2015 Tribeca Film Festival Profile: Natalia Leite (Writer/Director – ‘BARE’)

After a lifetime of living in her sheltered and rural hometown, without any apparent means of changing a certain fate, Sarah (Dianna Agron) discovers a possible way out in Pepper (Paz de la Huerta), a mysterious female drifter. Through Pepper’s influence, Sarah is motivated to take a job at a highway strip club where Pepper sells drugs. Underneath Sarah’s search for freedom is her discovery of love. But as their friendship develops into a romance, and Sarah’s life veers further away from what it was. She soon finds herself trapped in a double life and quickly realizes what happens when real life collides with fantasy.

Natalia Leite’s striking debut film, ‘BARE‘ finds inspiration in the wide spectrum of Nevada’s vivid tableaux, both in the bleached out beauty of the desert and seedy, neon nightlife, as it explores the bond between two women desperate to shift their present reality.

Anticipating the WORLD PREMIERE of ‘BARE’ at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, we spoke to the film’s Writer/Director Natalia Leite about the trials and tribulations of a first time feature Director, creating a dynamic amongst the film’s two leads, and of course the Tribeca Film Festival (and more).

BARE‘ screens as part of Tribeca’s VIEWPOINTS selections on Tuesday, April 21, Wednesday, April 22, and Sunday, April 26, 2015 in New York City.

Find More Information & Tickets to ‘BARE’ at the 2015 Tribeca Film FestivalHERE

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What was the first aspect of what would ultimately become ‘BARE’ (the film), that came to you in the creative process? Was it a character, theme, shot…?
It was the relationship between the two characters. The story is not autobiographical, but it is inspired by events and relationships in my life. The ties between Sarah & Pepper, the two lead characters in the film, was at the core of it all.

How did the two leads (Dianna Agron, Paz De La Huerta) come to be involved with the film? As Dianna holds a background with a more youth-oriented content and Paz is quite the dynamic personality (who happens to be in a personal favorite film, ‘Enter the Void’ – a significant portion of my own academic research), how did you approach directing the two leads?
I wanted to cast two women who were willing to be totally raw and exposed on camera. I also wanted to find two women who were very different from each other to put those two contrasting energies together. Dianna and Paz were the dream cast for me. They are both so talent and fearless. In a way, I was casting them again their “type.” Dianna is very confident in real life and had to play someone who was insecure and still a little unsure of her placement in the world. Paz on the other had, as the character of Pepper, had to try and manipulate situations without using her sexuality. It was so fulfilling and wonderful to work with them.

The film is described as having “a bleached out beauty” and “neon nightlife” (per Tribeca’s description), what was the thought process behind the aesthetics of ‘BARE’? Did your approach to the cinematography change at all from pre-production meetings to on set?
I had a very clear vision going into it. I come from a visual arts background so the look of the film was important to me. I wanted the setting to function like a character in the film so I was collecting reference images throughout the writing process. Tobias Datum, my Director of Photography on Bare, is incredibly intuitive in his approach to filming and had so many insights and incredible references to add, so during pre-production it became a collective vision between us and also our Production Designer, Lisa Myers, who is phenomenal at her work. The three of us spent a good amount of time crafting the world of the film. It was the perfect team.

As this is your debut feature, what did you find the most challenging aspect of the experience? Was there anything that you thought was going to be difficult, yet ended up occurring “smoothly”?
I think filmmaking is always challenging, but that’s also part of what makes it so rewarding. The shoot was super ambitious given our tight budget and even tighter schedule and the fact that I was working with some non-actors and some scenes that involved a lot of extras. Also, we were shooting in a small town in New Mexico so it was a different experience for us – Alexandra & I couldn’t bring our usual crew and community of filmmakers to work with us, so we had to hire locally and not everyone was the right fit.

Why is Tribeca the right place for ‘BARE’ to premiere?
Tribeca has been so supportive of the work that Alexandra & I have created. We love the festival and there was no doubt in our minds that this was the perfect place to premiere the film. This is also where we live and we have such a supportive community of friends and colleges here.

– Interview conducted by Steve Rickinson

Director: Natalia Leite Photographer: Kelly Kai

Director: Natalia Leite
Photographer: Kelly Kai

About The Filmmaker
Natalia is from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Since moving to New York, she has directed music videos, documentaries, and short films. She is a recipient of the Kodak Grant Award, a Sundance Screenwriters Lab Finalist, and a Queer Arts Mentorship Fellow. Bare is her feature film debut.

Facebook: /Baremovie

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