Scorsese has mentored budding film-makers in the past, but the Rolex protégés are young professionals with substantial accomplishments to point to. “This is another level,” he says. “Celina has made two feature films.”
Scorsese chose her as his protégée after watching her second film, A Week Alone. A thread of tension, subtle but ominous, runs through the film, gathering strength through unusually forceful details as it builds toward an explosive, dramatic climax.
“I hadn’t seen Ana [Murga’s first film] yet, but about 40 minutes into A Week Alone, I realize I’m caring about these young people,” Scorsese says. “I didn’t know how that happened and that’s good. I was fascinated by the small things that reflect the enormity of what they’re going through and what they have yet to encounter in life.”
In a shooting diary she kept for the French film journal, Les Cahiers du Cinema, Murga calls Scorsese “the iconoclast inside the system”. She might well say the same of herself. It is coincidence that the movie Scorsese is making during their mentoring year is one of his high-profile commercial projects, with a budget to match. He thought it would be interesting and useful for her to witness the central problem of working on such a scale, namely, to keep the massive film-making machinery ticking, while never losing sight of the human story at its core.
Murga’s diary reads: “Today it’s raining a lot, all day, raining and raining. We talk about filming dreams, nightmares, hallucinations. The realm of reverie. [Scorsese’s] idea is to film them as directly as possible, like they were real…His intention is to convey ambiguity: it must not be easy to clearly distinguish between the realm of the real and the realm of reverie. That, I think, places you more within the point of view of the main character, Teddy. That makes me think that many of [Scorsese’s] films tend to do that, to create deformed realities, which generate the sensation of nightmarish worlds. For many of his characters reality is a nightmare being lived out.”
With eloquent acuity, that entry makes clear where her film-maker’s heart lies and her mentor’s heart as well, not in the neatly executed plot twists of an ingenious thriller, but in the intimate portrayal of human experience.
As for the prospect of getting involved with high-tech, big-budget movies, Murga laughs and says: “I don’t imagine myself doing this kind of shooting. In fact, for my next film I'm planning to have a smaller crew than in Una Semana Solos [A Week Alone]. I think it’s good for me to make it simple, more connected to the story I’m trying to tell.”