Taking that common refrain so often uttered by enamoured lovers “I love you so much I could eat you up”, and running full on with it into a fugue state in which a man offers himself up to his indifferent lover as a plate of pasta, in which tomato sauce runs through his spaghetti veins, his eyes are meatballs and an onion heart beats tenderly, Clarissa Duque’s short Sogni Culinari is a grin inducing bizarre story of love and food. We invited Duque to tell DN how she cooked up her endearingly cruel tale of leftovers.

The idea for Sogni Culinary began once I read a poem written by my friend Pedro Mercado. That poem is recited exactly as in the original by the character of the dreaming man as voice over throughout the film. The very first time I listened to the poem, I felt bombarded by different images and sensations. One of the first ones that came up in my mind was that feeling when a great love breaks your heart and leaves it behind like pieces of waste laying on the ground. Everybody has felt at least once in their life that terrible sensation of emptiness produced by an unrequited love.

Alongside that is my passion for the culinary arts. I learned when I was still a child how every single ingredient of a dish is like a magic recipe, itself capable of activating every human sense and evoking all kinds of sensations in the human body. My father, a great cook, always used his skill as a tool to get what he desired. He was able to close great deals after his partners, captivated by the sensitivity and power of his food, would accept any proposition my father made to them. Never the less, he also managed so many times to solve romantic problems with delicious banquets. I always thought that he was a kind of magician. With time, I understood that love and food, even though they can also be my weakest points, will always be the greatest passions in my life.

Since my childhood, my oneiric world has been very intense. I wake up from nightmares very often where I am a fish and I end up dying asphyxiated outside of the fishbowl. The people around me, trying to calm me down always tell me “It was just a dream”. Therefore, this time with my new short film I couldn’t miss the opportunity to transmit not only my two greatest passions in life (Love and Food) but also a part of my own oneiric world. I have to confess, filming the scene of the fish was very stressful, even more so because lately I’ve been working for animal rights.

The production of Sogni Culinary was just wonderful. It was January 2015 and we didn’t have any money but we were all looking forward to starting the new year working on a new project, but not those that you don’t like but take to pay the rent. We actually wanted to start working on a project that you get really passionate about and involved with. We wanted to make cinema, so I gathered a group of friends and proposed that we start working without a budget but all together for this culinary dream. Luckily, everything that was needed came along. Rental company Pata Negra let us use a Red One camera, an optic kit, a dolly and lights with all their accessories. As we say in Venezuela “Now we got all the toys“. The crew from Artecomestible made the food makeup which was very rigorous work with lots of attention to detail. The shooting was very pleasant, even though it lasted for a very long day from 6.00am in the morning till 2.00am of the following day. Actually, we’re a tight crew so, when we are at work filming on the plateau, we feel like a fish in the water (literally).

Filming real food can turn out to be a very difficult art. The hardest shot we did was with the meatball, trying to make it bleed in a Tarantinoesque style. The hose placed inside the meatball got blocked many times by the fork, then we had to shoot it several times until it finally worked and looked just as I had dreamed. We knew from the beginning that we could achieve all the special effects that we wanted in post-production. For example; the water falling down from the paintings hung on the walls. Glendis Lopez and I have worked together in art direction many times and now we know that we don’t want to lose the sense of reality and handcraft in our productions. We like to keep the old school style. Still, it was very complicated for her and Filou Frechou to build the scenography with the system of pipes behind the walls but as expected, it turned out to work perfectly and we only had to repeat the shots twice.

My good friend and creative partner Michell Rivas was there for the photography direction. At the moment we begun to work together, he promised to always be there and “to defend me with shield and sword”. He has always joined my vision contributing with his magic creative eye and painting the realities of those dreams with light. For him, nothing seems to be impossible. We wanted to make a back dolly but the engine for the zoom was missing. After an endless list of manual attempts we achieved our goal. Visually we did all we wanted to do and much more.

When we finished shooting, our intention was to release the short the following month but it started to feel like a cinematographic marathon when we faced new post-production difficulties. My editor was in another city so we decided to work via the internet, which is only really possible when both parties have excellent communication and share the same vision for the project. In this way, the editing was done over one week of intense work. The sound design was in the hands of David De Luca, another good friend to whom I would trust my life with my ears shut. By the way, he was also in another city and the internet was also our work channel but usually, working together has always been very smooth. He can really figure how to translate those weird noises I make into delicate audio.

When the film was finished, I felt a huge need to be very grateful to all the people who I haven’t even be able to mention in this article for all their passionate inspiration, work and help. They deserved big credits, so much so in fact that the credits last as long as the film. Those credits were created by Edicson Nieto, a Venezuelan graphic designer from the Canary Island who has become a great creative match. He also designed the graphic package, together with our wonderful website. Thanks to all my crew for helping me out making this film with no money and make this dream come true which has the most important ingredient for every cinematographic piece, The Passion.

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