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SAN SEBASTIÁN 2023 Competition

Jaione Camborda • Director of The Rye Horn

“I think that sisterhood now exists in all domains, including film”


- The Basque director presents her second feature, a journey to the edge that revolves around motherhood and solidarity among women

Jaione Camborda  • Director of The Rye Horn

We spoke to Jaione Camborda, the director of The Rye Horn [+see also:
film review
interview: Jaione Camborda
film profile
, her sophomore feature and the first film with which she has taken part in the competition of the San Sebastián Film Festival.

Cineuropa: When you presented Arima [+see also:
film review
interview: Jaione Camborda
film profile
at the Seville Film Festival, you were already talking to me about The Rye Horn. Compared to your previous film, what was it like getting this project off the ground?
Jaione Camborda:
Arima allowed me to make progress with this project more comfortably. We spent about four years working on it. I learned that I wanted to create more of a family around the production – to be better accompanied. And so I did. I joined forces with Andrea Vázquez and María Zamora. These are people who helped give the project a financial dimension, and let’s say that it was somewhat simpler, albeit not easy, because funding arthouse films is always difficult.

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It's a story of motherhood and sisterhood almost exclusively directed and produced by, and starring, women. Do you think the network of sisterhood that we see in the film also exists in the film industry?
I think that right now, there’s cause for celebration because a strong generation of women filmmakers is coming to the fore. They are getting a lot of international attention, and in this respect, we’re all celebrating. It’s been a long time coming, but we can finally make films. Before, it was forbidden; we weren’t given the chance to do so. In that sense, we are very happy that we are starting to see the fruit of that whole struggle that’s been behind it. And I think this sisterhood now exists in all domains, including film.

You were the only female Spanish director present at Toronto this year, and you are in competition at San Sebastián. That’s a big step up if you compare it to your feature debut. What’s your take on it?
I feel very lucky. I think that in addition, this situation will allow us to reach the audience with greater impact, which is very necessary for an arthouse film. I think that the fact I’m here at the San Sebastián Film Festival will give the movie’s theatrical run a big boost. What’s more, it’s my homeland, and it’s very important to me to bring these two worlds together, Galicia and the Basque Country, as they’re two territories that are really important in my life.

The film opens with an impressive and very vivid childbirth scene. How did you go about constructing it?
On one hand, it all started with the casting. I found Julia Gómez, who is a woman who became a mum shortly before the shoot, and so she had the sensations of what childbirth is very much still within her; her body still remembered it, and that was crucial. We approached it as something very animalistic, very mammalian. We split the shoot into dilations, because at each and every moment of dilation, there’s a different sensation in the body. We remained very faithful to the actual process that the woman goes through, and we divided it up that way. I was really interested in those moments of “suspended time”, the standstill between the contractions. I think we’ve seen the second stage of labour a lot in the movies, but not so much the process of childbirth in the time leading up to it, which is so long and drawn out. I thought it was very important to see that woman connecting with her body and transcending it, in turn. We’ve always seen women very much disconnected from their bodies, yelling almost hysterically. And to me it seems that in reality, it’s quite the opposite process; I wanted to focus on the bodily aspects and not so much on the psychological ones.

The whole cast does some sterling work, but the lead actress, Janet Novás, really stands out. How did you work with her on achieving a performance that is so demanding, both physically and emotionally?
Janet was very committed to the project. She is a creator, and she therefore has a very strong ability to understand emotional situations. I was very interested in the aspect of her being a contemporary dancer. She has a strong body, a way of inhabiting the world through her body. That’s what I was after for my character. In addition, she comes from a rural area, Cans in O Porriño. Her family has a bond with working the land, and her inspiration for the character came straight from real life.

The film pays so much attention to detail, and in this sense, the work of the art director and the wardrobe designer particularly stands out. How did you work with those departments?
The art direction was handled by Melania Freire, and Uxía Vaello was in charge of the wardrobe. It was great working with them because they both have such wonderful creativity. And they captured that subtle place I wanted to break through to; we worked a lot on it as a trio. We were quite thorough in our research into that period, and at the same time, we carefully looked for aspects that would connect with today, which would let the viewer have an experience that would occasionally make them forget about that era and see it as the present. We sought out that dialogue between history and the present day.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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