‘Down para arriba’: images to counter stereotypes

The director, Gustavo Garzón and the actrees, Magali Nieva

24/10/2018 – Down para arribaa documentary which is competing in the Time of History section, follows the Sin Drama de Down [No Downs Drama] group and teacher Juan Laso. The group is made up entirely of people with Down’s syndrome, who decided to make a short film showing the issues and conflicts which are discussed in the group. Following the first screening of the film at Seminci, director Gustavo Garzón commented that his main aim was to show how to communicate with people with Down’s syndrome in a positive way.

Garzón, who has two children with Down’s syndrome in the group, explained that people have a lot to learn from them, because they have a way of engaging with life which other people do not have. “They reject what they don’t like, they go after what interests them, and I get the feeling that they’re happier than us”, he added. The director also commented that he is not a standard-bearer for integration, and thinks it’s better to invest this “energy” in other ways.

Meanwhile, Belén Cervantes, an actress who appears in the documentary, commented that Down’s syndrome people work on the basis of respect and love, not discipline. “We live in a society which moves very quickly and they need time, for you to stop”, she added. In terms of interacting with the group, the actress explained that the best thing to do is to let them express themselves freely, as they have a way of communicating using their feelings, and dance and acting are the best ways for them to do this.

The director also emphasised the figure of Juan Laso, the teacher who accompanies the group, who he wanted to take centre stage during the filming. “I didn’t do anything, I just filmed the documentary, he did it all”, he explained. Garzón also added that the camera didn’t give rise to any problems, as the children “love it”. “It was as if I wasn’t there, they love the stage and an audience”, he said.

Meanwhile, the producer of the film, Magali Nieva, commented that the filming was a constant learning process, and that the making of the documentary brought her nothing but happy moments. “Every time I see the film it’s like seeing it for the first time and I inevitably get emotional watching it”, she added. Finally, Belén Cervantes launched a message for special needs children, explaining that theory is all very well, but the best thing to do is to build a connection and work with them.

Prisoner of Society

Before the screening of the feature film, the short documentary Prisoner of Society by Georgian director Rati Tsiteladze was shown. The film depicts the world of Adelina, a young transgender girl, as well as her relationship with her conservative parents and the growing tensions in the country surrounding LGBT policies. The director of the project explained that the story emerged when the protagonist herself contacted him via Facebook and asked to tell her story. “From the very start, I was sure it had to be a documentary, and that’s how I did it”, he added. The Georgian director also commented that he decided to retell his own experience and that when he met the girl’s parents, he realised that they too are prisoners of the society in which they live.

Posted in 63rd Seminci.