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"Real life doesn't appeal to me at all"

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Ado Arrietta • Director

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- World-premiering in the 13th Seville European Film Festival, Spanish director Ado Arrietta’s latest escapade Sleeping Beauty is a poetic, dreamlike and up-to-date reimagining of the fairytale

Ado Arrietta  • Director
(© Lorenzo Pascasio)

Ado Arrietta seems to change his name with every new film that he makes, transfiguring it in accordance with the spirit of his work. Now, with the release of his French-language fairytale Sleeping Beauty [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Ado Arrietta
film profile
]
(Belle Dormant), what more fitting transformation than to become a character himself? Making a thoroughly charming fairy, and with his customary finesse, the director presented his latest film in the New Waves section of the 13th Seville European Film Festival. It’s a section reserved for filmmakers of a truly non-conformist bent—something that Adolfo Arrietta has never shied away from expressing.

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Cineuropa: How does it feel to come back to Seville after all these years?
Ado Arrietta:
I came to the very first festival, decades ago now, with Les Intrigues de Sylvia Couski, and it was very different to how it is now. Over the last ten years, I’ve been making documentaries that have screened at La Casa Encendida and in the Filmoteca de Madrid, but Sleeping Beauty will be going on general release in Spain, and before that in France. I’m used to shooting in digital, which makes it really easy to control the framing on a big screen; you are very aware of where the actors are entering the scene from, where they are exiting—you see it all like a painting and you compose everything like a painting. I began as a painter, and I’m still doing it through the camera and with the whole mise-en-scène.

Sleeping Beauty has a fabulous cast, including Mathieu Amalric, Niels Schneider and Ingrid Caven, among others. How did you come to choose these particular actors?
I saw a photo of Agathe Bonitzer, who I’d never seen in a film before, and I was very taken with her—I knew that she just had to play the fairy. It was much the same with Niels; I knew straight away that he would play the prince. In the screenplay, that character plays the drums, and I thought that Niels wouldn’t be able to do it, because something like that isn’t all that common—but it turns out he plays beautifully. I had seen Mathieu in a film some time ago, but my producer Nathalie Trafford (of Paraiso Films) showed me photos of the others and that’s how I went about choosing the actors. They were thrilled, because they know my work, especially Flammes, Tam Tam and Sylvia Couski, which are all very well-known in France.

And what about choosing the locations—the castles where the events of the film take place.
The funding for the film came from Brittany, so I travelled around the region looking for suitable locations. It’s a magical place, and I saw about twenty different castles before I chose the two that appear in the film. The actors all had a great empathy with the script, the characters and the spirit of the film, so they were very natural in their movements; I hardly had to give them any direction at all.

You seem to have a fascination with fantastical worlds, which we saw first in Merlin, and now in this film. Where does that come from?
I don’t know—I’ve been like that since I was very young. Maybe it’s because I’m a dreamer and I much prefer fantasy to reality; the real world doesn’t appeal to me at all, none of it, not here in Spain or in France— it’s just so utterly tedious!

After ten years away from cinema, you had a lot more resources to work with for this film.
Yes, but it didn’t feel any different—money doesn’t matter to me at all and I never really think about it. Obviously, it’s helpful for some things, like being able to film in two castles, and having good technical support, but it’s something that doesn’t influence me in any way. I can make films with or without money, and I never notice the difference. I’ve never felt constrained.

(Translated from Spanish)

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