Fernando Franco and Koldo Zuazua • Director and producer of The Rite of Spring
"We dance well together; we complement each other perfectly"
- We get to talk with the two experienced professionals, who with this film complete their third collaboration together
The Rite of Spring [+see also:
interview: Fernando Franco and Koldo Z…
film profile] is the third film which the Sevillian Fernando Franco, as director, and the Basque Koldo Zuazua, co-producer, have worked together on: having previously worked on Wounded [+see also:
interview: Fernando Franco
film profile] (2013) and Dying [+see also:
interview: Fernando Franco
film profile] (2017). All of them have participated in different editions of the San Sebastian Film Festival. We met up at the Kursaal, the main venue of the event, to chat with them.
Cineuropa: How long have you known each other and worked together for?
Koldo Zuazua: I met Fernando at the Madrid Film School (ECAM). I recommended him to Juan Solanas as editor, and when I was a jury member for short film projects in Gijón there was one entitled La espera which I liked and thought was different, although it didn't win. I contacted his team to become a producer, got funding from Euskadi and we set up four companies in co-production, which became the film Wounded. It was quite a satisfying relationship both on a personal/professional level and in terms of results: that led to us making Dying. Now we’re working on three projects, The Rite of Spring has just come out and we have another one in the works, as well as a series.
The difficulty sometimes is maintaining that loyalty. How do you do that?
Fernando Franco: With mutual trust and respect. We dance well together; we complement each other perfectly. It’s as simple as that.
KZ: I’ve worked with a lot of people during my career, and I look at the people who I find the most interesting in how they approach the creative process and how they direct, and even though Fernando's films are not easy commercially and you have to fight to finance them, I find his style and results appealing and admirable.
FF: Koldo has the talent to build the dominoes of financing, and mine are not easy projects to set up: Wounded was on the brink, and he managed to pull it back from the brink. And Dying was also financed by Koldo, such a complicated film.
And how did you get involved in The Rite of Spring?
FF: Writing comes naturally to me and when I have something legible I pass it on to Koldo, to see what he thinks: sometimes for better or worse.
KZ: Fernando has written two scripts at the same time: the one for this film and Subsuelo, an adaptation of the novel by the Argentinean Marcelo Luján, but LaZona pushed more for The Rite of Spring which is why that one came out first. Adding another production company to the project allows us to diversify and also has weight in the industry, and we are happy with this union.
Does the title The Rite of Spring refer to Alejo Carpentier's book of the same name or to Igor Stravinsky's ballet?
FF: Both, but there are echoes of Stravinsky in the film. This film is brighter than my previous ones and the title had to reflect that. There was something in the concept of spring as rebirth, and in the rite with something that is profane and reaches a higher status that I liked. The central character's relationship with sex, which at the beginning is dirtier, suddenly takes on another dimension.
Sexuality is important in the film. Have you also discussed this sometimes tricky subject in production?
KZ: It’s a subject that we talked about, and we decided to tone it down, because the initial script was more explicit and radical: we softened it slightly. But then, knowing the real character, you regret it, because they are prejudices that you have out of ignorance, because you see the disabled without prejudice, they cross those barriers with absolute ease, and they have overcome those traumas. So, it's been a learning experience in that sense.
FF: Previous versions of the script went further, but Koldo never imposed anything on me, and he suggested it would be good to soften it a little, and I don’t regret it at all, because it's about a kind of underground issue and by bringing more light to it, it helps to normalise what you see. In the middle ground we find virtue, as Aristotle said.
I remember a film by Jo Sol, called Living and Other Fictions [+see also:
interview: Jo Sol
film profile], which talked about sex assistants. Do you want to visualise this profession?
FF: Yes, I spoke to Jo Sol while I was preparing my feature film, because in that film there is a character linked to the subject of sex assistants. I didn't want to make a film about them, but I did want to show a reality that acts as a trigger for a relationship and that has to do with intimacy, then going off in other directions. Because in my film both the protagonist helps the boy and the other way around.
(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)
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