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Mikel Rueda • Director of El doble más quince

“There’s more than one way to love”


- Basque filmmaker Mikel Rueda makes his return to the official competition at the Malaga Spanish Film Festival with El doble más quince, five years after Hidden Away

Mikel Rueda  • Director of El doble más quince

Mikel Rueda (Bilbao, 1980) came to the Malaga Spanish Film Festival three years ago with his short film Caminan, starring Maribel Verdú and Germán Alcarazu. The same duo head up the cast of his latest feature El doble más quince [+see also:
film review
interview: Mikel Rueda
film profile
, which we can regard as an elaboration on the same theme. It’s been five years since Hidden Away [+see also:
film profile
, a story of young homosexual love, was unveiled in this balmy Mediterranean city. The film was later released in more than 14 countries, including France, Germany, Italy and the USA, as well as in Spain.

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Cineuropa: Your short film Caminan was shown at a previous edition of the Malaga Spanish Film Festival. Is this new feature, El doble más quince, a sequel of sorts?
Mikel Rueda:
Caminan came about as a result of an invitation from the Bilbao Film Festival (Zinebi) to make a film in collaboration with various Bilbao directors. At that time, I had already had the idea for El doble..., so I decided to film a self-contained sequence that would let me test out tones, colours, actors — like Maribel and Germán, to see if there was any chemistry between them — and that at the same time would act as a teaser to help secure funding. It was the perfect opportunity to do all of that and yes, we were here in Malaga, so coming back to the festival feels a bit like coming home.

One of the main characters goes through a mid-life crisis. What made you want to explore this theme?
In my own life, I’m surrounded by people who are coming up for fifty, and it’s also about self-reflection — how I saw myself as a teenager and how I’ll see myself at that age — because I think we all have certain patterns that we repeat throughout our lives.I thought it would be interesting to juxtapose adulthood and adolescence, because ultimately, we think we are growing and moving forward, but then we keep going around in the same circles.

The film also portrays sex in midlife, something else we rarely see on screen...
Yes, right from the start I was unsure about how to approach that scene. I felt strongly that it needed to be included, although there were some concerns about it. That scene was also a powerful indication of the journey that the two characters had been on and their history together. You’re right that not many films venture into this territory, or else they do so in a very specific way that reduces sex to a kind of aspiration; there can be much more to it than that.

The internet makes it easier for people of very different generations to connect with one another.
New technologies have definitely changed the way we communicate and relate to each other, and it makes things possible that were once more difficult. But when it comes down to it, we need to see each other face to face, and at that point everything we’ve built up in the virtual world can come tumbling down. That’s what happens to the characters in my film. Kids today can’t cope with the reality of it, the face-to-face interaction. Human beings are social and we need physical contact. The nature of relationships is changing, and that’s OK, but when it comes to physical contact, we show up as we really are.

It looks like your film aims to break away from the social conventions surrounding relationships.
We live in a society where anything that doesn’t conform is quickly identified and given a label. If we don’t label it, we push it away, because it takes us out of our comfort zones. I wanted to challenge everything that’s bound up with the idea of romantic love: how a relationship is supposed to progress, why we are taught about them in a certain way that never evolves... Real life isn’t like that — we can create whatever kind of relationship we want. We live at a time when those of us who don’t fit in are still trying to hide behind a mask so that people don’t point at us. I think it’s time to rip those masks off and let everyone live on their own terms, because there’s more than one way to love or to be with someone, as I tried to show in Hidden Away.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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