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NIFFF 2019

Miguel Llansó • Director of Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway

"If the preference is for something successful, rather than something risky, then we have a problem as a species"

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- We chatted to Spanish director Miguel Llansó after he premiered his new feature Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway in Neuchâtel

Miguel Llansó  • Director of Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway

Madrid-born Miguel Llansó premiered his new feature Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Miguel Llansó
film profile
]
in the international competition of the ongoing Neuchâtel International Fantasy Film Festival (5-13 July). He talked to Cineuropa about the movie and how science fiction is inseparable from reality in today’s world.

Cineuropa: Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway is camp, funny, paranoid and very critical of power. What pushed you to make such a film?
Miguel Llansó: I think we live in a totally virtual world, and we cannot really tell what reality is any longer. I look at it from the point of view of “liquid modernity” – everything is mediatised, so we cannot distinguish the truth from the bullshit. They are on the same page. People don’t have any points of reference any more, so we live in this blurry mist shrouding conspiracy theories. The populists are rebuilding the classical myths and mythologies, and a lot of people buy it because they are totally lost and it connects with something primeval inside of us.

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The film shows the blurry world of power and the main character, Kagano, in the middle, who doesn’t understand anything. This is the reflection of reality. We don’t know whom we should trust: The New York Times? Ourselves?

Your film talks about modern technologies and information systems, but you have picked a very lo-fi aesthetic language to tell the story – modems, dial-up, DOS… Why this old-school approach?
I think all of the computers and computer systems look very naïve in the film, and so does the whole movie. I wanted to show that behind this naivety there is something really dark there. In the 1980 and 1990s, when all of the computers were developed and all of the experiments were conducted on social networks and social media, these harmless-looking computers were the seed of something really scary. We didn’t believe that they were that powerful or that they could analyse human behaviour – but the actuality was different. The 1960s social experiments, like Milgram’s, analysed data based on 50-60 people. Now, social media can conduct similar experiments with millions of people, using already available data. Never before has it been possible to attain such a vast analysis of human behaviour.

The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures showed how a differing opinion is forced to conform to the majority. Do you think this also applies to filmmaking today?
Yes, totally. Netflix can analyse everything – the moment when people’s attention starts to wander, with a cross-section based on gender, age and many other variables. Everything that fits within a bell-curve graph is fine, and everything that remains on the margins is excluded. Once, there were test screenings for an audience of 100-200 people, but now they have viewing-pattern data for millions of individuals. Films are made on the basis of predictions, but human beings have always evolved through creativity, and creativity is supposed to take us beyond the margins. But if the only preference is for something successful, rather than something risky, then we have a big problem as a species.

Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway is the first ever co-production between Estonia and Ethiopia. Why this combination?
I like building things on the margin, and these exotic productions are incredible. It opens the world up to more astonishing connections. I wanted to stress that there are no layers of importance; all of the countries are equally important in my film because it involves an international espionage plot. We want to keep every country on an equal footing.

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