Álex Montoya • Director of Lucas
“Deep down, we’re animals”
- The filmmaker talks about his second feature, which is being released in Spanish theatres after taking part in the Málaga Film Festival and Cinema Jove
Álex Montoya (Logroño, 1973) is the man behind successful short films such as Maquillaje, How I Met Your Father and 2012’s Lucas. Two years ago, he released his feature debut, Asamblea [+see also:
film profile], which took part in the Zonazine section of the Málaga Film Festival. At that same gathering, he has just seen yet more success with his second feature, Lucas [+see also:
interview: Álex Montoya
film profile], based on the previous short of the same name, as it scooped the Silver Biznagas for Best Spanish Film and Best Actor, for its lead, young Jorge Motos. However, a few days prior to its release in Spanish movie theatres, the film also got an airing at Cinema Jove in Valencia, where he is now based, as a special screening.
Cineuropa: Why did you decide to pick up the story of your short film Lucas and expand it?
Álex Montoya: From the start, Lucas had been conceived as a feature film. When we filmed the short, we already had a 50-page outline, and that was the first act. We wanted to use it within the final film, much like Rodrigo Sorogoyen did with Madre [+see also:
interview: Rodrigo Sorogoyen
film profile], but we didn’t get the money in time, the screenplay started to change, and at the end of the day, the movies that you make are the ones that end up securing funding. The film was rewritten in the intervening time, and we threw ourselves into making it with whatever backing we received.
The time that has passed between the short Lucas and this one that’s now being released must also have affected the screenplay…
That’s a temptation that talented screenwriters are good at resisting: if you’ve got a decent script, you keep it as it is and don’t touch it at all, but I didn’t do that with Lucas, and I gradually modified it over time. The ideal solution would be to do what Woody Allen does: have a process that’s virtually on an industrial scale – shoot every two years without having time to worry yourself sick with rewrites, and just set about filming immediately. Or, if you get a commission and you can exchange notes: that speediness is better than having a process drag on for so many years.
In contrast with your debut feature, Asamblea, which unfolded in one single interior location, the spaces in Lucas are now more expansive, as you have even set it in the Albufera in Valencia, which has been popping up in quite a lot of films and series lately.
I think this stems from Marshland [+see also:
interview: Alberto Rodríguez
film profile], as we realised there was something similar in Valencia. I had a screenplay from a while ago that was set there, because it’s a curious landscape with its own laws governing hunting and irrigation, which are a source of conflict. We tried to portray it in a down-to-earth way because it’s not an idyllic place, and we wanted to reflect this because we shot in the winter and it was really cold, which is something you don’t expect in Valencia.
There’s always the risk that the viewer will end up empathising with a character like that of the paedophile who gets friendly with the protagonist…
It’s a delicate balance to strike, yes. It’s a role designed to be a borderline one: the film is a thriller featuring a character with those inclinations, and it’s a complex and taboo topic.
But he’s human… He’s a person with shortcomings who is trying to rekindle his youth.
There’s a backstory written for the character of Álvaro, the paedophile (played by Jorge Cabrera): he had a relationship with a girl when he was a teenager, which was nipped in the bud by his well-to-do family because she was from a lower class. And so he is left with this kind of longing his whole life. And when he’s older, he becomes a photography teacher at a secondary school and has a relationship with a female student, which he ends up in prison for. Indeed, that drive to rekindle his youth and to experience everything for the first time is present in the film, and it’s something that’s easy to empathise with. As the plot unfolds, we tell his story, which is pretty tragic and takes away any doubts we might have had about what happens with the girls he approaches, when we discover that certain things happened to him in jail…
The character of the kid is also scarred both physically and emotionally, like him...
With just a few subtle brush strokes, the movie attempts to paint a picture of Lucas’s father, who died in an accident. He was an educated and friendly person, and although Álvaro is a paedophile, he has those qualities as well. So instinctively, after his life has been turned into this barren wasteland, the kid feels subconsciously drawn to him because he treats him nicely. We are emotional beings, and it’s difficult for us to rationalise things: even though Lucas knows that Álvaro has certain tendencies, he can’t avoid reacting positively to the way the man treats him. Deep down, we are animals, and emotions are an integral part of our decisions, whether we want to admit it or not.
(Translated from Spanish)
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