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Filmmaker Rodrigo García

Fluent in the Language of Women

From Colombia and Mexico City to HBO and Sundance, the indie filmmaker makes nuanced movies about — of all things — the lonely women of the San Fernando Valley.

En español |  Rodrigo García is a godsend to seasoned actresses in search of meaty roles. While indie filmmakers often begin their career in their twenties, García, now 51, is something of a latecomer to the craft: He’s made three feature films since he started 10 years ago. Garcia’s astute flicks for smart chicks teem with top-notch actresses of the over-40 variety. He makes movies for grownups, an oasis at the multiplex where adrenaline and teen-appeal dominate.

The son of Gabriel García Márquez, García was born in Colombia and lived in Mexico City until his thirties. But his films are set in the suburbs of Los Angeles (where he’s lived for 16 years) and star (mostly non-Hispanic white) actresses like Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, Robin Wright Penn, and Sissy Spacek. He has directed muscular HBO series like The Sopranos and Big Love, and he wrote, developed, and produced In Treatment, the psychologically sophisticated series that put actresses like Dianne Wiest and Hope Davis into primetime. Even more, his film projects are from a female perspective. They tackle life’s big issues: love and death, family, parenting, loss, and disappointment. “Most of the women in my movies,” he says, “are trapped in some kind of relationship.”

Filmmaker Rodrigo García

— Corbis

His first cinematic effort, Things You Can Tell by Looking at Her, premiered at Cannes in 2000, winning the Un Certain Regard Award, an honor encouraging innovative works by young talent. In 2005, his film Nine Lives premiered at Sundance and won him the Best Director prize at the Bogotá Film Festival. In January 2010 he was back at Sundance with his third feature, Mother and Child. Starring Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jimmy Smits, it’s a film about adoption and the bonds between mother and child.

On the eve of the film’s first screening at Sundance, García was gearing up for the next day’s avalanche of reporters and paparazzi, and the arrival of the movie’s stars. Even though his films have been resounding successes—all three have screened at Sundance—García felt a bit edgy. “Any time my movies play, it’s nerve-racking,” he said. “It’s never good enough and when it is, you don't believe it.”

García found an hour of calm before the ensuing hubbub to talk with AARP VIVA about the film and his attentiveness to the emotional complexities of female characters.

Q&A With Rodrigo García>>>


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