New Directors 20th - 28th September 2013
Nisimazine San Sebastian
Page 2 Page 3
New Directors Page 8 - 9 Page 10 - 11 Page 12 - 13
Index Editorial Of Horses and Men Wolf Hassan’s way
Page 16 - 17 Mother of George Page 18 - 19 Yozgat Blues Page 20 - 21 The Gren Jacket Page 22 - 23 The Empty Hours + The Blinding Sunlight Page 26 - 27 All about the Feathers + Paradise Page 28 - 29 Luton Page 30 - 31 Michalis Konstantatos Page 34 - 35 The Gambler + Puppy Love Page 36 - 37 The Dune Page 39 - 39 Japanese Dog Page 40 - 41 Funeral at Noon + The Magnetic Tree
Page 44 - 45
How to make a movie before turning 30
Photo Reportage Page 48 - 49
Pictures by Eftihia Stefanidi
Page 50 - 51 Page 52 - 53
Jonás Trueba The Wishful Thinkers
Page 56 - 57 Page 58 - 59
Workers + So Much Water A Wolf at the Door + I Thought it was a Party
Page 60 - 61
editorial The San Sebastian Film Festival has pulled the ultimate magic trick. In a moment when the current financial crisis is having a devastating impact in the local film industry, one of the most influential film events in southern Europe has shown that the film crowd in Spain is standing firm. It was not the case of creating an elaborate illusion to fool the outside world. Quite the contrary, all the efforts of the classic festival seemed to show that despite all the adversities and inevitable cut backs from public sources of funding, the local scene is alive and kicking, undoubtedly less vigorously than in the past, but refusing to die a quick and painful death. Apart from multiplying the space for debate and the search for solutions, which they did, in particularly by strengthening the ties with Latin American counterparts, the most successful way San Sebastian achieved this display of force was by helping to create as much buzz as possible during the premieres of some of the biggest and smallest productions coming from local production houses and filmmakers. Success! Regardless of the artistic and commercial merits of some of these films they managed to bring a much needed spotlight and exuberance. Yet, there is another key aspect that particularly stood out of this year´s edition of the Basque Festival, which all too often other similar events around the continent seem to lack. San Sebastian has a special and unique relationship with the community in which it lives in: I´ve never seen a population so actively involved and aware of its festival. Where else do you see butcher´s opening later so they can go to a screening? Or taxi drivers “demanding” tips on films to watch? Or teenage surfers trading waves to go star spotting at the red carpet? Everyone in San Sebastian is a potential film critic (watch out professionals and wannabes) and everyone is very much aware that something special is taking place in their town. This tight relationship with its audience is obviously the result of 61 years of hard work. Regardless of the difficulties and obstacles ahead, the connection with the so often forgotten audience, the ultimate target of every film professional, is worthy of a standing ovation. This love affair is central to all solutions. In the following pages you will find echoes of this, but most importantly an in-depth coverage and analysis of the New Directors section of the festival, an equally important demonstration of renewal of provocative ideas and perspectives on a global scale. There was no lack of extraordinary films, and Benedikt Erlingson´s winner Of horses and Men (page 8), or Andrew Dosunmo´s Mother of George (page 16), are just a few great examples among many. So dare to be like a San Sebastian film lover, even if briefly, and discover the Basque vision of the future of film. Enjoy!
by Fernando Vasquez
“Scene of a marriage; a couple watching the sunset” by Eftihia Stefanidi
Of horses and men by Benedikt Erlingsson // Iceland
new directors Award
The great winner of this year´s edition of the New Directors section of the San Sebastian Film Festival was a groundbreaking film from Iceland. Benedikt Erlingsson, the Nordic actor turned filmmaker, was the name on everyone´s lips, so our reporter, Júlia de Balle, tracked him down alongside his main star, Charlotte Bøving, who happens to be his wife. An exclusive and special insight into their debut feature, Of Horses and Men. When did you start working on this script? BE: It’s been a long process. The ideas have been a long time with me, they come from my background, living with horses and people, and working in the countryside. Are you from a rural background? BE: No, I’m from Reykyavík, but there’s this tradition in Iceland that when you’re a teenager you go and work with the farmers for three months. And it was a shock. And maybe in this film I’m trying to heal myself after that shock.
There are some brutal scenes, did you make them up or are they a part of Iceland’s imaginary? Like when the wire blinds this man… BE: Yes, this can happen. Everything can happen. If the wire breaks, because of the tension, it can really hurt someone. We have these national roads and it’s in our constitution that you cannot block these paths, but some farmers do and then a conflict starts. I was also curious about what the Latin boy does with the horse… BE: Well, don’t they do it all the time in Latin America? (laughs) No, this is an old trick that you use in Iceland when you’re caught in bad weather, it has been done since ancient times and the grandfather of a friend saved his life like this. And it’s important that it was a Latin character because he knows how to kill a cow, or a horse, because he knows about bullfighting. How important is humour in this story? BE: For me it’s very important. When you tell a good story humour is always there. Even if you tell something very sad about your life or
Writing about an artwork without straight recognizable references or familiar patterns is delicious and challenging just as it is somewhat frightening. Benedikt Erlingsson signs this odd jewel as his first feature, although he’s no firsttimer in terms of storytelling. Widely awarded for his theatre plays, he’s regarded to be one of Iceland’s most talented directors.
randomly meet fellow residents when sharing a similarly isolated piece of land. Yet acting per se does not seem to be present; it just flows, leaving the audience in the privileged position of a nearby witness. This may very well be a consequence of the fact that the actors are actual friends of Erlingsson (or even his wife) and do have horses in their real lives.
Of Horses and Men is a captivating film wrapped up with the harshly beautiful Icelandic landscape. It focuses in a small community of people living in the countryside who attempt to peacefully merge their demanding and helpless desires with a simple and traditional life alongside the wild horses’ herds. However, truth be told, at least regarding the peace factor, they are not very lucky. Throughout the story’s unravelling more than one, even more than two, very severe events occur – each of them so visually haunting they get stuck in the retina’s memory and may very likely lead to discussions on limits, rivalry, endurance or honour.
The Icelandic horse is said to be specially robust and tough as opposite to more slender races. This is wisely used by the camera as it is placed low, always framing ample portions of ground and thus showing how gracefully the hoofs caress the earth during the ridings, or how hard people grip their desires and fight in their quests. Tagged as a tragicomedy, personal dramas are intertwined with subtle humour, exquisitely rooted in the narrative’s repetitiveness or the characters’ primitive behaviours. The original score is worth being mentioned too, for it precisely emphasizes the story’s rhythm and the subtext’s tone all the way through. A new voice is coming from the North and, hopefully, we’ll be hearing it sometime soon.
about a very tragic film, you should try to see the humorous side of it, in order to make literature out of your life. What is the film actually about? BE: It’s been said that it’s about the horse in men and the men in horse. Maybe this is banal, but it’s important to accept that humanity is also very animalistic. People are brutal like animals, we say, but people are also lovable like animals. In Icelandic language you can say “he’s a horse”, it’s a common nickname. Is it negative? CB: I can tell you why is not that negative. Because it’s a very tough country to live in, you don’t have this weather or a ground that it’s just giving, life is tough in there. Today we can heat our houses but your mother, for example… BE: My mother was born in a house made of stone and mud, so only very recently we’re coming out of the mud. We’ve been living very close to the animals to keep us warm. Maybe we have some kind of connections that in Spain you have not. Where you shocked about the film?
A notably varied line-up of characters configures a wellbalanced sieve where everyone has about the same prominence as the others and delivers his/her particular dramatic peak in its due course – all rushes avoided. Actors seem to naturally come and go, just as one would
review & interview by Júlia de Balle // photography by Eftihia Stefanidi // Nisimazine San Sebastian // 9
by Jim Taihuttu // The Netherlands
Youth jury Award
Jim Taihuttu is part of a new breed of dutch filmmakers willing to push the limits of a conservative local scene. His brand new work, Wolf, quickly became a favourite in San Sebastian, so our reporter Sara Martínez Ruiz tracked him down to find out just how hard it was making such a powerful feature. Documentary tradition is in fact an important thing in Dutch cinematography. Were you influenced by it? I like to work in documentary research, I think documentaries are great. A friend as a cameraman I always work with is actually a documentary cameraman. And I like to take an actor and just start walking and go into reality. And just try to put scenes or actors into reality. Some Dutch filmmakers think that there is a new generation in The Netherlands, is there any place for new voices?
