Carol is a seven-year-old girl that faces the challenges of being a refugee in a new country with her family. Not knowing the language, customs, and a new culture of this foreign land, she embarks on a hard and difficult journey that will forever change her perspective in life: a swimming test.
Interview with Writer/Director/Editor/Producer Andy Alvarez
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you! You should know this is a true story. When I was little I really wanted to go on this water slide, but I wasn’t allowed to because I wasn’t a strong enough swimmer, but seven year old stubborn me didn’t let that stop her. It's a memory that I still remember very clearly from my childhood, and I always knew that I wanted to tell this story. I just didn’t know how. The first draft of this film was made in 2009. I also really wanted to make a film about what it was like being a refugee in Canada, but through the perspective of a seven year old girl.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
This story hits all the right notes. It’s appropriate for the whole family, and children could learn a lot from it. It’s a story about finding your new happy place, never giving up and believing in yourself. Carol, the main character, is played by such an extraordinary talented young actress and Lucero Aguilar brings a special realness to this character. You immediately can relate to her, so all you want is for her to succeed even though all the odds are stacked against her. It’s a true underdog story.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The personal themes of never giving up and being young and innocent become universal when they're contrasted with the theme of being displaced.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
I started writing this script when I was in high school, so I would say it has changed substantially since then! There was a draft that was more about my experience in high school about being unable to understand any English. There was a draft with the pool as its only location. There was a draft that had narration from the older version of the main character, because I loved movies like Stand By Me (1986), and Now And Then (1995). There was even a draft that had the little girl go down the slide. There were so many drafts, and I should also mention that the final script I wrote was changed in the post-production phase of the short, due to some technical difficulties. I think that worked in our favor.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
I’ve had the pleasure of showing the film to screening rooms filled with only adults, or millennials or just kids, and every room is different. Adults ask me how my parents are doing, if they made it, if they achieved their goals. Millennials ask me how I got so many kids to come on board, and how they could relate to the story so much. And the children always ask me why the main character hated living in Canada so much. Everyone has very different feedback, which is amazing but overall the feedback has been very positive!
La Mariposa has also recently won a Leo at the 2018 Leo Awards, for Best Student Production which was an overall dream on it’s own. I was very honored to have this short film recognized at this level.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I was definitely surprised when lots of people started asking me about my parents. They teared up during the film, so when they found out how my parents are doing now, they teared up even more and gave me a giant hug. This happens in almost every screening. I love this, because I came into this film wanting to tell the story of this little girl, but instead I found a way to show a glimpse of my parent’s struggle as well.
During the editing phase of this project, I struggled with the fact that I never showed her going down the slide, and I had lots of people who I sent cuts to tell me that it was important to see the pay off, and others told me otherwise. I decided against it, and it has never been brought up in any Q&A or after screening talk when the film plays at a festival. I guess I made the right move?
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to find more stories about women made by women. And it’s becoming easier now than before, but it’s because of platforms like We Are Moving Stories. They help perpetuate the normal idea that our world is diverse, filled with different perspectives and stories, and the content that we put out there should be showcasing the same possibilities. I made this film so that young girls could watch more content made by women, and I know that with this platform, I’m on the right track.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Honestly, all of the above. I’m using this short film as a concept piece for my first feature film, so I’ll take all the help I can get. I believe this has a strong message, and I know I can make it stronger in a feature.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
My favourite response to the film has always been, "I can relate to this so much". When a story touches you and bring you back to your childhood, weather it was a bad or good memory, I believe I’m on the right path. The response its had so far has been amazing.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
These are definitely much broader questions but very relatable to La Mariposa. How does immigration affect children? Especially now in this time where families are being ripped apart, why are refugees so shut out of society?
Would you like to add anything else?
I would love to give a huge shout out to my lead actress. Lucy. She's the reason that this film feels so real and so relatable. I only wrote this character, and I knew from the moment I saw her, that she was perfect for the role. It was also her first time acting!
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Right now, Andy Alvarez (writer, director, editor and producer) is currently in post production on her recent short film, Our Home. She is also seeking funding for her upcoming short film, Almost. Mintie Pardoe's (producer) latest film premiere at Vancouver’s International Film Festival was back in 2017. She is currently working in the film industry in Atlanta, Georgia. Farhad Ghaderi (cinematographer) is currently shooting a documentary in Peru, and recently signed with Partos Co.
Interview: July 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Carol, is a seven-year-old girl that faces the challenges of being a refugee in a new country with her family. Not knowing the language, customs, and a new culture of this foreign land, she embarks on a hard and difficult journey that will forever change her perspective in life: a swimming test.
Length: 8 mins 10 secs
Director: Andy Alvarez
Producer: Andy Alvarez & Mintie Pardoe
Writer: Andy Alvarez
About the writer, director and producer:
ANDY ALVAREZ is a Latina filmmaker based in Vancouver, BC. Her directorial debut, based on her personal story is the award winning short film La Mariposa, 2017. Which was awarded a Leo Award for Best Student Production in June of 2018. She's currently developing more content that will contribute to more positive representation of the Latin-American community.
Key cast: Lucero Aguilar, Marvin Aguilar, Natalia Lavaggi, Julian Haig, Kari Staten
Looking for: Sales Agents, Film Festival Directors, Journalists
Facebook: La Mariposa
Funders: Andy Alvarez, Mintie Pardoe & Indiegogo Supporters