Even though the work was well received at the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema, it was with some insecurity that Cuban filmmaker Gerardo Chijona commenced production work on “La Cosa Humana” (The Human Thing), and holding the comic tone throughout did not come easy to him.
Such is the history with which it now opens in cinemas nationwide, and the director, although keen to see how audiences might react, is less worried than before.
When speaking with The Havana Reporter, he said that one of the biggest risks of the film was the uncertainty of how the public would take a “different type of humor”.
This type of comedy has never been produced previously, he said, and making the La Cosa Humana characters believable was also very challenging.
For example, El Suave (the Smooth) is a criminal mafia type, a torturer who at times comes out with phrases more commonly associated with a Yale University professor.
Chijona outlined that the film is imbued with plenty of subliminal messages, cinematic and literary quotes, tributes to renowned directors and genres such as Francis Ford Copola’s mafia, Woody Allen’s comedy and the cruel humor of the Cohen brothers.
Prior to “Boleto Al Paradiso” (Ticket to Paradise), the screenwriter of both, Francisco García, brought me the La Cosa Humano script, about a man who had the original manuscript of a story stolen during a robbery at his home.
But it was the Boleto idea that first got us hooked and its production took two years. He told how it was afterwards that they took another look at La Cosa Humano and subsequently finalized the script via e-mail.
He said that “even if I do well building the framework of a script, I suffer a lot when I write. I know my limitations when creating dialogue and for this very reason I like to collaborate with a screenwriter”.
The producer went on to say that “the great Humberto Solás liked to improvise, that was part of his creative process. Others tweak their scripts during rehearsals, but I don’t start shooting on a set until I feel confident about the script”.
Chijona feels that “he creates films with a family; almost always with the same production crew”.
Indeed, he confesses that he has “fetishes” for particular actors such as the young Héctor Medina, with whom he worked in “Boleto al paraiso” (Ticket to Paradise) y “Esther en Alguna Parte” (Esther, Somewhere).
A graduate of the National School of the Arts, this 26 year old actor sees La Cosa Humana as an atypical comedy with distinctive comical nuances very different to those traditionally exhibited.
“I play a thief who is passionate about literature and has a writer’s pretensions, which just about says it all”.
The actor Enrique Molina revealed “that I had to work hard on the making of this film. I do not always find it easy to understand film scripts when I read them and need to go over them a few more times to fully understand the story”.
The award winning actor of more than 70 years of age said, “I did not get the El Suave character at first, and found that a bit intimidating. But the people from the neighborhood enjoyed and understood the film, which was very pleasing”.
This film, my fifth with Chijona, is charged with an intelligent humor which has created a “new type of bad guy”, he joked.
Molina who works alongside Enrique Almirante and other acclaimed actors such as Vladimir Cruz, Amarilis Núñez, Osvaldo Doimeadiós and Mario Guerra, added that he had most happily assumed the challenge.Share on FB Share on TT