Yes, and maybe it is because the whole generation has been failing to make interesting movies. This year, for instance, a Dutch movie was selected for the first time in Cannes, so that means there should be a change. There should be room for younger people and the audience is getting younger as well. I think this moment is not the best time to become a filmmaker… (Interrupting) This is not the best time to become anything! Only to become old… Indeed… but I wander how difficult is for you to try to shoot a film? Well, this is our second movie. On the first we put the entire budget ourselves, 210.000€, and made the movie ourselves: we produced it ourselves, we wrote it ourselves, we directed it ourselves, we did it with our hole crew and cast that weren’t paid and we shot with a 5D Canon. After that, doing the second movie became easier. But nobody
There is a kind of new wave of filmmakers in the Netherlands who are gradually making an impression in the international film industry, by standing strong and, in some way, deeply marked by its national documentary tradition, so social and risky at the same time. In this breeding ground where new voices are beginning to tell their own stories loud and clear, Jim Taihuttu’s second film is one of those to keep in mind. A not real but really close to reality story of a young man who tries to be successful in the life he choose for himself, a life of crime and mafia, moved by the same desires than his neighbours: give it all to his family. His uncontrollable violence brings him to a kickboxing training ground, in a failed attempt to change the way of his unavoidable journey towards the abyss. The audience can just sit withstanding the blows and wait for the end of this contemporary tragedy.
on the edge. Written in stone by his origin as the word stands out on his chest, Rabat, the main character fights even literally to defend their ethical principles in that coherent way than we cannot but exonerate him. As Van Der Keuken and all his predecessors were interested in the causes that either make society work or not, Taihuttu offers an honest take on reality by finding out the reasons of people’s behaviour. Trying to go further in character´s development, the handheld camera approaches very close in black and white, hypnotized by the strength of Marwan Kenzari’s ligh and shadows. A deep social portrait led by repressed anger of those who see their lives going by, rolling in a vicious circle that needs to blow up. And that is just what they are asking for, staring into audience’s eyes and putting them in the shoes of those characters that are as hateful as forgivable.
wanted to give us a chance for the first one. I think making your first movie is the hardest, in between not making a movie and making your first one there is like a universe. Why did you decided to make your own producer company? Because the existing companies weren’t interested in our stories. A lot of Dutch producer companies, a lot of them, are still like in 1994: the way they work, the way they spend their budgets, the way they think about films. But it is a new time, it is a new generation, the kids are there, they can shoot something with a phone, with a laptop. If you have a canon 5D and a Macbook you can make a movie. That is how you do your first movie.
Family’s unconditional love, equality of opportunities, social determinism and racism are the grounds where deep built characters step on, involved by an unbreathable atmosphere floating on this social environment taken to extremes, in a strong portrait of Dutch society where second generation of Tuskish and North African immigrants live
review & interview by Sara Martínez Ruíz // photography by Eftihia Stefanidi // Nisimazine San Sebastian // 11
Hassan’s way by Fran Araújo & Ernesto de Nova // Spain
Hassan’s way is the true story of a Moroccan man travelling back home, all the way from Spain, on his new tractor, El Rayo. Vasco Esteves had a chat with the debutant directors Fran Araújo and Ernesto de Nova, to understand how a real story became fiction. How did you find Hassan? EN: We found him in my father’s village. He was working with my grandfather. I knew his brother and Hassan actually bought the tractor from my second aunt. FA: Ernesto and I started talking about how this could be made a movie. When we went to talk with Hassan we suddenly knew that this story and this character that is a nonactor would definitely be great in camera. Being the story based on Hassan’s real life, why make it a fiction instead of documentary?
EN: We wanted to do this film like this, like it was made. In the beginning, when we met with Hassan, we didn’t know really what kind of movie we wanted to do. But when we met Hassan, we decided we wanted to make the film with real people. And be honest with his story. FA: I think that the main thing is that we wanted to make a fiction film. Both of us made documentary films before and we wanted to do something else this time. We had a lot of talks about the film: what are we going to do, what’s the best way to do this film. Okay, it’s a road movie, but when you’re on the road you can’t be sure that the trip is interesting enough. And we wanted to make a film that was entertaining and with a lot of things happening. How did you plan the trip? Was it Hassan’s way or your way? FA: We made a trip with him to decide where to go. All the film was a pact between us
Hassan’s Way is the true story of how a lonely man crossed half Spain in a tractor. Portrayed by Hassan himself, we follow him in real time as he heads back to his hometown in Morocco. Neither being a conventional biopic nor an innovative documentary, the film is an immaculate work of fiction. Merging all styles onto a fresh new take on realism, we wonder how much the filmmakers interfered with Hassan’s voyage for it to succeed. At the low speed of 30km/h we trail the tractor (baptized El Rayo) across villages, learning action by action what wishes this persistent man thrives. Morally and economically devastated by the lack of work in Spain, each day is a survival day. Living on his scarce savings, Hassan’s most important possession is its new vehicle. Planning on using it to plow and harvest a few fields his father left him, we realize that Hassan is a man who denied a fish and preferred to be though how to fish.
and Hassan. Everything with Hassan was a negotiation. We were on the road and we made several itineraries. Hassan would say: “Let’s go this way”. We would look at the map and say: “Hell no”. We would just have to say no, because these other places were beautiful, and this other routes were cheaper for us. It was a ruff negotiation, but we won sometimes. You would write along the way, each night. Was it difficult to get in the morning what you planned in the night before? FA: We wanted to do this, but we were man enough to say we didn’t have a lot of money; so every night we were always fighting to improve the script. Always trying to do the film with the things we had. EN: Sometimes we would find something better and so we wanted to introduce it in the script.
Full of cinematic moments, the movies visuals are a delight for the viewer. With almost no traces of documentary shots, the direct and focused camera style combines perfectly with the simple ways of Hassan. Conducted perfectly by the debutant directors, the naturally honest performances of the actors are grounded to their origins. Additionally some credit has to be placed under the editor slate because such labored outcomes could only be made with a well crafted editing, leveraging from the most harmonic moments. More than a road movie, Hassan’s Way is a story of companionship. Either between the character and all his guardian angels or between Hassan himself and the filmmakers, the film is a subtle statement that proves that even on these harsh days of poverty and desolation, there is still the possibility to find work, food, shelter and compassion amidst the most warmhearted.
Nevertheless, it is not the journey itself that matters the most. In fact, it is the random encounters Hassan has with several Good Samaritans that charge the films emotional core. With all the characters being performed by real people found along the way (during the actual real
journey); we can’t avoid trying and guessing which of the crossed paths were scripted and which were gracefully improvised throughout the days.
review & interview by Vasco Esteves // photography by Eftihia Stefanidi // Nisimazine San Sebastian // 13
â€œPeeking inside a tiny local bar on my way home I was instantly caught on this Charlie Chaplin poster. The man standing in front of it abstractly resembled his figure. I expressed my remark and received this reaction (by both him and Charlie!)â€? by Eftihia Stefanidi
Mother of George by Andrew Dosunmu // USA There’s this crucial aspect that filmmakers tend to leave aside in their cinematographic perspective: film as a visual language. Andrew Dosunmu, on the other hand, has it clearly present in his creative process and Mother of George, his anglo-nigerian’s second feature film, proves it undoubtedly. An unforgettable cultural experience, full of poetic power, intensity, and resonantly enliven cinematography, displays ethical and moral concerns in a way that the audience will, beyond doubt, encase emotionally. The dazzling opening scene of the film, a wedding ceremony, immerses the viewer on what the film is embracing. This mesmerizing introduction emphasizes how the artistry is fundamental in the progression of its plot. Adenike Balogun is a very passionate and devoted wife that has Ayodele Balogun, a restaurant owner, as her only care and concern in life. At the closure of their marriage ceremony, Ayodele’s caustic mother names their yet-to-be-conceived child as George. Hardly dealing with it, and as brutal as it can be, Adenike still hasn’t given birth after 18 months. This situation forms a shocking brawl over cultural principles, which permanently questions the viewer about fragile realities. Both characters are eminently well performed, and their pursuit for pregnancy is incredibly felt and shared with the audience. Overall,
the acting in Mother of George is in level with its direction, cinematography and score, making it a balanced melodramatic narrative. Clearly influenced by his years as a fashion assistant in Yves Saint Laurent, Dosunmu created a work where grace and fiction merge into something astounding. Having experienced the New York immigration firsthand, he transmits a sense of genuineness and emotional proximity not easily found. Visually rare, the jaw-dropping work of Bradford Young, who won the Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival this year, deserves to be considered as one of the major strengths of Mother of George. Understandably, the slow-paced tempo may look like it’s suffocating the story, but as it develops we realize that its objective is to encircle the audience in the film’s essence, which is achieved with distinction. With its vibrantly colourful shapes and patterns, this cultural specific narrative is a window to worldwide religious and tradition issues, resulting in an outstanding piece of human culture portrayal.
