Nathalie Álvarez Mesén chats CLARA SOLA and Mystical Filmmaking – Jennifer Merin interviews

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With her first feature, Nathalie Álvarez Mesén steps into the limelight of the international cinema realm. Clara Sola premiered in the Director’s Fortnight at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, and the film is Costa Rica’s official submission to the Oscars. Álvarez Mesén is a Costa Rican-Swedish screenwriter/director with an M.F.A. from Columbia University’s Film Program. Her international upbringing and education are reflected in her unique filmmaker’s perspective that reveals itself in Clara Sola‘s feminist theme and mystical story about an upcountry woman whose divine healing powers are channeled through her intimate relationship with nature and animals. Álvarez Mesén spoke with Jennifer Merin at a post-screening Q&A at NYC Scandinavia House on December 9, 2021. The wide-ranging conversation included Álvarez Mesén’s comments about filming nature up close and personal, tapping into lead actress Wendy Chinchilla Araya’s internal dance and figuring out how to direct a horse named Yuca and a beetle named Ophir. Watch the entire interview on AWFJ’s YouTube Channel

Read CLARA SOLA – Review by Leslie Combemale

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).