Lluis Miñarro • Producer
by Sergio Ríos Pérez
03/05/2012 - The premise is simple: “Eddie Saeta is a production company that understands that cinema is an art.” In these times, when only figures (box office receipts, budgets, incentives, subsidies...) seem to matter, a declaration like this definitely has a certain beauty to it.
The man behind the quote, Lluis Miñarro (Barcelona, 1949), is possibly the Spanish producer of auteur cinema who is the most respected across the international market for being innovative, daring, passionate, and intuitive. As the head of production company Eddie Saeta, where since 1995 he has produced 29 features, he has given rise to an independent, contemporary, and international filmography of auteurs such as Isabel Coixet (Things I Never Told You, 1996), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives [trailer], Palme d’Or in 2010), Manoel de Oliveira (Eccentricities of a Blond-haired Girl [trailer], 2009, The Strange Case of Angelica [trailer], 2010), and José Luis Guerín (In the City of Silvia, 2006), and new talents like Albert Serra (Honour of the Knights (Quixotic) [trailer], 2006, Birdsong, 2008), Agustí Vila (The Mosquito Net [trailer], 2010), and Sergio Caballero(Finisterrae, 2010).
For many producers, the need to reach out to the public often translates into them (unsuccessfully) exaggerating the commercial elements of their films. But Miñarro outlines a different way of doing this: “The main thing is to respect the spectator. It’s vital that the films I offer allow him space to finish forming an idea. To treat the spectator with the respect of letting him construct his own view of the film, to ensure that there is space in a film for him to make it his own. I’m not interested in cinema that hands its out all pre-chewed and predictable from the beginning, or that doesn’t reach any concrete point beyond illustrating a story. There’s already literature for that, and it does it better.”
If the situation of Spanish film production is precarious, it is even more so when it comes to films like those produced by Miñarro with limited market potential. In his opinion, auteur cinema “will become increasingly personalised in the sense that the auteurs or directors themselves will manage their own films. Simply put, as technology allows it, they can make films on a smaller scale from an industrial point of view, but in which they will still be able to put forward their ideas.”
He is clear that this crisis will not be final: “Cinema won’t disappear. The more industrial films, although in smaller quantities, will continue to coexist with the more radical auteur films, perhaps made from a different perspective: crowdfunding, cooperative filmmaking, whatever you want to call it. But nobody will be able to end cinema, because it’s a means of personal expression. Films will continue to be made, even if they are not seen in cinemas, but in other alternative spaces.”
These “alternative spaces” increasingly refer to the Internet, a new medium that producers should embrace without fear: “In cinema’s short history, we producers have become used to reinventing ourselves. It’s something that comes naturally to us. Today, there are new windows of opportunity, like video on demand (VoD), to offer the films we make at a reasonable price. Until now they have not provided enough income to producers to allow for an interesting rotation, but I trust that this will happen. One should not lose optimism or, more importantly, the urge to do things. Creativity cannot be slowed down..”