“I like to poke fun at myself”
by Alfonso Rivera
- SAN SEBASTIÁN 2016: Catalan filmmaker Nely Reguera makes her full-length directorial debut with María (and Everybody Else); a comedy-drama starring a magnificent Bárbara Lennie
Barcelona-based Nely Reguera studied film directing at the Catalan School of Cinema and Audiovisuals (ESCAC), where she now teaches, before working alongside Mar Coll. She is an active contributor to the commendable film outreach project, Cine en curso, which seeks to infuse children with a passion for filmmaking. Before starting work on her first film as a director, María (and Everybody Else) [+see also:
interview: Nely Reguera
film profile], shown in the New Directors Section at the 64th San Sebastián International Film Festival, Reguera had already filmed an award-winning short (Pablo) and a documentary about the devastation caused by the sinking of the Prestige (Muxía a ferida).
Cineuropa: There was a good deal of laughter to be heard in the early screenings of the film. Are you happy with the way it has been received?
Nely Reguera: Very happy, although not everything in the film is particularly funny. I was worried that it might not happen; that people wouldn’t laugh. I was sure that the film would make them smile, and then maybe laugh — I thought some people might find it funnier than others. When I watch the film I laugh a lot: hopefully people get that humour and can feel a connection to the central character.
Indeed, because María, the character in the title played by Bárbara Lennie, is quite unique, and in fact the entire tone of the film is something a bit special.
I knew what kind of tone I was aiming for right from the start. The story is a little drama that needed to be told with humour, and great care, because if we made it too intense everything would get too heavy. When writing the script, whenever the situation got a little more serious we were careful to introduce some element to turn it around and lighten the mood, and it was the same with the staging and the performances — we always tried to play things down.
To make it easier to take in what is happening to this young woman...?
Yes, because, after all, that’s what life is like — things change moment by moment and there is no continuity, because nobody gives you any warning; you can be feeling very happy about something and then suddenly it all just falls apart. Personally I really like the tone; the sense that we can laugh at ourselves a little. I like films that let you laugh at and with the character.
How much of Nely Reguera is there in the character of María?
There’s a lot of me, and a lot of other people I know. But it’s also lovely when characters grow and develop, taking on a life of their own and becoming more and more self-contained. Then they are just themselves, and we can look at them in a different way. The film came about because I wanted to talk about a woman who reaches an age at which society expects you to have achieved certain things, but you haven’t managed any of them, and you ask yourself, “What’s wrong with me?” But then if you look around you, 80% of people are in exactly the same position. Although María is an extreme case, I was trying to ask the question, “why do we feel so much pressure in life?”
This pressure sometimes comes from others, but it’s also something we place on ourselves... Absolutely. Also, there are things we haven’t even considered whether we want or not, and yet we still feel frustrated because we haven’t got them. It’s absurd, and it happens to María as well; she can’t stop to think calmly about whether she really wants something. When I started to think about the character of María, her family immediately appeared in my mind, because family background says a lot about a person — you don’t really know someone until you see how they interact with those they are close to, and that’s why María’s family take on so much importance in the film.
(Translated from Spanish)