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ZINEBI 2023 Zinebi Networking

Patricia M Félix • Director of Jo Sóc

"You start to understand how something that happens to you at school can leave a permanent mark on your personality"


- The Catalan director has won the national section of Zinebi Networking with her project, which follows a group of children in a public primary school in Barcelona over several years

Patricia M Félix  • Director of Jo Sóc
(© Zinebi)

We spoke to Patricia M Félix after her win in the national section of Zinebi Networking, where she presented her project Jo Sóc. This production by Diana Toucedo Films and WKND follows a group of children in a public primary school over several years, and won one of two prizes worth €10,000.

Cineuropa: Tell us a bit about the focus of your project.
Patricia M Félix: Jo Sóc is a bit about how our personality is shaped in childhood, but it is based on the school environment, in a public primary school in Barcelona. I went into the classroom like another child, almost, because the camera is always at the children's level. And then I followed up each year on the basis of projects related to emotions, values and education of the heart. It focuses on the part of growing up and shaping you into the person you will be in secondary school. This starts at the age of four until they leave primary school at the age of 12.

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Now that they’ve finished their school journey, I met them again at the school to interview them and talk a bit about this process of growing up. We also talked about what it has meant for them to create this new identity that you forge for yourself in your teenage years. Many have found it difficult creating this identity because social media exploded in the midst of their teenage years. And I wanted to know what they remember, what they think they were like as children, what they would say to themselves if they met that little Mia or that little Candela, and what advice they would give them after they have already started the more adult life that begins at 18.

Was it always intended as a long-term project?
Not in the first year. My daughter started school and I started to see how this school works, which is project-based: it's a Socratic idea, basically, through conversation. Then I took on a first project with the four-year-olds, where they developed a script and made a play. And when I saw how they are educating these children, I then asked all the parents and the headmistress if I could do a follow-up, also because the children adjusted very well to the camera.

How did you know it was time to stop filming and start editing the film?
When they left school. I went on a camp with them, and it was all very emotional because they were about to start secondary school and they didn't know what was going to happen. I decided to stop it then. I realised that I couldn't keep on prolonging it indefinitely, because otherwise, when will it all end, right? It is such a beautiful and long journey. But after having made different edits, after seeing that they were already 18 years old and after getting to know a bit about their experiences, I decided that I wanted to film them again. And the interviews are really very revealing in terms of how we function as human beings.

But not everyone wanted to be filmed again....
There is one child who does not want to, at the moment. I'm going to try again, but I have to respect his wishes. He’s a child whose contributions throughout his school life were wonderful; he’s very sociable and has his particular way of attracting attention, of clowning around, but at the same time, he’s very intelligent and empathetic. But the teenage years have made this child want to close himself off and not want to be exposed.

However, it is not only the school environment that shapes our personality....
Obviously, but my focus has been on this environment. For me, it has also been an impressive journey, as I had my own traumas at school. [...] You start to understand how something that happens to you at school can leave a permanent mark on your personality. For me, education is key to shaping the people we will be in the future.

What does this prize mean to you?
For me, this prize is a motivation to get it finished. I didn't have a crew; I do the camera and the sound, everything. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to get access to where I got access to. This prize allows me to raise awareness, and it is a form of recognition because I see that people are interested in this. On top of that, having a cash prize is amazing because it allows me to get an editor in and finish it. Then, the feedback I've had opens up a whole array of possibilities, and I couldn't be more grateful and happier.

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(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)

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