Shining Creative Light Onto Social Issues

Conversation with Film Producer Federico Guarascio

“We intended to show the human part of our subjects, not their misfortunes or their misery. We were interested in delving into the emotional side and learning about their dreams and goals.” – Federico Guarascio on producing “The Fourth Kingdom (El cuarto reino)”

Award-winning Film Producer Federico Guarascio has dedicated his career in film to gradually encouraging holistic social change, along with an empathetic reconsideration of the plight of our fellow citizens of Earth. Guarascio seeks out a way to shed light on frequently misapprehended topics through the art films and short documentaries he’s currently working on in Europe, along with previous projects he has contributed to in the United States. 

Guarascio is that rare, chameleon-like artist and creative professional whose body of work transcends creativity and practicality: his hands-on experience producing film projects aligns with his higher philosophical worldview. From the film festival circuit to art gallery exhibitions, Guarascio’s work in the expanded field draws together diverse perspectives and technical prowess to shine a light on the social nexxus that ensnares us all in its web of responsibility and humanity.

We sat down with Guarascio for insights on his practice as a film producer, his recent work and triumphs and the lens through which he views the world as both artist and producer. 

CREATRIX: Thanks for speaking with us, Federico! We are interested in your humanistic approach to filmmaking, can you share your ethos with us as a producer and some recent career highlights?

Federico Guarascio: Much of my documentary work deals with delicate issues, ranging from climate change to immigration. It is therefore necessary to carefully approach the lives of our film subjects, investigating their experiences with sensitivity. Through both filming and editing processes we reveal our subjects’ lives and stories through a contemplative observation. This approach is evident in the recent film The Fourth Kingdom (El cuarto reino), where I worked as a producer. This documentary was considered for the 90th Academy Awards, and most recently won the 2020 Gaudi Award for Best Documentary in Spain. 

Our goal with this film was to capture the poetic, emotional, and cinematic essence of the special place created by the community around a plastic recycling center and its inhabitants, and our efforts have been recognized on the international film festival circuit. In that sense I can say that we are very proud of it.

Poster of The Fourth Kingdom

CX: Since you mention the award-winning “The Fourth Kingdom” can you walk us through the editing process which you have adopted to deal with such sensitive issues as you mention, such as homelessness, poverty and immigration? 

FG: “The Fourth Kingdom” portrays the lives of the inhabitants of ‘Sure We Can’, a recycling center where society’s outcasts can redeem cans for money. Editing as always in documentaries is one of the most crucial parts. It’s about delivering a sequence of scenes that adheres to a singular language and carefully defined poetic choices. As a producer, I had the honor of supervising post-production of this film and therefore helped to define the final form of the film. As a crew, we tackled this project head-on, spending so many hours there (at ‘Sure We Can’) that we became invisible to the people working there. At that point, we felt we were able to create a documentary film in the vein of how we like to tell stories, and I must say, the response has been awesome.

CX: Fascinating! And how does this compare to previous film projects you have worked on? Can you give us some career highlights and challenges you’ve met and overcome?

FG: As a career film producer I have worked on over 20 films at this point. Reflecting on my work, I have to say that one of the best experiences I have had was working alongside Academy Award-winner Ellen Goosenberg Kent for her documentary now on HBO, “Torn Apart: Separated at the Border.” This project was a real gem, and gave me a concrete example of the efficiency of high-level American productions. I was lucky enough to work from Italy in partnership with US-based crews, then relocated to the US from late 2018, joining my colleagues in the US that Fall to work hands-on for this and similar projects which really opened my eyes to how incredible working in film in the United States could be professionally. 

In terms of recent projects, I have to say that working on “Godka Circa” was definitely one of the biggest challenges I have faced in my career. With a film set in Somaliland, location was another great challenge from a production point of view, because the permits were difficult to find and because of the topic we addressed. The women in the film live in a country where women’s rights are almost nonexistent; therefore, we had political impediments from the local government. But in the end we brought home an excellent result. While this project kicked off with many logistical and financial difficulties and ended with a work of high poetic and human value which I am immensely proud of.

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