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“I Was So Moved to Have Had the Privilege of Capturing This Historic Moment”: DP Karen Gómez on Igualada

A large group of people listen and film at a Francia Márquez rally in Colombia.Still from Igualada. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Darwin Torres.

Francia Márquez is the current Vice President of Colombia, and Juan Mejía Botero was fortunate to have documented the campaign exclusively and from the beginning. That footage, alongside archival footage of a younger Márquez, makes up the Sundance 2024 documentary Igualada.

Ahead of the film’s premiere, cinematographer Gómez Karen Gómez (Sous le silence et la terre) talked about what it was like documenting a campaign that was constantly in motion.

See all responses to our annual Sundance cinematographer interviews here.

Filmmaker: How and why did you end up being the director of photography for your film? What were the factors and attributes that led to you being hired for this job?

Gómez: Human Pictures (the production company behind Igualada) was looking for a DP with experience in difficult shoots and under pressure, and they had seen some of my previous work. But I think what impressed them most was that in just two days (which were the ones I had to shoot the first images for the initial teaser), I managed to get close to Francia Márquez even though it was my first time meeting her in-person.

Filmmaker: What were your artistic objectives in this film and how did you achieve them? How did you want your cinematography to enhance the film’s narrative and the treatment of its characters?

Gómez: I don’t know if the way we had to shoot this film really allowed for thinking on an “artistic” level, but I did want to have a clear objective: to capture what no one else was telling, what was not evident. Being so close to Francia allowed me to see what others didn’t, and the important thing was to be able to always keep going, to continue to always keep up even if sometimes the body didn’t cooperate. I hope that made a difference.

Filmmaker: Were there specific influences on your cinematography, whether from other films, visual art, photography, or something else? What were the major challenges posed by the production for those objectives?

Gómez: Certainly, the director had a very clear idea of how he wanted the film to look like—a really beautiful verité in the style of For Akeem—but when we faced the day-to-day challenges of following a political campaign like this one and realized we didn’t have control over the situations, the key was for each one to allow themselves to adapt to what was happening based on their experience and not stop the movement.

Filmmaker: What camera did you film with? Why did you choose that camera? What lenses did you use?

Gómez: I filmed with the Sony Fs7 because it was my trusted equipment; I knew that for the conditions we were going to be in, I needed a robust setup. I almost always had the 70-200 lens mounted, which gave me the right distance not to miss any details but also to become invisible when necessary.

Filmmaker: Describe your approach to lighting.

Gómez: From the beginning, it was clear that we were going to work with natural light; the equipment was limited, and very rarely did we know in advance what was going to happen, where we would be. So, my job was to quickly read the space and make it look as cinematic as possible with what we had.

Filmmaker: What was the most difficult scene to shoot and why? And how did you handle it?

Gómez: It was impossible not to get involved with or impacted by everything that was happening. On the last day of shooting, the day of the vote, I had been crying since dawn. It was just a very powerful moment, it felt so important. I was so moved to have had the privilege of capturing this historic moment that I fell apart. But as soon as Francia appeared, I had no choice but to dry my tears and roll.

Filmmaker: Finally, describe the finishing of the film. How much of your look was “baked in” versus realized in the DI?

Gómez: We always shot in S-Log3. All the final look and color were added during post using DaVinci.


Film Title: Igualada

Camera: Sony Fs7

Lenses: Sony 70-200 and 24-70mm G Masters

Lighting: Natural light, and room light, al ambient

Processing: Premiere

Color Grading: DaVinci

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