Monday, March 4

Víctor Erice returns to shoot a film 30 years later

The filmmaker Víctor Erice in 2019. / Borja Acute

The filmmaker from Carranza will film ‘Cerrar los ojos’ next year, a feature film with José Coronado and María León. “It contains all the essence of Erice’s cinema”, promises its producer José Alba

Oskar Belategui

He has only signed three feature films in his 60-year career. Three masterpieces. Víctor Erice (Carranza, 1940) is the Salinger of European cinema, a director oblivious to fashion and the industry, reluctant to grant interviews, who has been since 1992, when he premiered ‘El sol del membrillo’, removed from the commercial exhibition circuits . Since then, the author of ‘The Spirit of the Beehive’ and ‘El Sur’ has only shot short films or short pieces for collective films. He has changed movie theaters for museums.

The most renowned living Spanish director among critics around the world premiered his latest work three years ago at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. His director, Miguel Zugaza, and the BBVA Foundation’s video art and digital creation program gave him carte blanche to shoot whatever he wanted. Erice climbed to the top of Mount Agiña in Lesaka (Navarra) and planted his camera in front of Jorge Oteiza’s funerary stele dedicated to Aita Donostia and the small chapel next to it, the work of the architect Luis Vallet de Montano. The video installation ‘Harria eta zerua. Stone and sky’ concluded with a poem by the sculptor: «If you ask about me, I’ll be watching».

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Thirty years after ‘The Spirit of the Beehive’, at the age of 82, Erice will return to shoot a feature film next year, the fourth in a filmography that began with the Golden Shell at the San Sebastian Festival in 1973 for his dazzling debut with ‘The spirit of the hive’. The provisional title of the film is ‘Cerrar los ojos’ and the news has been known because Canal Sur has bought the rights to feature film projects. Andalusian film Pecado Films, with José Alba; Tándem Films, by Cristina Zumárraga; and Nautilus, by Erice himself, are the producers behind ‘Cerrar los ojos’, which, according to Andalusian public television, will feature José Coronado and María León as the stars.

Víctor Erice in his video installation ‘Harria eta zerua. Stone and sky’ at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum in 2019. /

Borja Acute

Jury and Critics Award at Cannes in 1992 with ‘El sol del membrillo’, National Film Award in 1994, Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts, Víctor Erice has had to wait thirty years for a producer to take action in our country to finance the new work of a filmmaker specialized in grasping the elusive. “It is a film that captures the essence of Erice’s cinema,” promises José Alba, producer of ‘Gernika’ and ‘Journey to a Mother’s Room’, who has joined a project promoted by Cristina Zumárraga and her company Tándem Films ( ‘Rose’s Wedding’). “We are in a very initial phase, there are still no signed contracts. But we must respect Erice’s wishes and way of working,” says the Andalusian producer.

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“With the invention of video, we filmmakers entered museums, public spaces where I found conditions of freedom and independence that do not exist with television corporations, which today dictate what cinema is made,” lamented Erice in 2019 when presenting his video installation at the Bilbao Fine Arts. The director likes to work “freed from plot and literature”, and to do it on request. “They force me to get out of myself. Going to places you don’t know and taking on the local culture makes you open up to the world. The works are better when you travel », he affirmed.


Fragment of ‘El Sur’, by Víctor Erice.

‘The spell of Shanghai’ could have meant a return to the normalized exhibition two decades ago for Erice, who spent three years working on the novel by Juan Marsé so that, finally, the producer Andrés Vicente Gómez entrusted the project to Fernando Trueba. The result was a failed film that hit the box office, the bloody realization that, without his gaze, it made no sense. A few years ago, the program ‘Spanish Version’ aired ‘El Sur’. Carranza’s director agreed to talk about this work mutilated by his producer, Elías Querejeta, who premiered it without having shot the other half of the footage, which took place precisely in the south, in a sunny and luminous Andalusia. His broken voice showed that he still hadn’t gotten over the pain of having his creature left unfinished.

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