Eloy Enciso and Carlos Esbert • Director and producer
"A frontier does not exist, it's a convention"
- Arraianos, Eloy Enciso's second feature after the award-winning Pic-nic, is already one of the gems at the Sevilla European Film Festival, which screened it in its "New Waves" section.
As well as being the only Spanish representative at the last Locarno Film Festival, Arraianos [+see also:
interview: Eloy Enciso and Carlos Esbert
film profile], Eloy Enciso's second feature after the award-winning Pic-nic, is already one of the gems at the Sevilla European Film Festival, which screened it in its "New Waves" section.
The film, which explores the concept of borders not only in its title but also in its mix of genres and languages (in it, the limits between fantasy and reality as well as those between fiction and documentary are blurred), portrays a village between Galicia and Portugal, a no-man's-land that has survived the passage of time intact, cultivates its oral traditions, and maintains its intense contact with nature. Following in the line of experimental and heterodox auteurs like Straub, Huillet, Bresson, Pedro Costa, Tarkovski, and Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (with Memories of Underdevelopment), Arraianos is one of current Spanish cinema's most stimulating and risky offerings.
In Sevilla, we spoke to the 37-year-old Galician director and the film's producer.
Cineuropa: What does the film's title refer to?
Eloy Enciso: The arraianos are the inhabitants of the Spanish-Portuguese border, called A Raia Seca. It alludes to a hybrid identity, because an arraiano can be from the Galiacian or Portuguese part. He lives there, but it doesn't matter what country he is from. We show a way of life in which a very physical world of work and struggle against the landscape is intertwined with another world of imagination, myths, and dreams. There, you realise that a frontier does not exist, it's a convention.
Did you already know the region that you portray or did you find out about it?
My first film's producer had told me about small villages lost in the mountains that were autonomous and weren't held accountable by faraway centres of power. And it has something to do with my emotional memories of childhood in Galicia: a lost place in the mountains, mist and trees where one functioned very differently from in the city.
How long did the project take?
Carlos Esbert (Artika Films): Five years. Eloy and the co-screenwriter, José Manuel Sande, developed the storyline. This took them to the first shooting session, in 2009, during which they were particularly interested in adapting Galician playwright Jenaro Marinhas del Valle' play O bosque, in which he sketched the people of the village. It was an interesting work that searched for another way to represent and depict reality, other than documentary or fiction, but it needed a second phase to work on this idea of making myth and reality coexist, a more imaginary and dream-like world coexist with another closer and more epidermal one. This is why we looked for funding for more filming in 2011.
Eloy Enciso: In this second filming session, we forgot the plan and lived more with the people. It was about being there and living things that were intense, something that had failed in the first filming session, in which we had imposed our gesture as filmmakers on the daily events.
At a production level, was it a new challenge?
Carlos Esbert: This film has many new things. It tries and succeeds in creating dialogue between conflicting languages, like representation and reality. It's not a fictional documentary, but instead seeks spaces of cohabitation between two languages without feeling the need to mix them, camouflage them, or separate them into chapters. Something new.
How much did the film cost?
The budget is laughable: €280,000. We received a subsidy from the Galicia regional government and help for the project from the ministry of culture, but we haven't found institutional support for distribution. This worries me. What will happen to filmmakers who seek out different languages?
Has any television channel acquired it?
Eloy Enciso: Galicia Television. There is no space on television channels for different fiction films or documentaries that are not news reports. In the end, there's only ARTE.
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