Víctor García León • Director
by Alfonso Rivera
- Víctor García León is presenting the entertaining, but at the same time critical, Selfie in the Official Competition section of the 20th Málaga Film Festival
Víctor García León (Madrid, 1976), the son of filmmaker José Luis García Sánchez (Lázaro de Tormes), took his first steps as a director in 2001 with No Pain, No Gain and in 2007 released Vete de mí, which earned its lead, Juan Diego, the Goya Award for Best Actor. Now, at the 20th Málaga Film Festival, he is presenting Selfie [+see also:
interview: Víctor García León
film profile], which paints a curious portrait of the current period of bewilderment in Spain.
Cineuropa: Where have you been for the last few years?
Víctor García León: Well, the economic crisis and political will combined and brought a lot of people down, rather like a tidal wave, including those with bigger reputations, more successful careers and more talent than me. During all this time, I’ve been working on film projects that have fallen through. I’ve made adverts, stuff for TV and theatre to earn a living, while my dream of directing a film didn't seem to be coming true. One day, I got out of bed and, fed up of being told “no” all the time, I decided to shoot Selfie.
And in any case, you also have film in the blood…
That’s reason enough not to follow in my father’s footsteps: when you’ve seen the lost splendour of Spanish cinema, it makes you want to be an industrial engineer or something more “serious”. The crisis was a tipping point that also caught my father out, as he was used to the idea that making films is not a pipe dream and funding could be secured in a fairly normal way, whereas it is actually very complicated today.
And so the idea of Selfie was born as a crazy, impulsive notion?
It was born of the need to tell the story of the severity of the situation, and I looked for the kind of person that the economic crisis had the potential to affect the most: the son of a wealthy man, who ends up with nothing. In principle, these kinds of situations give you an opportunity for more contrast… and comedy.
But that exact same thing has happened to many of us, as we’ve been living beyond our means…
Yes, we were buying ourselves cars like there was no tomorrow, and then we came crashing back down to Earth with a bump. It’s good to rein things in a little, but it seems as though certain powers have been using this as an excuse to wreak revenge. I had the idea of presenting the project to TV stations, as I had done on other occasions, and it hadn’t gone too well. It started off as something small and then gradually expanded as bigger producers got on board. I remember a lesson I was taught by my friend Jonás Trueba: “The difference between people who make films and those who don’t is that there are people who jump up and do it.” Call up whoever has a camera and ask him for it, and so on until you can set to work filming. You have to fight for a sensible industrial system, but on a personal level, you can spend your life either complaining or being active: just grab a camera and shoot. And that’s what we did. Because it’s so easy to moan: self-pity is a very attractive form of refuge.
In Vete de mí, there was also a NEET son and a father, although in Selfie we don’t see the dad.
A teacher of mine used to tell me that we have replaced the real gods with the gods of advertising. We reproduce our parents’ ideology, but trivialise it: my generation has to battle against a completely absurd and preposterous reality.
(Translated from Spanish)