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Pedro Aguilera • Director

“You have to be ambitious with the films that you make"


- We chat to Pedro Aguilera, who is competing in the International Film Festival Rotterdam with his third movie, Sister Of Mine

Pedro Aguilera  • Director
(© Lorenzo Pascasio)

Sister Of Mine [+see also:
film review
interview: Pedro Aguilera
film profile
(Demonios tus ojos), the third film by San Sebastián-born filmmaker Pedro Aguilera, is representing Spain in the competition of this year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam. In this chat he reveals some of the keys to the movie.

Cineuropa: You were at Cannes with La influencia [+see also:
film profile
, and now you are at Rotterdam with Sister Of Mine. What is your opinion of film festivals?
Pedro Aguilera: A festival is a showcase, an exhibition. In the case of my type of cinema, it is the only platform to get it out there, an initial starting point, where someone is stressing that your film is worth being shown, picked from among the thousands of titles that are received. Because of this, they are fantastic filters, but they still have a downside: I have been to Cannes five times as a member of the audience, and there is still plenty of rubbish like you get in the mainstream cinemas in Spain. The fact that you are in the selection is related to whom you are associated with, whether you have distribution or a French co-producer, and so on. I try not to shoot festival films, as they exist and this is plain to see: I know what kind of things I have to make in order to get into Cannes, since they are interested in exotic and radical titles. I don’t know how I got in, as I was in the dark about all of this at the time.

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Your new film has support from Ibermedia, but was it easy to produce?
You have to be ambitious when it comes to themes and quality, and try to make better films every time, to contribute something; to do the opposite is to wimp out, although many people want to see the same film over and over again. By being harsh on myself, I try to do it better each time. I want my films to please more people, and I made Sister Of Mine as more of an open film, but when it comes to financing, it’s very difficult to achieve that: everyone gave me a “no”. I had been working on this project for seven years, but the best option is to fight for what you like, not to lie to yourself.

How was it funded, then?
Through private money: many people helped out by sacrificing their pay. It was a miracle: this is the typical film that would have been abandoned in a draw somewhere had it not been for my own personal commitment and because the people involved in it thought it was worth it. Now it is at Rotterdam, and it is going to be released in theatres: this makes me wonder what the criteria are for granting support or purchasing rights. Some people explain that nobody will go to see my films because they’re weird, but my movies cost very little and I can even earn money with them, whereas other films with famous actors can end up losing money.

What size crew did you have?
The movie was filmed in two phases, in April and September, with between 15 and 25 people. I shoot with just a few people: I like there to be silence on set, and I don’t want people to just be stopped and staring. The fewer people around the better.

It surprised me to see Ivana Baquero, the girl from Pan’s Labyrinth [+see also:
film review
film profile
, struggling with another monster, in this case a lecherous man.
Yes, Ivana was very brave to take on a role like this, and the camera adores her: I wrote the script with her in mind, since we had made a short film together, The Red Virgin, where I was assistant director. She grabbed my attention as soon as I saw her act. Her qualities are not easy to find: she is beautiful, and has the ability to be cold and disturbing and, at the same time, sweet and erotic – that was a fantastic combination for the film.

(Translated from Spanish)

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