Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia • Director of The Platform
"Humanity will have to move towards the fair distribution of wealth"
by Alfonso Rivera
- Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia triumphed at the 52nd Sitges Film Festival, winning four awards for his first work The Platform, including Best Film in the Official Fantastic Film Selection
Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia (Bilbao, 1974) is a film and advertising director and producer, not to mention a business management graduate specialising in international trade. He put his name to the short film 913 in 2003 before offering up The House on the Lake eight years later. The Platform [+see also:
interview: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
film profile], his first feature film, was handed the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival and had its American premiere in Austin. At the recent Sitges Film Festival, meanwhile, the film walked away with four prizes: Best Film, Best New Director, Best Special Effects and the Audience Award.
Cineuropa: Why do audiences love The Platform so much? What’s its secret, in your opinion?
Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia: It’s the many different ways that the film can be interpreted, aside from its main message: at a certain point in time, humanity will have to move towards the fair distribution of wealth. And it also offers many ideas and more hidden readings on why it’s so complicated to do so. It explores why we’re all so selfish and – while we’re offering a simple and populist critique of the capitalist system – the film doesn’t stop there; it appeals to our responsibility as individuals, as it has to be the individual who takes the initiative, personally, if we want to put this situation right, because we can’t wait for governments or big corporates to make the change. We must insist that our leaders take responsibility, but they shouldn’t be alone in this; if we use them as an excuse to not do anything ourselves, ultimately nothing will change. There’s no direct attack on anyone: the film doesn’t position itself against those on the upper levels; it’s about what you yourself would do if you were on any given level. The film criticises capitalism, but also the socialist system.
The film’s an uncomfortable watch...
It’s a very hard film. We want all of these questions and observations to remain with viewers when they leave cinemas, to generate discussions, debate and thought, the same ones that we ourselves are having, because we didn’t want to make a pamphlet, or preach, or to try to indoctrinate audiences. We extrapolated our own questions from the film. And we didn’t want to judge, or offer miraculous solutions, because there aren’t any. The humility of the film - of its basic idea and production - connected with the audience.
Was there anything that triggered the idea for and the creation of the film?
The original idea came from David Desola, who’d co-written the theatre script together with Pedro Rivero. That text made its way to the producer, Carlos Juárez, who passed it on to me. I really liked it, though we were mindful that a few things always need to be changed when bringing these works to the big screen: they need more action, a more physical, organic form and an evolutionary structure. With this in mind, we spent two years working on the screenplay.
There are two actors in the cast – Ivan Massagué and Antonia San Juan – who stand out for their association with the comedy genre. But in The Platform they take the plunge into the world of fantastic film. Why did you take the risk of choosing them?
When we started planning this film, we knew that its fundamental message was heavy, so we had to hang onto humour, irony and surrealism so that audiences could bear all the difficult sequences; we had to lighten the load somewhat. In this respect, we thought it might be helpful to have actors with a background in comedy, because even though characters are constructed by developing the script alongside the actors, they’re also based upon the acting past of the latter. It also helped us to not take ourselves too seriously.
The space in which the film unfolds is crucial to the narrative. Did it already exist or was it built specifically for the film?
It had to be invented, and it took months of work to decide how it should look. We put ourselves within the political system in question and in the shoes of the architect who designed it: we knew that the set-up had to be deficient, economical, robust, impregnable... and we came up with a cement structure, a perfect rectangle with everything in proportion: for example, the surface area of each cell is equal, in size and shape, to the hole; and the cement slabs we see on the walls are proportionate to the floor. Everything has been thought through, as if it were the genuine work of an architect or an engineer, with efficiency in mind. We built it in a pavilion belonging to the Red Cross in the port of Bilbao: we built two floors and then it was extended ad infinitum in the post-production process.
(Translated from Spanish)
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