Interview: Martina Juncadella, director of I Don’t See Myself Being Old

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GSFF speaks to actor, writer and director Martina Juncadella about her film I Don’t See Myself Being Old. Having previously won ‘Best Short Film’ at the 2017 Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema for her short Fiora, Juncadella’s newest film follows Jaki, a poet in her mid-twenties who lives with her parents and sells Knishes. This coming-of-age comedic drama uses a blend of fantasy and realism to capture the anxieties of being an artist at a precarious point in your life. 

Before directing, you previously found success as an actress. What made you decide to step behind the camera? Did you ever consider playing Jaki yourself? 

What made me start writing and shooting my own films is that I wanted to create something using my own skills, so I think that’s why I chose cinema. I’m an actress, but I think that we are all actors. I prefer to shoot with non-professional actors because they are more natural. So I really think Jaki was the only one that could play that role, a fiction of herself.

The film seems to occupy an interesting space between fantasy and realism. What was it about this approach that attracted you?      

I think this question goes exactly to the main path I wanted to approach in this film. And that particular space is built up in literature, especially in poetry. That’s what I’m looking for when I write, that moment where you are familiar with something, but all of a sudden it all mixes into a new perception of time and space. Also, that mix between fantasy and realism is easier to achieve when you work with non-professional actors.

A lot of the film revolves around how Jaki wants to represent herself in her art. How autobiographical would you say this element of the film is?

It’s totally autobiographical: her story reflects mine too. I feel very close to Jaki´s universe.  I think that writing is an activity where you are searching for yourself all the time. That is the main impulse that takes you to create something.

Throughout the film, Jaki makes numerous references to her anxieties around getting older. Do you think coming-of-age stories in Latin America differ at all from those in The States and in Europe. If so, in what way?

Maybe the ways of portraying that specific moment are very different. I think we are used to seeing portraits of teenagers but not of the 25-year-olds, which I think is also a very decisive moment of your life.

Who are your filmmaking influences?     

They change, and I love to discover new ones, but I certainly love Chantal Akerman, Rainer Fassbinder, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Agnés Varda, John Cassavetes, David Lynch, Ozualdo Candeias, and all the Brazilian marginal cinema.

The film ends on quite a bitter-sweet note. Could you talk a little about that?

I don’t know… The end is like a dream that reveals something, like the end of a poem. 

I Don’t See Myself Being Old screens in Bill Douglas Award 3: Mom & Pop

Interview by Joe McFarlane