Iosi Havilio on the premiere of “Little Flower”, the film based on his novel: “I have not murdered in the strict sense, but I committed my crimes”

“Little flower”, novel by Iosi Havilio adapted to the cinema

Seven years after its publication, the film adaptation of Little Flower (Random House), the fifth novel by Argentine writer Iosi Havilio, within the framework of the 23rd edition of the Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival (BAFICI). Infobae spoke with the author about the book that gave life to the film, the symbiotic relationship between work and biography, the “miracle” of making a film today and some of his upcoming projects.

-In addition to being a writer, you have worked as a screenwriter. How was this project conceived? Do you find any difference or relationship between the writing process of a novel and that of a screenplay?

-The processes of adapting literary texts to make a film are generally extensive journeys. In this case, there were several approaches. It is seen that Little Flower It is a little novel that attracts the audiovisual setting. This started six or seven years ago from the interest on the part of the director Santiago Miter. Although I have written or collaborated on many film projects in the last decade, in this case I did not participate in the script, which the director wrote together with Mariano Llinás. It would take a long time to tell what are the brotherhoods or the encounters and disagreements between literary writing and that of a script. I think they have a lot to give each other: where prejudices fall, very interesting dialogues appear in formal terms.

-What did you feel when you saw your text translated into visual language? Did you agree? And speaking of translations, how is one of the characteristic features of the book, which is to be composed of a single paragraph, translated to the big screen?

I saw the movie a while ago. As happened with so many other audiovisual, scenic and musical expressions, its release was delayed due to the pandemic. But its realization excited me a lot: it seems like a miracle to me and it awakens a lot of gratitude in me. I say “miracle” in the sense that the conditions for making a film are not always friendly and logical, so coming to fruition is already a lot. As for the movie itself, I was excited, amused, surprised. There are rewrites in many ways, which I encourage. I find the appropriation and deformation of the literary text extremely interesting, its reformulation in a different medium in order to create a new window to the universe.

Daniel Hendler and Vimala Pons in the film "Little Flower"
Daniel Hendler and Vimala Pons in the movie “Little Flower”

-This book has certain participation of the autobiographical. You share your real name, José, with that of the protagonist, which always generates a certain rapprochement between one and the other. How has the relationship between your work and your life changed over the years?

What does not have a participation of the autobiographical and, in turn, what does not have the participation of fiction, of the oneiric? I share the name of the protagonist, I am a father, I write and I get frustrated, I had partners and I have separated, I have not murdered in the strict sense but yes, of course, I committed my crimes. In this and in any novel there is the question of who I am, who is the author in relation to the one who tells the story, to those who live in those universes. If I think about the relationship between my work and my life over the years, the word “expansion” comes to mind, which does not necessarily mean “better”. Sometimes it is more complex, sometimes more fluid; others, more tricky, more on par. But in that dialogue, in that tension, everything is written.

-The first sentence of the novel, “This story begins when I was someone else”, is closely related to Fogwill’s quote in the epigraph: “Perhaps people never die. Perhaps when dying the name of death comes to him and, while he continues to bounce the idea of ​​death against the sign and the notion of death, life continues in suspense”. How does this self/other dichotomy work in relation to death?

-As in everything one does, that duality of being there and knowing that, at some point, we won’t be there, comes into play. The protagonist brings Resurrection Tolstoy, a formative novel for him that speaks of moral resurrection, and I think that’s where we are today. One thinks of these last two or three years, but also of all the previous ones and those to come, and we are constantly in that resurgence. Now it is fashionable to talk about “resilience”. I don’t really like the word, but I love the concept: rising once again from a known place to an unknown place, where death and all its meanings ring on each side.

-The narrator returns again and again to foundational texts from his early years (Tolstoy, Dostoevsky), which become a guide, almost an oracle. Although, as in other of your books, there is a kind of failure of refuge, there also seems to be a certain insistence on that search. Do you share as an author that search for refuge in writing with your characters?

-José has a very close relationship with the texts of his journey, which for him were formative, founding. In this sense, it is good to say “childhood” to rescue all those texts that were narrated to us when we listened to our grandmothers, teachers, etc. It is a refuge and a place of consultation, of conflict and rebirth through rereading, which serves to think about how any story, literary but also family, political or social, comes back to us with insistence to want to tell us something new.

– Is there another text of yours that you would like to see adapted to the cinema or some other medium? And lastly, are you working on a new book?

– When you write, you project those universes visually: you dream about them, think about them, hear them. For now, there is a proposal to take another book of mine to the cinema, paradisesand I am also working on several novels at the same time, one of them almost finished, which precisely tells the story of a quite amazing and hallucinating shoot, and that will probably come out before the end of the year.

Writer and screenwriter Iosi Havilio
Writer and screenwriter Iosi Havilio

This story begins when I was someone else. Like every day since we had moved to town, that Monday morning I got on the bike and started pedaling. At the exit of the tunnel, with the heavy air from the viaduct blowing in my face, I got it into my head that Antonia would remain a dwarf forever. The idea produced me at the same time anguish and a strange illusion. That’s what I thought, uphill, at the precise moment when I was surprised by a thick column of black smoke sticking to the clouds. Three hundred meters further on, at the top of the slope that leads to the industrial park, I no longer had any doubts, the fire, the remains of the fire, came from the fireworks factory. The property was surrounded by patrol cars, fire trucks and civil defense trucks. In the distance I recognized a group of workers behind the police cordon. I didn’t have the courage to approach. I turned around and walked towards a large tree perched on a hill. I settled at the foot of the trunk to follow the course of events. To the swarm of sirens were added some television mobiles. I was seized by a kind of paralysis, physical and spiritual. Impossible to know how long I will have been next to that tree. The advance of hunger made me fall to the ground. I walked away from the scene chewing on a mixed feeling, a mix of despondency and release. The first few meters I walked alongside the bicycle so as not to arouse suspicion in the retreat. I called Laura, told her that she would vacate me earlier and suggested that we meet under the pergola on the waterfront. The plan was to have a picnic to celebrate Antonia’s first birthday. I crossed the drawbridge and settled into a canalside food stall frequented by blue-collar workers and machinists, where I liked to go when I needed to collect my thoughts. I ordered the dish of the day: oven roast with potatoes. The sight of the garbage mountain and the caracaras circling overhead pushed me to review my last years. Someone once said of me that he was a wonderful boy, capable of turning anything he touched into gold. I wasted half my life convinced that sooner or later it would be.

♦ Born in the City of Buenos Aires in 1974.

♦ He is the son of the Argentine plastic artist Mónica Rossi and the Serbian-Argentine actor Harry Havilio.

♦ He studied philosophy, music and cinema.

♦ Published the novels open door, Stockholm, paradises, Little Flower, Round and roundamong other.

♦ Some of his books have been translated into English, French, Italian, Hebrew, Croatian and Turkish.

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