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Interview: Natalia López Gallardo – Robe of Gems (Manto de Gemas)

Largely known as a film editor for having worked with partner Carlos Reygadas on 2007 masterwork Silent Light and with further collaborations with the likes Amat Escalante, Daniel Castro Zimbrón and Lisandro Alonso, it’s after several years in development (film market murmurs it was known as Supernova), Natalia López Gallardo unveiled her sensory-filled feature debut Robe of Gems (Manto de Gemas) at the 2022 Berlinale — where she walked away with the Jury Prize Silver Bear.

Per our review – Gallardo “focuses on how class, privilege and social status tend to evaporate when the women connecting her narrative dare to employ any real sense of agency, highlighting their often chilling relationship to a power structure which demands their complicity. Oblique in ways which channel the cold austerity of Haneke more so than the shock value associated with her previous collaborations as editor, there’s a crushing sense of hopelessness bordering on the misanthropic in this languidly paced tale as easy to embrace artistically as it is to recoil from emotionally.

Nicholas Bell sat down with the filmmaker to discuss the film’s use of violence, the framing of the female character set, the casting process, and what the filmmaker has in store for the future – stick around until the end of the conversation to hear an exclusive update on a new feature project in the works.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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