Lois Patiño • Director of Red Moon Tide
"My films work together to form a diptych on Galicia"
- BERLINALE 2020: Lois Patiño talks to us about various aspects of his second feature film Red Moon Tide, presented in the Forum section of the German exhibition
Artist Lois Patiño has presented his second feature film Red Moon Tide [+see also:
interview: Lois Patiño
film profile] - shot in his native Galicia, much like his first work Coast of Death [+see also:
interview: Lois Patiño
film profile] - in the Forum section of the 70th Berlinale. We sat down to chat with the director.
Cineuropa: Labels might be driving us all a little bit mad, but with Red Moon Tide, are we looking at a docufiction or fiction pure and simple?
Lois Patiño: The film tries to move between gaps and in-between spaces, taking reality as its starting point, but calling it into question: observing it from a distance and making us doubt its truth. It paints a documentary-style portrait of the people and places that are found within one particular area of Galicia: the individuals immortalised in the film are local people. But we’ve inserted these portraits into an imaginary story and added a voiceover which speaks of ghosts and sea monsters. Red Moon Tide travels through some sort of limbo; the characters themselves don’t even know where they are: are they dead or alive? Is it real or a myth? Am I dreaming or is this actually happening? One of them says: “We’re somebody’s dream. A dream about a sleepy sea”, which links back to ideas relating to Carl Jung’s collective unconscious, from which myths and dreams emerge. And this links back to the words of Álvaro Cunqueiro which inspired us during filming: "The ocean is an animal that breathes twice a day".
The film was shot in two stages, almost three years ago... Were the post-production and funding processes complicated?
Filmmaking is always a long process, taking one or two years, at least. As this was my second film and given that I was using a different language from Coast of Death, the process was even longer; on the one hand, due to funding, which is always difficult to organise for non-conventional cinema; and on the other, because of the research that had to be carried out in terms of the language. Red Moon Tide was based on two premises: exploring Galicia’s fantastical imaginings of death and strengthening our temporal experience of the film’s images. But in terms of the story, it was always very open so as to allow new ideas to be incorporated during the filmmaking process.
Then I came across the story of the “Rubio de Camelle” and recorded the film’s underwater images, which slowly gave shape to the story. The dialogue was written during the editing process. That’s also where we developed the legendary element of the film’s story. There were endless ways in which the images could be interpreted and that also made the editing process longer and more complicated.
The coast and death are once again prominent, as in your first feature film...
Initially, the project wasn’t supposed to be set on the Coast of Death. The first phase of filming actually took place in inland Galicia. The idea was to construct an imaginary space unlinked to any particular territory. But when we discovered the story of “Rubio”, I decided the plot should revolve around his particular reality - a diver who recovered more than thirty drowned bodies, previously lost at sea - and the film was supposed to unfold within this context. His story linked back to many other ideas that I wanted to explore: the ocean and its link with death, the grieving process and the importance of saying goodbye. There’s also another key concept, that of the “tortured soul”: spirits trapped in limbo and unable to pass over. According to popular belief, this is what happens to the spirits of the drowned who die at sea and whose bodies are never found. Whatsmore, the idea of a "tortured soul" as a person mired in sadness was interesting, because the film can also be seen to represent the grieving process of an entire people for the disappearance of a neighbour. The film invents a legend, but it’s born out of a true story.
Red Moon Tide moves in that undefined space between a documentary-style portrait of the people living in that particular place, and a fantastical tale. In my previous film, I took an anthropological approach so as to explore the creation of a particular landscape’s identity, via the relationship between man and the environment, and to combine our story with legend; this film, meanwhile, goes from the real to the mythical, and observes this particular landscape from a legendary viewpoint. In this sense, the two films work together to form a diptych on the region: one casts a realistic look at it, the other fantastical.
(Translated from Spanish)
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