Samu Fuentes • Director
"I want the film to be a sensory experience"
- Asturian filmmaker Samu Fuentes helms his first fiction feature with Bajo la piel de lobo, which has world-premiered at the 14th Seville European Film Festival
Bajo la piel de lobo [+see also:
interview: Samu Fuentes
film profile] is the feature-length fiction debut by Samu Fuentes, following his documentary Miraflores. The film, which unfolds in the depths of nature, is toplined by Mario Casas, Irene Escolar and Ruth Díaz; the two actresses and the director made the journey to Seville to present it, out of competition, at the 14th edition of the European Film Festival. We chatted to the Asturian filmmaker in the hotel that serves as the gathering’s HQ.
Cineuropa: How did you go about doing your homework before tackling such a rural affair?
Samu Fuentes: We talked to people who had lived in the days of gamekeepers, and they explained to us how they used to set traps and follow the animal trails. They also described the personality of those people who were cut off from the rest of the world. We read about hunters and we talked to people who lived like that: Mario Casas spent several days with them in order to experience how a man would live alone and how he would relate to animals.
The first half-hour of Bajo la piel de lobo has hardly any dialogue.
That was the big gamble in the film: we wanted the cinematography, the locations and the sound to help the audience feel the same as the characters. I wanted people watching the movie not to hear the storyline, but instead to feel it. But at the same time, we don’t attempt to judge the characters with the script, and we place the audience in that very time and space, so that they will be able to understand their actions.
Yes, because the main character’s sexuality is quite macho and brutish...
That was our reference point, for Mario’s character to be like a wolf separated from the rest of the pack. He’s very sexual, brutish and thuggish. He’s trying to start a family, but he doesn’t know any other way of doing it: he doesn’t know how to show affection.
Was it complicated filming in the depths of nature?
We set up the shoot in Asturias: there’s a lesser-known area there that is really beautiful, with rivers, forests, caves and mills that are still in use today. We also filmed in a mediaeval village. The other part of the mountain, which is always covered in snow, was filmed in Huesca. The shoot lasted six weeks, and the weather really dictated everything: we had to hurry things up because there was a risk that we would lose the ice that we needed. We also had to recreate all four seasons in the same physical space and in a short space of time.
The movie brings to mind Dersu Uzala and Jeremiah Johnson.
Yes, especially the first part, which shows a character in a constant relationship with his surroundings. We wanted the film to have that realistic touch and wanted it to be believable, with really long shots that were all really pictorial: we wanted it to be open to interpretation.
What support did you receive to get such a unique project off the ground?
We received backing from TVE and the ICAA, an AIE (economic investment group) with private investment, the Principality of Asturias and the Regional Government of Huesca. As for the stars, we talked to Sergi López and Antonio de la Torre, but in the end, it was Mario Casas who was able to do it. Previously, I’d tried to learn on the job while working on shoots, as part of the direction or production crew. I saw how they worked and realised that it’s vital for there to be a good atmosphere between the two departments. I made a documentary about a youth detention centre in Asturias, and it was a great experience, and I want to pick up that same social context again but this time as a fiction film, as I have some very good first-hand information.
(Translated from Spanish)
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