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Alex de la Iglesia • Director

“My duty is to make the kind of cinema I like”


- The Basque director Alex de la Iglesia presents his unscrupulous horror comedy Witching & Bitching out of competition in San Sebastian

The Basque director has released his latest trick, a comedy horror movie starring Carmen Maura, Terele Pávez and Hugo Silva which main aim is to entertain. Presented in Toronto and San SebastianWitching & Bitching [+see also:
interview: Alex de la Iglesia
film profile
 will come out in various countries in the upcoming months.

Cineuropa: Famous and important women feature in your film, including Greta Garbo, Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel. Why?
Alex de la Iglesia: It is a declaration of intent. Other women I admire greatly also appear, like Frida Kahlo and Simone de Beauvoir. It is about women who inspire respect, fascination and fear, like everything that is worth it.

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Slightly provocative? I think there are many people who dedicate themselves to what is deemed politically correct. It is about finding your place and your way of being. There are other people that are already doing what needs to be done. Audiences ask you for this: if you do something different, it’s like you are giving up a part of yourself. I am a simple and easy-going man, but my films aren’t. My duty is to make the kind of cinema I like.

Where do your films come from: your stomach, your heart or your brain? I think there is quite a bit of stomach, but despite appearances, the films are also very thought out.

You could be accused of misogyny for the way in which you depict women as manipulators…

I refuse to accept that adjective. I prefer to use the term misanthropy. I simply try and have a vision of the conflict between sexes and I am putting myself on the weaker side.

Which was the hardest action scene to shoot in Witching & Bitching: the initial armed robbery or the final pandemonium? The last one, without a shadow of a doubt: it took one and a half years of work. We filmed for five days in a grotto, but the editing (we had many cameras) and the special effects were complicated. It was the hardest thing I ever filmed. In order to get there, we had to replace having a budget with sweat. There were groups in Madrid, Barcelona, Miami and Los Angeles. It was a great effort and the only way to go forward. The entire budget was €5 million, of which 5% was of French participation.

Do you see your cinema as one of excess, entertainment and partying even if it covers serious themes? Yes. I think that entertainment is part of my style and I cannot do without it. I like it that way. It is the most generous way to speak about what I find interesting.

Do you still think the cinema model needs to be changed? We are all realizing this. Things are changing and a reaction is needed. We need rapid structural change, before all that is left are low cost movies and mega productions. And social networks are essential for this new model.

Your films are released in many different countries. How do audiences react to your sense of humour? In Philadelphia, they did a retrospective of me with fans that even knew my short Mirindas asesinas. And in Tokyo, where they control everything, they know Spanish and European cinema. They understand the sense of humour quite well. I think that the more a film is local, the more successful it is. They look at their own world, which is why we have a duty to tell where and how we live now. This is something that people abroad like. In this sense, Pedro Almodovar has been very intelligent: he focused on his world and was able to be internationally recognised through doing this.

What is your film’s itinerary?
After the Toronto festival and San Sebastian, I will be presenting it in Moscow, Colombia and Mexico, but after that I will start working on my next project because I don’t like spending a year going around the world with a film. It is a documentary that has been commissioned on a Barcelona football player, Leo Messi. It will be done by May 2014.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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