True/False Conversations - Old Age Brings New Beginnings in 'La Flor de La Vida'
This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year's True/False Film Fest.
La Flor de La Vida follows 83 year-old Aldo and his wife Gabriella as they move on from their divorce after 50 years together. Old age is normally seen as a time of endings, but directors Adriana Loeff and Claudia Abend wanted to challenge that notion.
"When are we really in our prime?" Loeff said. "When we are young, but also a little a clueless? Or perhaps when we are older and we begin to see things the way they truly are?"
Broughton: How did you both get the idea for the film?
Loeff: So what we did was we placed an advert in the newspaper that said “if you’re over eighty or so and you want to share your story with us, give us a call.” And that’s how we met, one day, a man who sat down and said, proclaimed, “I’m the perfect protagonist for this film.” He told us that he had recently separated from his wife and we called his wife and met her, and we realized that the story of this couple that had been together for five decades and had undergone a crisis, and were going through very important decisions in their lives was like the story that we wanted to tell.
Broughton: What was it like working with Aldo and Gabriella?
Loeff: It was very different with each one of them. Aldo loved the camera and Aldo loved the company. He really appreciated having us around and he would say openly, like, “the reason I was doing this is a little bit because of the film and a lot because I like having you guys around.” While Gabriela is much more, you know, low-key. She didn’t enjoy that much being filmed. But she was a good sport and she allowed us to be there. But it clearly showed how their personalities were so different.
Broughton: And why did you both decide to tell this story now?
Loeff: I mean, I don’t know, as filmmakers we’re always looking around and looking for stories to tell, and also looking inside like looking for the things that worry us, the things that scare us. Like, who’s not a little bit afraid of the passing of time, of aging, of growing old? Who doesn’t wonder whether their relationship with a significant other will sustain the challenge of time? Who doesn’t have parents or relatives or people that we love that are going through health issues and other challenges? So all these were like fears, or questions that we had bottled up inside, and telling this story was a way of trying to, to look into some sort of crystal ball, into a possible future, and realizing that we are in our 30s. We still may have time to make decisions.
Broughton: And then, I’m wondering what you both hope the audience takes away from the film after they view it.
Loeff: That perhaps people leave the theater more with questions about their own lives rather than judgments on the lives of our characters. I think it’s really powerful that people after watching the film, instead of talking about what happened to this particular marriage people begin to talk about their own relationships and own marriages. There really is some sort of mirror where each one projects their own personal stories in the lives of Aldo and Gabriella.