Cristóbal Arteaga • Director
“Spain’s tax situation is a disgrace”
by Alfonso Rivera
- The Galicia-based Chilean filmmaker is presenting his as-yet-unseen debut film, Faro sin isla, in the Géneros Mutantes section of the Gijón Film Festival
The Géneros Mutantes (lit. “Mutant Genres”) section is one of the most alternative sidebars at this year’s edition of the Gijón International Film Festival: it is here that we find Faro sin isla [+see also:
interview: Cristóbal Arteaga
film profile] (lit. “Lighthouse Without an Island”), the feature debut by 35-year-old Cristóbal Arteaga, who is also serving as a jury member in the Official Section of the Asturian gathering for the next few days. His second film, The Sad Smell of Flesh [+see also:
film profile], had already been selected at the Seville, Karlovy Vary and Viennale festivals.
Cineuropa: What’s a Chilean guy like you doing in a place like this?
Cristóbal Arteaga: I came to Spain 12 years ago, working as a creative director at an advertising agency. I returned to Chile and started to get fed up of how dishonest everything was becoming. Meanwhile, I was studying film and writing screenplays. I realised that I was spending 10% of my life doing what I enjoyed and the rest doing something I hated. When I turned 30, I thought about what I wanted to do: whether to carry on earning money... or go for broke. And so in 2010, I came back to Spain to study directing: I met the people who would go on to become members of the crew, and we put together Faro sin isla with Catalan producer Pere Crusafón.
It seems odd that people saw your second film, The Sad Smell of Flesh, before the first...
As I was an independent filmmaker, with no producer to set the pace, Faro sin isla took a long time to make... With projects like this, you have to be very quick to channel that initial energy; otherwise, it just fades away. We got started on the editing, and that’s when the insecurity set in. At that point, we decided it would take as long as necessary: the main thing was to adhere to processes. That’s when I made the decision to be the executive producer of my projects: that way I can keep an eye on the time frames. That’s how we managed to shoot The Sad Smell of Flesh – with its screenplay that I wrote really quickly – in just two days and get started with it at the festivals right away.
Is this method of producing films, in a cooperative and with no logos whatsoever in the credits, the freest way to shoot?
There isn’t enough money to make films, and if you want to apply for a grant from the ICAA, they require you to have two years’ experience as a producer and to have employed someone, in spite of the fact that there’s no work: Spain’s tax situation is a disgrace. In a cooperative, each person owns a percentage of the movie, depending on how many hours they worked on it. Whatever money comes in is then shared out.
What kind of excitement awaits Faro sin isla after it has been presented here at Gijón?
This film is an unknown quantity: I don’t know how to categorise it. Someone said that your debut film is the one that incorporates the most ideas. Having presented it here is going to make it easier to be able to get it to other gatherings. The world of film festivals is rather unpredictable: there is no one criterion that you can keep track of in order to know if a movie will be selected. And awards are highly necessary because they promote a film, which is especially important nowadays. That’s why it’s a huge responsibility to be a jury member at Gijón.
And does this job teach you anything or make you more open-minded as a filmmaker?
Very much so, because it forces you to pay more attention, to compare and contrast various elements, and analyse, try to be meticulous, weigh things up, and find something worthwhile or make some kind of discovery: and that’s really cool.
(Translated from Spanish)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.