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“Local and authentic stories are the most universal”

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Manuel Martín Cuenca • Director


- Cannibal Manuel Martín Cuenca’s new film, with Antonio de la Torre, is competing in San Sebastian

Manuel Martín Cuenca • Director

We didn’t believe it anymore and then, all of a sudden, the Spanish cinema Academy chose 15 Years + 1 day by Gracia Querejeta to represent the country in the race for the Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Although it wasn’t selected, another finalist, Cannibal [+see also:
film review
interview: Manuel Martín Cuenca
film profile
by Manuel Martín Cuenca, is increasingly standing out as the Spanish film of the year, after its triumphant passage in Toronto and its official Spanish avant-première as part of the San Sebastian Film Festival. For the occasion, the director told Cineuropa about his film, whose hero is a ruthless assassin (Antonio de la Torre) who hides under the perfect costume of a designer living in Grenada. His encounter with a woman (Olimpia Melinte) will change his cruel habits and the way he sees life.

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Cineuropa: Why did Antonio de la Torre seem like the ideal actor to play this character?
Manuel Martín Cuenca: I have known Antonio since I had the pleasure of directing him in one of my first features, Hombres sin mujeres. Since then, we have reiterated our collaboration many times. Antonio works with the heart and he has the strength, talent and intelligence to become better with each role. Cannibal was made for him, because I have faith in his talent, and it has been the case for 20 years.

During the official presentation of the film to the press here in San Sebastian, you underlined that it was a universal work although it was very Spanish.

Local and authentic stories are the most universal. It’s that simple. This fact was demonstrated by the greatest names of Spanish cinema, such as Pedro Almodóvar, Luis Buñuel, Carlos Saura, Fernando Fernán Gómez and José Luis Borau... do you need more names? The more Spanish a film is, the better.

Cannibal was financed by four European countries. Has this type of co-financing, rather rare in Spanish cinema, had an influence on the end result ?
It will above all have an effect on the film’s distribution and its impact at an international level. It’s great to see that a film so profoundly Spanish and Andalusian is capable of drawing the  attention of other countries, enough for them not only to ensure its distribution beyond our borders, but also for them to place their trust in it and invest money in its production. Today, one has to think internationally. The cinema cannot remain confined to a single country, it mustn’t close in on itself. To solve a large part of its problems, Spain must open up, not close its doors, and that’s also true of the cinema.

It has just been announced that your film will not represent Spain at the Oscars. How did you react to this news, and what do you think of the film that has been selected?

I find it formidable that a friend and colleague (I worked with her on a TV series dedicated to the Second Spanish Republic) was chosen to represent our cinema. I am very happy for her because I like her a lot and her beautiful film will proudly carry the Spanish flag. I hope she will be part of the final five nominees. If Gracia Querejeta gets that chance, it will be a chance for all of us...

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