Fresh off his Oscar for the touchingly humanist ‘A Fantastic Woman,’ Sebastián Lelio discusses his newest film ‘Disobedience,’ being offered to adapt the eponymous novel, and portraying a faithful representation of the London Hasidic community.
Finding the appropriate directorial voice is no easy feat, particularly when that voice is concerned with showcasing a solitary world. Whether it’s the lack of personal stories to draw from or the fear of misrepresenting a deeply intricate sociocultural aura, finding the right way to expound a complex world takes time and patience. These are qualities that Sebastián Lelio has proven to have in leaps and bounds, as showcased by his wonderfully delicate A Fantastic Woman, which picked up the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film this year. It presented the oft-misunderstood world of transgender relationships, the complexities of legitimizing it in a world that frequently sees them as unnatural, and the emotional strength it takes to overcome those challenges. Therefore, it was no surprise that Lelio signed on to adapt and direct the novelization shortly after completing A Fantastic Woman. It seemed like a match made in heaven, one that certainly presented itself in cinematic form. Sebastián Lelio had the opportunity to chat with The Knockturnal as he hit the red carpet. Check out what he had to say below.
The Knockturnal: What made you want to be a part of this film?
Sebastián Lelio: They invited me to write and direct and it was a very tempting invitation. I love the story and the dynamics between the characters. I also had the chance to work with these great actresses and actors, so I just went for it.
The Knockturnal: How does it feel having the film be shown at Tribeca?
Sebastián Lelio: It’s very nice, I’m very happy to be here. It’s exciting to be back as I was here with my very first film. It’s quite emotional to be back here in this situation. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.
The Knockturnal: Since your previous film received such praise from the LGBTQ community, how does it feel to be a growing voice in film for that community?
Sebastián Lelio: I don’t see myself as a voice. I just make the things that move me, that somehow attract me. I’m not following any strategic agenda or anything. But if the films have any type of positive effect on the community then it’s more than welcomed.
The Knockturnal: The Hasidic community is such a difficult community to get involved with and they’re often very cloistered. How did you end up managing to create such an authentic image of the Hasidic community?
Sebastián Lelio: Thank you. It was a lot of work. There were lots of consultants, people from within the community were very generous with us. It was a lot of work to try and get the cultural texture right. Then we had to get rid of that and concentrate on the characters, which is probably matters the most.
The Knockturnal: This is also your English debut film. I was wondering why you decided to choose such a, quite frankly, challenging world to tackle?
Sebastián Lelio: You know, I don’t know. Maybe it was because it was challenging. Maybe it was because it was an unknown world to me. It’s a neighborhood that even many Londoners don’t really know. So I felt attracted to it. I liked the invitation to write and direct. And I really loved the novel. I don’t know, it felt challenging enough to spend a couple of years of your life in something that’s going to be demanding. And if you survive that, you can do anything [laughs].
Disobedience had its US premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 24. It is screening now in select theaters in LA and NYC before hitting wide release on May 11.
Alessandro Nivola, Marisa Tomei, Sebastian Lelio, Naomi Alderman and Frida Torresblando celebrated the 2018 Tribeca Film premiere of Disobedience at the official after-party on Tuesday, April 24th at Distilled.