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SAN SEBASTIÁN 2018 Competition

Isaki Lacuesta • Director

“I think it’s great to live and work with different kinds of people”


- SAN SEBASTIÁN 2018: Isaki Lacuesta makes a return visit to San Sebastián’s official competition with Between Two Waters, a sequel of sorts to The Legend of Time

Isaki Lacuesta  • Director
(© Lorenzo Pascasio)

Isaki Lacuesta trains his camera once again on the young stars of 2006’s The Legend of Time in Between Two Waters [+see also:
film review
interview: Isaki Lacuesta
film profile
, his latest film, presented in the official competition of the 66th San Sebastián International Film Festival. The Girona-born director, who won the Golden Shell seven years ago with The Double Steps [+see also:
film review
film profile
, welcomed Cineuropa to the terrace of the Hotel María Cristina, favoured by some of the most glittering names to grace the Basque festival.

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Cineuropa: What is this southern pull that brought you back to make this film?
Isaki Lacuesta:
I visited Cadiz for the first time in 2002 and I was fascinated with that unfamiliar world, a world that was not my own. As a filmgoer and as a director, something I love about cinema is discovering new places and cultures, because there’s such a strong element of social predetermination. We’re predestined to be around people who speak, screw and dress just like us, and thanks to film you see, first as a viewer and then as a filmmaker, that you can step into other people’s shoes, like actors do. I think it’s great to live and work with different kinds of people. When we were filming The Legend of Time we already had this fantasy that it could become a long-term project; I was thinking of the kind of films that Truffaut made, with Jean-Pierre Léaud. It’s very natural in film to show the passing of time — you see that in John Ford’s work as well, where you watch John Wayne getting older. And so we planted a few seeds at the time — scenes that we filmed with a view to coming back to them in the future. I’ve stayed in close touch with Isra and Cheito, who were just teenagers back then, and after enough time had passed we realised that there were some powerful narrative elements there — the tension between two very different lives, dealer and soldier, that they came to live as adults. Knowing that Isra was about to become a father, we decided to film the birth of his daughter Manuela, and we spent several weeks just waiting for her to arrive, with the entire crew camped out in Cadiz, which made that the most expensive scene I’ve ever shot.

How much of the film is fiction and how much is reality, then?
It’s a fiction film: it’s all staged and scripted, although some parts of the plot are very close to the actors’ real experiences or things that have happened to people they know well. So it’s fiction, but with a strong realist slant. When we were making the film, we were aiming to give the audience the impression that it wasn’t scripted or acted, that there was no lighting, no extras and that things were just happening spontaneously in front of the camera. We worked really hard to achieve that feeling and we took it to an extreme in terms of realism.

But didn’t opting for film over digital make it harder to achieve that intimacy?
That was part of the work: we filmed The Legend of Time in digital just because, at that time, I wouldn’t have known how to do it otherwise. I think that, subconsciously, the format gives the viewer a sense of time. Digital wasn’t always around, and film introduces a more ambiguous quality, which is why I used it here — it gives the impression of a life on pause. Once I knew more about filmmaking and the actors were more used to the camera, I had a hankering to shoot on film. That timeless quality is disrupted when, for example, they talk on a mobile phone.

How did you prepare the young actors for their roles?
That process started with The Legend of Time; when we cast them, they were two highly compelling kids but they were terrible actors. There was a long process where we were all learning: for Isra and Cheito it was their first film, and the crew also learned the significance of cinema. That whole learning process went into this new film, too. We rehearsed a lot, not to finalise the script but to make any necessary changes during filming; we were trying to find the most natural way of performing and staging the scene. Isra even learned some of the technical side while we were filming, because he’s interested and very hard-working. He’s a wonderful actor; he has the right physical presence and he should do more screen work.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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