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“Spanish horror films are very highly regarded around the world”

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Jaume Balagueró • Director


- Catalan filmmaker Jaume Balagueró, who is to open the Sitges Film Festival with [REC]4: Apocalypse, has received an honorary award at Nocturna

Jaume Balagueró  • Director

Catalan director Jaume Balagueró (born in Lleida in 1968), who is set to open the Sitges Film Festival with the eagerly awaited [REC] 4: Apocalypse [+see also:
film review
interview: Jaume Balagueró
film profile
(read the news), has received an honorary award at Nocturna: the Second Madrid International Fantastic Film Festival in recognition of his successful career, comprising such titles as The Nameless, Darkness [+see also:
film profile
and Fragile [+see also:
film review
film profile

(The article continues below - Commercial information)Cine Iberoamericano Int

Cineuropa: What will be new in the fourth instalment of the [REC] saga?
Jaume Balagueró: The audience will finally find out the answers to the questions that were raised in the previous instalments. We have tried to make a film that is a celebration of horror and good fun, through pure adrenaline and excitement. 

Why come back to the saga now after not being involved in the third film?
That’s how we decided it would be: we shot the first two, and then I spoke to Paco Plaza, the co-director, and we decided, together with the producers, to do it this way; the third one would be directed by Paco alone, and then I would film the fourth instalment afterwards. That way, I was able to focus on another project during that time. 

How do you manage to thrill and frighten audiences while at the same time putting on a show?
I try to trap the audience in the web of the story: I want the viewer to be completely absorbed in the story that’s being told. That lets me create excitement. I’m always thinking of the viewer because I’m making my films for him or her, not for me. 

What is it about these genre-film festivals, like Nocturna, Sitges and the San Sebastián Semana de Terror (“Horror Week”), that makes them so special?
They are very much devoted to their audience, the true enthusiasts, and that means that the whole experience is really intense.

But aren’t fans of fantastic cinema very demanding?
Possibly, but that’s not a bad thing, although it depends on the festival: I’ve been to a few that were fairly "Taliban", like the San Sebastián Semana de Terror, which has a reputation for being the most hardcore, although actually it wasn’t. I think the one in Brussels is the most extreme, but in a good way, in terms of being fun.

There are two sides to your filmography: on one hand you’ve got epic horror, like [REC], and then there’s another, more psychological kind of movie, such as Sleep Tight [+see also:
film review
film profile
That’s the way I am: I don’t always stick to the same methods. There’s something eclectic about doing what you want to do all the time: I enjoy big, showy Hollywood films, gory horror and arthouse films, as well as smaller-scale and more conceptual cinema. When I was a kid, I used to watch Tarkovsky and a zombie movie by Lucio Fulci, and I had a great time watching both. I adopt the same attitude when it comes to making films.

But is it easier to find funding for horror films than it is for other genres?
It all depends: in the USA, takings for horror movies have fallen. It’s a very popular genre, but so is comedy: now they’ll say that films about local customs and manners are more profitable, and in fact they are, provided that you know how to direct and sell them. A horror movie is perhaps more exportable than a local comedy.

Does the “Spanish horror” tag exist outside our borders?
I think that genre is a universal language, although it does indeed enjoy a certain prestige, but you only notice it when you go abroad because it is highly regarded: there are always eyes transfixed on Spanish cinema.

(Translated from Spanish)

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