“Truman would have been very different if it had starred women”
by Aida Amasuno Martín
- SAN SEBASTIÁN 2015: Cineuropa talks to Cesc Gay, who competed for the Golden Shell with his new film, Truman Silver Shell for Best Actor for Ricardo Darín and Javier Cámara
Cesc Gay arrives for our interview worn out, but happy. On the balcony of the María Cristina Hotel, under a hazy sun and in rather a nippy atmosphere, we asked him where his ideas come from, about his “baby”, Truman [+see also:
interview: Cesc Gay
film profile], a movie that is competing at the 63rd San Sebastián Film Festival – which, judging from the applause it generated at the official screening in the Kursaal, was very well received – and about his “muses”, Ricardo Darín and Javier Cámara.
Cineuropa: How did you come up with the idea of telling a story from the end, and building up the film from there?
Cesc Gay: The film is not so much a struggle against that, but rather the acceptance, what happens afterwards. A lot of movies are built more on the struggle, what is happening: he goes to the doctor, and in the end he is saved. We started off more seriously with this screenplay; that’s why Tomás (Cámara) takes that plane, because Julián (Darín) has decided that he won’t be coming back. Julián was about to throw in the towel, but…
Is the fact that Tomás is located in Canada intended to add in a stronger dramatic element?
That’s right, I wanted to highlight the emotional distance that exists between them, because the fact that someone would cross the whole planet to see someone else must mean something important. It sets things in motion, as something is happening. I wanted to talk about a physical distance, but also an emotional one. If he had lived closer, the sensation that the viewer would have got is that they could see each other; this way, everything is more intense. And by the same token, when he leaves, he knows they will never see each other again.
One of the most difficult things about tackling the topic of death is avoiding falling into the trap of “sensationalism” and “sentimentality”, and you manage to save it from that fate.
I felt like there had to be a balance between the scenes. Some of them, with the son; others, like the time he has sex, which is liberating for Julián; and then some darker sequences. The movie had to have all the ingredients; we had to know how to be discerning when adjusting them. I always try to write with the feeling of being very close to reality and the truth. I have never written adhering to cinematic rules, despite the fact that this has caused me more than a little trouble when I was looking for funding! We didn’t write the screenplays on the basis of the formulas that they use in US storytelling, which the viewer knows like the back of his hand. With those titles, everything is very predictable, and I’m trying to get away from that. Truman would have been very different if it had starred women, because it would have been more expressive, more mutual, more weepy. I don’t know if I would have been able to write it, because I was sure that it was a story about men. I was resolved to construct this masculine story through restraint and modesty.
At the press conference, Javier Cámara brought up the great atmosphere that developed among the whole cast and crew. Was it difficult to shoot a film in which death had such a major presence?
That has nothing to do with it; one thing is what we are like as people and how we connect with each other to create a working environment, and another is that they’re filming something like Pirates of the Caribbean. Everyone gets into the right position for what they have to do, whether it be the cinematographer, the gaffer or the actor. And the latter has the necessary tools to jump from one mind-set to another. That’s why it’s so hard to make a film! I did a good job of making Javier Cámara restrained, but once we cut the scene, he would snap out of it and crack jokes.
What process did you use to cast the actors? Was that something you bore in mind right from the start?
I thought of them (Cámara and Darín) straight away, and I was extremely lucky that they agreed to work on the project. They are two absolutely superb actors.
(Translated from Spanish)