Jonás Trueba • Director of The August Virgin
"I enjoy feeling like a tourist in my own city"
by Alfonso Rivera
- Spanish filmmaker Jonás Trueba is visiting Karlovy Vary for the first time with his fifth film, The August Virgin, shot on the streets of Madrid during last year’s hot and festive summer
Jonás Trueba called upon the skills of Itsaso Arana for both the screenplay and the lead female role of his fifth feature film (not counting his project Quién lo impide – read our news), The August Virgin [+see also:
interview: Jonás Trueba
film profile], a movie which oozes love for Madrid, for its festivals and for the many encounters which take place on its streets. His film is now participating in the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2019, so we grabbed a few minutes with the director before he boarded a plane headed for the Czech Republic.
Cineuropa: There’s a scene in The August Virgin starring Francesco Carril, who stars in The Reconquest [+see also:
interview: Jonás Trueba
film profile] alongside Itsaso Arana. Is this film, in some respects, a product of your previous work?
Jonás Trueba: The films we make are all interconnected: when you finish one, you’re always left with a feeling of unfinished business, which sets you off on the next one. Every film I’ve made was born at the very moment the previous one died; they feed into one another. The Reconquest was a closed, circular film, whereas I designed this one as more of an open film, both in its structure and its form. There’s no clear continuity between the two, but it is still us, filming about the same old thing.
The August Virgin really captures the spirit of summer; when you stay in Madrid and visit places you don’t know, becoming a tourist in your own city.
I’ve always liked doing that; not with a facile or critical eye, but rather from a virginal point of view, looking at things as if for the first time, with curiosity, just like when we travel and we look at the world around us in a different way. Whereas, in the places we know, we tend to look down and not pay too much attention. The very act of making a film led me to look at what was around me, which is always inspiring.
The film is saturated with summer and, to top it off, it’s set to premiere in Spain on 1 August, in a Las Vistillas’ Garden summer screening in Madrid.
Every film has its own personality and, when we show it to the public, we have to try to do so in a way that’s respectful of its character. In that respect, scheduling its launch for October would have been somewhat frustrating because watching it in August would enhance the viewers’ experience. We wanted to put out a film that relates to what’s going on with the audience while they’re actually watching it. That way, when the film hits commercial cinemas on 15 August, it will feel like a more organic experience.
The Segovia Viaduct, which rises above via Segovia and serves as the urban backdrop to The August Virgin, also appeared in your previous film and on the poster of your first work, Every Song is About Me [+see also:
Yes, I’m lucky to live close to this area and the viaduct. As well as being a structure that’s emblematic of Madrid, I like it because it was in this area that the city was born; the river flowed by and the city was divided into two parts, as it still is today. These streets are shrouded in mystery and I like walking around in the same city spaces, because they’re never the same; we filmed the viaduct from different angles, in a range of films, but never at the same time of year or in the same light. Studying the same spaces and places in time is the very essence of filmmaking and its associations with recording, stocktaking.
The brilliant film poster, with its title and the handful of saints who appear on it, make me wonder whether The August Virgin is trying to lay claim to some kind of religious aura...
I’m also surprised by those associations, but they came about quite naturally. Even though I’m not a believer, the film did seem to pick up some of these aspects which were very typical of the days the film depicts: there is something mystical about it, because that’s how it is in August, but also something feminine – a more open-minded way of understanding and living in the world. Also, many filmmakers – whether they’re believers or not – think that film is also a question of faith: of whether you believe in what’s taking place on the screen.
(Translated from Spanish)
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