Gracia Querejeta • Director
"I try to exorcise my fears"
by Alfonso Rivera
- 15 Years + 1 Day won four prizes at the last Malaga Spanish Film Festival, including the one for Best Film .
Cineuropa: Why this interest, in all your films, not only in the family, but teenagers in particular, who were already the focus of Héctor?
Gracia Querejeta: I am fascinated by the torments they endure, and they make a more attractive writing topic than problems related to other ages. We are living through a time of change, in which you have to make your own way, choose to go here or there in all aspects of life, not only in studies. That being said, all inner conflicts are interesting, less boring.
Are transitional ages the most complicated?
Yes, the pivotal ages, as we say. It also happens later in life, when we find ourselves having to take care of our parents while at the same time helping out our children, who are not yet ready to stand on their own feet. It is both a social and economic phenomenon.
Do you intend to offer solutions or ask questions through your films?
In this case, the film came from a simple desire to de-dramatize. I always place my characters in extremely complicated situations, but I also leave a glimpse of hope, because our problems should not paralyze us.
Many teenagers, like in the movie, seek out danger.
Yes, because at that age, you are not really aware of the danger. The true step into adulthood is the emergence of fear – that being said, I myself was a hypochondriac as a child, but I was an exception.
How is it possible for an adult to penetrate the teenage world to extract its true nature and show it on screen?
You can if you have a teenager at home: my son recognizes himself in the movie, and also in the dialogues, even though he has never experienced anything near what goes on in the film. The son of my co-screenwriter, Santos Mercero, was also a teenager when we wrote the script of 15 Years + 1 Day [+see also:
interview: Gracia Querejeta
film profile] .
The grandfather is a character who shuts out his emotions. That’s typical of men... Is there anything that can be done to teach us how to express our emotions?
It cannot be taught. They end up emerging some other way, through ulcers or other very visible things when you dig deep enough. In this regard, women are more open, we know how talk about what is happening to us. Whatever the case, this character is particularly stubborn; he is not a good representation of the men of today. He is kind of singular and solitary anchorite, and a little weird. Nowadays, parents are more open-minded. As a child, I remember that my parent’s model for up-bringing was quite different to what others did at the time. Today, things have changed, but they need to continue evolving, because it still isn’t enough.
What did you learn by directing this movie, as a mother and as a filmmaker?
Each film is a voyage and it is with time that we find answers. As a mother, I try to exorcise my fears.
Did the fact that you recently took part in the directing of TV series have an influence on this new cinematographic project?
Today, films are usually shot more rapidly than before, with less money, so this experience in TV was very useful to me – because whilst television is a very complex world, when you manage to get hang of the rhythm, it turns into a great learning opportunity. Unless you’re a star filmmaker, you have to be like a chameleon and adapt. And I am not trying to defend mini-budget cinema: each film requires certain things and a certain amount of time – though you also have to learn to give up what isn’t essential to the story without too much pain. I will continue to work for television and do a short film. I also hope to start work soon on a new feature film project.
How would you describe this first cinematographic experience without the support of your father, Elias Querejeta, who sadly just passed away, as a producer?
Elias had a very different way of working compared to Gerardo Herrero, this film’s producer, but I adapted well. Working for so long with my father taught me to structure myself from the inside, and that facilitates what comes next, because this inner scaffolding is much more flexible than one might imagine.
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