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SAN SEBASTIAN 2020

Óscar Bernàcer • Réalisateur de La receta del equilibrio

"Cinéma et gastronomie s’accordent phénoménalement bien"

par 

- Rencontre avec Óscar Bernàcer, qui montre dans le documentaire La receta del equilibrio comment un célèbre chef espagnol et son équipe ont dû s’adapter à la nouvelle réalité imposée par le Covid-19

Óscar Bernàcer  • Réalisateur de La receta del equilibrio

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

The Culinary Zinema section of the 68th San Sebastián International Film Festival hosted the premiere of the documentary The Recipe for Balance [+lire aussi :
critique
bande-annonce
interview : Óscar Bernàcer
fiche film
]
, directed by Óscar Bernàcer, which follows chef Ricard Camarena and his partner, Mari Carmen Bañuls. Faced with the havoc wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic, the couple, who manage various restaurants, are forced to reinvent themselves if they want to keep devoting themselves to their great passion.

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Cineuropa: It would seem natural for a short filmmaker such as yourself, who shot Desayuno con diadema [lit. “Breakfast with a Hairband”] several years ago, to have a predilection for cooking and chefs, wouldn’t you say?
Óscar Bernàcer:
I had never made that connection, but you must have something there, because that short film spawned a screenplay for a feature called Cinco comidas [lit. “Five Meals”]. In it, the story unfolds during breakfast, elevenses, lunch, tea and dinner, all broken up by time gaps (there was also a sixth meal, which was what we in the Levant call resopón, or a late-night snack: that moment when you scoff something without thinking at 6 am, after a night on the town). The screenplay ended up in a drawer, and who knows if I’ll ever fish it out again some day. I have a basic grounding in the inside of kitchens thanks to the recent documentary series Cuineres i Cuiners, and all of that culminated in this film, The Recipe for Balance, so I admit that it wasn’t pre-planned. Even so, I see it as a natural thing that gastronomy and cinema should get along famously: we sit down to eat and we socialise, or in other words, we tell stories.

The couple at the centre of the documentary manage to reconcile their differing ideas pragmatically: do you also manage to do so as a filmmaker?
I don’t know, but I do try to apply this myself because every time I finish a project, I emerge from it with more questions than answers concerning my work. The more I make and the more films I watch, the more I realise how much I still have left to learn, and that makes me uneasy, given that we filmmakers spend a lot of time getting projects off the ground and trying to get results. In that sense, I’m envious of cooks because (without neglecting their R&D work) they receive immediate, daily feedback from their clients. It takes us years to be able to show the results of our work and find out how the audience will react.

The virus and the pandemic have forced us to change our habits. How did they affect the production of the film?
The shoot began before the lockdown and, with the exception of the recording of the interviews and the creation of the dishes, the idea was to make a documentary where the camera would be right inside the couple’s personal and professional environment, just like another character. After everything came to a standstill, and despite the content varying, the approach we took didn’t really change that much. For health-and-safety reasons, and in light of the shooting windows we had lined up, we did without make-up as well as any artificial lighting. The shooting plan, which had been drawn up weeks in advance, became a daily schedule that varied from hour to hour. Without warning, what we were due to film in the afternoon would be pushed back to the next day, and something that we were planning to shoot two days later would be brought forward. In that sense, the skeleton crew that I was using understood that they needed to be flexible, which made things a lot easier not only for me, but also for Ricard and Mari Carmen’s team of chefs. In addition, the fact that we sprang back into action after two months of self-isolation created a very positive atmosphere: we all wanted to do it properly and to help each other, but the spectre of the virus was constantly looming over us.

The fertile plains of the Horta of Valencia survived COVID-19 and actually emerged from it even stronger and more mouth-watering than before... Did the same happen to this film after the health crisis?
I think this particular event made the film grow and generate a bigger buzz: even the characters themselves evolved somewhat during the two phases of shooting. Something that I like a lot about the finished film is that the reflections and ideas that crop up in it go way beyond gastronomy, which means that it’s easier to empathise with the story. After the screening at the San Sebastián Film Festival, something surprising happened: the way in which people who have connections to the world of hospitality and restaurants reacted to it. They came out of the theatre visibly moved by something that really hit home on a personal level, because they are now seeing that many restaurants run the risk of disappearing and others will be deprived of the opportunity to get back to business as usual.

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(Traduit de l'espagnol)

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