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“Cinema is suffering under the yoke of narrative”

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Sergio Caballero • Director


- Sergio Caballero, awarded in Rotterdam with Finisterrae, competes in Sitges with The Distance, a film which, once again, defies the boundaries of cinema

Sergio Caballero  • Director

Catalonian artist Sergio Caballero, awarded at the Rotterdam Festival in 2011 with his debut, Finisterrae [+see also:
interview: Sergio Caballero
film profile
, is competing at the Sitges Festival with The Distance [+see also:
film review
film profile
, a film which, once again, defies the boundaries of cinema.

Cineuropa: Some people, after watching your new movie want to worship it whereas others ask for your head. Are you spurred on by provoking these extremes?
Sergio Caballero:
We’re in an age that lives under the yoke of narrative: movies have to tell you something; and that’s old. We have less freedom than in the seventies, because of distribution and the industry, whereas it’s never been easier to distribute, thanks to the internet. But people are pigeon-holed; they want you to explain things to them and to not have to think. The Distance is a place, it exists in my mind and this is what I show. When I present a piece like this, I say to the audience: “Don’t think, relax and come inside”. If you don’t get inside, the movie will be lost on you; it has various rich and subtle layers, like wine: some wines have lots of body and others, where it seems like nothing’s happening, but they have a strong after taste. The Distance is just like that: some people think about it for days afterwards, because it reaches parts of the brain that we’re not used to.

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In your work you opt for feelings and stimuli...
There’s a story too, but that’s not important. In my first movie, Finisterrae, I had the excuse of a road movie, of a journey. Here I’ve taken a step forward in terms of the style: being in a fixed location meant that I could work better and adding dialogues meant that I’ve had to film in shot-reverse shot mode, but always with a tripod, searching for flexibility and working on the sound. There was no script; instead I had sequences that I wanted to film: like when I make music, I thought of things and I wrote them down. The actors are not actors, they serve as actors, and so they’re always good.

The location: a power station… did you find that by chance or did you look for it? Did it inspire the movie?
I was looking for an abandoned site in order to create the scenes that I had thought of, but then, when I saw the appearance it had, I realised that the protagonist of The Distance is that amazing place: as I walked around it, the pieces gradually created a puzzle that made up the story. That’s really great: the flexibility of being able to work like that, where the different elements whisk you away. Because everything is real, that gives power to the movie: nothing is fiction; not the sound, the location nor the characters.

Humour is the other ingredient in The Distance.
It seems that auteur films are at odds with humour: the great filmmakers are somewhat transcendent. But I laugh at myself and at my transcendence: my film is a mix between Tarkovsky and Kung Fu Panda. Because my daughters give me ideas for my movies: the eldest suggested that I film with ghosts in Finisterrae.

Were you totally free to film as you wished given that you’re your own producer? WhenI was young I was expelled from schools and I’ve been self-sufficient since I was 18. I believe that people should open up, because they’re becoming more and more closed-minded. It’s like looking at a painting or listening to music: nowadays all the songs have to be sung, but there’s no singer in this movie, does that mean it’s not cinema or could it not be music?

(Translated from Spanish)

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