Nisimazine Vary////17 7 review by Bernardo Lopes // Nisimazine San Karlovy Sebastian
by Mahmut Fazil Cosckun // Turkey Google maps tells me going from Istanbul to Yozgat (a city of about 650.000 people in central Anatolia) is a 7.5 hours ride. This is the trip that, after a short introduction, opens the second feature of Mahmut Fazil Cosckun, thus setting a weird artistic couple in motion. Yet their pace is rather slow, almost unwilling. Somehow involuntarily, the two of them start a new life in this provincial city with remarkably different hopes. Yavuz is a middle-aged unpopular singer, who has just been fired from the shopping centre in Istanbul were he used to sing without much audience and, presumably swallowing some kind of family break, only longs for rest and oblivion. Nese, a woman in her thirties, pleas him for a job in his new destination: wherever Yozgat lies, whatever there might be for her. She seems to be looking for economical stability, or maybe even to climb the social ladder. One way or another, she ends up doing the choirs along Yavuz’s voice and they keep rehearsing one night after the other in a small music hall-bar with few clients, letting life just pass them by. Ercan Kesal’s lethargic acting, as Yavuz, is worth being mentioned and was recognized with the Best Actor award in the Istanbul International Film Festival.
would clearly link to the blues music style, of course–, it lacks a bit of an attracting factor as well, for too many of the questions the viewer may have about the characters never happen to be answered and hence appear to have been posed in vain. However, if patient enough, between one chai tea and another, hidden behind long silences and ordinary monosyllabic dialogues, time comes for a few exquisite humour jewels. These go along with the appearance of two other characters: a passionate barber in state of dormancy (perhaps instantly polluted by Yavuz and Nese’s insipidness) and an eccentric poet who arrives and leaves for good with the same abruptness. Nicely shot, chromatically coherent with the tone and excellently performed by the cast, Yozgat Blues makes clear that some things are wrong in this small Turkish universe that it portrays, but fails to transmit what would be better. The same part of a song replayed until it is insufferable (or even funny), a singer who whispers but never sings, a marriage bond merely because she has no other plan. The Blues oppresses Yozgat and its people, it leaves them cold, carelessly facing joys and grieves, and compulsorily crestfallen. Even so, it beautifully envelops this very singular idiosyncrasy.
Though the film masterfully achieves to transmit an overall mood of low-spirited and miserable feelings –words that one
Nisimazine Vary////19 7 review by Júlia de Balle // Nisimazine San Karlovy Sebastian
The Green Jacket by Volodymyr Tykhyy // Ukraine A 7 year old boy in a green jacket disappears in the park while being watched over by his older teen sister, Olya. Whereas a son’s disappearance would set a strong family apart, Olya’s family is already broken. The result could be nothing but an emotional emptiness, a void of reactions that leave everyone but Olya conformed to the situation. The conformity felt by the family is not something that would make sense in real life; it is not something we could correlate within a real life reaction. All the characters seem to roam as pointlessly as the (for several years) on-going and never-ending police investigation. Nothing happens, nothing evolves, except for Olya’s emotion. Being present in the moment of the disappearance, the older sister truly believes to know who the kidnapper is. Hopeful, she tells the family, the police; everyone who the man is, but no-one seems to really care due to the seemingly inexistent proofs, leaving her completely frustrated. With time and after recurring tries to call for attention, Olya feels misunderstood until she’s absolutely fed-up. Divided by the complexity and duration of the situation, and while deciding whether she should or shouldn’t take action into her own hands, Olya takes refuge in her relationship with several dubious friends. Most of their encounters are non-functional, off-
tone and beyond understandable description: their actions are immoderate and inconsistent, representing what’s wrong with most of the film. In it, every cause-effect relation between all events is questionable due to its disconnection with reality. Everything in the film is strange and awkward. Although the final scene culminates into a pro-active action by Olya, being fresh as well as disturbing, we never get to emotionally involve ourselves that much with the plot to really get mesmerized by the duality between her actions and her age. Further exploiting the films lack of direction, it ends with a dreadful freeze frame, coming to prove a ridiculous cliché tendency in indie or debutant films’ closure. This pure formality doesn’t have any meaning to the story, detaches the viewer and marks a lack of originality that is never felt throughout the entire feature. Starting as a powerful story, The Green Jacket is unable to deliver. Wanting to care for Olya and trying to root for her, we never manage to do it because not only the family but the entire plot is simply implausible. The distress of the situation is real, but our reaction to it and to the film is a basic numbness.
Nisimazine Karlovy Vary 7 review by Vasco Esteves // Nisimazine San Sebastian // //21
The Empty Hours When his uncle needs to take some time off work for medical reasons, it falls to 17-year-old Sebastian to run the pay-per-hour motel that he owns. While Sebastian is friendly and assertive, the coastal location is all but abandoned and he frequently finds himself bored. That is until he meets Miranda, an attractive woman in her thirties who visits the motel to meet with her lover. Often stood up, she soon forms a bond with the teenager that turns out to be a learning experience for both of them. Aarón Fernández’s second feature The Empty Hours was first screened as part of the Films In Progress section at last year’s festival, and it’s understandable why it received the backing it needed to bring it here this year. There’s a charm to the story that’s really quite addictive, and it comes from the interaction between the two leads. It addresses lust and loneliness with subtlety, using very natural dialogue and careful cinematography to capture these emotions. It’s ultimately a tale of life experiences and maturity, one that’s summed up perfectly by the beautifully shot final scene. Although it suggests acceptance and optimism, it doesn’t spoon-feed the outcome to the audience, instead letting them interpret it themselves.
Nisimazine San Sebastian // 22 // review by Robyn Davies
by Aarón Fernández // Mexico
While the film is strongest when it’s focusing on this relationship between Sebastian and Miranda, the majority of the other scenes feel somewhat stale and elongated. We spend too long watching a solitary Sebastian tend to the (mostly empty) motel, getting only a few interesting glimpses of other guests or workers. Perhaps this is supposed to emulate the boy’s initial boredom, but unfortunately that extends to the viewer as well. New directors can’t afford to lose the interest of an audience that hasn’t yet developed trust, and this is one of those films that suffer after taking a risk with a slow start, which is a shame when it’s followed by some truly lovely moments. Kristyan Ferrer is compelling to watch in the charismatic lead role, displaying skill far beyond his years. It would have been nice to learn a little more about the character’s life away from the motel, but he serves his purpose well in the moment. This idea of being ‘almost there’ applies to the whole film - it’s pleasant but not astounding, yet shows a lot of promise for future works.
The Blinding Sunlight “Actors are non professionals”: A last note which reminds one of the characteristic of Italian Neorealism. In the first scenes, we can easily realize that this is a very low budget film, the quality of the image and the sound are our first clue. Nonetheless, this is not a sign that the film is awful in any way, as the movie has brilliant moments of photography, such as for example the last scene which gives meaning to the title, one of the main characters is blinded by the sun. The director develops life situations of the Chinese suburbs. Yu Liu tells the story of a family who lives of subsidies and illegal dealings, such as the taxi driven by the father. A country which is in ruins, physically and emotionally, is clearly portrayed by the director, who shows us rubble filled streets, reminding us of the Neorealism style of, for instance destroyed Rome in Open City (Rossellini, 1945). Besides that, the resistance of the Chinese government in helping them is notorious, personified in the civil servant who tells the main character that anyone can’t be sad working for the Community Party.
by Yu Liu // China
If the director has Neorealist like influences, the film would need to be more dramatic and cruel. For example, in Bicycle Thieves (1948), the spectator understands perfectly the distress of the main character. In The Blinding Sunlight the director does not develop this question in much depth. Both stories deal with the desperate necessity of feeding the family, but De Sica shows more hardship moments, he plays better with the spectator’s sensitivity. Yu Liu just touches the surface of the issues that he talks about: a disobedient son, a father who is not the best paternal example and a grandfather who collects rubbish and is a street peddler. Nevertheless, Yu Liu does not “choke” his characters, they live difficult moments, never being overwhelming. In spite of all this the filmmaker has shown his debut production in one of the great film festivals of the moment. The first work of Yu Liu has mistakes, of course, but which debut does not and is instead marked by perfection?
