“There is a queer reading in my film, in its reflection on gender as something performative”
– Interview with the Spanish filmmaker on the film which marks her first foray into fiction, a rural tale with a Gothic atmosphere starring Tamar Novas and the Portuguese Victoria Guerra
(© Marcos Pereiro)
A teacher arrives in an isolated Galician village, where customs and legends are well rooted. This is how, like a Gothic tale, begins O corpo aberto [+lire aussi :
interview : Ángeles Huerta
fiche film], a mystery film directed by Angeles Huerta after a first feature-length documentary entitled Esquece Monelos (2017). This Hispano-Lusitano production, performed by Tamar Novas, Victoria Guerra and Maria Vazquezhit Spanish screens on December 9, distributed by Filmaxafter going to several festivals including Gijón, where we exchanged some impressions.
Cineeuropa: Beneath its air of a gothic horror tale, we perceive that this film formulates several messages.
Angeles Huerta: Yes, the film expresses how ridiculous the borders and other limits that constrain and divide us at all levels, both linguistically and in terms of gender or sexuality, are. It would be better, if we took diversity head on, because I feel that at this very moment, certain things are in danger, including in culture.
What is clear is that very local stories, like yours, which invokes a whole heritage of legends and beliefs, actually turn out to be universal.
Yes, but the film speaks above all of the clash between a deeply secularized world, that of reason, which takes us away from the spiritual and impoverishes us, because it leaves us without a reference to approach many things, and another universe which still retains this spirituality. .
The foggy frontier landscape seen in O corpo aberto helps a lot to create the mysterious atmosphere of the film.
The work done by the director of photography, Gina Ferrer, is impressive; she understood perfectly what we wanted to convey here and convinced us to focus on the characters: it’s a film of body, flesh and skin, with references like The Wuthering Heights by Andrea Arnold, all in a more framed format to focus on the human. The border lands between Portugal and Galicia are very open, less fenced off than the rest of the region, and relations there are very different from those that can exist in a fenced and rationalized territory. There is a metonymy between landscape and bodies, both human and animal.
Your son also reminded me of the fantastic Spanish cinema that was being made in the 1970s, like El bosque del lobo by Pedro Olea.
The greatest Spanish reference is Remando al venezo by Gonzalo Suárez. In the film, there isn’t enough blood or guts for it to be a horror film, but that’s how I didn’t design it: I thought of it as a gothic feature film , like an exaltation of romanticism.
What appealed to you about the story you started from? (Lobosandausby Xosé Luís Méndez Ferrín) for you to make a scenario out of it?
There’s a clear mechanism to making a classic genre film about demonic possession, but it’s the sensuality of the narrative that enthralls me, the overflowing sensory potential that was already there in the text. The film has a queer reading that stems from its reflection on gender as something performative. I love the cinema where great passions unfold!
You now have a fiction film and a documentary to your credit. In what form of storytelling do you feel most comfortable?
Both respond to a radical need to tell a story, because that’s how independent cinema works: you spend a lot of time on it, so it has to represent something very important on an intimate level. Esquece Monelos started from a moment that I was going through in my life and O corpo aberto from another, different. The documentary is the freer of the two genres, because it allows everything, in particular to play a lot on the form. Fiction has rules and genre cinema has its own, but fables have something magical about them. You have to bring people to cinema from a lot of different things, creating a lot of different stories, because we’re a very diverse country.
We hear in O corpo aberto a phrase that fascinates me: “We all believe what we need to believe”.
The film also talks about the ability and the extreme need to create stories to explain the world: the main character has one story and the inhabitants of the village have another and perhaps the story most likely to tell. Helping to decipher the complexity of the universe is that of neighbors. Because sometimes, archaic structures have the ability to integrate into the system behaviors contrary to the norm.
In Raia, the border between Galicia and Portugal, is the setting of the film. As a co-production, you have crossed it.
Yes, of course, to shoot, but in the story, the idea is that we don’t know where we are: it’s an in-between, between two countries and between life and death.
Do you already have a new project in motion? Fiction or documentary?
I think I’m going to stay in fiction and in genre cinema. I’m bitten!
(Translated from Spanish)