Fernando Trueba’s office opens like a Pandora’s box of loves, hobbies and tributes from the filmmaker. It is separated from his house by a small patio, already recovered in its flora from the disaster of Filomena. Its entry is not sealed nor does the director (Madrid, 66 years old) live in it. Most of his interviews are carried out there and the visitor enjoys, for example, a poster of One two Three (at the other end there is a photo of its director, Billy Wilder, talking with Luis Buñuel), of the huge black sculpture chiseled out of stone, the work of his older brother, Máximo, who died in 1996 (he is one of his two dead brothers) and two pictures of similar size from the painter and film critic Manny Farber.
Behind Trueba, on the shelves full of books and souvenirs, there are photos of Rafael Azcona, the musician Charlie Haden and a poster of Georges Brassens. They also watch, among others, a rag doll designed by Javier Mariscal and a small portrait of Héctor Abad, a Colombian doctor and university professor who was shot to death in 1987 in Medellín for his defense of human rights and universal public health. “I have that photo since I came back from filming, I have not placed it for promotion”, laughs Trueba: he is in it with The oblivion that we will be adaptation by the filmmaker of the homonymous novel by Héctor Abad Faciolince, from 2006, with which he paid tribute to his father’s spirit and commitment to the goodness of the human being.
To your emotional ground
The photo introduces the conversation to another Spanish member of the Colombian film team: Javier Cámara, identical to Héctor Abad Sr. “When after a first rejection, I accepted the proposal of the Colombian producers, I thought: ‘What a shame that Javier is not Colombian.’ And just then an email came through of Faciolince telling me that he was grateful for joining the project, and that there was an actor who looked like his father, who was the ideal: Javier Cámara ”. The Spanish premiere would have coincided, in its promotion, with the Colombian, although this in the end, due to another wave of the covid in the country, has been postponed to June 1. “I don’t think of the public, but of my close circle. And this is how you treat the public well: you consider them part of your family. I have always fought so that my friends will not be embarrassed by my films. Nor do I like that the film is made up of the here and now. That is reductionist. The cinema helps to think; however, that cannot be its limit ”, he explains.
“I don’t think of the public, but of my close circle. And this is how you treat the public well: you consider them part of your family “
Up to what point The oblivion that we will be Does he speak not only of the Abad, but also of Trueba? “There are things that you discover before and others that you find after,” he reflects. “Obviously, when you get into a movie, you look for those elements close to you and you make the story your own. Although as a reader the one who guides you in the novel is Faciolince, with whom you identify, at least in my case, is with the father. First, because it couldn’t be the son, since my father was completely different. On the other, for the things he says and defends. And because the key film of my life, the one that confirms when I see it in my adolescence that I want to make movies, is The little savageby Truffaut. What is it about? Of a doctor educating a child. It’s obvious now, but I haven’t figured it out until recently. In the end everything is for something ”.
Trueba tells another curious story: “When I received the commission, I was in the middle of writing my new animated collaboration with Mariscal [They Shot the Piano Player, sobre los orígenes de la revolución musical de la bossa nova en Brasil, cruzados con la historia de las dictaduras en América Latina] and asked for two months to finish that script. They told me there was a rush, and if someone I trust could take care of the adaptation. Yes, of course, my brother David, but he is always busy, I have given up hiring him. I called him and he replied that he could just then, that in three months he would move on to something else. We chatted about what mattered to me about the times … and David got to it. Things happen when they happen. And also, the script for Mariscal’s talks about the clash between art and violence … I found very similar echoes in both stories ”. There are also the father with his daughters of Belle Epoque. “Right, or to the concept of paradise lost.” And he laughs: “I never knew why they commissioned it, but with it finished I feel like it comes into my field.”
There is more: Trueba’s idea of the concept of homeland, away from nationalisms and closer to humanism, which earned him attacks when he defined it when he received the National Film Award in 2015, is very similar to Abad’s. “That man is an enlightened man. You only had to see his library, he is very close to me, I admire his values ”, he says. The same goes for your political ideals [la entrevista tiene lugar antes de las elecciones a la presidencia de la Comunidad de Madrid]. “Héctor Abad was not partisan, but optimistic. He believed in social transformation and in the improvement of the human being. He was a disciple of Condorcet and the encyclopedists ”. That said, he refuses any parallels with the present, although he suspects who Héctor Abad would vote for. “Anyway, the world is not Madrid. We are talking about current issues, but I make movies. If that topic can be told in an article or an essay, do it there. Films can only be made for cinematographic reasons, and the viewer gets to feel, to see characters, colors, to be taken by the camera ”. However, an extra-filmic impulse escapes him: “This film is as if I had been commissioned to make a statue in tribute to Héctor Abad. I assumed it and made it as beautiful as possible ”.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.