review by Ana Martínez // Nisimazine San Sebastian // 23
“Jaime Ordóñez, Spanish star of ‘Witching and Bitching’ arrives at Maria Cristina Hotel to some bewitched teenage crowd.” by Eftihia Stefanidi
All About the Feathersby Neto Villalobos // Costa Rica Maybe it is not the first time that cinema explores the loneliness of a human being by making friends with animals. In fact, in the last few years praised films like the Dutch Kauwboy tried to figure out how difficult relationships can be if you are not that powerful to face reality. Latin American All about the feathers reminds us of Boudewijn Kool’s work by capturing the essence of friendship in the same unidirectional way. A man who really needs to be listened and cared tries to find someone to put his own desires on: a rooster which is supposed to be trained to fight. All about the feathers takes the bird as an excuse to meet some good friends which are as peculiar as, at the same time, increasingly lovely, making us realize our own weak condition in the world. Despite the European influence clearly visible in most of the best scenes, where the filmmaker plays with aesthetics of ugliness, a little bit depressing but pleasant, the staging keeps the Latin American soul of those characters at the same rhythm of the environment that involves them: slower than the audience would like it to be, but according to the character´s feelings. Even though the director’s view is evident in a few moments
where you can guess where the camera is going to be, he is convinced in his conception of the story, where its harmony lies in beauty itself. This logical construction is mixed with the madness of a kind of experimental transition sequences in key points of the film. Most of the time an exercise of static shots and pauses that allows the main character to walk in and out the scene, just observed by director’s eye, wandering to find himself between noisy people and empty places, or maybe just the opposite. Despite this, the film doesn’t live up to its tag of a regular comedy, because of notorious dramatic points in the characters themselves. All about the feathers brings at last a kind of Wes Anderson’s taste to this family. This is a proof of how effective it can be shooting without a big budget if the filmmaker knows exactly the way his story moves on. The slow rhythm of a whole long life tormented by grey clouds that could change into a sunny one by appreciating every colorful detail.
Nisimazine San Sebastian // 26 // review by Sara Martínez Ruiz
by Mariana Chenillo // Mexico
The beauty concept has changed throughout history. The perfect woman for Botticelli is not the same as nowadays´ beauty icons. Other artists like Botero have contributed with their personal vision of beauty, and with this Mexican painter´s vision begins the main character’s worry of weight loss. Like other films portraying this obsession, such as Gordos by Daniel Sánchez Arévalo, Paradise shows the character´s fixation for the body and their need to slim down. The message of Paradise is clearly visible when at the end one of the characters claims she was better being fat: people had a problem with the obesity not her.
of the characters. For example, the husband is a much simpler character than he looks like: a mere mechanism for the story and plot progression.
In the film beauty is more related to your personality than to your physical appearance. The filmmaker shows a main character that radiates happiness and sweetness. She wears bright colours and original accessories, like hamburger earrings, which present her passion for food. From this perspective, the director defines beauty.
The soundtrack is another point in favour of the film, with Alaska’s song defining how the main character feels: “Neither you nor anybody can change me”, which means neither my slender husband nor society can change me.
This is the story is of Carmen and Alfredo, a wife and husband who move to Mexico City to find “paradise”, nonetheless they come upon the opposite. This romantic comedy develops a simple plot without going into detail about the personal motivation
In spite of everything, Mariana Chenillo gives much attention to the look of the film. Sex scenes are a perfect example - on the first one the music is laud, image is out of focus and the main characters are passionate lovers. On the second one everything is very cold, there is no music, the camera is static, the marriage is perfectly focused and now they don’t feel anything.
If Chenillo had developed better the script, the movie would be different, more captivating and interesting. Therefore, Paradise is a weak film which we won’t probably remember next year. Having said that, the filmmaker has a clear positive message: believe in yourself.
review by Ana Martínez // Nisimazine San Sebastian // 27
by Michalis Konstantatos // Greece “Why the title, Luton? Luton is a boring place no?” responds Michalis Konstantatos, director of the long-awaited film Luton (sincerest apologies to those who live there).
With its comparison to films like Dogtooth it lives up to an expectation that cannot only be put at fault but can be praised by different individuals.
Konstantatos is no stranger to critical acclaim in international film festivals, winning prizes in Stockholm and Melbourne for his previous short, Two Times Now. His first feature, Luton, is really mind-blowing and definitely an edge-of-seat type of film.
From the opening shot the visuals are enriched by pure long standing stills that allow the viewer a deeper look into the lives of three somewhat ordinary people, holding ten minute to two-second shots at a time. Along with little dialogues, Luton makes for an interesting film.
With the current economic crisis in Greece people were waiting to see how Konstantatos would approach the topic, or if he wouldn’t touch it at all. My feeling is that this film is in fact the latter; it has a much more universal concern, and as such Konstantatos, as a filmmaker, didn’t feel that he had to address an economic subject simply because it was expected of him; although the film can be interpreted in many ways.
However throughout the film people were snoozing, laughing, leaving. Yet it suddenly jumps into forth gear and demands the attention of those who don’t seem too interested. The gloomy tones of the picture capture the grey and extensive storylines, until bam, it all happens at once. Trust me, it will be worth the wait.
It follows the lives of three people. Jimmy: a high school student who finds his life mediocre and depressing; Mary: a trainee lawyer who longs for something exciting, and Makis: an ordinary shop owner who really hasn’t got a lot going for him.
Nisimazine Karlovy Vary////29 7 review by Amy Thompson // Nisimazine San Sebastian
Michalis Konstantatos Director of â€˜Lutonâ€™ // Greece
Regardless of the financial crisis that has hit Greece, shacking its foundations in an unprecedented way, the local film scene seems to keep growing and growing. Analysts and experts could hardly be more puzzled and confused about it. Greek youth cinema appears to be particularly successful in this era of austerity. Michalis Konstantatos debut feature in San Sebastian, Luton, fulfilled its expected role by creating much buzz around itself, and we could not leave this opportunity go to waste. Two of our reporters, Amy Thompson and Diogo Figueira, met up with the young filmmaker to try and understand how in a moment of such limitations Greece seems to have found an answer with fantastic results.
There´s this idea that Greek cinema crossed the Golden Age in the 1950s and the 60s, and then came Angelopoulos, in a more art-house driven era, with films such as Dogtooth, Alps, Attenberg. How would you say the Greek audience is reacting to this new Greek cinema?
portray ‘Greekness’. Greek filmmakers are extroverts. In a way when you set out to make a film, all subject matters are universal, you don’t set out to do a Greek film as such.
I think that the Greek audiences react mostly positively, the unfortunate thing is that maybe because of the crisis the audiences tend to be decreasing. Less and less.
This is unique to every filmmaker- by observing, some of them have a sense of marketing them like ‘Where is this film going to go…what will the audiences think?’ But maybe the market itself sets a role because it is very difficult to actually make the film and sort out the funding for it.
Would you say Luton reflects the European crisis in Greece? It certainly reflects it, but it mostly focuses on the environment and the conditions that may lead to this kind of situation of crisis. The making of the film for example started much before the general crisis, so it mostly reflects on the conditions that led to the crisis. Besides, most importantly once we observe what leads to a crisis we no longer have to observe. And among this crisis, how is Greek cinema being financed? How was Luton financed? Are Greek films being more independently financed from the government? Luton was funded by a combination of sources. It was funded by private equity, there were investments, and then there were distributors who also helped with the funding. There was also funding from a public broadcaster, and money from the national film center. So there were also co-producers of the film as well, and of course there was a lot of participation from suppliers, equipment etc. Some of it goes into a very diverse mix of funding sources to make the film. Is it difficult to make films in Greece right now? It is very difficult, it takes a lot of time and you know- we always have problems. I mean the national broadcaster closed when we were halfway through the funding process. We have to use every possible funding source available. Do you think that this new generation of Greek filmmakers are concerned about Greekness? It may happen as an indirect result of violence, an artistic expression-the greek filmmakers go out in an attempt to
What about market and distribution?
