Lola Rùi is an actress, screenwriter and director. She studied acting with Jorge Eines and Susan Batson. She was a jury member in the IX Iberoamerican Short Film Festival (FIBABC, 2019).
In Theater, it's remarkable her leading role in “Mary Magdalene” opened at the historical 13th Street Repertory Theater in New York City.
As a film Actress, she received 9 Awards at international film festivals including Best Actress at the "21st Bare Bones International Independent Film Festival" and “Best Shorts Competition” for her role in the short film “The Door” (2018, USA), and Best Actress in fantasy-thriller film at the “Actors Awards” and “Best Actors Award” for her role in the short film “Family” (2019, Spain).
As a Director, she received the Best Female Director Platinum Award at "Independent Shorts Awards" with the short film "Ecclesiastes" (2020, USA) and she garnered more than 20 Awards at festivals in United States, Canada, India, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and Japan, with the short films “The Door” (2018, USA) and "Ecclesiastes" (2020, USA), the last one still on festival's circuit.
It was our pleasure to interview Lola regading her film, "Ecclesiastes".
How did you start making films and what was the first film project you worked on?
The first project I directed was in 2018, a psychologic thriller called “The Door”. Directing it was practically accidental for me. My artistic career until that moment had been as an actress, but an unexpected and apparently catastrophic event led me to take the reins of the project as a director. After writing a short film script together with James Augustus Lee, I travelled to New York to work on one of the characters.
The project was to be directed by a team that finally refused to do so. Well, here It all begins. In that moment of uncertainty, I decided that the story should be told, and after adjusting the script, I had to quickly mobilized to get a small team of film technicians and start shooting. What at first seemed like a tragedy put me on the right track. Telling stories as a filmmaker has become my way of expressing myself artistically in a passionate way. At this point I want to thanks James again for the great support I received from him in trusting my vision and ability to direct the project and for his amazing performance on it. The Door was a very successful short film thanks to the talented professionals around it, and for me it was the starting point of a new path that gives me satisfaction and a lot of learning, not only professionally but also in life.
What genre of filmmaking are you looking to work on and why?
I’m not looking for any particular genre. The stories I tell come to me suddenly. An idea can surprise me at any time of the day and I immediately begin to develop it. And of course, on the one hand is the story itself and on the other there is how you tell it. On the latter, I naturally tend towards mystery, psychologic thriller and fantasy. All of them, with certain moments of agony and struggle, tend to flood my creative visions. Honestly, I think it’s part of my nature. And after all the above, I’m open to other type of genres, and I don’t rule out that, at some point, a comic story may come to my head or, if it’s not purely comic, it my have some comic aspects. I don’t pursue pure genres.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an independent filmmaker?
Limited financial resources always pose challenges as independent filmmaker but, at the same time, these challenges turn into opportunities if you know how to handle them, and they open the door for imagination to fully enter the project to fill gaps. In my case, to achieve my projects so far, I have also had to get personally involved in technical and creative functions in pre and postproduction that go beyond the direction. It’s hard work but it brings you a lot of knowledge.
Other challenging aspect is being a beginner in this exciting world of directing independent films, Here, I would like to emphasize the importance of the director´s vision. If you make the decision to direct a project, you asume it with all the consequences even if you are starting with your first project. Of course, you can listen to opinions or advice, specially technical ones, but the overall vision is yours, and this for me is unalterable. I take responsibility for my creation from start to finish, It’s not a matter of arrogance or pride, it’s a matter of responsibility, love for my work and respect for my creative spirit. And, therefore, I prefer to hear opinions when the project is finished. In the team, everyone has their role, and each is essential for the film. However, from my point of view, the director´s vision should be pure and without interference, specially if you have also written the script.
How challenging is it to fund indie films?
So far, I have financed both of my films myself. As I have explained before, with a lot of effort and hard work. In the near future, I would like to answer this question differently since the project I have in mind will need external funding for sure.
Please name three of your most favorite directors. How have they been influential in your work?
There are directors throughout history that I certainly admire, but each of us has our own path and this is unique and personal. Responding to who are my favorites, I’m going to mention three of them not necessarily in order of who I like the most: Charles Chaplin, Francis Ford Coppola and Quentin Tarantino.
What is your next film project and what are you currently working on?
My next project is a fantasy and sci-fi film, and currently I’m still working on the script.
What inspired you to work on Ecclesiastes?
Ecclesiastes story was born one day while I was watching TV news. Suddenly, an image caught my attention, laboratory rats stuffed into cages. One of them was out of its cage held by a scientist with a syringe in the other hand. I noticed how the small animal opened its eyes and tried to escape from the man with small and quick movements while he injected the syringe content into its back. At the same time, the reporter s ́ voice announced great news: Science was very close to discovering eternal youth. At that moment, I thought that milestone would lead to the discovery of eternal life in next steps. Our temporal space perception is what makes us aware of death causing fear sometimes so man has always tried to seek the secret of immortality. But this announcement, instead of making me feel happy, stirred me up inside. Many mixed feelings. There could be less time to get over the fear of dying and, on the other hand, many questions arose in my head, but with each question my own answers made me feel more uneasy. At that time, I started writing Ecclesiastes script. I felt that sharing my feelings through a film was the only thing that could protect me from my own fears. After a few lines of the script, my feelings of anguish didn't stop. One day, my young goldendoodle Larry, lying next to me, gave me the answer, calming my fears with just a glance, and clarifying how the end of Ecclesiastes story should be. It happens that animals give us wise answers about life and death beyond the contribution they have made to human being with their own lives. We just have to admire them.
How did you find the cast and the crew of the film?
I was clear about the actors and actresses since I started writing the script and I was fortunate to be able to count on all of them to achieve the project. I want to thank all of them for their great talents in Ecclesiastes. I know that all the members of the team are equally important to make a film, but at this point I would like to emphasize on the importance of good actors to complete a good film project, since lately I have found some voices of filmmakers with give a secondary role to the actors and more to other aspects of the film. From my perspective, I don’t have doubt that actors are the soul of the story and it’s important how the director works with them. In my case, I can assure I deeply involves on it. And, of course, technical teams are the ones that make the actors talent shine even more, and consequently the story telled. I would like to thank the entire technical team and specially Alexander Zimmer, Javier Tallón, Pablo P. García, Álvaro de Iscar and Javier Castillo for their great contribution and talent. Thanks to all of them the project grown brilliantly. I met all of them in my first project, The Door, and it was clear to me that I wanted to continue working with them, except Alexander Zimmer whom I met after a cinematographers casting I did in New York. I was looking for someone with a specific technical talent, who was passionate about the story and with whom I could understand well, and he was that person.
What is the distribution plan of the film and did the film receive any screenings or was it featured in festivals?
Ecclesiastes was launch to international festivals circuit on March 2020 and the plan is to continue its distribution until the end of 2021. And I can say I’m very grateful with the good acceptance of the film. Until now, it has been officially selected in 33 Festivals in North America, Europe and Asia, with more than 60 awards and nominations, including Best of Festival Award at 300 Seconds Short Film Festival in your city, Toronto. However, one of the aspects that satisfies me the most is that each person on the artistic and technical teams is also receiving recognition.
Why do you make films and what kind of impact would your work have on the world?
As a lonely soul, making movies is an instrument to relate to the world. The impact in my case is fed back. I keep my heart and mind open without fear of being deeply impacted by the world, and this impact leads me to make films that, in turn, could impact the world in some way, although I don’t wonder how they will. It’s not a priority. I never think about what the result will be in a third person. I just try to shape what is inside my head and heart with passion and dedication.