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Jota Linares • Director

“Everything is at stake in a close-up”


- With the support of Beatriz Bodegas, Jota Linares has made his feature debut with Unbridled, a film starring Natalia de Molina, Ignacio Mateos and Daniel Grao

Jota Linares  • Director
(© Manolo Pavón/La Canica Films)

After winning the Goya Award for Best Film in 2016 with The Fury of a Patient Man [+see also:
film review
interview: Raúl Arévalo
film profile
, the directorial debut by actor Raúl Arévalo, producer Beatriz Bodegas (of La Canica Films) also threw her weight behind the very first feature by Jota (Javier) Linares (Cádiz,1982), Unbridled [+see also:
interview: Jota Linares
film profile
, a drama-thriller starring Natalia de Molina, Ignacio Mateos and Daniel Grao in the lead roles. The movie will hit Spanish screens this Friday 19 October, courtesy of eOne.

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Cineuropa: Did you study film, or were you self-taught?
Jota Linares:
I studied Audiovisual Communication in Malaga, but this is a self-taught occupation, and we started to make use of the cameras from our work experience. The cafeteria there was like a talent pool: you begin to spend time with people who like the same things as you, so many of my friends from the faculty took part in my first film projects.

And before this feature debut, you shot adverts, correct?
Yes, I’m part of the financial crisis generation, who came out of university in 2008 and suddenly found ourselves faced with that situation, with no chance of taking action, because we didn’t suspect that could actually happen. Now that I’m a screenplay teacher, I tell my students: “You know that it can happen, but we didn’t, and it was really tough.” So you start making a living any way you can: I’ve poured a lot of beers in bars, I’ve folded a lot of T-shirts in shops, and I’ve even worked in the retail chain Fnac, but at the same time, I was very tenacious, and I never lost sight of what I wanted and how I wanted to go about it. That’s how the short films came along, then the ads, seeing as I already felt like I was totally living off of being a director, and that was followed by theatre: it was a huge passion, a calling. And finally, there was cinema and my debut film…

And then Beatriz Bodegas came along. As was the case with The Fury of a Patient Man, would Unbridled not have been made if it weren’t for her?
That’s right: Bea is the person I have to thank for the fact that this film exists and that my whole life has changed; she’s a fairy godmother and a genius. I saw a passion in her for film, and I’d like to believe she saw the same thing in me. Above all, she really liked the screenplay, as it told a story about a female protagonist who learned to be strong.

You and Bodegas are also teaming up again on your new film for Netflix. Has the shoot wrapped already?
Yes, we finished it a week ago. It was a joy to go straight from one project onto another, given the current circumstances in the cultural industry: I feel privileged, and I want to enjoy to the fullest the opportunity that Beatriz has given me to shoot the two films back to back. The new one is based on a screenplay written by me and my best friend, Paco Anaya, and it’s a generational comedy-drama: it tells the story of four pals who share a flat in the Spanish capital for eight years during their university studies, and it shows the last 24 hours of their cohabitation, as they’re about to leave the flat and each of them is about to set out on a different path. It’s called ¿A quién te llevarías a una isla desierta? [lit. “Who Would You Take to a Desert Island?”]

Coming back to Unbridled, did you draw inspiration from A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen?
Yes, it’s a very loose adaptation of that stage play, which I read as a teenager, and it had a huge impact on me because of how it talked about freedom and women in such a simple way. I wanted to adapt it for the 21st century and the autonomous community elections of 2015, with that climate of hope that people were experiencing: you would go out into the street and see people crying tears of joy because things were changing.

When it came to filming the story, why did you decide to use so many close-ups?
I love using close-ups because then everything is at stake: when you do a shot so close to an actor, he or she cannot lie, because it would be clearly visible. And when it comes off, that’s when the magic happens: you’re not watching the actor, but rather the character. That totally inspires me: in Unbridled, there is a fight scene between two men, where the camera is so deep into it that you can see the pores in their skin. The audience feels that moment very intensely: the close-up is an element that is not used very often at all, but it’s very cinematic, and I love it. Because that way, you see that those characters are behaving like animals; they’re drinking and sniffing each other like beasts. Elaborating on that human/animal duality is fascinating to me, and for a movie like this, which comes straight from the guts, it suited it down to the ground.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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