As winter’s pristine white blanket covers the silent streets of Montreal, filmmaker Rosana Matecki recalls how the collective mourning of Leonard Cohen’s passing gave her a sense of belonging to the city for the first time. She crosses paths with two Latin American immigrants who also seek an intimate connection with their adoptive city. Magaly is a grocery store cashier in her early fifties; Juan, a painter in his mid-seventies. Inspired by those who find freedom in movement, they gather inside a small ballroom on a Saturday night with other middle-aged souls. For a few hours, they dance, surrendering to the warm embrace of intimacy and belonging.
A short documentary essay on solitude, filmed in Spanish and narrated by Matecki, Saturday Night offers a poetic and bittersweet snapshot of aging in an urban setting, viewed through the lens of dance. An immersive soundscape and a delicate tempo set the mood for this intimate exploration of resilience and nostalgia.
A short documentary essay on solitude, filmed in Spanish and narrated by filmmaker Rosana Matecki, Saturday Night offers a poetic and bittersweet snapshot of aging in an urban setting, viewed through the lens of dance. An immersive soundscape and a delicate tempo set the mood for this intimate exploration of resilience and nostalgia.
A short documentary essay on solitude, filmed in Spanish and narrated by filmmaker Rosana Matecki, Saturday Night offers a poetic and bittersweet snapshot of aging in an urban setting, viewed through the lens of dance.
You’ve always taken a strong auteur approach to your work. Why have you decided to concentrate on intimate storytelling in non-fiction cinema?
Being an auteur means having a vision and going on a journey with it. Documentary is a living form, and I think it’s more ambitious than fiction. It allows us to get closer to other people’s lives. In my case, those lives are usually very different from mine. Thus, it’s important that whoever chooses to participate in the experience internalizes the exercise of becoming actors in their own realities. I find it fascinating to come across people who are vast sources of energy. Each person with their own references. Like people in love, the idea is to seduce them so that they understand what you’re searching for in them. We accompany each other on the journey and we all learn a lot along the way, especially during the shoot. Shooting always encourages/motivates me to continue creating and growing as a filmmaker. It’s the moment when I know that I’m doing what I was meant to do.
I don’t see cinema from a rational point of view, but as the desire to create a space where your dreams can inspire your everyday life. I learned that I wanted to be a filmmaker during a difficult moment in my life. When I emerged from that transition, I started to make the films I wanted to make. I am also truly obsessed with memory. It torments me. If what we were no longer exists, what are we, then? What part of us survives and what part does not, and how do we tell those stories?
Diasporas are complex processes of displacement, belonging, integration and return. After more than 20 years in Canada, do you think your identity and your filmmaking practice are still divided between here and elsewhere?
I think we are migrating our entire lives. I do not understand diaspora in terms of being from one place or from another. Of course, it took time and experience to have that realization. I describe it as a hallucination or a dream. It is not a homeland but just another world. I might be a mixture of Latin American, North American and European, but people are my true homeland.
In your films, you empower historically marginalized characters. Why is this important to you?
I feel great admiration for farmers, peasants and Indigenous communities. And I’m passionate about hardworking people who engage in physical labour. Effort and work lift us all up. That is why I chose Magaly for my film Saturday Night. She is a hairdresser who works in a grocery store. She also does cleaning jobs in Canada and runs a farm in Colombia. Working honours her beyond anything else. I met her the day Leonard Cohen died. After we talked for a while, she told me: “You see me, Rosana. Nobody sees me here.” We shared that feeling and understood each other right away.
What do you hope audiences will take away from watching Saturday Night?
Loneliness is a recurring place that human beings stumble upon, time and time again. It is a sort of Wailing Wall, and we don’t seem to know what to do with it. This made me reflect on the fact that now that I’d lived in Canada for so long, I needed to look at this notion of loneliness in my own way. For a long time I resisted belonging. But then, what am I doing here? It was time for me to look at who I am in this place. The National Film Board of Canada understood this search and trusted my vision as a director. I wanted to find a bit of Latin America in Montreal. I finally found closure in doing this, which gave me an immense sense of freedom. I hope audiences feel that when they watch Saturday Night.
A Film by
Magaly Zuleta and Juan C. Raggo
Written and Directed by
Director of Photography
Ricardo Acosta Fernandez
Angie Pepper O’Bomsawin
Original Music by
Alain Baril Clarinet
Charles Papasoff Sideline
Denis Plante Bandoneon
Guy Bergeron, Québec
Music and lyrics by Denis Plante
Music and lyrics by Denis Plante
First Assistant Director
Karina Garcia Casanova
First Assistant Camera
Graphic Design & Titles
Jacques Bertrand Simard
Digital Editing Technicians
Foley & Narration recording
Jean Paul Vialard
Salon de Tango Tangueria
Eric Talbot Chalifoux
Michelle van Beusekom
Participants – Amateur Dancers
Rachid Badri Talih
Nicolas Van Schendel
Senior Production Coordinator
Leslie Anne Poyntz
Part of the REIMAGINING MY QUÉBEC shorts series
National Film Board of Canada
Quebec & Atlantic Centre
© 2021 National Film Board of Canada