Mexican filmmaker Elisa Miller delved into a world of obsession and artistic transformation as she adapted Fernanda Melchor's novel, "Hurricane Season," into a captivating film. Set to premiere at the Morelia International Film Festival, "Hurricane Season" explores a gritty reality that transcends borders, portraying a haunting love, violence, and human diversity narrative.
Photo: 10/24/23. Photo provided by Netflix showing an excerpt from the movie "Hurricane Season." EFE/Netflix
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From Novel to Screen: Miller's Obsession Unleashed
Mexican filmmaker Elisa Miller is on the brink of releasing her latest movie, "Hurricane Season," nominated for Best Mexican Feature Film at the Morelia International Film Festival (FICM). The film is based on Fernanda Melchor's eponymous novel, which captivated Miller to the point of obsession. "I became obsessed with the book; I can't even describe what the novel triggered in me upon my first reading. I start from my love for the text to embark on this adventure," the director shared in an interview with EFE.
"Hurricane Season" follows the story of four young individuals who stumble upon a corpse floating in a canal in their hometown. This discovery unravels dark secrets about where they grew up, weaving a narrative encompassing themes of love and its absence, violence, pleasure, and diversity.
A Personal Connection to Rural Realities
"In my first impression, it was a book that tore me apart. It pierced me because it narrates what can happen in any rural community in my neighborhood. It speaks of a reality that overwhelms me, pains me, confronts me, and shatters my privileges. And all of that led me to embark on this journey," Miller shared.
After reading the novel in 2018, even though she had other projects in hand, Miller took the book to the producers she was in discussions with and told them it could make a great movie. What followed was a complex process that she likened to "surgical work." It was her first adaptation, and she said deciding what stays and goes from the book to the movie was highly challenging. She considered the task as demanding as translating a book of poetry because it required transforming the narrative into the language of cinema.
Decanting the Essence: Miller's Artistry
Miller embraced the adventure. Though she confessed that when the producers informed her they had acquired the rights, she wanted to faint for a moment and gradually progressed through the process. She extracted the story's essence, comparing the process to how one decants wine.
She mentioned that there were scenes she omitted for various reasons. One of them included a group rape scene, and although Miller had initially included it in the script, she later realized she couldn't film such a violent image.
One factor that facilitated the filmmaking process was that the entire team shared the same desire as Miller for the movie to turn out well. "They were there as passionately as I was, motivated by the text, and that passion translated into our collective work," she explained.
A Worldwide Relevance
Now, the film is ready for release. It will be screened in select theaters and available on Netflix starting November 1st. The filmmaker believes that, despite being based on very localized actual events, the story reflects a reality throughout Latin America and "probably worldwide."