JUAN CARLOS FRESNADILLO is the latest young Spanish filmmaker to chance his luck in the world of cinema. And with the highly original thriller, lntacto, he’s rolled a double six. Words: Tom Dawson
s a nine-year-old boy growing up in the
Canary Islands. Juan (‘arlos l’resnadillo
witnessed the aftermath of one of the worst disasters in aviation history. when two 7-17 jumbo jets collided on the runway of 'l‘enerife airport killing 578 people. It was that catastrophe. explains the writer- director. ‘which was the beginning of my obsession with luck and fate. I saw and heard things that became imprinted on my mind. l can still remember the cloud of dark smoke and the sour smell in the air. .\ly obsession with aircrashes and planes also started at that moment.‘
Fresnadillo‘s assured first feature. [niacin — which following his ()scar nominated short Linked has been on the receiving end of awards and rave reviews at film festivals around the globe — is a thriller which revolves around luck being a commodity that can be stolen. purchased and gambled. In a series of underground games. players such as Max von Sydow's God of Chance risk their own lives in betting on their 'gift‘ of good fortune.
‘When I made hum-Inf says Fresnadillo. 'l was interested in exploring the relationship between luck and love. In the film luck and love are different forces. with luck being the esoteric movement and love the human movement. At the end of the film. you discover that love is a more powerful energy and you control your life and your luck here in your heart. I wanted to make a psychological thriller. but I think the real genre in lntuvm is the romantic drama. The real discoveries for the characters are the emotional discoveries — that if you love somebody. you must tell them the truth and not hide your emotions.’
While researching the script for Inna-m.
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‘In Intacto the luck is a curse. You can pass this curse to anybody by touching them’
Luck is stolen, purchased and gambled in lntacto
l‘resnadillo and co-writer Andreas Koppel studied accounts of what had happened to people who had survived real-life disasters. which made for sobering reading. ‘()ften their families have been destroyed. and their lives become fucking nightmares.‘ says the filmmaker. ‘ln Illl(l(‘!() the luck is a curse. You can pass this curse to anybody by touching them. It gives you a great power and at the same time it isolates you. It makes you alone. because nobody loves you. You can’t love anybody. you can't touch them. The players of the games in lntur'm are like vampires. touching people for their luck.‘
Along with such fellow-countrymen as .»\lejandro Antenabar and Julio Medem. l"resnadillo shows he has the ability to make films that are both visually imaginative and intellectually stimulating. and which travel successfully around the world. Why. I ask. is there such cinematic confidence amongst these Spanish lilmmakers'.’ ‘We all understand that cinema is a very visual medium.‘ he says. ‘I tell my stories through images —- if you eliminate all the dialogue in Iliirlt'lu you could still understand the film perfectly. For a long time our national cinema was jailed within its boundaries. .\'ow we are making complicated and hypnotic films. which are fables in which we show our conception of life. Personally. I like directors who print their point of view on every frame.’
()ne of the stars of [rum-Io. veteran Spanish actor litisebio l’oncela. praises the thirtysomething liresnadillo‘s 'common sense'. and notes how ‘methodical and eflicient' the debut director was on set. The latter. however. won't have any involvement with the planned Disney remake. electing instead to next develop an original story. possibly in linglish.
‘I can‘t do Inna-m again.' he insists. l‘resnadillo’s right. that would be chancing his luck. ‘l'd prefer.’ he says. 'to concentrate on something new. lillrlt'fr) was an amazing girlfriend. .\'ow she's my ex and I'd prefer to look for another woman.’
Intacto is on selected release from Fri 11 Apr. See review, page 23.
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A Matter of Life and Death
DOCUMENTARY CINEMA: A phrase you don't hear bandied about too much. And yet Live Forever, The Kid Stays in the Picture. Dogtown and Z-Boys, When we were Kings, Hoop Dreams and a whole load of other recently released titles prove that documentary filmmaking is as vital and dynamic as fiction filmmaking, if not more so. And so documentaries do have a place on the big screen, beyond the confines of TV. Hurrah then for ‘Bridging the Gap’, 3 new competition for Scotland- based filmmakers to make short digital docs which will be screened in cinemas. The competition is being run by Edinburgh College of Art and Angus Digital Media Centre and the deadline for application is Friday 30 May. For further information and an application form call Angus Digital Media Centre on 01356 628 910.