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SAN SEBASTIÁN 2020 New Directors

David Pérez Sañudo • Director of Ane is Missing

“The generation gap is something that fascinates me”


- Basque director David Pérez’s début film, Ane is Missing, delves into motherhood, the intergenerational divide and (re-found) unity in the face of adversity

David Pérez Sañudo • Director of Ane is Missing

The New Directors Section at the 68th San Sebastián International Film Festival holds some delightful new discoveries, and Ane is Missing [+see also:
film review
interview: David Pérez Sañudo
film profile
is one of this year’s gems. The feature début of Basque filmmaker David Pérez Sañudo (Bilbao, 1987) — credited as director, producer and co-writer — displays a remarkable artistic maturity. After a number of accomplished shorts, Sañudo is more than ready to join the big league. The film was selected for the second round of La incubadora – The Screen, a mentoring programme run by the Madrid Film School (ECAM).

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Cineuropa: How did the project find its way to La incubadora?
David Pérez Sañudo:
Looking back, with the benefit of hindsight, I think we just got lucky. The project had support from the Basque Government right through the writing, development and production stages, for three consecutive years. At the same time, we managed — although it wasn’t easy — to get ETB on board, and that was really key. Then, before we started shooting, we were granted support from TVE and the Ministry of Culture, and we were all set. At some point along the line we found out we’d been selected for La Incubadora, which was an incredible gift. It gave us a platform, a badge of quality and a team of agents who got what we were doing with Ane and committed to the film.

Is there any connection between this feature and your 2018 short film, Ane?
Not exactly; we did make a short film that takes place in the same temporal and spatial world, but the story is completely different. We also saw the short as a way to demonstrate that our technical skills were solid and that we were ready to tell these kinds of stories.

Watching your film, it’s hard not to be reminded of the work of the Dardenne brothers: are you a fan?
I am. Their films have a clear-sighted quality that I love — the way they explore universal questions through very specific situations. But I think it’s also part of a more symbolic branch of cinema, too. I don’t like to have influences as such, but I’m a big fan of Mia Hansen-Love and Mar Coll (Three Days with the Family [+see also:
film profile
is an incredible film). On the other hand, I studied under Enrique Urbizu and so I’ve absorbed a bit of his style, which is very different. It’s at the intersection of these two completely different approaches to film that I feel most comfortable — not a drama or a thriller, but somewhere in between. The generation gap is something that fascinates me.

What first drew you to the film’s themes, like parenthood and communication problems?
Bringing up children is a topic that both I and Marina Parés, who co-wrote the film, have been exposed to all our lives. We are both children of teachers, and the whole idea of authority is really interesting to both of us — the authority a father demands from his child, but also the child’s view of the parents. It’s a really solid theme for exploring issues of trust and communication, because every communicative relationship is reciprocal. In the relationship between father/mother and child, this reciprocal relationship has an extra layer of nuance, because of that authority a father or mother has over a child. That raises a fascinating question for cinema: how we all assume a parent should act. It’s no coincidence that the lead character is a security guard. While she is watching over a specific place, she is neglecting her own home. It’s the same scenario when teachers are away from home: they are helping other people’s children, but they are not watching over their own. We were really taken by this idea of absence, the difference between physical and mental caring and being pulled in different directions. That’s the context in which we wanted to explore what it really means to communicate and bring up a child.

Why did you decide to set the film in 2009, amid the protests against the high-speed rail project?
We were familiar with the conflict that arose at that time — back then, any kind of activism had a different set of connotations in the Basque Country. It provides such a rich background for this mother’s search for her daughter, which is both a literal search and a search for identity. She’s asking herself, “Who is my daughter?” That period gives the story an interesting hint of danger and criminality. We were also interested in how something so ordinary as a train line or any other kind of engineering feature, like a road, is designed to connect two points but at the same time creates a division. That’s what provides the symbolism for the film, which is all about communication: at the heart of the story are two characters, separated by a line running between them.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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