There is a British film critic who coined the term Greek Weird Wave. What do you think of this? Do you consider yourself as a member of this movement? Luton is a film which is realistic, the language is realism. Families and relationships within Luton, sexual or not, are and not fabricated. So in the sense that there is a weird context of the film, I do not consider Luton to be such an example. It is a study of everyday life, in particularly the little details in their everyday lives and I strongly believe that in these days we can find truth about people and their behavior. There will always be labels, there always have been and there always will be. What gave you the idea to create Luton? There are frequently more incidents of violence happening in different parts of the world, incidents of unprovoked violence. So observing these happening in different parts of the world was the starting point for that, and then there was a reflection on the way people choose to live their lives-their everyday lives. And how they seem to be more and more unable to direct their lives, somewhere more in line with their true desires. And these conditions reflect Luton. Do you think that Luton will make some people madand by such violence within the final sequence? Do you? There was not a methodical construction to make someone feel awkward. Maybe you can do a metaphor for that, maybe you can say it is like looking at yourself in the mirror sometimes. It really is your call, maybe that is the intended feeling. So to a certain extent the very action to the ending is subjective, how you go into it and how you feel and the intensity in to which you feel it.
interview by Amy Thompson & Diogo Figueira // photography by Eftihia Stefanidi Nisimazine San Sebastian // 31
The Gambler Vicentas loves gambling. Whether at dog races or with its colleagues at work, every moment is an opportunity for him to bet. Tired of making pointless bets as a way to surpass the debts he has with a bookie, he decides to create his own illegal game. As a paramedic he sees the chance to bet on the patients’ lives. Whoever plays a wager on the right way one dies, wins. While the game spreads like wildfire, Vicentas becomes fond of Leva, a colleague that doesn’t approve the biddings. Hiding his involvement in it, sooner or later he will have to confront himself with the morality of his actions. Beginning and ending with two masterfully crafted shots, the film is full of these extraordinary moments. Yet most of them are not coherent with the narrative and appear to be nothing but an exercise of style. Leaving the viewer with a confused feeling, the narrative materializes in an exaggerated segmented structure. Constantly losing the focus on Vicentas, we end up roaming around Ieva for several times. It is not that her problematic life isn’t interesting; it’s just that whatever motivates her and whatever she’s feeling is neither present nor clear for the audience.
Nisimazine San Sebastian // 34 // review by Vasco Esteves
by Ignas Jonynas // Lituania - Letonia
When we finally go back to Vicentas the plot thickens into rushed, predictable conclusions; ruining for good the films rhythm. If up to this point we were still engaged with the smooth change of the movie’s tone, we soon realize it was nothing but a huge misconception. Constantly shifting from genre to genre, we get lost between the thriller and the drama, instead of roaming harmonically among them. Disconnected from sequence to sequence not even the music from The Bus can make the films core more coherent. With harsh and sharp beats, the reverberant and synthesized sounds manage to scrutinize ad infinitum the scenes momentums. Even with interesting editing decisions here and there the connection with the music is completely wasted due to its misplacing. Although with a superb narrative starting point, The Gambler leaves the audience wishing for a more risky outcome. While working around morality, the film lacks any comment on the morality of the acts. Our attention is rapidly diverted to more technical aspects such as its magnificent imagery, but leaving the most challenging viewers with empty hands. In a broader sense, we risk to say that The Gambler did, in fact, gamble too much.
by Delphine Lehericey // Belgium
For a first feature from director Delphine Lehericey, Puppy Love goes beyond its expectation. The film marks a raw and candid approach to a young teens sexual antics and her exploration in to what seems to be a rebellious teen lifestyle. Lehericey uses sexual puberty and the discomfort that goes with it, to express how difficult the transition from a child to a young woman can be. Diane (Solène Rigot) involves herself with a young girl named Julia (Audrey Bastien), who tempts Diane into new realms of sexual exploration. Lehericey sketches out the nature of teenage rebellion through Julia’s control over Diane, highlighting how young people are easily lead by charismatic individuals. This film is shocking in its portrayal of underage sex highlighting the ugliness of sex from a younger perspective. The idea of sex as only a lustful act, forcing this ‘cool’ perception on young adults. Showing the reality of sex often as a painful and awkward experience. The confrontational and gritty presentation of adult sexual encounters is exaggerated in a very aggressive
manner as if being viewed from a teenager’s view, which manages to be as equally exciting and terrifying. With well-acted, natural performances Lehericey is able to draw one in to the intimacy and self-exploration of being a teenager. Solène Rigot’s performance of Diane attaches the audience in a maternal way to her character; this is then offset by Audrey Bastien as the all-round Machiavellian Julia. A direct take on the realities of childhood sexuality, which seems to lose its way towards the end of the film but fortunately picks up within the last few seconds. Comical and liberating at parts, accompanied with a very well thought out soundtrack consisting of club beats and 70s rock highlighting the music as an outlet for teenage rebellion against routine. Lehericey surprises us with just how well it can be done without any type of subtlety, that’s for sure.
review byAmy Thompson // Nisimazine San Sebastian // 35
The Dune by Yossi Aviram // Israel
Yossi Aviram is one of Israel´s brightest upcoming talents. His latest film The Dune was powerful enough to cause a strong impression in San Sebastian, so our reporter, Bernardo Lopes, caught up with the filmmaker to find out more details about his film. You’ve been a Director of Photography in the past. How did it help you in this first feature film? I was a DOP in documentaries. I’m not sure it helped. I’m not sure because I made short films when I studied cinema and my visual approach was more interesting at that time. The documentary, in a way… I made too many documentaries and now I think they’re made in a simple way. Maybe even more simple than what I would like. With most of the films that you make, the cameraman has a small camera, there’s no budget, no lightning and even no interesting visual. I’m not sure it helps me anyway (laughs).
You directed The Dune but Under the Same Sun (another production you worked on) is directed by another filmmaker. How is it different writing for yourself and writing for others? I don’t think there is a big difference maybe because I don’t have much experience. I wrote three or four screenplays to myself and one for another filmmaker. When you write you try to do your best. I mean, here the film is much more personal. But is the creative process of writing for you or writing for someone else the same? That’s a good question… Well we knew how we were going to shoot Under the Same Sun. A kind of documentary. But no, I think I wrote it the same way as The Dune. I think it’s the same when you write. In The Dune you have a great cast. Matthieu Amalric and Niels Arestrup, for example. How was it working with these
After discovering that his partner got pregnant, Hanoch (Lior Ashkenazi) decides not to have the baby. This attitude makes him question about the desolation he had when his father left him while he was young. Meditative and aloof, decides to leave his life in Israel and travel to France seeking for his parent. A speechless male body with no belongings and no personal identification emerges in a small village’s beach. Ruben, an Israeli living in France with his beloved partner, now has to discover this unknown figure’s whereabouts. From Israel to France, from Paris to the French Atlantic coast, The Dune is a story about the search for a harmony that dissipated.
experienced actors in your first feature film? It was different between them. It’s easier, because they are very good actors, they understand their job. Niels is special, very good actor and also very independent. He didn’t really need me (laugh). We read the script and talked about it, but then he worked so much with himself and came very well to the set. Matthieu came for only one day actually, and was very easy going. Loir, the Israeli guy, which kind a big star in Israel, was very easy, I mean. You’re from Israel. Your country’s cinema is growing in the past years. What is your opinion about its industry nowadays? I’m happy that there are good films now. I don’t think it’s getting that bigger. We have a lot of financial problems, as Spain. Even if the films are better, we have less funds and is very difficult now to make a film. There are some films I like, some films I don’t. I can’t really see how it’s going to grow.
Niels Arestrup becomes one of the most visible interests in this movie. Genuine and credible, gives enormous depth and shape to his character. Presented as somebody psychologically adrift, Hanoch, Ashkenazi’s character, doesn’t develop as it should, becoming excessively dull. With its concept fairly established, The Dune disappointingly evolves into something vacant and stagnant, where unnecessary elongation could have been totally dismissed. Nevertheless, due to its engaging atmosphere and innocence, becomes undoubtedly enjoyable. A first feature film that in the end deserves a clap but not a standing ovation.
We succeed and we fail, we win and we lose: we live. We live by struggling endlessly to find inner peace. As time passes by, we do a constant soul search to discover what is it that we emotionally need in pursuance of filling up our disturbing emptiness. With this raw existential reality, there’s this rational need (even if it takes years to assume) to forget about our pride and shame in order to fulfill that encounter that Ruben and Hanoch pursue.
