Pieces of Light, which has elements of magical realism in it. I already had the story of my grandfather in mind, so I had to make sure that it made sense to add elements of science fiction and visual effects. I didn’t want it to be something I just added for fun – it definitely has a purpose and I’m really happy with how it turned out.
What can you tell me about the POV festival?
POV has been a part of the film program for 28 years now, and it’s a great opportunity for third and fourth years to show their work to friends and family and people in the industry that come see our films. It’s the debut of our films, because after this we go out and apply to festivals which we’ve had great success with in the past. Because the film program is so competitive at UBC, we get some really great films at the end of the year.
This year, our theme is diversity. More than half of the filmmakers this year are women, which is not something that is happening in the industry. It’s great that the next generation of filmmakers is us, and we can show that it is possible. We also have filmmakers from all over the world, including Japan, Hong Kong, and Mexico, and a real diverse representation of different genres.
Last question – what do you think about the representation of women and people of colour in filmmaking today? Are you hopeful for the future?
I am! In the past couple of years it’s crazy how now we’re seeing women is Hollywood making films that have a budget of a billion dollars. People didn’t even think that could be possible, and now it seems like every day I see news about the first woman doing this, or winning that award. It makes me really excited. Even with the film that I produced last year, the director was First Nations from Canada and it was a great experience for me to learn from her. It’s really cool how we got to show that film in film festivals and share issues that are happening right now. I definitely think that the big people out there in the film industry know that diversity is important now, and that there is all sorts of filmmakers and talent that needs to be shown now.