Director Katina Medina was confused and questioning many things about her decision not to be a mother. He resorted to writing and turned these questions into a script. His ideas found forks in his head and became an idea, a seed, born out of another related concern. That of having adolescents forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term in states where abortion cannot be carried out. From this combination of internal concerns and external problems, the director was able to transform her ideas to talk about motherhood as a destiny, about the freedom to choose to be a mother. In a creative process just before the covid-19 pandemic, this became Latido, his most recent film, which has been selected and is in competition within the framework of the Morelia Film Festival.
The script, according to Medina, was written and thought for actress Marina de Tavira, who plays Leonor, 45, who has tried everything to get pregnant, but her body seems not to respond. In an audition he meets Emilia (Camila Calónico), a 16-year-old teenager with an undeniable talent dancing ballet, but her career would be cut short the day she finds out she is pregnant. A deal to share the gestation will show a portrait of two women with different desires and conceptions.
The film, in Medina's words, is presented in "tremendous timing," due to the recent decriminalization of abortionat the federal level throughout the country. The story of both women is set in Puebla, a state in which, before the ruling, the interruption of pregnancy was not allowed. "I understood that there were other ways to maternal without having to give birth. My personal projects happen from my own exploration and I also have to say that I interviewed many women who lived in vitro, even women who were pregnant teenagers and this film is full of those stories of frustration and complex moments, "says the director.
Promotional poster of the film 'Latido'. Courtesy
The film takes a look at issues such as infertility, coldness in medical issues, the impossibility and corruption in the adoption processes through two women at opposite poles of motherhood, but also the suffering that entails the loneliness of both, hungry for affection and who are on a path of desire and complication.
"The characters and fiction in general that I have to work on, is always knowing worlds and opening worlds. Leonor was the discovery of one that I did not know, which was the impossibility of being a mother. One of the things I like most about this script is to be able to discover where you can put that need for affection, that need for protection, which sometimes is where you least expect it. It opens up answers about what to do with that desire when it can't be fulfilled. There are many places that need that from someone," says De Tavira.
Marina de Tavira, in Mexico City, on September 13, 2023.Aggi Garduño
The challenge, according to Medina, was to write a story in which the characters did not lose their humanity, even considering certain actions that could be "a little questionable." The biggest challenge, he continues, was not judging them, as with Leonor, who crosses many boundaries because of her desire and what she is able to do to obtain it. A simplistic look would be to say that Tavira's character "is obsessed", as many women seeking motherhood are judged; or do the same with another who does not want to have a baby and that many could claim that "it is what she has in life. It's fate."
"As an actress the challenge was to find that place from which they come and detonate their actions, their [Leonor's] relationships. Understand what that means. That's why we read books, we documented ourselves, we talked a lot about our experience as women. It is a film in which, in addition, there are many women and we talk about what motherhood means for each one. Motherhood is the desire to be a mother, it is the decision to have wanted to be a mother and finally decide not to be. It is the right to the interruption of pregnancy, to in vitro fertilization. It's a lot of things and there's a lot to research there right now," adds the Oscar-nominated actress for Romain 2018.
Marina de Tavira, in a scene from 'Latido'. Courtesy
Medina not only builds narrative layers and meaning in the script, but also appeals to visual metaphors through resources such as water, reflections, portraits of the characters, their peers and their desires that are reflected in the direction of photography by Nur Rubio. "For me the reflections were like a splitting of the character or a division. I feel like they're both very emotionally divided between what they want, what they can't have, and what's going on inside. Nur has an excellent eye for reflexes. Location we were going to, location where it said here is a shot. So we played with it a lot. And because water has always been something that evokes the womb, something that evokes that connection with the mother, with flashbacks of Leonor and her own mother. The water symbolized a lot that part that we thought was important to us," adds the director.
De Tavira, who had an "excellent chemistry" with his co-star – whom Medina had already gathered for a pilot project that has not yet seen the light – has been in recent years leading his career, as he admits, with "quite a care" and with an attitude of "taking it slowly". She was not far from acting, on the contrary, she was carrying a project at the same time in theater, television and film since her nomination for best supporting actress by the US Academy. His work philosophy is still that of not saturating.
Marina de Tavira and Katina Medina in one of the cinemas of Cinemanía.Aggi Garduño
"I have many proposals and really now my career has been dedicated to saying 'no' and saying 'yes' to very few things, which are what I really fall in love with. I also have to say it and it has to do with our film [Latido], which I have also dedicated myself a little to being a mother, because I have a teenage son and it requires a lot of care. I have decided to be very dedicated to that and do few projects, but the few I have done have been special and I have put all my heart into them. I don't feel like doing thousands of things, that time in my life is over," he says.
For his part, Medina has been combining his work in more personal projects along with the links he has had directing some episodes for productions such as Emily in Paris, Selena: The Series, for Netflix, or more recently in Swagger, Apple TV +, to name a few. "I feel very lucky just to be able to be a director. I love combining my work in film, theater and television. There are certain jobs that pay the rent, others that fill the soul. I think it's important and I always need to have a personal project, because it's also where I talk about what matters to me, the questions I want to ask myself or that I want to release to the audience," concludes the director.
Before Morelia, Latido will also be presented at the Mill Valley Film Festival, in San Rafael, California, and after the film appointment in Michoacán move to Spain where it will have some screenings. The film was recently acquired by Prime Video for distribution on digital platforms and the commercial premiere in Mexico is planned for next year without a fixed date yet.
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