This self-exploration drama focused in two men and a mutually connected conflict has an amusing art direction and some delightful locations. Yossi Aviram’s direction’s pregnant with interesting framings. The general concept of the story is also very promising and emotionally capable. However, it doesn’t have the strength to endure a hour-and-a-half film.
review & interview by Bernardo Lopes // photography by Eftihia Stefanidi // Nisimazine San Sebastian // 37
Japanese Dog by Tudor Cristian Jurgiu // Romania
The young Romanian filmmaker is on a high. After much acclaim and rewards in Cannes´ Cinefondation competition he arrives in San Sebastian with his ambitious first feature. Robyn Davies spoke to him to find out more. You rewrote the film’s script, why was that? I felt it lacked a bit of action and was too slow. The original screenplay was also based in another region of Romania so I shifted the location, meaning the relationships in the village are different. The screenwriter isn’t very happy with it now so it’s going to be interesting talking about it in a conference! But I finally came back to the simple core of the story – this man, not his relationship with everyone else. So you enjoy taking on other roles, including writing? I like to try other things. I actually acted in two
films of my colleagues just to see how it is. It was kind of disturbing (laughs) But I learned a lot, especially to have more patience with the actors. I now take a lot of time to build a good working relationship with them. I think everyone should try being on both sides of the camera to get a better understanding of film. This is your first feature but you’ve made a few shorts. Did you use the same development process? With the feature I used much more feedback from other people, particularly from the actors. Before, everything was just my decision but here I was obviously working with another screenwriter and also my DOP. We worked together a lot on the script, talking about how to shoot each scene as well as the dialogue. Was it hard to get Japanese Dog financed? The short films really helped a lot with that,
The most fascinating thing about human relationships is that everyone experiences them in different ways, and it’s this idea that director Tudor Cristian Jurgiu fully explores in his first feature Japanese Dog. Debating the necessity of verbal communication within familial relationships, it takes a look at how people cope differently with love and loss. The result is a quietly confident film, subtle and relatable with a lot of emotion at its centre. After losing his wife, his home and all of his possessions to the devastating 2010 floods in Romania, an elderly man starts attempting to piece his life back together. Despite offers of help from many people in the community, he’s stubborn and solitary and unwilling to accept. But when his grown-up son, Ticu, hears of his mother’s death and insists on flying over from Japan to visit, the old man must learn how to communicate and rebuild a relationship with a son he hasn’t seen for 20 years.
I made a lot of connections. The producer of my first short ended up working on my feature because the first film turned out so well. Even if you think your short film isn’t that good you should send it to festivals. In Bucharest we have a short film festival called NexT and lots of big directors come so there are many opportunities for financing. How much did film school help to launch your career and do you think it’s a necessary step? You can definitely do it by yourself. There’s access to so much information now – you can basically buy the whole history of film on the internet! Of course, it’s different from one person to the other, but it helped me a lot. You can’t really quantify what you learn from some classes, but it definitely has an effect on you somehow. A school is a good medium to be in and you can get money to make films that you wouldn’t get elsewhere.
Undoubtedly one of the most impressive aspects of Japanese Dog is the framing of the shots. While the focus is always on the old man, he’s set against backgrounds that are rich with detail and work as much as a storytelling device as the script does. From striking landscapes to modest scenes in his house, the cinematography totally supports the claim that a picture is worth a thousand words. Subtlety really is the film’s forte, and when father and son finally do manage to communicate (after much carefullyconstructed tension) it’s so beautiful in its simplicity that it’s the perfect payoff.
This is certainly a film that opts for reflecting its theme through its stylistic choices. Just as the old man’s journey to reconnect with his son is slow and steady, so is the storytelling itself. Details are revealed to us as part of a slow trickle of information, using just the smallest gesture or
interaction to say a lot about the characters’ pasts or the general atmosphere around them. The script is particularly effective in this sense, featuring incredibly concise and telling dialogue that’s as much about what’s left unsaid as it is about the actual words. When you can immediately read between the lines of a seemingly simple question and feel the weight of years of pent up emotions behind it, you know you’ve come across a really intelligent and skillful film – and that’s exactly what this is.
review & interview by Robyn Davies // photography by Eftihia Stefanidi // Nisimazine San Sebastian // 39
Funeral at Noon Few things begin and end with death. Yet in Funeral at Noon this circular and condemnatory structure stores air rather than holds your breath. Some will certainly feel the weight of whatever is there and inhale it almost unconsciously, but I didn’t feel my lungs straining. Adam Sanderson seems to be a talented director who wrote a script with very little conflict - beautifully shot sensations, but not much perceptible drama. A woman (Erlich) wanders the stone ruins near the small village she’s now part of. Her husband finds her a job. A 15-year-old boy she’s supposed to babysit starts wandering with her. There are soldiers practicing around and she and the boy become automatically connected to one of them. She looks for something. Identity, freedom, secrecy, sense of belonging, passion. We’re never sure and can’t rely on character development to guide us. Abolishing a plot’s cause-effect is not the same as erasing character motivation, as ambiguity differs from vagueness and randomness. Behavior becomes irrelevant. My three favorite scenes are three hooking narrative exceptions which make a move towards a tale about “an alien, unable to
Nisimazine San Sebastian // 40 // review by Diogo Figueira
by Adam Sanderson // Israel
find her place in the town community” (from the official synopsis): The couple has sex and in the end he asks her if she shouldn’t put her legs up, for fecundation (new stage in intimate life). Erlich constantly fails to say “Here I am” with confidence, during a job interview to become the town’s new primary school teacher (attempt to integrate the community). The boy touches her white bra, in gorgeous sunlight and perfect tempo (imminent transgression from the community). I believe, for some, it will work through metaphors: The ruins standing for the ancient past behind the institution of Israel; the ruins framing the military training of a country which battles since it was born. The correlation between death and change are obvious. Ultimately, the way Adam captures light and human faces (Hilla Vidor is angelical and frail) and the earnestness with which he strikes for mood, with great musical options, makes me want to see him coming back with a tighter story.
The Magnetic Tree The Magnetic Tree focus on the return of Bruno to the country where he was born and the reencounter with his family. This is a linage formed by a variety of characters. The spectator goes into action quickly for two reasons : the wonderful script and the warm photography. These two components create a natural and unique empathy with the characters. On one hand, young Chilean filmmaker Isabel Ayguavives has developed several characters with different personalities, for example, the know-all who corrects everyone or Brunoâ€™s uncle who has the greatest ideas for business, or so he believes. On the other hand, the photography, which remains interior or external and daylight or night, the pastel colours and the warm light captivates the spectator as much as the warmth of the portrayed family.
by Isabel Ayguavives // Chile
In her short films, the filmmaker already showed some signs of brilliance when dealing with the figure of the child. This was particularly visible, for example, in El castigo, a story about a boy who has to finish disagreeable plate of liver. Just like in The Magnetic Tree the story is told in an innovation manner, the main character continues with his plate of liver and being a child while his family grows older. The Magnetic Tree is a brilliant first work, yet it is important to say that it is a pity that the film was showed during the last two days. We truly hope that the movie does not go unperceived because is one of the best debuts at San Sebastian this year.
review by Ana MartĂnez // Nisimazine San Sebastian // 41
“The Outsider, Church of Santa Maria” by Eftihia Stefanidi
How to make a movie before turning 30 Contradictions and weaknesses of the film scene.
It comes only after much time, dedication and, why not, stubbornness. But let’s dive into more revealing matters. When observing in detail the New Director’s section, something struck me as unexpected: roughly the average age of the first or second feature directors was 37. As far as my research could go, the youngest and the one and only less than 30 years old was the Romanian Tudor Cristian Jurgiu, director of Japanese Dog. My colleague Robyn Davies, who interviewed him, told me all he said regarding the finance process of his film. Jurgiu stood out the fact of having done two shorts as especially helpful, because they allowed him make important connections for the future. In fact, the same producer whom he worked with in his first short, later produced his first feature. He also pointed out festivals as key point factors regarding the discovery of future financing opportunities. Similarly, Joxean Fernández, one of the eight programmers of the festival, told me how rich the experience of gathering people with different profiles, ages and backgrounds is for everyone. He also unveiled the greatest festivals’ obsession of presenting a new talent to the world and passionately described, too, how most first features already contain the glitter of a career yet to blossom. Chatting with directors who did not do his first feature before turning 30, can probably throw some more light on our concern. Of course, different contexts and incomparable situations come in the game. But let’s try it at least. Chinese Yu Liu finished The Blinding Sunlight being only 32 years old. If the film surprises –beyond the elegant manner with which the nature of the characters are revealed– for the non-fluent camera movements and the assiduous optical stains, all these are somehow explainable after learning that the full crew consisted of Liu and the camera man. The actors, he told me, were nonprofessionals and rashly left when the shooting was over. This being his first serious shooting after some academic experiences, it’s undeni-
able that only his persistence (finance comes from own savings and some friends’ aids) and self-confidence has brought him here. A somewhat parallel example would be the one of Catalan director P. Vilà Barceló. After 15 short films on his back he decided to go for a feature without waiting for the ‘luck factor’, as he calls it. Mainly thanks to the involvement of a few small production companies, at the age of 31, he made it. Later on, he met renowned Spanish producer Luis Miñarro and abducted him in his multiple-awarded second feature, La lapidation de Saint Étienne. However, now that grants and institutional support have vanished, he manifested himself to be more wilful than ever and has shot his third feature, La Fossa (currently being edited), with a mild crowdfunding-based budget and in only six days.
