~ Filmmaker: Clarissa Duque ~

Sueños Culinarios (Culinary Dreams) by Pedro Mercado

This is Sogni Culinari, a humorous, surreal poetry film by Venezuelan director Clarissa Duque and AWA Producciones, based on a poem by her friend Pedro Mercado. The actors are Nabilia Gąnem and Javier Figuera, and the recitation is by Luigi Sciamanna. The Italian translation is by Marco Baldo and the English by Lorenzo Duque. There’s also a version with subtitles in the original Spanish.

For the full credits, see Vimeo or the film’s own website. Sogni Culinari also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account (which is how I found out about it). It’s kind of cool to see a surrealistic short getting this much promotion and publicity. And why not? It’s very well done, and they clearly spared no effort in the production. Duque talked about it on the blog Directors Notes. I was especially interested to hear how her script expanded on the text with details from her own dreams:

The idea for Sogni Culinary began once I read a poem written by my friend Pedro Mercado. That poem is recited exactly as in the original by the character of the dreaming man as voice over throughout the film. The very first time I listened to the poem, I felt bombarded by different images and sensations. One of the first ones that came up in my mind was that feeling when a great love breaks your heart and leaves it behind like pieces of waste laying on the ground. Everybody has felt at least once in their life that terrible sensation of emptiness produced by an unrequited love.

Alongside that is my passion for the culinary arts. I learned when I was still a child how every single ingredient of a dish is like a magic recipe, itself capable of activating every human sense and evoking all kinds of sensations in the human body. My father, a great cook, always used his skill as a tool to get what he desired. He was able to close great deals after his partners, captivated by the sensitivity and power of his food, would accept any proposition my father made to them. Never the less, he also managed so many times to solve romantic problems with delicious banquets. I always thought that he was a kind of magician. With time, I understood that love and food, even though they can also be my weakest points, will always be the greatest passions in my life.

Since my childhood, my oneiric world has been very intense. I wake up from nightmares very often where I am a fish and I end up dying asphyxiated outside of the fishbowl. The people around me, trying to calm me down always tell me “It was just a dream”. Therefore, this time with my new short film I couldn’t miss the opportunity to transmit not only my two greatest passions in life (Love and Food) but also a part of my own oneiric world. I have to confess, filming the scene of the fish was very stressful, even more so because lately I’ve been working for animal rights.

The production of Sogni Culinary was just wonderful. It was January 2015 and we didn’t have any money but we were all looking forward to starting the new year working on a new project, but not those that you don’t like but take to pay the rent. We actually wanted to start working on a project that you get really passionate about and involved with. We wanted to make cinema, so I gathered a group of friends and proposed that we start working without a budget but all together for this culinary dream. Luckily, everything that was needed came along. Rental company Pata Negra let us use a Red One camera, an optic kit, a dolly and lights with all their accessories. As we say in Venezuela “Now we got all the toys”. The crew from Artecomestible made the food makeup which was very rigorous work with lots of attention to detail. The shooting was very pleasant, even though it lasted for a very long day from 6.00am in the morning till 2.00am of the following day. Actually, we’re a tight crew so, when we are at work filming on the plateau, we feel like a fish in the water (literally).

Filming real food can turn out to be a very difficult art. The hardest shot we did was with the meatball, trying to make it bleed in a Tarantinoesque style. The hose placed inside the meatball got blocked many times by the fork, then we had to shoot it several times until it finally worked and looked just as I had dreamed. We knew from the beginning that we could achieve all the special effects that we wanted in post-production. For example; the water falling down from the paintings hung on the walls. Glendis Lopez and I have worked together in art direction many times and now we know that we don’t want to lose the sense of reality and handcraft in our productions. We like to keep the old school style. Still, it was very complicated for her and Filou Frechou to build the scenography with the system of pipes behind the walls but as expected, it turned out to work perfectly and we only had to repeat the shots twice.

Read the rest (and watch the “making of” video).