Marcelo Gutierrez Talks 'Tender Roses for Tough Climates'
Marcelo Gutierrez is a self-proclaimed romantic in the age of modernism: a lover often confronted by cold, hard, unapologetic logic and reason. He refuses to be deterred, however, and has instead dove head first into his most fantastical revelations of what it means to be a romance-loving visionary in 2K17. His latest venture? Tender Roses for Tough Climates, which takes its viewer on a three act journey of three very different—albeit equally passionate—personifications of what it means to a true, modern day romantic.
This isn’t Gutierrez’s first foray into film, either—it’s actually his third—and, in similar fashion to the romance that just keeps on blossoming, Gutierrez’s skill for bringing his visions to life just keeps getting lovelier by the frame. Shot in San Francisco, LA, and Brooklyn, Tender Roses for Tough Climates is, ultimately, open for interpretation: what does romance mean to you? Get acquainted with the filmmaker below.
I just finished watching the film, and I couldn’t look away—I was just so absorbed by everything. It’s beautiful. Can you tell us a little about your thoughts behind it, especially for readers who haven’t seen it yet?
Yeah, so my focus for the film was initially to kind of create these characters that are based off of personal experience and kind of historical characters as well, of what it kind of means to be a contemporary romantic for me, because I think being romantic today is different from what it meant then. To me, these three characters are romantic, in that they kind of reimagine and fantasize their realities into something that’s a bit more beautiful and digestible and lovable. The world we live in today isn’t exactly the same, so my work in general is about kind of highlighting and rewriting reality into a cinematic experience and how an individual can kind of face their truths in a more beautiful way by romanticizing certain tragedies or successes, so each character highlights that.
The first act is inspired by children who reimagine play structures and their surroundings into a completely fantastical environment and kind of living that out publicly is a really vulnerable and beautiful demonstration of romance, and it’s a delicate one that can be destroyed quickly, but it’s important to appreciate it. The second act is inspired by Candy Darling and anyone who is really an aspiring star or actress, anyone with dreams of grandeur and glamour and stardom. People who wear that ambition on their sleeve, it’s just another example of the vulnerability of being romantic. There’s a lot at stake for wearing your heart on your sleeve, but life is a lot more vibrant and worth living when you feel, versus keeping things inside and staying numb. Then, the third act is based on a long distance affair that I had, and the fantasy of falling in love with someone who lives far away and never actually getting to experience or see that relationship grow into anything, but just living in that one night that you had together that was platonic, and the rest being history in your head. So, for me the focus is really to encourage the viewer and connect with the viewer with their inner romance and fantasy. Everyone, especially here in New York, initially comes to the city based off of romantic ideas, whether they’re explicit or unconscious; just the act of moving to New York based off of its cinematic implications is romantic. And you know, being in the city for a while changes you and your perspective of the city, but there’s always this romance of dreams and aspirations of the city where the poor and the stars all live within the same radius. So that’s just a bit.
What’s really interesting to me is, like you said, the world does a really good job of crushing romanticism, telling you that logic and reason are just better. How do you feel that you’re giving an argument against that?
For me, the best answer is always in your gut. I think that whatever your gut is telling you is probably the best way to go, and that goes for jobs, for friendships, for romantic relationships. Your gut always is right, and your gut is your heart and your brain all at the same time. And I think when you’re ignoring your heart, you’re ignoring what you feel and when you’re too focused on logic and ration, you become insensitive to yourself and you become less present, because being present is being observant and I think the assumption that you live a long time is a very privileged assumption of the country. Just because we live in a very controlled country, but you know, you don’t know when will be your last day, so living based on your gut and what you want and what your desires are is the best way to go, because in the end of the day, you’ll be happy and with no regrets, because you’ll follow what you believe in. I believe in destiny and all that.
The film itself feels so personal and intimate. What is it like putting such vulnerable things out there for the world to critique at their will?
Well, I think for me, something that as an artist, I have to be willing to share these experiences, but my favorite part is being able to share these really intimate feelings and having someone else connect with them and through that, creating a small, or even large, community of people who relate to these feelings, but because it’s so kind of frowned upon to wear your heart on your sleeve; you don’t really express it with other people. So through my work, I always look forward to connecting with people, sharing moments, and discussing these ideas. I’m not really afraid or worried about critique, because I don’t think people would critique the experience, but they would critique it as a piece of work. So, it’s a conversation piece, so I’m basically combatting a very rational world, and a New York that isn’t as romantic as it used to be, from what I heard.
What kind of responses have you gotten so far?
I’ve gotten a lot of responses based off of people connecting on personal levels, or on other relationships they’ve had, childhood experiences, and just people I feel like when they watch the film, and come up to me and comment on it, they open up a little just briefly, because I opened up for the film. So, I think I’m all about having myself and other people share their intimacy and their truths, because we live in a world where it’s kind of glorified to create a fourth wall, a persona, a character, and I think truths, vulnerability and honesty always win through. Even in art, and fashion and everything, when there’s truth and honest and true passion involved, people relate and connect, because in the end of the day, love is what keeps us all together. It sounds super cliché, but it’s also the most mysterious thing we can think about. We’re still making films and writings and everything about it, and it’s ridiculous.
Well it’s so true—we all have our facades, but I’m always the most touched by something that reveals something about that person that I wouldn’t have otherwise known.
Yeah, and that’s with most of my body of work, is bringing these things out, sharing it, even with the people that connect with these works, creating a small community where the sentiment, the feeling of wanting to be romantic, and being okay with being romantic, and wearing your heart on your sleeve is okay and even better than hiding it all away.
Featured image courtesy of Marcelo Gutierrez
Stay tuned to Milk for more west coast art happenings.