Today I am jealous of my interview subject because she has ice cream and gummy worms on one of the hottest days of the year, and I hadn’t thought of how awesome either of them would have been. Then again, she’s also eleven years old, so she’s far more perceptive to these kinds of ideas than I would be.
Young, Chilean born actress Santi Ahumada has come to Toronto to help promote her first film Thursday Till Sunday (De Jueves a Domingo). Accompanied by her father, Ahumada seems like a pretty average everyday kid, and not the formally trained actress that appears on screen in Dominga Sotomayor Castillo’s film about a family slowly unravelling during a lengthy road trip. As the daughter of the family, Ahumada conveys a sense of rawness in the film’s most remarkable performance. She’s confused by her bickering parents(Paola Giannini and Francisco Perez-Bannen) and their impending, but largely unspoken break-up, but the performance is too astute to just be beginner’s luck.
It’s not a particularly happy movie considering the subject matter and how it unfolds over the course of its running time, but Ahumada is a perfectly happy kid with the joy of filmmaking not wearing off any time soon. But as with any actor worth her salt, she’s waiting for the right material to come along before jumping into her next project.
We chatted about how she got involved with the film, how she didn’t even know the project was going to be a film, spending long days inside of a car, and what it’s like to be tied to the roof of one.
Dork Shelf: How exactly did you come to be in the film?
Santi Ahumada: I live in Santiago with Dominga, but not really in the city; more up in the mountains and hills where it’s a bit prettier. Dominga was actually my neighbour, and she has a little sister who was one of my friends. I would always be going over their house and I finally met Dominga who asked if I wanted to work with her on this project. She never actually said at the time that it was going to be a film. She always said it was a project. (laughs) I was just, like, “okay!” (laughs) I thought it was either going to be a photography thing or something just for her to watch. Not what it ended up being. I never thought it would travel all over the world.
DS: What has that experience been like for you?
SA: I travelled to a film festival in Columbia and to Vancouver and that was all in about one week, so that was a new feeling for me. Then I went to the premiere in Chile, and now I’m here!
DS: When you heard the word “project” and you first agreed to work with Dominga, did you know it was going to be spending a lot of time in a car and not really getting out a lot at times?
SA: No, but I was prepared for the actual movie because we first did sort of like a teaser for the movie. I participated in that, but it was with different people playing my family. Then once Dominga got the money for it I think I was the person who most knew already what the film was going to be like. (laughs) We filmed for five weeks and most of it was the car. Thankfully I didn’t grow up too much and I still got to be in the movie.
But we got used to it all fast. We started by hanging out and playing games together and calling each other by our names in the film. Then we started the filming. Everyone was very nice.
DS: So you got along well with your on screen parents and brother?
SA: Well, my brother… (laughs), but the woman who played my mother I got along really, really well with. It was a lot more relaxed outside of the car. The part at the campsite was the best for me once we get out of the car. When we were in the car we would have to do it all over again, and that’s a lot more tiring than running around. It was so much nicer for all of us to get out in the trees and shade and wind.
DS: Did it feel really crowded in the car?
SA: Yeah. Dominga and someone with a mic were always hiding in the back, so it wasn’t just us, and there are these cameras all around us, so it was very crowded at times, which is harder when you can’t really go anywhere or do very much.
DS: It must have been nice when at one point you got a chance to ride on the roof of the car, then. What was that like for you?
SA: She just asked if I was comfortable doing that and I just said, “Yeah, sure!” (laughs) So I got up there and everyone made sure that I was tied into place reeeeeeeeaaaallly tight to the point where I couldn’t move. I definitely wasn’t afraid. I didn’t really think about it too much. (laughs) It was also kind of slow moving because we shot it on a bumpy road. It wasn’t really fast, but it was still fun and fun to watch.