Rodrigo Sorogoyen • Director
“You have to reflect a frustration one way or another”
- SAN SEBASTIÁN 2016: Spanish director Rodrigo Sorogoyen presents May God Save Us, a thriller starring Antonio de la Torre and Roberto Álamo Best Screenplay
Three years ago, Madrilenian director Rodrigo Sorogoyen surprised audiences at the Málaga Film Festival with Stockholm [+see also:
film profile], a real anti-romance of a film starring Javier Pereira and Aura Garrido, which netted three awards, including Best Director. Before that, he teamed up with Peris Romano to make 8 Dates, a movie made up of mini romantic tales. With his third, unwholesome but magnificent feature, May God Save Us [+see also:
interview: Rodrigo Sorogoyen
film profile], which is in competition at the 64th San Sebastián Film Festival, he makes the leap into the premier league of Spanish filmmakers, proving he is one to watch closely over the coming years.
Cineuropa: Your film has a number of elements in common with Marshland [+see also:
interview: Alberto Rodríguez
film profile] by Alberto Rodríguez – who you’re going up against at this edition of the festival, where he is presenting Smoke & Mirrors [+see also:
interview: Alberto Rodríguez
film profile] – including some mysterious crimes and Antonio de la Torre, an actor who seems to be omnipresent at the moment (he appears to be trying his hand at everything in Spain).
Rodrigo Sorogoyen: That’s what people say, but José Coronado and Luis Tosar have more acting jobs than him (laughs). The thing is that Antonio is currently in The Fury of a Patient Man [+see also:
interview: Raúl Arévalo
film profile] by Raúl Arévalo. I don’t mind competing against Alberto Rodríguez; it scares me more going up against foreign filmmakers, with that misguided and magnified view we usually have of films that come from elsewhere. But Smoke & Mirrors will be a hell of a film; I think of him more as a brother because he’s from here, too.
Speaking of Raúl Arévalo, who worked with you as an actor in 8 Dates, your film is much like his The Fury of a Patient Man in that it portrays a violent environment: you both depict society from an angry point of view… Coincidence?
There are not usually any coincidences when it comes to this: there must be a frustration that needs to be reflected one way or another… In my case there is, and I guess there is in Raúl’s case as well, since his film hinges more on revenge. But for me it stems from Madrid, where, as is also the case in other Western cities, people are living alongside violence or, at certain moments, are at the very centre of it: Isabel Peña, my co-screenwriter, and I were neighbours, and we saw how in summer 2011, the Papal visit and the 15M movement were happening right at the same time as police were beating people up left, right and centre. The powers that be stopped you from camping out or protesting in the street, but on the other hand, they welcomed half a million pilgrims with open arms, plus a Pope whose expenses were not to the liking of all Madrilenians: this sparked such an amount of violence that the idea of portraying it just came to us. So the screenplay came about as a result of our anthropological interest in knowing why a man would slit another man’s throat, and even as a result of our socio-political curiosity to depict a city and a specific moment in time: this all came together, and we wrote a thriller about two policemen who have to catch a killer.
You began with 8 Dates, sharing directing duties, then you got Stockholm off the ground with a crowdfunding scheme that raised €60,000, and now you have a bigger budget and Gerardo Herrero on board as a producer. This has been quite a step forward, but have certain important things got left behind along the way?
I was worried about losing freedom: I was getting ready to put up a fight – politely – to hold onto as much freedom as possible, but I had a lot. I don’t know if it’s because I was careful, because they trusted me or because the stars came into alignment. I made the movie I wanted to make. And I had it easier than on Stockholm, because on that film I was the producer, and then I had lots of things to worry about, whereas now I’ve devoted myself to directing: this is bigger, more complete and took longer, so that freedom was very good for me.
Did they not tell you there were lines you couldn't cross when it came to the levels of violence?
That wasn’t my experience: the script is violent, whether you like it or not; in fact, one French distributor purposely didn’t buy it for that very reason. Then there was the little voice in my head that warned me not to take it too far, but no lines were drawn: we walked hand in hand with those in control. Not that the film is an ode to violence; it has its gritty moments, but it could have been a lot more brutal.
You shot in the Canary Islands as well as in Madrid.
Yes, because of the tax relief you get there. We filmed the interiors of the houses and the police station there. We also shot in Torrelavega (Cantabria): that’s where the final scene of May God Save Us unfolds.
(Translated from Spanish)
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