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MÁLAGA 2020

David Trueba • Director of A este lado del mundo

"We outsource our most embarrassing side”

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- With A este lado del mundo David Trueba critically tackles the issue of immigration, and to do so he transfers his inept main character to the border town of Melilla

David Trueba • Director of A este lado del mundo

The Madrid-born filmmaker and journalist David Trueba has competed in the official section of the 23rd edition of the Málaga Film Festival, held last week, with A este lado del mundo [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: David Trueba
film profile
]
, his latest film. Two years ago he picked up the Silver Biznaga  - Special Jury Prize with his previous work, Casi 40 [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: David Trueba
film profile
]
. The filmmaker/screenwriter/producer welcomes me at the terrace of the hotel AC in Málaga, where the event was held.

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Cineuropa: Does the idea for the film, the concern over immigration, stem somehow as a result of your work as a columnist for a mass-circulation newspaper?
David Trueba:
Yes, the influence is clear, but sometimes you miss the power fiction has because journalism simply sticks superficially to the event and readers do not like being told the underlying stories. When I travelled to Melilla I realised that ever since I was a kid I liked border films: we have two towns in Africa, Ceuta and Melilla, and Spain is framed between Africa and Europa, between rich and poor. Generally we don’t talk about them, we frame them with cheap sentimentalism or we cast them in the drug-trafficking genre. Nevertheless we must tackle these places from the standpoint of the average Spaniard, who prefers not to know what is actually happening there. From time to time we are disturbed by some news, but the border is permeable and not a watertight compartment.

As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind”…
Yes, or outsourcing the evil side. Since we live in rather supportive democracies, something in our head tells us: if we are to hurt, we don’t want to do it to ourselves. Spain outsources security forces, facilities and one specific authority to do the dirty work. We outsource our most embarrassing side.

And then we hire the hitman who does the dirty work…
Well, we don’t know other way! I don’t think we are mean by nature but when you study it and analyse it you realise this goes back to four thousand years ago, as one of the characters in the film says. That is the amount of time we have been building these kind of borders which have nothing to do with race but rather with money: an immigrant will be given Spain’s nationality if they buy a €400 000 flat. The issue is not welcoming the immigrant, by the fact that they are poor.

And isn’t there a solution to that?
Romans did not sort it out in Adrian times, so I very much doubt we will do it now. Death, as the geographical division between the rich and the poor, is another issue that cannot be resolved. We must learn to live together and we must opt for basic solutions such as people’s dignity, reaching out to those who are drowning and not letting anyone starve to death. But the problem will still remain…

And we settle for a post on our social media…
Exactly. There we show we are indignant and supportive. Those who have the least always try to get to where there is abundance because we all long for progress, we all long to improve. Setting hurdles has become a thing of the past and it seems we have not found anything more sophisticated than that.

Are you the producer of the film?
Yes. It felt good to enter Melilla with a reduced film crew. Working fast is the key to authenticity. A long ago I became used to working with a crew of six or seven, and I felt very comfortable with that. True, you don’t have drones but my way of working has other perks. The final result may not look that spectacular, but sometimes reality is also spectacular. Each film requires its own format, and small ones like this are enjoyable. I can only talk about what is close to me and about what I know, even if I know that the general feeling is: “Don’t tell me, don’t get me involved in difficult issues, I don’t want to know about  those…”

But at times films are shot over difficult issues such as poverty which are portrayed tenderly somehow…
They opt for an easy way to make you shed a tear. Sentimentality in cinema means giving the world a facelift and thus social cinema is done by committed people for committed viewers, but it is much better to go look at hostile territories. This is why in my films I like to include slightly hostile characters even with my own ideas, and I like them to speak up. Otherwise, you go out and you are unprotected, and they overwhelm you with certain speeches. It is better for us to hear everyone’s voice.

Exploring territories, crossing ideological borders…
Sure. You must leave your own room, where you feel protected and where you are fully convinced that you are always right. Everyone’s voice must be heard and this will serve to open up debates. 

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(Translated from Spanish by Marcos Randulfe)

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