Neil Young’s Film Lounge – A Gay Perspective – Interview with Cesc Gay


Neil Young interviews writer-director Cesc Gay (Krampack, In the City) at the 2003 San Sebastian Film Festival.

Would you say Spanish cinema is in a healthy condition at the moment?

I think for the directors always it depends on the moment of what you are doing. Now, I am a lucky director because I have a good producer behind me and I can do my work. So probably if you ask this question to another director that’s trying for the last three years to, you know, start a project… The point is that the TV companies are paying for the movies TV companies decide which movies are OK, and whats not. Its not censorship, but they say Well, this movie, I don’t know… So that way its probably not the best way to make movies, for us, but…

The TV companies get to show the movie first?

Of course, and because its a government law, the TV companies have to invest part of their profit in the Spanish movie business. We have a very big market South America is a good market for us, because of the language. But its different, in a way, you don’t have the big cities apart from Buenos Aires. Here in Spain we have a lot movies every year its not a problem. The problem isn’t producing movies you have to release them, in a good condition.

Is it easy to see Spanish movies outside the big cities?

they see Spanish movies in the smaller towns, fewer of them, the big names, the big movies, of course. They will have to do something like with food a cultural law saying stop American stuff its the only way… to say No, fifty per cent of the movies, they have to be Spanish, or European movies. But now, maybe 90 per cent of the movies that youd see in Barcelona will be American. And they are not good movies, they are just bullshit, just stupid Hollywood movies.

They can spend money on advertising…

They have the power of everything the money, everything. Probably its like the wine we need that kind of law-protection.

Is it easy to see Spanish movies in Barcelona, where you live?

Its not hard. Sometimes you have ten Spanish movies at the same time a lot of movies have been produced each year. You can see Spanish cinema here but not in the best places, or the time you need to have the movie there.

In the UK many city-centre cinemas have closed because of multiplexes. Is it the same in Spain?

The same. Theatres in the middle of a village is closed, maybe its a McDonalds or whatever, and then you have the movie-plex, which in a way is OK, because they are big, they have good screening-rooms. But then you have nine stupid American movies and maybe one or two Spanish. All the towns are going to that multiplex.

Can the government do anything about that?

The only way to do it is to regulate the whole process produce, distribute, and release.

But they prefer to leave it to the market?

Well, the government has other priorities war in Iraq, etc. Their hands are full.

You said that TV companies have a lot of power deciding what gets made. Does this manifest itself at the script stage, or when the film is completed.

The script stage. In my movie Krampack, it was about two kids, two friends, there was a little drug scene, with some cocaine, some sex between them. They were a little uncertain. If you are big director they don’t ask for anything, but at the beginning its very difficult.

Now youre well-known.

Now, yes.

So you could make a more controversial film, if you wanted?

Now I can do it, I was lucky with the festivals, and I have a very good producer, and she’s a woman who is fighting all the time, shell protect me. Its not easy to find a producer who has a real interest in the movie.

You write your own scripts, which gives you more autonomy.

If somebody sends me a script, that’s OK, but I don’t often find a script that I like.

From the British perspective, the ecology of Spanish cinema seems dominated by Pedro Almodovar. Is that the view in Spain is he such a dominant beast in the jungle that everyone else struggles for attention?

No, I think he’s a big incredible star with good movies. People love him. And he has every two or three years a movie. I don’t find that he’s a dominant figure, absolutely not, he produces a lot of films. Hes very good for Spanish cinema, we need that, the interest of everybody. Its great for every country to have somebody like that.

Which other directors are worth seeking out?

I really like Iciar Bollain, the three movies that she’s made. Also Luis Guerin a Catalan film-maker who was here a couple of years ago with In Construction. Isabel Coixet, she’s great, she’s my neighbour in Barcelona.

You live in Barcelona, the capital of Catalunya. Is there such a thing as Catalan cinema?

No we are part of Spanish industry, we have our own particularities, there are people who shoot movies in Catalan. In the City was dubbed into Catalan, so in Catalunya you can see the movie in that language or in Castellano (Spanish). We have our TV in Catalunya, so we have our own stars we have a long tradition of theatre. Probably the best theatre companies in Spain. A lot of the actors you see working in Spanish cinema are Catalans. But we don’t have a specific Catalan cinema.

Is there competition between directors from different parts of Spain yourself in Catalunya and, say, Julio Medem in the Basque country?

You just try to make a movie, and its a lot of work. When you are in competition, you want to win something, and sell the movie, but that just happens at the end of the whole process. For us the main thing is to direct, to write.

Do you know what your next project might be?

No. I don’t have an idea. At the end of all this process… I don’t know.

Would you consider making a genre movie a thriller, or a horror-movie?

No, I like to see them. I don’t know if Im interested enough to spend two years on such a film idea.

2nd February 2004
(interview : September 2003, San Sebastian)

For more information on the San Sebastian Film Festival 2003 click here

by Neil Young