AUTOINTERVIEW

Eventhough we know each other very much, I suggest that we avoid familiarity.
It seems perfect to me.

Do you remember how Sacramento originated?
Yes, very well. It was when I watched for umpteenth time the movie Ordet by Dreyer. That religious character who has gone mad and he only preaches on the fields with the words of the Nazarene, that was the key. I thought about Don Quijote’s madness, and in my personal theory I suspect that Cervantes wrote it thinking about Jesus of Nazareth more than thinking about cavalry books…Then I watched again “Nazarín” by Buñuel, which tells the story of a priest who wants to live imitating Jesus in everything. Those two Films, along with “The Gospel according to San Mateo” by Pasolini, were the catalysts for Sacramento.

After watching Sacramento in a private pass, Román Gubern said that the film reminded him of Buñuel.
I wish it would be really so. Althoug Gubern specified that it reminded him of Buñuel’s last French stage, the less realistic and the most absurd, which includes films like  “The Ghost of Freedom” or “The Milky Way”. But again, one of my first ideas came to me thinking about “Nazarín”, an  almost Neo-realistic film from his Mexican stage. From Buñuel I think that I have also taken his obsession towards eroticism and religion. The “Don Juan” from Sacramento is the erotic counterpoint to the religious madness. He is a sadistic Don Juan who hates women. He is got an absolute seduction capacity because he tells each women what they want to hear. He never fails. He talks to a Hegel’s intellectual with academic language, to another woman seeking for a rich husband invites her to his sailboat for a couple weeks and to a mystical woman talks to her about God’s love in chaste caresses…They all fall in love, all except the actress and singer at the end, who sets the relentless seducer up.

You said that Sacramento closes up a trilogy?
Yes, a trilogy which, eventhough it changes of genres, has many elements in common.”Queridisimos Intelectuales (del placer y el dolor)” is a documentary film, “La Cámara Lúcida” is half documentary and half fiction, and Sacramento is a full-blown fiction film. What unites them is the subject (the comparison between pleasure and pain) and the aesthetic (all three are filmed mostly in green screen, with the actors in Black and White and the background in color). This emphasizes the artifice, it tells us that we are not in a realistic world, which fits with the dialogues that we find in Sacramento, always a bit nonsensical and implausible. Another element in common is that in all three I have written and performed most of the music, ans I have relied on Maite Grau’s talent, an artist who has defined the atmospheres of the film with her colors and her own abstract paintings. In my first two films I can not forget the excellent work by Andrés Bujardón, a young director of photography and editor, who passed away just a few months ago…Ah, another reason to think on a trilogy: there are two characters from “La Cámara Lúcida”, Cañeque and Jaume, who remain in Sacramento.

In your second film, La Cámara Lúcida, there was, like in Sacramento, a character who intends to make a film. This also happens in your novels, overall in “Quién”, where the protagonist wants to write a great novel. Is “metafiction” one of your labels?
In his article in “ La Vanguardia” about “La Cámara Lúcida”, “Under Construction”, Lluis Bonet indicates that in this film it’s shown the creative process, the machinery that moves a clock, i.e. the director’s doubts, the possible alternatives, his enthusiasm and his depressions, also points out that the Project ends up coinciding with the product. The same can be said of Sacramento and all my novels. The imagined work project ends up being the film or the novel we are watching or reading. The project becomes a product. Metafiction and Postmodernism, when we introduce the author and his project, move away from fiction, from the plot, and that can be counterproductive. But on the other hand, metafiction is found in some of the most important works of the past. Dante is the protagonist of the Divine Comedy, Cervantes appears as a character in the second part of Don Quixote and in Hamlet a theatre play is represented which plot reproduces the Shakespeare’s text that we are reading. I don’t know why I’m so interested in this “game”, perhaps because fascinated Borges… A month ago I was invited to a Conference in Switzerland about  “Metafiction in cinema and literature”. The title of my lecture was “My Metafictional “Novelfilm”: Who” and “La Cámara Lúcida””. Both, novel and film, present “metafictionally” the delirious narcissism of the author… They are complementary parts of the same, it’s a “NovelFilm” where is also involved “Sacramento”.

One of the three crazy priests you interpret in Sacramento is an American priest, another is Andalusian and the third is a very tradicional one.
The American priest came to me after writting my  doctoral thesis on the North American Televangelism. Father Popper presents a Catholic Television Program and shows his madness with strange Interpretations of the Bible, like the one that implies that Jesus is very friendly or that he committed suicide for all of us. But he also shows an enormous lucidity when he thinks that an appealing Catholic Television (such as the Protestant evangelists), the Catholic apostolote will keep on losing millions of souls until it disappears. The Andalusian priest is an uncouth and rogue character. He has lost the faith, but not quite: he steals packages of sacred hosts and with them makes sandwiches of sacred hosts with bread with tomato. The third priest, father Nazario, is the most “Quixotesc”, especially when he meets a crazy man who thinks he’s Napoleon, with whom will begin to walk towards Israel and Egypt…

And Luis García Berlanga?
Berlanga is always present. In the book we published with Maite Grau, we did the longest interview of his life, 120 pages. In Sacramento there are several tributes to Berlanga, I think that father Nazario is an authoritarian priest who resembles a bit to the one Agustin Gonzalez played in “La Escopeta Nacional”. I think I played it thinking of him.

It’s a very irreverent film, right?
With the three priests and with any “mad man” in general, the ethical responsabilty almost doesn’t exist. I think that the trangressive Pope Francisco would like this film, and I really mean it. I will try to send it to him. But maybe, in cinema billboards should be warned that some films are not recommended for people who are very ”believers”.

You have dedicated the film to the memory of the writer Javier Tomeo. From his novels, you have taken some details?
Yes, I’ve taken, with his permission, some phrases of his books “Napoleon VII” and “El Cazador de Leones”. But above all, I think that I’ve been influenced by the absurd tone of this great writer, Aragonese such as Buñuel, who was my friend until he died two years ago.

In Sacramento you indicate a very Black future for the Catholic Church?
I went to a Catholic School (whose name I do not care to remember) that traumatizad me. I believe that the Catholic Church, despite the efforts of the new Pope Francisco, is an institution that tends to disappear. The lacking of priests around the World and the phenomenon of conversion to Protestantism in Latin America (and anywhere in the planet) is overwhelming and fast.

Sacramento has been selected in the section “New Visions” at the Sitges Festival?
I’m happy because it’s a very important Festival. It’s a recognition to the work of the magnificient crew, of actors and technicians, whom I’ve worked with.

Some Project?
I’m starting to think about “Nocturno de un hombre optimista”. A man who receives the worst news (including a terminal cancer) but nevertheless, always reacts with optimism. It ends at a lively party with his “assisted suicide”.