Fernando Leon de Aranoa • Director
Politics, cinema & my Mondays in the Sun
- The Iberian filmmaker talks about Mondays in the Sun starring Javier Bardem as an unemployed man in "my best film ever"
If Italian cinema doesn’t seem to be interested in making films about workers who are thrown out of their factory jobs like pieces of old iron, in Spain, in France, in Belgium and Britain there are director and actors who give a voice to the men and women who would otherwise be invisible in the modern society of the free market and consumerism. Mondays in the Sun, presented in Rome today, is the third feature length film by Fernando Leon de Aranoa, starring a great Javier Bardem. It seems to be very much along the lines of the latest works by Loach, Cantet and the Dardenne brothers. Mondays in the Sun has won 5 Goya awards, was nominated to represent Spain at the Oscars, and has been seen by 2 million people in Spain up until now. It confirms the talent of a director who knows how to film universal stories taken from reality. “I started preparing this film 3 years ago – says de Aranoa – and I began by getting up to speed on the issues, living in close contact with some of the workers from Gjion who had been sacked from the naval shipyard. I followed their struggle, I went to meetings, listening to their protests and trying to understand their objectives. The interest in the cause of these workers comes from my political convictions”.
Your film isn’t just about unemployment. Is it true that initially the story was going to be somewhat different?
“The screenplay should have talked about a ferry, full of passengers, which was taken over by some of the workers. But while I was writing, the main characters in this possible overthrow came to the forefront. The more I continued with the screenplay, the more I was able to widen their story. This is how it became a film about daily life, about the desperation and the existential doubts of men in particular circumstances. Every character shows an unease, and a different way of reacting to events. Whereas the next film will see two women as the main protagonists, but I don’t want to say any more about that”.
Out of the blue, Mondays in the Sun was chosen to represent Spain at the Oscars. But the film failed to win a nomination...
“I’m sorry that we didn’t get the nomination, but the American public at Sundance and the other festivals still appreciated the film all the same. This means that this story has a universal value, even outside Spain. Yes, the nomination would have been a good base for the launch of the film, which is being released in the USA in April”.
In conclusion Javier Bardem was eager to emphasise his respect and affection for de Aranoa. “Fernando is an excellent screenwriter and director. The part he gave me was so well written I didn’t have to make any special effort. I just had to adapt my physique to the character, When I was contacted about this film, I’d received the nomination for my acting in Before Night Falls. As a result of that nomination, I was inundated with lots of offers from America, but none of the proposals were on as high a level as this film. It was easy to choose: out of the films I’ve been involved in, this is the best”.
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