Colombian-born actress Catalina Sandino Moreno will be on hand tonight for the New York premiere of her feature film, Medeas, in which she stars alongside Brian F. O’Byrne (Million Dollar Baby), Mary Mouser (Bride Wars) and Ian Nelson (The Hunger Games). In the film, which explores issues of alienation, intimacy and disconnect within families, she plays a deaf mother of five living in the California desert. Moreno, nominated for an Oscar for her role in Maria Full of Grace in 2004, and director Andrea Pallaoro will be answering questions from the audience at the 7 p.m. premiere on Jan. 16 at Village East Cinema. Moreno chatted with us about her new film, her fondness for the “awesome” East Village, and her next projects.
Tell us about the film and your role.
Personally, I felt it was a challenge I had to take. I’m grateful the director, Andrea Pallaoro, thought of me to embody this character. It is a very visual film. It is very realistic, and the camera is there to watch us live, and to watch us be; it’s not intrusive. It’s a very free movie. It’s an exciting film to be in. I collaborated with great actors like Brian O’Byrne. The cast was amazing and it was a great experience.
I play a deaf mother with five children. She’s struggling with herself, with her family. She’s trying to be on her own, but she knows she has a family she has to support and be there for. It’s about a family dealing with their own internal problems, and how people interact. We filmed in Santa Clarita, which is about half an hour from Los Angeles.
How did you prepare for the role as a deaf mother?
I met with many mute girls, I learned signed language. There was a girl who helped me with my sign language. I hung out with this girl a lot to see how she handles everyday life. It was very helpful to see their world and what they have to go through.
Where does the title come from?
It’s a contemporary version of the Greek tragedy, “Medea” [written by Euripides]. If you know of the tragedy, watching the film, you’ll see the connection.
The premiere is in the East Village. What are your thoughts on the neighborhood?
I lived in New York for almost 12 years. I lived in Williamsburg, East Harlem, and the Upper East Side. I moved to L.A. two or three years ago. The East Village was the place to be and I think it still is. To be part of that culture, to have my film premiere there, is crazy awesome. I remember going to watch films at Village East Cinema, so it’s an honor to have my premiere there. Everybody who goes to that theater knows about film. They’re not the usual films you find on every corner. I feel special to be there.
What projects are you working on next?
I am finishing The Falling Skies and I start a movie with Catherine Zeta-Jones called The Godmother, which I’m very excited about. I can’t wait to keep working and learning from great actors.