Angela Reza Tures was the winner of the Poetry Projection Project for best film made by an adult. Guest jurors Barry Jenkins and David Campos said their decision was unanimous for her film, “My Father, a Beautiful Animal.” We interviewed Angela briefly about the inspiration and creation of her film.
What drew you to choosing Indiana Pehlivanova’s poem for your film?
The poem is so beautiful in how Indiana describes her father as well as their relationship. I could instantly relate to the poem and found it inspiring. My dad and I are really close too, so it was also the perfect opportunity for me to capture just how awesome I think he is.
How did you decide to sequence your film?
Indiana was so beautifully descriptive in her words that it was easy for me to see images of my own father as I read the poem. I had a clear vision of certain moments in my dad’s life I wanted to capture for the poem but I didn’t want him to act anything out. I very much wanted the film to be a documentary. As a result, I chose to shoot during a weekend where my dad actually did everything I’d envisioned for the poem: riding his motorcycle with my mom, working in the garden, and taking my Grandfather out for breakfast. The film is also my interpretation of Indiana’s poem. I played with some of her words, adding visual metaphors for some lines and literal interpretations for others.
Were there any challenges in translating Indiana’s poem into visual images?
There were a few lines in the poem that I wasn’t sure how to translate. I was also afraid of misinterpreting any of the poem’s connotations. However, I eventually felt that it was alright for me to go with my instincts and create my own visual interpretation as long as I was true to the overall meaning behind the poem and authentic in depicting my own relationship with my father. For example, my dad and I don’t really like McDonald’s french fries. So, in the film, we opted to eat popsicles instead for the line of the poem that says “we share a smile over mcdonalds french fries.” I chuckle at the end of the line as a sort of “wink” to the audience. I had a lot of fun personalizing the piece but also keeping the heart of it still very present.
Were there any surprises in the making of your film?
I was surprised by how much my dad accomplishes in a single day and how he can do anything! He’s 56-years-old and he’s a super hero. He’s intelligent, gentle, loving, funny, and playful but also as tough as nails. I was surprised to find that he’s all of those things all at once. I’ve always admired my dad but now, I feel he’s an even bigger “larger than life” character than I could’ve ever imagined. I had never followed him around like that before, just watching all he does and deeply listening to all that he says. I would strongly recommend that everyone try that. Just start following people around (laughs). But seriously, you don’t realize how much you take for granted sometimes about your family.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m teaching documentary classes to several youth organizations in my hometown of El Paso, Texas. The primary goal is for students to learn how to use film as a means for positive social change. I’m also working on a feature documentary about a sacred mountain in Anapra, New Mexico called Mt. Cristo Rey. The mountain, sitting on the Mexico/U.S. border, has recently become a site of controversy. For decades, both countries would climb and worship together. However, since 9/11, the Border Patrol has claimed and secured the border, prohibiting Mexicans from accessing the mountain. This has been a 9 year project, so I hope to complete it next year!