Fantasy and Friendship: Tilda Swinton and Julio Torres Embrace the Absurd in Problemista

Dressed in ethereal white, Tilda Swinton exudes a serene presence, reminiscent of the otherworldly beings from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Sitting comfortably amidst the foliage-filled backdrop of her Scottish home, Swinton greets Julio Torres, her co-conspirator in the whimsical comedy Problemista, which recently toured Copenhagen and Guadalajara. Torres, appearing via video call from his Brooklyn base, meets her banter with youthful charm, his pixie-cut and lively demeanor filling the screen.

The bond between Swinton, the venerable figure of avant-garde cinema, and Torres, the irreverent comic genius and former SNL writer, is palpable. They effortlessly riff on each other’s jokes and share cinematic anecdotes with mutual delight. Their collaboration began online, blossoming into a friendship that now extends to music festivals like Glastonbury, interspersed with creative endeavors like Problemista.

Al from Edinburgh, Scotland, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the film, Torres channels his experience as a Salvadoran immigrant in New York into a fantastical narrative reminiscent of Jacques Tati crossed with Terry Gilliam, with shades of Franz Kafka. Swinton portrays Elizabeth, an eccentric art critic with a penchant for dramatics, whose offer of sponsorship to Torres’ character, Alejandro, comes with increasingly absurd demands. Swinton describes Elizabeth as a character who defies convention: imperfect, unpredictable, and deeply human amidst her larger-than-life persona.

Their conversation touches on Torres’ affinity for conceptual humor, evidenced in his previous work and now in Problemista, where he explores themes of identity and belonging through surreal comedy. Swinton reflects on her own artistic journey, shaped by collaborations with Derek Jarman and a commitment to projects that foster genuine creative exchange.

Beyond their professional synergy, the duo shares a disdain for corporate insincerity and a commitment to authentic, impactful storytelling. Torres, known for his whimsical approach to storytelling, challenges societal norms by imbuing everyday objects with consciousness, much like a benevolent David Lynch. Swinton concurs, noting the dichotomy between connectivity and corporate exploitation, citing Torres’ insights into queer culture as pivotal to their shared creative ethos.

As Problemista prepares to debut on digital platforms, Swinton and Torres remain unabashedly themselves: provocative, insightful, and unafraid to challenge the status quo. Theirs is a creative partnership built on mutual admiration and a shared desire to push artistic boundaries.

Problemista will be available on digital platforms starting July 8th, inviting audiences into a world where humor meets existential reflection, guided by the unmistakable spirits of Swinton and Torres.


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