Give Me the Backstory: Get to Know Klaudia Reynicke, the Filmmaker Behind “Reinas”

By Bailey Pennick

One of the most exciting things about the Sundance Film Festival is having a front-row seat for the bright future of independent filmmaking. While we can learn a lot about the filmmakers from the 2024 Sundance Film Festival through the art that these storytellers share with us, there’s always more we can learn about them as people. This year, we decided to get to the bottom of those artistic wells with our ongoing series: Give Me the Backstory!

Klaudia Reynicke is having a tough go at making a decision. The Swiss-Peruvian filmmaker is constantly making choices and finding the strength in herself to stay authentic to her storytelling visions in her films, but right now she’s deciding between her favorite project to come from the Sundance Institute and Film Festival, and it’s proving trickier than she thought it would be. “I’m having a hard time choosing between The Blair Witch Project, Whiplash, and Call Me by Your Name,” she says.

Her latest feature, Reinas, joins those ranks as part of the Sundance Film Festival class of 2024. The film, which premiered as part of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition, follows the story of two teenagers reuniting with their estranged father before they move from their home of Peru to Minnesota. Set in the summer of 1992, Reinas tackles the historical struggles for safety in Lima through the tender and complex lens of this family and their shifting relationships and dynamics.

Reynicke feels the weight and honor of having her semi-biographical film added to the Sundance-supported cannon. “I have been watching films coming out of Sundance since I was a young adult,” she explains. “In my personal journey, Sundance has always been synonymous with a true cinematic experience. Having my film showcased at Sundance is beyond any dream come true, I could not be happier.”

Learn more about the inspiration behind Reinas, Reynicke’s filmmaking journey, and what things are always stocked in her refrigerator, below.

Why does this story need to be told now?

Although Reinas is set in the ’90s, the film highlights contemporary issues related to a country’s social imbalance and the migration of its inhabitants. The movie addresses the complexity of leaving one’s home country from various perspectives, those of children and adults, considering separation as a compromise between pain and hope. At a time when the issue of migration continues to grow, it is crucial to delve into the complexity of this phenomenon and to keep telling stories that address the challenges of leaving one’s homeland to rebuild elsewhere. 

Films are lasting artistic legacies, what do you want yours to say?

Telling the story of two young sisters who gradually accept a man — their biological father whom they barely know — as a parent, was an opportunity to explore the challenges of childhood, the desire to belong and parenthood. The notion of family defines a strong part of an individual’s identity, whether that individual wants to accept it or not. 

Klaudia Reynicke, director of Reinas, an official selection of the World Dramatic Competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Tell us an anecdote about casting or working with your actors.

It was only after selecting Abril [Gjurinovic] for the role of young Lucia in the film that I discovered her personal story had a striking resemblance to her fictional character. Abril, who herself left Peru with her mother a couple of years ago to establish a new life in Belgium, had to leave her father behind, who still lives in Peru.

What was the biggest inspiration behind this film?

I left Peru at the age of 10 and grew up between Europe and the United States. However, as time went on, I felt a deep longing to return to my homeland — not as a stranger or a mere tourist, but to reconnect with the Peruvian society through a project aimed at rediscovering my roots. Reinas emerged from this urgent need, blending my personal story with my cinematic vision.

Your favorite part of making Reinas? Memories from the process?

My return to Lima, after so many years abroad, was not easy. I am a mother of two children who stayed in Europe during the filming, and I had a lot of anxiety and doubts about having to leave them for several weeks. I was afraid that I had made the wrong choice. I was filled with a paradoxical feeling about my project; I felt guilty, but that guilt hid a great fear [of] not being up to the task — neither as a mother nor as a filmmaker. 

Once in Peru, I felt like a stranger in my own country, my memories belonged to a past that no longer existed. But gradually, through work, there was the birth of new experiences and felt like belonging to my country again, something that I had always wanted to pass on to my children. In the end, my children were able to visit me during the filming in Lima, and I had the opportunity to show them Peru through this experience. It was one of my favorite moments of this experience.

What was a big challenge you faced while making this film?

Finding the strength to stay true to my vision as a director, even when faced with doubts and external challenges. Paola Freddi, the film’s editor, has been my most precious ally on this journey.

Why is filmmaking important to you? Why is it important to the world?

It’s the multiple stages of filmmaking, the good and the bad, that make this job so unique and important to me. As for the world, Art in general is important, art stimulates reflection and opens up the mind.

If you weren’t a filmmaker, what would you be doing?

Every time I take on a new film project, I ask myself the same question. I haven’t found a good alternative yet, but I keep looking.

What is something that all filmmakers should keep in mind in order to become better cinematic storytellers?

Working hard and finding a structure helps. Embracing doubt while respecting your artistic vision is essential.

What three things do you always have in your refrigerator?

  1.   Eggs
  2.   Eggs        
  3.   Eggs

Early bird or night owl?

I’m a confused Early bird and mean night owl.

News title Lorem Ipsum

Donate copy lorem ipsum dolor sit amet

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapib.