Lluís Miñarro • Director of Love Me Not
“I like to make the audience uncomfortable by way of my creations"
- Lluís Miñarro opened the Filmadrid International Film Festival 2019 with Love Me Not, his second fiction film which world-premiered at the recent International Film Festival Rotterdam
Lluís Miñarro is one of the most audacious producers to have graced Spanish cinema. It was he who helped launch the careers of talents such as Albert Serra and Sergio Caballero and who also went home with a Palme d’or from Cannes (for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives [+see also:
film profile]). In Falling Star [+see also:
interview: Luis Miñarro
film profile] and Love Me Not [+see also:
interview: Lluís Miñarro
film profile], the two full-length fiction films he has worked on as a director, he proved himself to be just as fearless, defying labels and proudly peppering his work with vivacity and mischievousness. On Thursday 6 June, his second feature opened the 5th edition of Filmadrid (click here to find out more). We made the most of his presence to organise an informal interview with the filmmaker.
Cineuropa: How have audiences reacted to your new film, across festivals as diverse as Rotterdam, Las Palmas, Moscow, the D’A Film Festival Barcelona and now Filmadrid?
Luís Miñarro: It’s all proved very interesting, especially in Moscow. As Love Me Not tackles the theme of imperialism, people have interpreted the film according to their own national experience, and they’ve even compared the flag that was invented in the film to their own. And someone told me that he could see the freedom enjoyed by other Spanish artists, like Picasso, in this film. Ultimately, people found the film to be very Spanish… and for its sexual elements, they likened it to Almodovar.
There are a number of pictorial references in this film…
Yes, we decided on the colours in accordance with the time period at which the story of Salome would have unfolded: sky blue and the red of the earth, colours very commonly used in ancient Egypt. Whatsmore, when I was putting the images together, certain pictorial memories came to mind, as had happened once before with Falling Star.
In that film, you were reinterpreting a historical moment. In Love Me Not, you also place the action at a different point in History, albeit a more recent one…
I like to try to see the other face of History, as if it were the lining of a jacket. I always try to find what there is on the other side in an attempt to better understand life. Even if, sometimes, when we lift the rug, we find a few ugly things.
Why set the film in the time period of that particular war?
That conflict really affected me: nothing in the film is there by accident. The soldiers Hiroshima and Nagasaki aren’t given these names for no reason. And the fact that Lola Dueñas appears in a dream, just like the Roman she-wolf, references the Roman Empire. The fact that I situate the myth of Salome in the present comes from a need to touch upon our global situation indirectly, but in some detail. We still live by the laws of the Roman Empire. We’ve also experienced two world wars and, upon visiting a museum in Nagasaki, I was struck by the fact that even through Japan had asked to surrender, the Americans decided to drop the atomic bombs anyway, perhaps not as a trial run, but to show the rest of the world they meant business. The effects of that moment continue to be felt in the present. I placed Love Me Not in Iraq because this part of the world has been turned upside down, first Afghanistan and then Syria. As a result of our geographical proximity, these problems are also impacting Europe.
It’s difficult to define the exact genre of your film…
Yes. That’s why it’s divided into two parts and includes an epilogue as well as a certain degree of theatricality, especially in the second part which is more melodramatic. I wanted to create some form of Western in the first part and to highlight the fraternity between the two soldiers, who are a bit like the Fat and the Lean - two companions who are diametrically opposed and typical of silent film, and who represent two distinct approaches to making sense of the world. The second part is a Sirk-style melodrama.
There’s also a touch of surrealism here, just like in Falling Star. Decidedly, there’s no categorising or holding back Lluís Miñarro, as either a director or a producer...
It’s true, I answer to my own personal experiences. I’ll say it bluntly: that’s how life is and sometimes I actually struggle to differentiate between dream and reality. Dreams are very important to me: I write down the dreams I have while sleeping at night because they’re quite revealing and are an integral part of our experiences. They affect us physically. This is where the links with Calderón or Cervantes come in, in terms of the way they think and the slightly Bunuelian aspects of the film, because we all have a different take on reality. I apply this fact to my films: I like to make the audience uncomfortable by way of my creations; to make viewers think and ask themselves questions. Provoking a reaction – any kind of reaction - is a necessity (a responsibility even) in any artistic discipline.
(Translated from Spanish)
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