“I’ve moved closer to the very essence of film”
by Alfonso Rivera
- SAN SEBASTIÁN 2016: Spanish director Jonás Trueba spills the beans about his fourth film, The Reconquest, in competition for the coveted Golden Shell
Actors Francesco Carril and Itsaso Arana play the lead roles in The Reconquest [+see also:
interview: Jonás Trueba
film profile], which unfolds in the usual settings found in the films of Jonás Trueba, who netted two awards at the 2015 Málaga Film Festival with his previous movie, The Romantic Exiles [+see also:
interview: Jonás Trueba
film profile] (read more). He is now in competition at this year’s San Sebastián Film Festival.
Cineuropa: Your new film has provided a real contrast at this gathering.
Jonás Trueba: I think it’s good if we can contribute something in this way: there’s no reason why cinema has to be over the top all the time. Films don’t have to be spectacular in every sense of the word, and that’s why those that rely on only a few devices, those that anybody can feel, are just as important. We all have a possible film inside of us; we just need to find a genuine way to depict it. There are lots of elements that condition The Reconquest, for the better – ranging from my limitations to everything that the cast and crew bring with them, as we have a kind of tacit agreement based on trust: they get to work making a film, but they don’t really know how it’s going to turn out. Nevertheless, they still want to make it, probably because we have fun together – although there’s still a certain rigour involved – but we don’t want to turn the shoot into some angst-ridden experience, but rather something that makes us better.
You use some of the same exterior locations in Madrid from your previous films.
That’s where you tend to hang around, and it’s nice to return to places; they won’t be the same any more, and you don’t film them in the same way. That very same thing happens in life, because we go around the same places and we take them in again. So movies can have that repetition, although that all changes: it’s interesting as an experience, both for the person who sees it and for the person who films it.
Because time is the key element in The Reconquest…
Of course. Time is the most important topic in film: in this movie, I’ve moved closer to the very essence of film. I think I’ve made my movie more cinematic in that sense: we worked with the concept of time, incorporating both bigger and smaller ellipses, and both continuous and discontinuous time frames.
Some people say that the music in your film is too much.
Yes, but I can’t be expected to work out where on the scale of tolerable or intolerable it is: I mean, don’t we go to concerts from time to time? The world comes to a standstill when we listen to a song; that’s why the film comes to a standstill when a song plays: then, we stop and listen to it, as it’s speaking to us, because it’s almost the most narrative-heavy element of the film. The songs are by Rafael Berrio, a singer I admire a great deal and whom I'd had in mind for The Reconquest: I wanted him to be the reporter, reminiscing about the innocence of being a 15-year-old, an older guy who is singing from another, different place, thus providing a contrast between his voice and what we see in the images. I realised that Berrio was narrating the film better than I was myself.
This is the first time that you have worked with teenagers on a shoot, but you also teach them film.
Yes, the workshops I lead for the Cinema en Curs project have helped me to get a sense that I could do something like this, that I can get along well with boys and girls. And I’ve found that, in essence, this century’s kids are the same as last century’s kids.
(Translated from Spanish)