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What Went Wrong (Que Hicimos Mal)

Filmmaker seek to reconcile with her past dalliances in this highly confessional and inventive blend of fiction and documentary - from the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival


Lili is a Spanish filmmaker in her early 40s. She has a strong passion for cinema, her career ambitions often representing a challenge to her relationships. Now she wants to revisit her past lovers and literally interview them. She wishes to transpose her romantic failures into a profound and reflective piece of filmmaking. And she beautifully succeeds at it.

The film is divided is more or less three parts, as our protagonist travels to meet three of her past lovers in their respective homes: in Spain, Italy and Mexico. She talks to them face-to-face, in front of the camera, following the very conventional 180 camera rule for interviews. She is at the helm of all conversations, her lovers merely reacting to her firm gaze and stern convictions. At times, Liliana talks off-camera, reinforcing her sense of control as both a woman and a storyteller. The lovers reminisce the bygone intimacy and complicity, with the filmmaker repeatedly asking the titular “what went wrong”. The answer is never to be found. The relationships were mostly loving and functional, coming to an end for inexplicable reasons. Perhaps it’s only natural that love – just like everything else on this planet – should eventually die.

Lili is supported by her current partner David in more ways than one. He encourages Liliane to pursue her filmic endeavours, and even pays for her trips. “I’m your executive producer”, he jokes. “Sponsor at best”, she retorts. However opening so many wounds from the past could have repercussions on the present. Is it possible the relationship between David and Lili too could go wrong? And far more crucially: is there anything wrong about about going wrong?

Viewers will be constantly asking themselves how much of the interactions is spontaneous and how much is scripted. How much is fiction and how much is documentary. And there’s nothing wrong about that. Quite the opposite: Liliana gets it just right. The filmmaker transcends the boundaries of subjectivity. It is precisely our inability to distinguish between fiction and non-fiction that makes What Went Wrong so interesting. While Lili may often fail at love, she is indeed far more successful at filmmaking.

Liliana Torres, born in the Catalonian town on Vic, is an exponent of autofiction (fictionalised autobiography), a cinematic practice very popular in Barcelona. Her work is characterised by extreme emotional and sexual frankness. Lili performs two sex scenes in What Went Wrong. However those interactions are staged. In fact, most of the characters in the movie are actors, but you’d be forgiven for not realising it. Just sit back and enjoy the beautiful lies of confessional filmmaking.

What Went Wrong has just premiered in Competition at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.

By Victor Fraga - 18-11-2021

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

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