With the White Sands International Film Festival starting this week, don’t miss any of the coverage of the great films, workshops, activities and more. Visit here often for updates and reviews this entire week as thefocusedfilmographer.com is the official blog for coverage of WSIFF.
Enjoy today’s spotlight and review of The Dress.
The Dress (IMDB page)
Directed by Alvaro Congosto, The Dress is one of the official selections for The White Sands International Film Festival in the category of Student Shorts. Scheduled to play twice (If you missed Thursday morning’s 10am showing, don’t miss Sunday morning’s 10am showing), this short captivated me and impressed me so much that I just HAD to get in touch with its creator/director.
Below you will find my review of The Dress (which posted previously on this site) and my interview with director Alvaro Congosto who I had the pleasure of speaking with about his film.
Review: (Originally posted on August 22, 2013 HERE)
A photographer, obsessed with his craft, finds it leading to his obsession over the image a girl in a photograph…except that girl is not his girlfriend whom he loves. A visually impressive style of storytelling that keeps you thinking about it long after the final photo is taken. I have watched this one numerous times and appreciated and understood it more each time.
Paired with beautiful imagery, music, narration and intriguing storylines, The Dress captivates the viewer with images of one half of a story while telling of another and ties both together in such an impressive fashion. Director Alvaro Congosto’s film entitled The Dress is open to several lines of interpretation that still tend to lead to the same conclusion and through one man’s fantasy we find reality in passions bringing pleasure more than passion itself. Superb casting and an unpredictable story that provokes further thought, contemplation and the desire to rewatch again and again.
Enjoy The Dress.
Terrence: First of all, Alvaro, thank you for taking the time to speak with me and congratulations on your film’s acceptance as an official selection into the White Sands International Film Festival.
Alvaro Congosto: Thank you very much for doing this and for sharing all of the events at the festival. I think it is wonderful what you are doing and you can enjoy the festival for those of us that are not able to attend.
TFF: It has been amazing so far and some great films are scheduled. Which is why I am calling you because The Dress impressed me so much. I think I watched it about 15 times myself. Can you share how it came to be?
AC: Thank you, Terrence. Well, the film was conceived while I was in the film studies program at Boston University. It was my last year as a student and it was my final project, and that’s why it was able to be placed in the category of “Student Shorts.”
TFF: Boston University? What made you decide to study there?
AC: Well, I am from Madrid, Spain originally and I wanted to study film at an American university. After applying at several and being accepted by many of them, I chose BU because it is very demanding and professional and it is not Hollywood oriented. They focus on teaching how to make better films with quality and that is what I like to focus on also.
TFF: So The Dress was your project to graduate? Nice. I like the fact that it tells a story with so much depth in such a short time. I think I’d have to say that after watching films in so many categories, that shorts are my favorite.
AC: And why’s that?
TFF: Because it is a challenge for filmmakers to get their idea across and create characters that we care about in a fraction of the time that may be available in a full-length feature. If you are able to capture my attention and keep it in that short amount of time, then I’m hooked and you have definitely accomplished something. The Dress did that for me every time I watched it.
AC: Well thank you, Terrence. It is challenging, you are correct, to tell a story in a short time and create empathy for the characters and so it is important to also have a good cast to help in that.
TFF: The cast in The Dress seemed to be perfect. I could relate with the photographer as an average Joe, his girlfriend, and the woman who is “out of his league” if you will. They enable us to, essentially, be in their characters’ shoes.
AC: The casting was the hardest part to bring out those characters. As a filmmaker, you look for people who look like your characters. One of the ladies was a fellow film student while the one who played the girlfriend we found through a casting call. They were great. The lead was hard to pin down as we had multiple casting calls and finally find the actor who lived in the moments with his character and really got into the part. He was great and I am working with him on another upcoming project.
TFF: Part of the charm of The Dress is how much the characters are so…real and genuine. Can you share a little bit about how your vision came through the actors’ performances?
AC: I left a lot of freedom for the actors to bring their characters to life. I, of course, told them what the characters were about to lay the foundation so that they knew the objective of the scenes, but I left a lot of the dialogue open for them to let their natural performances take over.
TFF: Wow. Well, they really did. Like I said, I watched it so many times. Not just to maybe get a different understanding from another angle, but also just because I wanted to. It is so beautiful. I’m sure that some will come up with a few different interpretations of the film. I know I did during the times I watched it.
AC: And that’s why we make film. At least that’s why I like to make film. I make it for people to watch and like it. I’m not into telling everything in a film. I enjoy letting the audience find their own interpretation. Most audience members are used to stories that, when they are done, they are done.
See, for me, it’s not as important that people understand what happened but more so that they feel when they watch it…the emotion in the story, the connection with the characters…that that travels with them even after the film is over. Does the film make you question things about your own life? about your own feelings? about your own relationships? The actors nailed it with the tendencies of human connection and disconnection on different levels in the same short film. And that was the plan.
It doesn’t necessarily close itself perfectly and roundly. Multiple interpretations are welcome. What is yours?
TFF: [for sake of spoilers, this portion of the interview was omitted]
TFF: Something that I DID enjoy on top of all of that was the title. The Dress. Because, the film, in the end, is not so much about the dress at all. Again, for sake of spoilers I won’t go into it, but I just loved that! Kind of like the movie Hugo, which is not about the boy named Hugo after all.
AC: Yes, well The Dress serves as a metaphor all the way through the film that ties it together. I could’ve named it something boring like “The Photographer” or “The Stalker Photographer” or something like that, but The Dress really worked to serve its purpose as a metaphor that symbolizes the connection or disconnection. At least…that’s one way to interpret it, right?
TFF: Indeed! Alvaro, I have a random question I like to ask everyone. Who is your favorite superhero?
AC: Ah! I love Superman. I always have. As a boy in Madrid I used to wear a Superman costume everywhere. To restaurants with my family…everywhere. Moviewise I like him as a concept.
TFF: He seems to be the popular choice among people that I ask! Well, I have one final question for you, Alvaro. If you could tell the would-be audiences of your film one thing, what would you say to them?
AC: I would say, “Thank you very much for your interest and if you get to see it by any chance, please share it. Nothing would make me happier than to know that it is making an impact in someone’s life and that they are talking and thinking about it. Thank you.”
TFF: Wonderful. Well, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about and talking about it myself. Such a delightful short film. I wish you the best Alvaro and look forward to seeing more in your career that is off to a great start. Thank you for your time today.
AC: And thank YOU, Terrence. Thank you for covering the entire festival, taking an interest in my film and for sharing the passion of movies. Enjoy the festival for me as I am on the other side of the country.
Become a fan of The Dress on Facebook to learn of future screenings HERE.
***For tickets, information, schedule of events and more, be sure to visit the main site for WSIFF at www.wsiff.com.***
Thanks for reading! Happy watching.
–Terrence Faulkner, a.k.a. “TheFocusedFilmographer”
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As the official blogger and reviewer of WSIFF, don’t miss a single post of the activities. Visit often for reviews, news, interviews and more In case you are not aware of the WSIFF, or if you’d like to learn more about what is going on (or click the 2013 WSIFF coverage link at the top of the page).