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Marta Lallana, Ivet Castelo • Directors of Ojos Negros

"We feel connected to films from another time"

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- We caught up with the very young filmmakers Marta Lallana and Ivet Castelo who were honoured in the Zonazine section of the recent Malaga Film Festival for their sensitive first work Ojos Negros

Marta Lallana, Ivet Castelo • Directors of Ojos Negros
(© Oscar Fernández Orengo)

The town Ojos Negros is the setting for the first feature film directed by Marta Lallana (25 years old) and Ivet Castelo (almost 24), two nigh-on fully emerged filmmaking talents and long-term friends who studied film direction at Barcelona’s Pompeu Frabra University. It was here, as part of an end of course project, that the seed was sown for their acclaimed debut film (Ojos Negros [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Marta Lallana, Ivet Castelo
film profile
]
), which first won the Silver Biznaga for Best Film in the Zonazine section of the recent Málaga Spanish Film Festival, before going on to surprise audiences of other events along the lines of the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema (BAFICI), the D'A Film Festival Barcelona and the Atlántida Film Festival. Cineuropa chatted with the directing duo in a place which lives and breathes the seventh art: the archives of the Matadero film library - the Cineteca - in Madrid.

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Cineuropa: Are you surprised by the trajectory your first film is following?
Ivet Castelo: When we started working on it, we didn’t even think about [the path it might take]; the idea was to make it, and above all to finish it. We wanted to shoot a film that wouldn’t just be a school project, but which could also be distributed, but we could never have imagined that we’d one day be releasing it in cinemas, as we will be this Friday 19 July. We first became aware of the scale the project was taking on when the musician Raül Refree (Between Two Waters [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Isaki Lacuesta
film profile
]
) started work on the soundtrack, and when Filmin decided to distribute it. That was when we realised that Ojos Negros was becoming a big thing.

At Pompeu Fabra University, there have been a few others cases similar to yours, such as Júlia Ist [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Elena Martín
film profile
]
or Les amigues de l’Ágata [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
.
Marta Lallana: Yes, it has some kind of incubatory effect, so that when you reach the fourth year of the course, you’re desperate to get filming, because it’s not a film school where you practice the art and then come out of the process with eight short films. We hadn’t made anything, and by the end of the course we’d decided we wanted to put everything we’d learned into practise. They insist on telling you to approach things honestly and truthfully, to speak about what you’ve experienced. In this sense, Ojos Negros is honest and humble, and true to our memories.

IC: We were also aware of the limitations in place, but we tried to work with them so as to make a very measured film based on what we wanted to say and what we could actually do.

So where exactly does film come from? Do we feel it in our hearts, our heads, our stomach, or all three?
ML: I think it has more to do with our emotions, our hearts and our stomach than our heads. We operated on more of a sensory level. At the beginning, when we were wondering what story to tell, we thought about that moment in childhood-adolescence when something suddenly happens that makes you mature, something clicks… How do you explain it? We came to the conclusion that it was to do with our concept of time, because as a child you live in the present, but when our understanding of time grows and we start to think about the future, about the sort of life and relationships we’ll have, we experience it as something of a revelation, just a small one, but it hits us really hard at that age.

Did you both spend your summer holidays in a little town, like the film’s protagonist?
ML: Each of us had a place we went to in the summer. Ojos Negros, in Aragona, is my mother’s hometown and, at most, I went there for a few days a couple of times a year to see my grandparents. I’ve never had a month-long holiday as part of a group. My holidays there were connected to my family’s past.

IC: I went to a town in Andalusia where my mother comes from. I used to spend three weeks of every summer there when I was small, and those memories helped to shape me. It was far brighter than the central character’s experience in the film: it was a place I didn’t belong to and where I could have my own space. I felt free. We used these two experiences – mine and Marta’s – to create an imaginary world, but one which many people can easily identify with.

And finally, who are the directors that have inspired you?
ML: We've always felt connected to films from other times. The director we liked the most during our course was Carlos Saura; Cría cuervos in particular had a lasting impression on us. We're also fond of Pialat (To Our Loves), with his focus on adolescence and the revelations it brings, not to mention the strength of the film's protagonist. Another film which left a mark on me was My Little Loves by Jean Eustache; this type of cinema intrigued us and was a big part of our lives.

(Translated from Spanish)

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