Most filmmakers would tell you that making a movie is very difficult. Imagine making it in five days! That’s what Venezuelan filmmaker Carla Forte accomplished with her last film, “Ann,” an experimental feature shot in only five days; In fact, that was the idea from the beginning. Forte wanted to challenge herself and shoot a beautiful story she wrote some 8 years ago without having to follow the typically long (and expensive) process of filmmaking. While the shooting lasted only five days, the rehearsals and pre-production took 5 months.
“Ann” (previously titled ‘Imaginarium’), is the story of Rubén, a sculptor who, tired of his monotonous life, seeks refuge within his own imagination creating a parallel world where he can escape to every time he feels obfuscated and trapped. Once there, Rubén finds solace and fulfillment, thus realizing that his real life was meaningless and irrelevant. Rubén seeks to exorcise his ego by detaching himself from all mundane things including his wife Ann. Despite not wanting anything from the real world, he still creates a version of Ann in his imaginarium whom he comes to call “Ana Angel,” an androgynous and eventually sadistic entity that becomes his main interest. Ann, meanwhile, tries to understand Rubén’s behavior to no avail. Her patience is running out while continuing to be that part of Rubén’s life that reminds him of all things he wants to abandon. Their relationship is obviously fractured and dissonant: Ann wants to be earthy and real (even a little too motherly), Rubén wants to fantasize and detach from everything. He speaks Spanish, she replies in English. The only one who seems to be completely oblivious to such situation is their dog, “Pancho” a yellow lab that fulfills their lack of children.
This film has no extras, no supporting roles, no one-liners. Only two actors for the entire film; and that’s another challenge. Forte wanted to get the best of her cast, and required them to rehearse for months to familiarize them not only with the lines and situations, but with each other. When casting Rubén, Forte asked her friend Cuban actor Jose Manuel Dominguez, a theatre trained actor who teaches acting in Miami, to play Rubén. She wanted Dominguez for his depth and capabilities to play emotions without showing too much; after all Rubén is a very “internal” man yet conspicuous at times. Whatever was happening in his mind needed to be downplayed or “minimalized” until the unpreventable madness erupted. Dominguez does a great job making Rubén look aloof, detached and “gone”.
Forte also had the challenge to find an actor who could play both Ann and Ana Angel without using clichés or stereotypes. An actor who could play both parts by using his own devices (no prosthetics, no fillers, no caricaturing, no fakeness). She wanted an actor who could also dance. Venezuelan actor Carlos Antonio León (Shadowland, Sound of Nothing) was her choice. León needed to lose some 15 pounds to fit in those dresses and be able to move graciously during the choreographies he and producer Alexey Taran created for Ann.
Although there is an obvious element of transgenderism in this film, Forte wanted to make it unimportant or simply put, “normal”. She did not want to make a big deal of it as many other films are doing, rather she wanted to focus all the attention in the intrinsic mind and the games it plays on us. Her purpose is to make Ann and Rubén’s relationship typical and traditional and not something outrageous. “It’s a relationship like ANY other relationship. We don’t need to explain or justify. Doing so would be a disservice to transgender individuals” she said.
This film was shot entirely in Miami at Prop Planet studios with the help of many individuals and companies such as Carolina Pagani (Art Director), award winning Sofia Oggioni (Cinematographer), Vicente Forte (co-writer), Cuban dancer/choreographer Alexey Taran (Producer), Robert McNutt (Executive Producer), Pedro Guevara (Camera), Li Milian (Wardrobe), Fiorella Viloria (Make up), Corina Freyre, O Cinema, Ouija Films, Theye Film, The Coral Gables Cinemateque, Inkub8, Navaja Pictures, FilmGate Interactive, MU2 Productions and Bistoury Physical Theatre and Film, among others. The film is slated to start the festival circuit rounds as soon as the final version of it is ready. Don’t miss it if you get the chance to watch it.