Project Spotlight: 'Dos Ruedas', Social Impact through Film

Daniella Víquez is a 24 year old audiovisual producer, director, journalist, and graduate of the University of Costa Rica. Her work focuses include narrative fiction, culture, mental health, gender, and international news. The through line of all of her work is obvious- social issues. By working to create informational yet entertaining content, she hopes to reach wide audiences with her art. Her latest short film is a fictional piece about a women who is in an abusive relationship who finds light and refuge in the hope and laughter of two children in her neighborhood. Her films opens the conversation of machismo, violence against women, and feminism in South America. Daniella is a powerful voice looking to create spaces for conversation and we loved chatting with her about this film.

interview by Sophie Hayseen

Why did you decide to make a film that dealt with domestic violence?

I think we can use film to make an impact and talk about realities even if the topic is hard and unpleasant. It is very sad to said that domestic violence it’s still really present and normalize in our society, especially in Latin America. And I don’t mean just the physical violence, psychological can be as bad and traumatic.

How do you think art can work to inspire social change?

For me art inspiring social changes is one of the ultimate goals, I think is possible if we use the problematics and tried to impregnate how we wish the world would be different.

You use sound/silence in a very unique way in the film. There’s almost no dialogue. What inspired you to make this creative choice?

Dialogue sometimes can be overused or far from reality, I feel in silence we have more space to meditate on what the screen and the story is trying to show us. I did this exercise to change the script and fill it with dialogue and then remove it and stay with the truly heart and soul of the story.

As a filmmaker, what are the challenges/freedoms of not relying on dialogue to help tell the story?

One of the biggest challenges is to make sure you’re telling a story that’s not just in your head, you need to make sure that the cast is connected and really understands the character they are playing, so she or he can use their emotions and talent.

Being from Costa Rica, what do you want the public to know about the burgeoning film industry in Costa Rica?

Film industry in Central America is growing. In Costa Rica while there is a stream of cinema that is more commercial, most of the films made here have a social streak and are stories worth telling (abortion, migration, elderly life, among others). I’m also very proud to know that there are also many costa rican women directors who are making a name for themselves. Some of my favorites and just to mention a few for readers to look for more: Paz Fábrega, Alexandra Latishev and Ishtar Yasin.

In addition to being a filmmaker, you’re also a journalist. Do you feel like those disciplines help you build similar skill sets?

Absolutely, journalism for me has a more social approach and help build up my empathy and communication skills that helps a lot when you’re dealing with cast or writing a story. I’m also very practical.

What advice do you have for young people who are looking to make their first film?

Be sure you like your story because you are going to have to work on it for a good amount of time, but also don’t feel scared to make mistakes because it will be a growing opportunity no matter what.

Were there any films/filmmakers that you drew from to help you make Dos Ruedas?

As I said before Costa Rica industry is small, so I had the opportunity to have teachers / filmmakers to help me along the way: Paz Fábrega (at the writing stage of the short film), Iván Porras (at production stage and help me get use to the idea of directing for the first time), Marcela Esquivel (at production stage too).

I also watched films about domestic violence but I really did not like the general approach to the topic. I really admired the aesthetics of Sofia Coppola while filming it so I guess there's a little bit of that.

How would you define your general directorial approach?

I like to rehearse but I think the most important thing is that the cast is comfortable with their character and little by little think like those characters. I am more of the practical type, I understand that one is dealing with human resources and I like to create a pleasant atmosphere while filming. I do not think that the role of director has to be absolutist, I like to listen to opinions to help me make decisions and have an open mind, but I know at the very end you have to listen to your inner director’s voice.

When did you know that filmmaking was something you wanted to pursue as a career?

Suddenly when making the career decision at the end of my last year high school I realized the power of audiovisual communication. This seems surprising to me at first but I have been normalizing it because I am part of this generation where we live a democratization of content production. I kind of feel we're like the 'Youtube generation' and we can be really creative, sometimes it can be a little overwhelming but good stories are worth fighting for.

What mistake in your career have you learned the most from?

Filmmaking it's about learning a little more in each production. To be humble and understand the importance of teamwork because the final product is part of everyone in the cast and crew involved and everybody likes to feel that they help building something worth working for.

What was the most rewarding part of the process of creating Dos Ruedas?

Seeing how an idea becomes something with a clear message and being able to share it on a large screen with several people was a magical feeling, in that moment I understood why making film is such a passionate and powerful profession.