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Fernando Franco • Director

“You have to be plucky to shoot a film”


- SAN SEBASTIÁN 2017: Fernando Franco is back at the Basque gathering following the success he enjoyed there with Wounded, although this time around he is out of competition with Dying

Fernando Franco  •  Director
(© Montse Castillo/Festival de San Sebastián)

Dying [+see also:
film review
interview: Fernando Franco
film profile
is the second directorial effort by editor, producer and film-school teacher Fernando Franco (Seville, 1976) after he obtained the Special Jury Prize and the Silver Shell for Best Actress (for Marian Álvarez) at San Sebastián in 2013 with Wounded [+see also:
film review
interview: Fernando Franco
film profile
. While he is not in competition at this year’s 65th edition of the San Sebastián International Film Festival, he will definitely make his mark all the same.

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Cineuropa: The landscape has a particular relevance in Dying. Where was it shot?
Fernando Franco:
Here in San Sebastián, the Basque Country, Seville, Navarre, Cantabria and Madrid, although in the film it doesn’t feel like the story is unfolding in so many different places. But we built a cinematic space that feeds off many locations. My previous film, Wounded, was more focused in on the main character, with hardly any depth of field and with more interiors; in this case, I thought it was important to open up the film and for the landscape to be a backdrop that reflected the state of mind of the characters. I had conversations with Miguel Ángel Rebollo, the art director on the movie, about references from Romantic painting, such as Friedrich and Turner, which we ended up transferring to the exteriors. As for the interiors, we were also interested in distant vanishing points, much like the ones Dreyer used.

It goes without saying that this is a brave film, in view of its subject matter.
Thanks! I think that if you shoot a film, you have to be plucky and do it with people who want to put their all into it. I’ve been lucky enough to work with actors such as Marian Álvarez and Andrés Gertrúdix, and with a large part of the crew, such as my producer, Koldo Zuazua, my DoP, Santiago Racaj, and my art director, who really value the project and always go with the grain, pushing in the same direction as the idea of the movie.

That anxiety when it comes to talking about death from the point of view of the companion of the deceased… Did that come from personal experience?
Yes, I have experienced it personally because my father was ill for a long time and I was by his side, with my family. And when I was making Wounded, I read Schnitzler’s novel, which has the same name as my film, Dying. That planted the seed of the idea for the movie, and I was interested in the fact that he placed the emphasis on the companion, rather than on the person suffering from the terminal illness. I tried to transfer the issues raised in the story across to the film: because at those critical junctures, you have desires, feelings and thoughts that you carry inside you, which are difficult to express, and you don’t feel comfortable, because it seems as though they’re things that other people might reproach you for, on an ethical or a moral level.

A thousand contradictory thoughts go through the head of someone who is helping a sick loved one.
The movie starts off with the relationship between a loving couple, but my idea was not to idealise it in a romantic sense, as would be the case in a Hollywood film, but rather to portray love like an expanse of land with cracks, along with other facets that do not include romanticism and selflessness, but rather greys. Not everything is black or white.

Marian Álvarez should be applauded for her ability to convey this whole tangle of emotions.
I worked with her again because I am a fan of her work, quite apart from the fact that she is a friend of mine and I love her dearly. She has an incredible ability to express states of mind with nothing but her gaze. The original novel that we adapted was built up based on the inner monologue of the two characters, and its equivalent in film language would have been a voiceover, but I didn’t want to use that. So I needed to work with body language, looks and glances: that’s what both Andrés and Marian give you, the ability to encapsulate a whole heap of emotions without the need to put them into words or resort to exposition.

(Translated from Spanish)

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