Isaki Lacuesta • Director
La Leyenda del Tiempo
by Vitor Pinto
- "A film open to the unpredictable"
In 1979 flamenco singer Camarón edited "La Leyenda del Tiempo" (The Legend of time), a record dedicated to Garcia Lorca. Twenty-six years later the same title is used by Isaki Lacuesta in his second film. After his awarded debut feature, Cravan vs Cravan (2002), the Spanish director is back with two stories told by two voices. "The Voice Of Isra" portrays a gipsy kid who no longer sings after his father's death, while "The Voice of Makiko" is built as a tale in which a Japanese girl seeks in the flamenco a new way to express her emotions. Interview at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, where the La Leyenda del Tiempo competes for the Tiger Award.
Is your film a tribute to Camarón?
Isaki Lacuesta: Before being a tribute, it is a portrait of Isra and Makiko who are real characters. The tribute comes on a second stage. The first time I travelled as a tourist to San Fernando Island I was seeking the trace of Camarón. I liked the landscapes, I got to know the people and their stories and that was my source of inspiration for the film, which, at the same time, I didn't want to perceive as a pre-planned project.
If it wasn't a pre-planned project, how did you develop the script?
On the one hand I needed a script so that I could feel I had a project. On the other hand, it was a film I wanted to discover as I was shooting it. I have listened to these stories about Japanese girls coming to the island to learn flamenco and these stories about boys who became bad flamenco singers after their voice changed in adolescence. I gathered them as if I was preparing a script for a documentary, but underlying that they weren't a script but my notes of intentions. Then in the castings Isra and Makiko came up with their real stories and we spent some weeks with them, filming their daily lives. Briefly the starting points were the elements I had found in my trip and the real stories of the characters. Then there was a mix between what they were really doing and what I suggested them as a kind of a game. There was no written text. We were improvising as we were shooting.
Why are you interested in playing around with the frontier between reality and fiction?
I wanted to catch these moments of authenticity and one can get that in both documentaries and fiction. There was no intervention at all in some scenes and in others we all suggested things. I agree when van der Keuken said he didn't find practical the difference between documentary and fiction. He preferred the distinction between "spontaneous and improvised film" and "written and prepared film". In my film there are fiction and documentary, but it is above all a film open to the unpredictable.
It seemed to me that "The Voice of Makiko" was more planned and less spontaneous than "The Voice of Isra". Is it so?
Yes, and that's related to the fact that they are two distinct voices. "The Voice of Makiko" is a voice of an adult woman with a defined culture, besides being a story of the past. Isra's story is about a character who is still exploring himself. The initial idea was to use parallel editing. There were even some scenes which were like bridges, they allowed to jump from one character to another. But then we thought it would be better to keep both stories apart. There were two unconnected worlds and a meeting between the characters would be like forcing something that would not happen in real life.
How does pure fiction appeal to you?
I now have a fiction project and a documentary project. In fiction one can also reach a lot of authenticity in the same way that it can be a lot of fake stuff in documentary. However, I think Isra's authenticity moments, for instance, are only possible with real people; they would be very complicated for an actor to play. As a director it can be rewarding. You are shooting a scene that is still unclear to you and suddenly something magical occurs. That's a bigger thrill!
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