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Fernando Colomo • Director of Antes de la quema

“I’m open to offers from producers”


- Following the creative comeback that was Isla bonita, and after the recent box-office smash The Tribe, Fernando Colomo is releasing Antes de la quema, which was shot during the carnival in Cádiz

Fernando Colomo  • Director of Antes de la quema

Presented in competition in the official section of the most recent edition of the Málaga Film Festival, Antes de la quema [+see also:
interview: Fernando Colomo
film profile
, the new film by the tireless Fernando Colomo, is released by Vértice Cine in Spain on Friday, 7 June, after the helmer had an audience hit on his hands with his previous title, The Tribe [+see also:
film profile
, and following the excellent critical reception of Isla bonita [+see also:
film review
film profile
four years ago, which marked his professional comeback. We parked our posteriors in the seats of one of the theatres in Madrid’s Renoir Princesa multiplex to have a chinwag with the filmmaker.

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Cineuropa: Why did you decide to shoot in Cádiz and make the city into a backdrop that has such a strong bearing on the plot of Antes de la quema?
Fernando Colomo: I hadn’t filmed there very often: in Going Down in Morocco, we filmed in Algeciras for a day, with the ferry, but I hadn’t filmed in the city like this before. When I received the screenplay, I was really tempted to do it; I liked the story and the way it intertwined the carnival and the world of the drug dealers. And so I saw an opportunity to film there with a small crew in February, during the carnival, and followed that up by shooting the rest of the movie in September. It was all filmed there, apart from the scenes in the incinerator, which were shot in Madrid. 

And that’s how you captured that very festive and lively carnival atmosphere...
Of course, because it’s impossible to replicate it – plus it would have cost a fortune and wouldn’t have looked as good. It’s so authentic… Sometimes we would spend several hours shooting a scene with the actors mixed in with the crowds at the festivities. I wanted it to have that documentary aspect that would reflect reality. The city fascinates me – its streets and its houses, with their inner courtyards, which seem to have an Italian influence, and its minarets as well. 

Cádiz can brag about having this melting pot of cultures, but your movie also plays with mash-ups, combining comedy and thriller – the latter being a fairly unusual genre in your films thus far.
In my third film, The Black Hand, I had a hint of the detective vibe, but it was more like a crime novel. In fact, that was a real draw for me: the work I did here was more to generate tension: I wanted to make it work, and what’s more, with this many characters. The screenplay wasn’t straightforward, and that’s why it caused us so much trouble. There were also a lot of rehearsals to do with the actors, months before the shoot, where we rewrote the dialogue… All of that caused irony to come to the forefront. 

In the film, one becomes aware of the social backdrop of the crisis, but humour helps people survive…
That’s the big lesson we can learn from Cádiz: the nature of the people who live there is such that they can look on the bright side of everything, even though they are in dire situations, as there is a huge amount of unemployment there. But people are laid-back about it, and they live life in a different way.

You were filming with production duties once again handled by Beatriz de la Gándara (of Sangam Films), after you worked with Fernando Bovaira, of Mod, who partnered up with you on The Tribe.
I’m up for anything: if you find a producer like Bovaira, it’s a great opportunity. I had more freedom with Beatriz, as we know each other very well, and although we didn’t have so many resources, there was a 100% commitment from the actors. I’m still open to teaming up with other producers, even though I’m getting increasingly older and more tired. But Isla bonita was a turning point, where I managed to get back that excitement that I had at the start of my career, as it was a very special and daring film, not least because I was the protagonist: it was mental! The problem I see in Spanish film today is that before, we used to make movies on a smaller scale, but we had a lot of freedom; right now, the films are bigger, but there are a lot of people who weigh in. With the TV companies getting involved in production, everyone has an opinion on the script and the cast, which all takes time, and the director is left twiddling his thumbs while everyone reads it. With The Tribe, it took us three years, all in all, whereas we made Isla bonita just among ourselves, and we started shooting it with €10,000 from a friend, which was very pleasant.

So was the shoot for Antes de la quema more similar to the one for Isla bonita?
No, it was more similar to the shoot for The Tribe because Isla was so special… There were only five of us. Furthermore, I had the chance to watch the movie after it had been edited, scored and mixed, and I decided to change the ending, which only cost us around €5,000. That would have been inconceivable on any other project. It was like a novelist who fine-tunes the ending or a painter who wipes away part of the portrait and repaints it. 

The film was presented at the Málaga Film Festival, where the audience must have really enjoyed it…
It was incredible there, with the screening in the Cervantes theatre, and with the applause at the press conference, which is quite unusual. I think the humour in the film will strike more of a chord in Andalusia, but I am hopeful that it will also connect with audiences in the rest of Spain.

(Translated from Spanish)

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