Leaving San Sebastián still with the festival’s vibes left me wondering what it takes to successfully articulate all the desires, ideas and images and finally make the so longed-for first feature.
It doesn’t feel excessive to state that the exhibiting circuit of festivals celebrates new promising filmmakers. Most big festivals have a new directors section and specialized “operas primas” festivals are gaining popularity. Why is it then, that most production companies are reluctant to join first feature projects? Maybe the audience is not ready for fresh and contemporary artworks, they think. Or, maybe, what’s wrong is just their perception of the audience. Wouldn’t it be nice to have specialized production companies for first features, just as there are business boosters focused on helping entrepreneurs’ endeavours? When asking this question to the above mentioned P. V. Barceló, he answers sharply: “Many things would be alright, but they’re just not there and may never will. This is like a ‘tour de force’, and it will let us see who endures longer.” All in all, from a less dramatic perspective, perhaps all we’re facing is a matter of maturity and hence the plain truth is: thirties are the new twenties and forties are the new thirties. If so, let’s not scream and shout when noticing that Hitchcock, Kubrick and Lynch were, respectively, 26, 25 and 31, when they made their first films.
text by Júlia de Balle // photographies by Eftihia Stefanidi // Nisimazine San Sebastian // 45
Photo reportage by Eftihia Stefanidi
nisimazine rotterdam shorts // 15
Jonás Trueba Director of ‘The Wishful Thinkers’ // Spain
Jonás Trueba second feature has been a unique success story in the festival circuit this year. His alternative vision and style are the proof he is much more then the son of a living film legend. We sat down with them to discover the ideas behind the film and the way it is catching the audience´s admiration with such success. Your second movie, The Wishful Thinkers, exudes a Nouvelle Vague air. Like them, do you also propose breaking the rules of the game? I don’t think I nor my film have invented anything. We are actually diving into the same path of many other filmmakers in Spain: the need to find another way to do things under a more realistic point of view. The important thing is to make movies and live life honestly. In my previous film, although it was hard work, we had a conventional production, but in the end it was quite disappointing. With The Wishful Thinkers we did the opposite. I’m not saying it’s the ideal thing either, but at least I saved a lot of disappointments and frustrations. I wanted to be consistent and keep my feet on the ground. You have to be aware of the film you’ve done because you can’t pretend that it’s something that it´s not. Are festivals the only outlet for this kind of films? Yes, but I have also tried not to follow too much the dictates of festivals because it seems that it´s the only way for some small movies, it bothers me a bit. In fact, before going to any festival, we screened the film in a cinema in Madrid and many friends told me I was crazy but I think we chose the right option, because it was in a new cinema still trying to find it’s audience, so we both benefited from it. The room was full every day and it was something I really liked because it was very simple: we made a film, we screened it in the cinema and that’s it. I think we should create a circuit where we can make low budget films that adjust to reality and then be able to screen them. Besides, we have internet, new platforms and channels. Maybe other people aspire to be very rich, to walk the red carpet and be in the official selection. Well, ok, but that’s very complicated and doesn’t produce me any envy or anxiety, more likely the opposite. Honestly for me the important thing is to do what I want and what I like with no anxiety or the feeling to be in a permanent race. What kind of audience awaits these small productions? For a film like this to reach over 20,000 spectators is ridiculous. It´s a lot because it doesn’t have a conventional distribution or publicity campaign. Then you wonder who are all these people? I admire this people because they had curiosity to learn about the existence of the film and
made an effort to come to the small cinemas where it has been screened. I believe we must be demanding with the audience, because often people are too comfortable. The problem is that only a minority consume culture in Spain, though I believe it could get bigger. What do you think of new ways to get funding as crowdfunding? I’m happy that others use crowd funding because it works for them, but it’s not working for me. When you make a film you normally depend on a producer that helps you getting money and somehow you owe the people, your crew, your actors. Now, if you also do a crowd funding campaign, it turns out that you are in debt to 2500 more people! (snorts). I understand that people can be wonderfully generous, but they expect something in return and I’m afraid to disappoint them. I’m trying to do the opposite: being less dependent in other people and to depend as far as possible on my own financing. The Whishful Thinkers, for instance, was funded by me and a friend. Obviously, it’s a very cheap film but still, it also requires to have another job that allows you to make it. Your film´s message is “don’t be afraid to go for what you really want”. How difficult is it to do this for a young film graduate? There has never been more opportunities. Think about how was the situation 30 years ago. We are always crying about how the past was always better, but when my father started in the late 70s it was really something very stagnant and inbred. You needed to have been an assistant at 50,000 shootings. Today, fortunately, this doesn’t happen and we can see it in the films competing in San Sebastian. There are many people coming out of nowhere with a little talent and desire, and who have insisted and persisted. Anyway, there’s also many people looking for excuses: “He has done this because his the son of whoever”. It’s ok if you use me as an excuse because you haven’t done anything, but have you actually tried? Have you insisted? I mean, most people who make movies have made them because they have fought to get there.
interview by Sara Martínez // Nisimazine San Sebastian // 51
The Wishful Thinkers by Jonás Trueba // Spain
If Antoine Doinel was Spanish, he would have been named Francesco Carril. Laughing, crying, drinking, talking, dreaming, loafing around the calles of Madrid or discussing about cinema in Doré, this 29year-old ambitious filmmaker that recently finished his first feature film, captivates with his empowered freedom. With a smooth black and white photography, in The Wishful Thinkers you get the feeling that the film is under construction, bonding every possible layer throughout its development, so that the viewer has a crude perspective of what cinema is about. Stating it as an imperfect assumed film, Trueba ends up mentioning the reason why it is so special. Genuine and emotional, stylistically avand-garde and deeply involved with the French New Wave, reenacts a reality that is half asleep these days. The Wishful Thinkers pays tribute to filmmakers’ sincere passion for their job. To that innocent and unconscious will to make movies. The use of desynchronized sound with image produces inevitable introspective moments worth mentioning. Having visible conceptual references from La Nuit Américaine (1973) to Les Quatre Cents Coups (1959), it gives a beautiful and undiscovered identity to Madrid the same way Truffaut gave it to Paris in the 60’s.
With a group of friends and spare time, Trueba took roughly one year to conclude his second feature. Innovative in its form and content, becomes a brave and peculiar project due to its unique distribution program: one single copy that will be screening in minor theatres, such as art houses. This shows its concept is inherent to Art Cinema, which justifies its rawness and its capability of having been developed into a truthful masterpiece. As a result, The Wishful Thinkers turns out to be more than a film: it becomes a pursuit. A pursuit for a meaning to what a filmmaker lives for. The knowledge and awareness gained by watching it is extremely valuable. Full of cinematic and literary references, it is not just a tribute to filmmakers’ passion for cinema, but is also about the details in life that deserve to be recorded. With an astonishingly sincere work of art, Trueba manages to put into forward motion his speech and manner.
