Madrid. Beginning of Christmas. In EL PAÍS, the four candidate directors of Goya meet. For an hour they will talk about awards, platforms, reality and fiction - debate from which their works are born -, narrative forms, festivals and the future of Spanish cinema. They will not meet again until next Saturday the 25th the 34th edition of the Goya Awards In Malaga. Jose Mari Goenaga (Ordizia, 43 years old) represents his fellow directors Jon Garaño Y Aitor Arregi, the filmmakers of The infinite trench (15 applications). Pedro Almodovar (Calzada de Calatrava, 70 years old) comments with laughter that this year Spanish cinema goes to Antonio Banderas' house ("Almost in his living room", he jokes); with Pain and glory He has achieved 16 nominations. Alejandro Amenábar (Santiago, Chile, 47 years old) leaves a day aside preproduction of a series to defend While the war lasts, the film with the most nominations, 17. AND Oliver Laxe (Paris, 37 years old) moves away from the rehearsals of a play in which he acts under the direction of Angélica Liddell to talk about his first appearance in the Goya thanks to What burns, With four applications. The conversation starts with reflections on how to mix reality and fiction. Which of the two do you have to undergo to get a good movie?
Jose Mari Goenaga. It worries me a lot. Both in Handia like in The infinite trench We start from real stories to make our movies. We were very clear that they should work like movies. In the previous documentaries we still ate more the jar in the assembly, because you are playing with elements of reality. A colleague said that in the cinema you have to be more faithful to reality than to the truth, because in the end it is about that, of making movies.
Alejandro Amenábar. Obviously, While the war lasts It is historical and I always talk about respecting the spirit of what you are doing. It is impossible, and even boring, to be true to the letter. There are times when the reconstruction has an element of morbidity, of course, but in general you have to be playing, folding, moving the puzzle to fit cinematically. You struggle to find the balance to not betray what happened. In this film there were temptations to revitalize the story, but that meant betraying what happened ... and there you decide to sheath it and be faithful.
Pedro Almodovar. It is very different if we talk about History, in capital letters, than about a story. The history that has happened to the books should not be alterable, although we have good examples of that betrayal in, for example, the cinema of Tarantino. On two occasions, at least, it changes a reality that everyone knows. And he does it not by lying or creating something artificial, but by his absolute, and almost insane, belief that fiction improves reality. I have also made a film about my reality. All my films have been based on something real: news from the newspaper, a fact seen on television ... and that reality has always provided me with the first minutes of the script. But if those first pages interest me enough, it's me who has to keep writing them. All the world see pain and glory as an autobiographical story, because it is the first time that I take myself as a reference for a main character, and some things come directly from reality, lived by me or my brother or my sister ... I appropriate my memories and From those of my family and friends, I make them mine, to create fiction. I only worry that the result is plausible in terms of film.
It seems terrible to me that movies like 'The Irish' or 'Stories of a marriage' you find out by chance that they arrive at the cinema
Oliver Laxe The paths to the truth are diverse: fiction, documentary ... I speak truth not in a moral sense, but in beauty, justice ... That emotion you feel special before a work of art. In my case What burns it has been done in the valley where my mother was born, a land that I know very well, a place where bread is cut in a certain way, where animals are spoken in a certain way, and to me those gestures, that intangible heritage , as a filmmaker I am very interested. I love these textures. And at the same time I want to evoke, there is that dimension of the real that seems very tasty to me.
P. A. You talk about the details and in my movies they are all absolutely real. My comedies can be exaggerated, sometimes too much, but I get the likelihood using real bases that are, for example, the way of speaking.
O. L. And that's why we conclude that all those documentary or fiction terminologies are very general. They are all lies, but we hope they are beautiful lies.
The world of festivals
The four films present in this debate started their career in festivals. Pain and glory Y What burns they premiered at the Cannes competition (where both won awards), and While the war lasts Y The infinite trench They did it in San Sebastian. At a time when festivals are becoming the last stronghold to watch some movies on the big screen, what do the directors think?
A. A. This year a very significant thing has happened, and that is that the film that won the Golden Lion of Venice, Joker, It was advertised in Spain without any reference to the prize. Someone has come to the conclusion that including the record of Venice, nothing less, could subtract. It is a very conscious decision. Perhaps the festivals have distanced themselves from what we understand as public, that the passage through the festivals no longer means so much in many cases for titles that only achieve a discreet presence in the room. I love festivals.
J. M. G. I guess it will also depend on the type of movie. One of superheroes goes to another audience. And yes, I have heard that theory that a poster class with many critics stars and many laurels of festivals throws them back. In the cinema that we do, even if it is so different, it would be a big plus to win prizes.
A. A. The same is also determined by where the cinema of the rooms is going, since it is increasingly difficult to find a cinema ... let's call it serious, dramas. Art and rehearsal films and blockbusters are screened, bringing the cinema in the middle, from which the festivals also nurtured, suffocates.
