Hot Docs 2018 Interview: Margarita Cadenas
“All the footage we got was done in a totally clandestine way. My crew members and all the women are brave people who share my feelings about letting the truth be known, of such a horrendous situation.”
A nurse whose hospital doesn’t have the proper equipment.
A woman who uses the black market to hoard diapers for her unborn child.
A family who takes turns waiting for food that may never arrive.
A grandmother whose grandson was locked away without reason.
A mother whose 6-year-old child is mistakenly murdered in front of her.
Kim, María José, Eva, Luisa, and Olga are the five portraits included in WOMEN OF THE VENEZUELAN CHAOS by director Margarita Cadenas.
I knew there was corruption in Venezuela, but I did not realize how bad it was for everyday people. It pains me to say that my first acknowledgement of the corruption was in a Parks and Recreation episode called “Sister City.” Delegates from Venezuela were flown in to Pawnee, where they flashed their extreme wealth, and made comments about their lack of democracy as what makes their country great.
That made this film so powerful for me.
Venezuela is swimming in oil money but the only people who are privileged with comfort and wealth are the elites.
The government has gone to extreme lengths to enact strict laws regarding cameras videotaping these injustices. For these women to come forward and show their faces, and for the people behind the scenes to risk filming in the open only proves the need to expose the horrific conditions in which these people live.
When you see the pain the government inflicts on people who have done nothing wrong, it’s hard to imagine the punishment for these ‘real’ crimes will be just.
Margarita Cadenas is a Franco-Venezuelan writer, director and producer. She has produced numerous French commericials and worked as a co-writer and producer for French Television. In 2006 she began working on documentaries and long features including The Family Dementia, Cenizas Eternas (Eternal Ashes) and Macondo. Women of the Venezuelan Chaos screened at the XI Lichter Frankfurt Film Festival Frankfurt, Germany in 2018 and won the Audience Award.
You can see WOMEN OF THE VENEZUELAN CHAOS at Hot Docs, on May 3rd at the Hart House, May 4th at the Scotiabank Theatre and May 5th at TIFF, as part of the Silence Breakers programme. You can watch the trailer below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with filmmaking.
Margarita Cadenas: I am a French-Venezuelan filmmaker. I started in Venezuela as a journalist when I was very young. However, my desire was to work in the film industry. With that in mind, I went to London to study at the BBC film school. After graduating, I moved to France where I started my career in the film industry as an assistant director. Following that experience, I produced a lot of commercials for TV and Cinema, short length films and TV series. My career has advanced somewhat, as today I am a screenwriter, producer and director with 3 documentaries, 1 fiction and 4 shorts films to my name. Some of them obtained awards.
Tell us about Women of the Venezuelan Chaos. Where did the idea come from?
MC: ‘Women of the Venezuelan Chaos’ is a true to life documentary shown through the eyes and opinions of five different women who each depict their hardship which is the direct result of the current situation. The idea came when I realized just how bad the situation was. The lack of true information available made me feel it was my duty both as a Venezuelan and a film director, to change the call.
How did you meet/get in touch with these 5 women?
MC: In order to find these women, my team in Venezuela and I worked very hard. We contacted NGO’s, journalists, photographers and anyone who could possibly help us in our mission. It was no mean task, but we got there in the end!
How did you get this footage, especially everything in the hospital, and how did you find people to help make this film under such strict legislation?
MC: All the footage we got was done in a totally clandestine way. My crew members and all the women are brave people who share my feelings about letting the truth be known, of such a horrendous situation. We had the complicity of some people who helped us to override the restrictions of the regime. Each one decided to take the risk, as they wanted to be part of a project beneficial for the whole country. Nevertheless, many preferred to remain anonymous.
What has the response been to the film since it has been released?
MC: The response to the film has been amazing. I have already presented my film in recent festivals in Prague, London, Geneva, Copenhagen, The Hague and Frankfurt, where we won the Audience Award. I also went to the United States, where my film was released in Florida and North Carolina. Each time, the compliments came rushing in!
Can you tell us about some/all of the other amazing women who worked on this film?
MC: Most of the investors and decision makers in this project are women: the investors, the co-producer, the distributors and some crew members. Without their support, this film would never have seen the light of day.
Tell us about why you are a feminist and why it’s important to your filmmaking.
MC: I am often asked this question to which I always answer the following way: “I don’t consider myself a feminist, I just believe in global equality in every domain”.
Who are your favorite women working in the film industry?
MC: My favorite women working in the film industry are: Kathryn Bigelow, Jane Campion and Agnès Varda.
What’s the best advice about filmmaking you’ve ever received?
MC: The best advice I received was not to go to Venezuela to make the documentary because of all the danger involved. In fact, that pushed me even more into carrying out my project to completion.
What are you working on now/next?
MC: Currently, I am travelling around the world presenting ‘Women of the Venezuelan Chaos’. My film will shortly be released in France. When time allows, I will start on a new project.