Interview Bettina Perut
& Iván Osnovikoff

"We always try to find new ways
to record our subjects"

With their fourth IBF-supported feature Los Reyes, which won the Special Jury Award in the Feature-Length Documentary Competition at IDFA 2018, Chilean filmmaker couple Bettina Perut and Iván Osnovikoff show the rough lives of teenage skaters who gather in a city park through the eyes of two stray dogs who made their home in the same space.

IO: “For us, filmmaking is an open process in which we allow ourselves to change things along the way. We're working with reality, and reality follows it's own path; we just follow it. That's true in general, but Los Reyes is the film that has changed the most, I think. We like to experiment and try to find new ways to record our subjects. This time the original idea wasn't working, it was too conventional – until these dogs appeared at the skate park.”

BP: “If I'm honest with you, I was doubtful from the start. Sure, you could make a great documentary about these teen skaters and their stories and the world they inhabit in this park. But I wasn't very motivated to film teenagers going around the park, because that's been done a lot already and we were falling into a convention. I wanted to find another approach to film this world.”

IO: “I'm a skater myself. At some point I was skating, and Bettina called me saying: the film is a failure, it doesn't have our artistic seal, we need to stop. For me, that wasn't an option, and as I was trying to convince her to keep going, these two dogs were there playing. So I told Bettina: you need to come see these two dogs. Somehow that's also related to the fact that seven or eight years ago we got a dog ourselves, and that changed us.”

BP: “It taught us that humans are not the center of the world. We think we are, but we're not. That's not something theoretical, it's a fundamental truth. When we found the dogs in the park, that gave us that new point of view I was looking for. There was a whole world of aesthetic potential that was very cinematic. What I liked most is that they don't talk. The view on cinema we have developed over the years, is to give importance to the image as a way to create meaning, not to words. Documentaries should be cinema, and that means creating a world with images instead of verbal language. But the most important thing about finding the dogs was that I felt this was how we could stamp our seal on the story.”

IO: “Part of our way of working is that it's a closed process. During the creative process, we need to be in private. It's the same with editing – we couldn't imagine someone else doing the edit. Because editing, for us, is discovering our relationship with the footage.”

BP: “That's what I like most about the way we work: our independence. We are in every part of the process – from conception and shooting to editing. We even collaborate with the graphic design. We are not used to making concessions. So you can like our work or not, but it's completely ours.” (JBH)

Iván Osnovikoff and Bettina Perut after receiving the Special Jury Award in the Feature-Length Documentary Competition at IDFA 2018 for their film Los Reyes. The film received IBF Europe - Co-production funding in 2016.