I refuse to think that we have to modify the language because there are kids who are going to see it on a mobile
O. L. Festivals are a blessing and also a danger. They have saved me. And at the same time, it can be a comfort zone ... It is wonderful to find an audience with whom you can have a very beautiful, very fertile dialogue. But at the same time she is an autistic elite. That worries me. The beauty of cinema is the mixture of high culture and popular culture, and sometimes that is forgotten at festivals.
P. A. Movies take so long to premiere or premiere so irregularly that festivals matter. Sums, and some spectator will be attracted by that claim. Everything that means making the cinema visible in these moments of full change is good.
J. M. G. I am not very aware of the change and I say it as my mistake. As a spectator I am very classic and I like to live the experience that the lights go out and start an image and a sound ...
P. A. Surrounded by strangers.
J. M. G. Exact. Look, I think I like more than watching movies going to the movies. And if that is lost, I will suffer as a spectator.
P. A. But you are aware that in Spain there are entire regions without a single screen. Here we live a reality - which for example does not occur in France - in which the need to live the film experience is felt by fewer and fewer people.
Private television networks bet only on one type of movie
Jose Mari Goenaga
J. M. G. In return, it is welcome that the public who cannot access the movies in any other way can see them, that experience is democratized in a certain way. We may begin to think of a smaller screen and modify the way we work.
A. A. Now that I am going to do a mini-series, I refuse to think that we have to modify the language because there are kids who are going to see it on a mobile. The stories have to be told as they have to be told and viewed on a big screen. The cinema in theaters will not disappear, although the blockbusters, action movies ... And the thirst for dramas, for serious films, seeps through the platforms, which allow people to see more stories than ever. What is disturbing about that? I feel a little dinosaur telling it, but I like to tell stories and to be told. When you're a child and you stand in front of a whole rack of chocolate boats, you go crazy. And at the same time you end up fed up with chocolate. Right now there is a lot of content, everyone is telling stories ... But where is this going to take us? That is my concern in the format. And another concern has to do with authorship. The platforms on all they want is a subscription contract, get millions of customers, and for that they need a stream of content. And there the author is diluted. It is talking about the brand, as in the old Hollywood studios, and not about those responsible for the contents.
P. A. We will see it in the next few years, Alejandro. I hope you make a movie after the series, because right now if you think of a lot of Spanish frontline directors, you are all doing series. I wonder: what will be the Spanish film production next year? The platforms have come as a tsunami, with positive aspects such as that everyone is working, or that there is more fiction offer than ever, but the model of watching fiction is changing. That was intended from the beginning and they are getting it. It seems terrible to me that movies like the Irish or Stories of a marriage you find out by chance that they arrive at the cinema, because there is no interest in you knowing that you can see them on a screen. The room is an essential cultural asset, because cinema was invented to be screened in a place much larger than the individual. I am very catastrophic at the moment, because change catches us in Spain without budgets. This would require an analysis of the situation, that the platforms are required that part of their profits be invested in Spain.
O. L. On the big screen there is a mysterious relationship with the cinema. We got drunk, transformed, levitating ... For the relationship with the movie and with the spectators. It's a mystery.
A. A. The communion that occurs in one room does not happen in other places.
The filmmakers are, at least, animals in extinction. And we are in a zoo
O. L. The filmmakers are, at least, animals in extinction. And we are in a zoo where they tell us to put these hunters next to the security guards, the platforms, especially those that come from outside, so that we can live together. Well no, you can't. And we talk about platforms that don't even pay taxes. Beyond all these debates, there is a substantial question: are movies better since there are platforms? And the answer is no, radically no. The defenders of the platforms are the first to tell you. And proof of this is that whenever you talk about this debate and Netflix, you only talk about Rome. When, how many movies has Netflix made in 10 years? Hundreds and only talk about that.
P. A. It is that maybe you have to create a cultural reserve to protect the film ecosystem. Because the platforms bet on the mainstream local, and do not contemplate new creators. From the Ministry they should monitor and help who starts. The four of us have it easier, but the debutants are the future.
O. L. And the platform is a poisoned caramelito for some young people. Because it's easy money, you don't have to fight much ...
J. M. G. That not only happens with platforms, but with private television networks, which are committed only to one type of film. It would be necessary to impel that part of those gains are derived in a different cinema.
O. L. At least the platforms have shown that the public is not something stony. In many televisions it was said: "It is that the viewer wants this." Well no: the increasing level of foreign series has pushed to increase the quality of Spanish. Let's stop talking about the viewer as something that is not organic. We create the viewer together, and we have to raise the level.
A. A. What worries me that you take a script out of a drawer and think: "This I am not going to raise because it is not a series ...". And that you change to adapt to the format, to one season, to two seasons. That's when you get scared.
The talk is over, it's time for the photographs. Goenaga comments on his nervousness. Laxe talk about details of Pain and glory, and Almodóvar takes Amenábar's arm and confesses: "Look, Alejandro, my next project is ...". The sound is diluted while the quartet moves away.