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“We Were Very Fortunate to Be Allowed to Shoot There” | Astrid Rondero & Fernanda Valadez, Sujo

A young man in a white hoodie is looking toward the camera. There are bare trees behind him.Still from Sundance 2024 premiere Sujo

Films are made of and from places: the locations they are filmed in, the settings they are meant to evoke, the geographies where they are imagined and worked on. What place tells its own story about your film, whether a particularly challenging location that required production ingenuity or a map reference that inspired you personally, politically or creatively?

We think our most significant location was Nemesia’s house, the protagonist’s aunt. It’s the place where Sujo grows up, physically but also spiritually. We have scouted that area for years now: a rural community in the outskirts of Guanajuato, Mexico, Fernanda’s hometown. Early in development, we decided we would build Nemesia’s house so we could shape light with natural sources and frame the shots as we intended. The community gave us permission to build the house with non-polluting materials (basically mud and wood) at the base of a protected mountain. Local constructors helped us design it and build it. For the community, the mountain is sacred. It has been a source for local stories, and more deeply, a connection with nature and the mysteries of the universe. We were very fortunate to be allowed to shoot there.

See all responses to our annual Sundance question here.

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