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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Interview with Director Don Millar for BOTERO (2018) @ SIFF

Interview with Director Don Millar for BOTERO (2018) @ SIFF

Producer, director, writer Don Millar's debut feature documentary BOTERO (2018) portrays the life of beloved and iconic artist Fernando Botero. The 86 year-old Colombian native painter and sculptor was born in Medellin in 1932. A poetic ode to the modern master, the film features interviews across ten cities in China, Europe, North America and Latin America, following Botero and his family, revealing the legacy he has created from his youth to life today as he continues to paint and sculpt from his Monaco studio. 

The film is making its international film festival tour, having recently screened at the Morelia International Film Festival in Mexico, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Miami International Film Festival and Sonoma International Film Festival. House of Film is handling international sales.


When did you know you had to make this film about Botero? And was it difficult to get to him and his family?

DON: I attended Botero’s opening in Beijing and was struck by two things. First, I was surprised by his popularity and appeal in a culture so different from his own. Secondly, I found Botero himself intriguing as he found his way through all of the chaos surrounding his visit in a way that was calm, enigmatic and vaguely amused. The combination of these factors made a lightbulb go off in my head about what great potential this had. I spoke with Lina Botero and she was essential in getting the artist to agree; he is a private person who likes to be left alone to paint, so she really had to make an extraordinary effort. At the end, Botero was very agreeable and happy with the film.


How long did it take you to get the film made from beginning to end?

DON: 19 months of pre-production, production and post-production.


Do you think Botero is one of the last classic artists of modern age?

DON: Yes, I think so. He has the ability to rely on the great traditions of European and Latin American art while speaking to people in a unique and modern way.


Do you think art like Botero's is one of the only places where people can communicate without being divided?

DON: That is certainly his hope and ambition. I think he succeeds through the kind of whimsical humour that cuts through cultural boundaries.


Are there any anecdotes you would like to share with us which happened during the filming with Botero himself?

DON: During our shoot in Monaco, he generously took our entire crew for lunch at his usual spot, before we went back upstairs for some B-roll, breathed a sigh of relief and hit the road for Aix-en-Provence one more time, to attend a conference celebrating the end of the exhibition. He was happy to see us leave as he really wanted to get back to painting!


This was a fantastic doc. Was it difficult to make and will you continue to direct features and more docs? 

DON: I was blessed with a very strong and creative team, so was able to make it through without much difficulty, although it was obviously a ton of work. Looking back, I appreciate the work of all the great members of the crew who helped us show up in disparate places around the world and get the job done to a high level time and again.


Have you managed to find a distributor for the film?

DON: We interviewed more than a dozen firms who wanted to handle the film and landed with House of Film, which is based in LA and Rome. They are just now starting the sales effort and there is a lot of demand, something that speaks to Botero’s universal appeal.


Your film has been on the festival circuit. How have people reacted to it?

DON: We have been accepted to 14 festivals so far. The reaction has been strong, with Colombians making up a huge part of the audience wherever we go.


You screened at Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) last month. How was that experience?

DON: Our team appreciated the great turn out and the enthusiasm. It’s a great festival in that the selection is great and it is a “destination festival” that draws visitors to enjoy all that Napa has to offer.


What will you be working on next?

DON: My tennis game for now!


Interview by Vanessa McMahon



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