Oliver Laxe • Director
"Mimosas enabled me to grow as a director"
- Young Galician director Óliver Laxe shares the details of Mimosas, his surprising second film, Grand Prix in the Critics’ Week at this year’s 69th Cannes Film Festival
Mimosas [+see also:
interview: Oliver Laxe
film profile] came out on top in the Critics’ Week at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (see article), has been sold in France, the Baltic countries, Greece, Mexico and the United States, and is currently being shown at festivals including Moscow, Karlovy Vary (see article), FIDMarseille and Lima. We caught up with the director, 34-year-old Oliver Laxe, who splits his time between Galicia and Morocco, where he shot this film along with his previous film, You All Are Captains [+see also:
Cineuropa: You’re at Karlovy Vary this year with two films: Mimosas, as a director, and The Sky Trembles And The Earth Is Afraid And The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers [+see also:
film profile], as an actor.
Oliver Laxe: Ben Rivers’ film is almost a remake of mine: he starts by filming my footage, we see all the delirium of Mimosas, very much in the style of Herzog, who we’re very connected to, camping out in the mountains…
What made you so fond of Morocco?
I’m the son of emigrants: my grandparents were Galician peasants and had values that I saw in traditional rural Morocco. I felt a sense of continuity and humility… I’m comfortable here and identify with the culture. There’s also something very poetic about it, with the clash between tradition and modernity, where surreal, beautiful and conflicting things take shape. I see the past, present and future of the human race here. And the human and natural landscape is a scandalous, psychedelic subject that is very exciting to broach as a director, painter and voyeur.
You have described Mimosas as a "religious western".
Yes, it’s a mix of genres, a film centred around physical and metaphysical adventure. I really like genre, because it enables you to move forward: Mimosas enabled me to push my boundaries and grow as a director.
It must have been difficult to shoot in the Atlas mountains, no?
Shooting lasted five weeks, with extras and horses. We had no previous experience and everything went well, although it was very difficult, as we had to use mules to get around and had to convince the producers to film there. I remember that on the second day, when the trucks got stuck on a bridge, we thought we wouldn’t manage it, but we persevered and never gave up, even though everyone told us we were mad. In retrospect, our lack of foresight and awareness allowed the film to be different; this is the problem with film: we think and calculate a lot, but then everything looks the same. Making a film is about reaching that point when the film starts making itself, becomes greater than you and things are decided more by chance than us. Film is about accepting, which I realised through the various incidents along the way: I figured that if life was going to throw me these curveballs, accepting them would make me believe.
Are your actors professionals?
They’re my friends. It’s like those people who touch your life. There’s something magical and bright in them, cinematographically speaking, and I like having them on the big screen. I have such great friends that it’s only natural that I would want to include them in my films. I write the screenplay with them in mind, their words and gestures: on the screen we see their innocence, their silence, and the scar their gaze leaves behind.
(Translated from Spanish)
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