Javier Macipe • Director of The Blue Star
“Here the music is like the Force in Star Wars"
- The director makes his feature film debut with a Spanish-Argentine co-production that revives the figure of a forgotten musician while at the same time vindicating creative rebirth
Despite appearances, The Blue Star [+see also:
interview: Javier Macipe
film profile] is neither a musical nor a documentary. This is made clear from the outset by its director, feature film debutant Javier Macipe from Aragón, who has received acclaim and Goya nominations for his previous short films Os Meninos do Rio and Gastos incluidos. With this film, set in Spain and Argentina in the 1990s, starring the real-life late musician Mauricio (played here by Pepe Lorente), Macipe is attending the San Sebastián International Film Festival for the first time, competing in the New Directors section.
Cineuropa: The great conflict in your film is the personal crisis of the main character, who has gone travelling to find himself and recover his creativity and inspiration.
Javier Macipe: Yes, Mauricio was looking for why he liked music, because there was a point where he lost his way. The Blue Star tries to remain true to his real spirit. I repeated the same journey to Argentina. I am also a musician and that was where I was taught to play the guitar and I fell in love with the local folklore. I tried to make the very most of that journey in order to transmit it through the script.
So, you have blended the life of the real character with your own experiences?
Yes, to a certain extent there are more of my own details in the film than his. I thought it would be interesting to talk about the significance of this story, i.e. why someone who died relatively unknown deserves to have a film made about him. Because what he did was very valuable and transcended so much that you want to tell his story.
The film is dedicated to unknown stars…
It all began with a commission from Mauricio's mother. I was 18 years old when I met her and she had received a proposal from Carlos Saura to make a film about her son, but they had not reached an agreement and she offered it to me. At the time I didn't think I was ready, but the seed was planted for a project that would blossom years later. She is very hurt that Mauricio's older brother has not had any tribute paid to him as it was him who taught him to play. My film also talks about Pedro, and those people who had the talent to go further but could not, or did not want to.
You have also used non-professional actors for the film.
I had already worked with natural performers in my short films, so I know how important the auditioning process is: we spent a lot of time on that in Argentina. It is also essential to build up real relationships. Pepe Lorente was living in the same house as Cuti Carabajal for months, so that in the end they didn’t need to pretend, and when they come together to play the guitar you can see that they are real friends. And you have to check if the rehearsals work or whether it works better with the natural freshness of improvisation.
The Blue Star takes place largely in Argentina, where there are musicians who we don't know in Europe. We spend our lives listening to the same sounds and it is refreshing for a film to open our ears to those songs.
That was one of my motivations. I needed a lot of motivations to keep this film going, which began shooting in 2020 and then we had to stop due to the pandemic. I share Mauricio's dream of spreading what he discovered there. Apart from the beautiful style, it is also a way of experiencing the music of Central Argentina, which is impressive. Santiago del Estero is the place with the most musicians per inhabitant in the world. There are always guitars at every celebration or family gathering and people listen with great respect. It is the most sacred of temples. I have never known a place where music is so like a religion.
Yes, the film shows a lot of faith in music.
As I was writing the script I wrote: “In this film music is like the Force in Star Wars.” It's a path of light. Often when someone is in trouble they write a song, or when they are sad they listen to one. Music is also an excuse to celebrate, processions often take place around music and dance, and in Santiago del Estero that culture is preserved in an ancestral and sacred way.
You have told us what your first feature film is not. So, what is it?
It is a search for vocation and authenticity, a reconnection with that child we once were who adored music; it is a return to our beginnings.
(Translated from Spanish by Alexandra Stephens)
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