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Leticia Jorge on Don’t You Let Me Go: Interview

The outline of director Leticia Jorge over a still from her film, Don’t You Let Me Go, where three people walk with their bikes, used in a Loud and Clear interview

We interviewed Leticia Jorge, one of the writers and directors of Don’t You Let Me Go, on her fantastical and profound film looking at friendship, love and loss.

Don’t You Let Me Go (Agarrame Fuerte), written and directed by Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge, has won the 12th annual Nora Ephron Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. The jury has called the project a “poignant, life-affirming film that celebrates love and female friendships”. We got the chance to sit down and interview half of Don’t You Let Me Go’s writing and directing team, Leticia Jorge, prior to the film’s festival premiere. 

The film follows Adela (Chiara Hourcade), a woman in the height of mourning the loss of her deeply cherished best friend Elena (Victoria Jorge). As she is standing at her best friend’s wake, she is forced to comfort those around her who are outwardly emotional over Elena’s passing, while she herself feels completely disconnected from this moment meant to look back on her best friend’s life. Nothing about the space, from its fluorescent lighting to the giant cross above Elena’s coffin, reminds her of the light and love her best friend was the embodiment of. 

After leaving the wake, Adela is overcome with sadness as she finally can express her grief in some capacity. As she sobs in her car outside of the wake, she feels a calling to a bus that seems to be waiting for her. She gets onto the bus and is then transported ten years into the past, to her aunt’s beach house and a very much alive Elena who has been eagerly awaiting her arrival. Adela is able to live out one last weekend with Elena, joined soon by their third best friend Luci (Eva Dans), and feel her presence one last time. The women don’t embark on a crazy adventure or wild hijinks; they simply spend time together hanging out like they did when they were young. However, as the end of the weekend nears, Adela must grapple with the reality that she must finally say goodbye to this person who is a vital part of her

In our interview with Leticia Jorge, we spoke about working with a predominantly female cast and crew, balancing two different emotional tones within one film and navigating mourning. 

Don’t You Let Me Go’s Emphasis on Female Friendships

How did the inspiration for this film find you? 

Leticia Jorge: Ana [Guevara] and I went through a similar situation. When that was happening, in the heat of the pain, the way we reacted in a way was making this movie. We kind of felt the need to do something and since we are filmmakers, we found the thing that we could do was to approach the way we were feeling through cinema.

Two women and a child hug in the film Don’t You Let Me Go, in a still used in the Loud and Clear interview with director Leticia Jorge
Leticia Jorge on Don’t You Let Me Go: Interview – A still from the movie (Alpha Violet & Bocacha Films / 2024 Tribeca Film Festival)

Can you speak on your desire to make a film showing platonic love’s weight and importance, especially in the wake of grief?

L.J.: I think the people that we grow up with, not necessarily from infancy but from the age of 14, like Ana and I knew each other, make us, in a way. Being the people that we are, we spent a lot of time together. We didn’t have traditional shops where we grew up, so we would spend time together not doing anything; just hanging out was our main thing. When we became mothers, that was a big change in how we spent our time, so [Adela] goes to a time before that, and she finds Elena before they are at that stage.

We were hit pretty roughly because we suffered a loss, and we reacted by making this movie. Ana and I want to portray bonds in people, whether it be family bonds or friendships. I think that this kind of friendship is almost, at some point in your life, maybe even more important to you than your family, because these are the people you choose to spend your days with. 

Leticia Jorge on Don’t You Let Me Go’s Female Lead Team

Was the film’s focus on female friendships something that guided your decision to have a predominantly female cast and crew, or is that something that is standard practice for the two of you?

Leticia Jorge: We actually tend to do this, yes. But, in this case, specifically, we insisted on working with some specific people. One example is the DP, who’s a close friend of mine, but the crew are girls. I used to think it was by chance, but I have to say I actually prefer it. I like working with women better. 

As a filmmaking duo, how do the two of you approach the filmmaking process? Is there a big conversation about your visions for the film prior to shooting or is it more a collaborative effort to find the film while you are in the moment of the shoot? 

L.J.: It’s a long conversation that starts from the beginning. Sometimes it’s an idea that one brings to the other, but we have to find why we are going to be telling that story – not only what’s going to happen in the movie, but why we are going to make this large compromise in our lives to make this new project.

We talk a lot when we write and rehearse. On set, it’s like an elongation of that, which is quite natural for us. This is our third time that we worked together and, I don’t know, we just understand each other. It doesn’t mean that we don’t see things differently sometimes, but we have these unspoken rules and we need to reach an understanding before making the decision. That strategy is actually quite useful, because you have to put into words why you want to do something, so it clarifies things for you also. 

How Don’t You Let Me Go Built A Believable Friendship

The three female protagonists have such an incredible bond that you believe they have been friends for many years. How do you go about building on-screen chemistry like that?

Leticia Jorge: It’s about the casting process. When you choose the actors, that’s the main decision you have to make. They [Chiara Hourcade, Victoria Jorge, Eva Dans] are really clever and funny girls, and they became friends, because they started hanging out even though they are different from the people they portrayed in the movie. They were comfortable with each other because we rehearsed a lot. We worked inside, we went to the locations, and we worked through all of the scenes. I think the bond is written in the script, in a way. 

Leticia Jorge on Don’t You Let Me Go: Interview – Film Trailer (Bocacha Films)

How did you tell Chiara to portray her character when she’s in the scenes where she’s traveled back in time? How did you get her to balance this light and fun with her character knowing what will happen at the end of this weekend?

L.J.: It was a bit schizophrenic for her. When she arrives and finds Elena again and reunites with her, she’s kind of in both places at the same time. She knows what happens, and that she’s been given this gift to be with Elena again, but she’s kind of both there and not there at the same time. The time and the space fall where it’s maybe a memory, maybe a dream. But when Luci arrives and chaos begins, everything becomes more vivid, and I think Adela relaxes and gets to be and live in the moment. The past becomes her present. In the third chapter of the movie, everything comes back because it’s about to end. It’s not nice; it’s just another day and the trip is supposed to end. We kind of decided we didn’t want to take Elena away from Adela again, so we found this way of giving her some extra moments. 

The film can make you laugh out loud at times but also breaks your heart. How did you go about navigating those different tones throughout?

L.J.: Nothing that happens in the second and third parts of the film is sad in itself; it’s sad in the context. It was hard for us while shooting because it was a very emotionally charged project. We were all kind of navigating this mourning process, in a way. But the film is meant to be light, you know: we bring the main character to this place of light and try to give that back to her. 

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Don’t You Let Me Go premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 8-13, 2024. Read our Tribeca Film Festival reviews!

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Header photo credit: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival / Alpha Violet & Bocacha Films

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