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Luis García Berlanga, director


Interview realised to Spanish director during the retrospective in Rome, April 2003

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by Mazzino Montinari and
Federico Greco

During the months of April and May, Rome will be celebrating Luis Garcia Berlanga. The Istituto Cervantes wanted to dedicate a comprehensive retrospective to the 84-year-old Spanish director.
Apart from receiving international recognition, and being an example for the post-war Spanish directors, the work of Berlanga has taken on a special importance because it has covered more than half a century of Spanish and European history. His is a cinema of social subjects, which found its highest form of expression in satire. Berlanga started working in films studying with one of the other greats of Spanish cinema, Juan Bardem, and he made his directorial debut with Welcome Mister Marshall in 1952. He is a lonely man, as he likes to define himself, who made his latest film in 1999, Paris-Tombuktu, starring Michel Piccoli. In this film, Berlanga, once again takes aim at the vices of middle class society, as he also did in his most famous film made in 1963 El Verdugo ("Not On Your Life"), using an unparalleled streak of irreverence.

More than half a century has passed since you made your debut. Have there been any changes to the way you see and criticise reality?
"I wouldn't say so. My attention and curiosity have always been aroused by the loneliness of man, and his disastrous search for freedom. For example, through a constant use of sequences, I showed a variety of individuals who talk without listening. The society shown in my films is hostile, it's made up of people who try to get their voices heard above those of the next person. I've continually shown the vices of the modern middle class, the failures of people who have desires but who never manage to satisfy these dreams."

Today, your dream is to create a Cinema City in Alicante.
"I've waited three years to see this project to come fruition. The aim of the Cinema City is that of regeneration of the Spanish cinematographic industry, which fell on bad times due to the State and the lack of infrastructure. But to make this happen, we need to have studios available, like those at Cinecittà and schools dealing with art in general".

And yet, at the moment Spanish cinema seems to be enjoying a healthy period.
"Luckily, there's a re-birth taking place in Spain at the moment, thanks to the abilities of the young directors to express themselves in a variety of genres. The new authors have the courage to tell stories through different types of narratives and cinematographic styles. But all this isn't enough, and I really hope to see the birth of the Cinema City with my own eyes".

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