Nisimazine Karlovy Vary 7 review by Bernardo Lopes // Nisimazine San Sebasrian // //53
â€œLadies with hats outside the Museum of San Telmo. They were about 10 of them, but those three seemed to share a more intimate connection, the sort of school friends that grew together. All i-phone users.â€? by Eftihia Stefanidi
Workers The film opens with a very slow, enigmatic traveling at the beach, from sea to shore, revealing a black fence that separates sand, people and two countries. We’re at the Border Field State Park, on the Mexican side, in Tijuana, where Rafael and Lidia have held the same low-class job for the last thirty years. He, in a Philips light-bulbs factory; she, in a mansion whose lady owner is now old, dying and still loves her dog more than anything. Rafael and Lidia’s tales are told separately, without ever touching, and I didn’t like the way José equilibrated them. Rafael doesn’t get his well-deserved retirement fund and then nothing new happens until the end, besides him cleaning and being in places. Lidia does nothing but caretaking for a long time until finally some things happen (the old lady dies, her dog inherits the mansion and the employers become the heirs of the dog, if it dies of natural causes). When something was going on in one story, nothing did in the other one. I was intermittently bored-to-death. It’s arguable if this is a structural mechanism designed to make you feel how dull Rafael and Lidia’s lives are: as if to make you think how much you’d rather be following the other interesting stuff that’s going on inside this movie and hence in life. But
Nisimazine San Sebastian // 56 // review by Diogo Figueira
by José Luis Valle // Mexico that requires a certain degree of self-consciousness and I was interested in connecting on a diegetic level. And because, through constant visual stasis (most shots are establishing shots), there were times I was bored at both stories. Also unbalanced were the overall tonal intentions. Rafael’s story is deadpanning dramatic, trying to make us feel sorry, saving itself with a great comic touch in the end. Lucia’s is sad, suddenly charges with intelligent satire, then drops to nostalgia. It’s really interesting to oppose different tones but the oscillation becomes hard to follow within the same narrative line. That may also have to do with the fact that the film wastes the huge dramatic, satirical potential of Lidia’s dilemma by solving questions like “Will they kill the dog? If so, what happens to them? If so, how will they get back at it?” in fifteen minutes. I hate that I couldn’t like it. Workers is like a very promising pitch inside an innocuous film. You can find these small pearls. Details like the meaning of Rafael’s shoes, Rafael’s unexplored will to learn, a shot were Rafael cleans, unseen behind a wall by two executives, or how the workers decide to kill or not to kill the dog. Fortunately, the ending is great.
So Much Water Some moms dare to make vegetable lasagna. Instead of avoiding broccoli, they chop it and convert it into something their carnivore children will appreciate. But what if the green mush only tastes worse? You’re walking the same thin line when you try to make an entertaining film about boredom. What Master Hitchcock didn’t realize when he said that movies are just like life without the boring parts was that some moms do get away with in a meaningful, moving way. Mom’s food goes in 14-year old Lucia’s and 8-year-old Federico’s backpacks when they go on vacation with their father, Alberto. They are supposed to bond. But when they arrive, it is pouring rain. And it will be, all week. They’re locked up together, with nothing to do. The first 45 minutes of routinely affairs are a good exercise in first-act elongation, which means constant, sometimes repetitive, exposition. The three get along without angst but Alberto doesn’t know what it means to be “Dad” - as mom’s presence looms in the Tupperware, we see the difference when they have sweets for lunch. He tries to create a new family dynamics, ending up acting selfishly (brought condoms) and childishly (plays with his food). But he is not a jerk - he is just an outsider in the kid’s lives.
by Ana Guevara & Leticia Jorge // Uruguay
But you’ll bore your audience if you don’t understand that boredom is actually a reaction to the lack of previously experienced intense feelings. This means the film could never dwell on that theme alone. And the film’s slow-paced, subtle manner hints at inner suffering and truer character, the way boredom eventually grows into melancholia. Something’s finally at stake when Lucia, the naïve, vulnerable teenager who, on top of blue-hued, water-ruined vacations with her father develops a crush for a new boy in town. Like knowing who the killer is throughout the murder mystery, we are forced to know her hopes are condemned from the start, and it pierces us. A midsummer fling is about something slightly more meaningful that passing time; it’s about impulses towards love or adventure, which usually produce disappointment, sadness. Sluggish, wet atmosphere muffles summer joy. While Lu and Federico hang loose, Alberto symbolically understands how to perceive, manage and correlate mutual suffering, thus finally becoming a father. He takes good care of his children but the film ends with no mercy for any kind of closure, for pain doesn’t stop with the approach of ending credits.
review by Diogo Figueira // Nisimazine San Sebastian // 57
A Wolf at the Door
by Fernando Coimbra // Brazil
The loss of a child must be, by far, the most dramatic experience that parents could imagine. Chaotic are those key moments that suddenly stop people’s life in a kind of madness, bigger than reality and even able to destroy the most basic principles that difference us from animals. It´s in this lapse of time, which is both all and nothing, a torrent of uncontrollable feelings and emptiness at the same time; and it is just in this common place where fear, fury and pain come across again and again under the same roof, the police station’s in this case, where the wolf begins prowling around these meeting points all film long.
same story reconstructed by three different interpretations that the more intense they get the more nude the characters become into their deep feelings plenty of love, revenge and guilt.
Awarded best film of Horizontes Latinos section, A Wolf at the Door, gets human’s essence of basic survival instinct spinning around the invisible presence of a little child in Brazil as a start point and develops it until the darkness side. The concern of a young couple about their daughter’s kidnapping turns into fear about their own behaviours in marriage and their mistrust of each other and a third one who seems have been always at the door. Increasingly getting distance from the kid who, as in the relationship, is the only common point, the testimony to the police becomes a kind of emotional confession in an obsessive love triangle treated as if it was not so unusual in that country. The
The progressive loss of control of the characters’ appearances discovers little by little the wolf hidden in silence behind the mask that covers up the dirty reality in a metaphor of the Brazilian society where danger lurks in the shadows. A shot in the heart of quiet majority that looks the other way instead of condemning true culprits.
Nisimazine San Sebastian // 58 // review by Sara Martínez Ruíz
A psychological drama built over self-indulgent half-truths and fallacies that change each time with the subtlety approach of dialogs and editing that flow in its development even jumping between those three different first-person points of view, and all this without leaving a mark. An evolution as invisible as the missing child, which drives the story and drags us too to the end.
I Thought it Was a Partyby Victoria Galardi // Argentina I Thought it was a Party is the story of Ana, a Spanish actress in Argentina who fights with her European accent to try and get some work while spending her solved life as a woman of today: charismatic, self-confident, vain and surrounded by men whose depend on her, at the same time she doesn’t want to give explanations to. Her best friend, Lucía, (a splendid Valeria Bertuccelli, convincing, sensitive and emphatic) which represents just the opposite of a feminine character, worried loving mother, adorable woman and always engaged to a man, takes care of Ana not in that friendly way but almost like the close mother who knows her needs even better than herself. In the middle of the hot Argentinean Christmas, Lucía asks Ana to look after her wonderful house while she spends her holydays away with her boyfriend with whom she is planning to marry again. Ana has not taken care of her friend´s teenager child (that surely loves her young “second mother’s” personality like inspiration), because an extremely kind ex-husband suddenly reappears to spend the time he doesn’t use to the rest of the year, with his daughter. Then, when nobody is at home and sunny time is around the pool, Ana needs another whim to put her boring life on and distract her with self-induced trouble to feel she is still alive. Of course: she falls in love with the forbidden.
This plot as capricious and naïve as void Ana’s life that plays with daily carefree pleasure just reflects, technically in the same attractive but empty way, on how is worth to take the risk of breaking unwritten friendship rule: do not touch my ex-partner. And as Ana’s romances, satisfying and random, intense at the moment but forgettable at the end, the movie provides us just joy. Shot in almost an only location, a colourful and appealing house in which captivating pool Ana makes all her life around and which is, without a doubt, what gives to the film its whole strength, the filmmaker offers a simply and natural human story. As close as Ana’s shots, filmed in a kind of fashion way: beautifully composed, much filtered lighted and with full controlled symbolic meaning. Correct and care warm film, lovely and cute, but at last just entertainment, as the party she expected and was not.
review by Sara Martínez Ruíz // Nisimazine San Sebastian // 59
editor: Fernando Vasquez (Portugual)
director of publication: Fernando Vasquez (Portugal)
Writers: Robyn Davies (UK), Amy Thompshon (UK), Diogo Figueira (Portugal), Vasco Esteves (Portugal), Bernardo Lopes (Portugal), Sara Martínez Ruíz (Spain), Ana Martínez (Spain), Júlia de Balle (Spain) photographer: Eftihia Stefanidi (UK / Greece) design and layout: Lucía Ros Serra (Spain)
Very special thanks to José Luis Rebordinos (Festival Director), Gemma Beltrán (Press Office), Matthieu Darras, Viviana Carlet, Luisa Riviere and everyone directly or indirectly involved in the production of the workshop and this ebook This is a publication of:
In collaboration with:
Nisimazine Karlovy Vary NisimazineVenice // 8 // 22
â€œI followed this woman for some time. She appeared extraordinary elegant for her age, I couldn't stop my camera from staring. When the right moment arose and slightly nervous of being told off, I knocked on her shoulder; this is the smile I received.â€? by Eftihia Stefanidi
Published on Oct 14, 2013
Nisimazine San Sebastian 2013. Coverage of the New Directors Selection of the 61st San Sebastian Film Festival by participants from Portugal...