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Jaione Camborda • Director of Arima

“The film works towards the fusion of identities; it’s a game of mirrors between multifaceted characters”


- Cineuropa seized the opportunity to chat with Jaione Camborda, the director of Arima, on the occasion of the film’s European premiere in the New Waves section of the Seville European Film Festival

Jaione Camborda  • Director of Arima
(© Lolo Vasco/Festival de Sevilla)

Basque director Jaione Camborda is making her debut in the feature film world with Arima [+see also:
film review
interview: Jaione Camborda
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, a story set in a small city in Galicia where reality and the supernatural intertwine, giving rise to a new dimension where women take the lead. We spoke with her at the 16th Seville European Film Festival, which hosted the film’s European premiere in the New Waves section of the event.

Cineuropa: What’s the reasoning behind Arima, the mysterious title of the film?
Jaione Camborda:
There really is something mysterious about it; in the film it’s the name of a piano bar where the characters find themselves exposed to the eyes of others and in contact with the film’s other characters. Undoubtedly, the gaze of the other is one of the film’s key themes.

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The film’s prologue - with the eye that changes and becomes deformed - makes it clear that the gaze of others will be a crucial theme. What were your intentions with this introduction?
For me, it was a way to establish the film’s perspective, to emphasise the theme of the gaze. In the end, the eye turns into some sort of crater; it becomes a landscape, a place of profound mystery.

Phantasmagoria plays a central part in the film. At times, it takes the form of a little girl’s imagination or the hallucinations of someone suffering from a mental illness. But you decide to give it physical form – at certain points we see those spirits. Why this decision?
Sometimes we think we’re seeing something; we think that that’s what it could be, but we’re not sure whether what we’re seeing is real. That haziness, that not knowing whether we can fully trust what it is we can see, is one of the film’s key features. The film also works towards the fusion of identities; it’s a game of mirrors between multifaceted characters. In this sense, there’s a certain level of confusion over who is who; even the spirit itself is reflected in other characters.

The film’s approach towards the portrayal of the place itself is almost ethnographic. Was there any particular intention behind this?
There’s also something ghostly, something about a place being paralysed in time, which is linked to our memory of it versus its present-day abandonment. A place like a cinema, which has experienced times of splendour and is now deserted, parks which children no longer play in. There’s an idea of memory, but also of decay of the present, and this has a ghostly dimension to it too; it’s like a non-tangible part of the characters, a more emotive part.

This is your first feature film as a director and your first work of fiction. What made you take the leap into fiction at this particular point in time?
I’ve never felt like I’m on one side or the other. For me, both genres are film and I think they continually dialogue with one another. It was also a huge challenge for me to think out this project, the film-shoot, the infrastructure, directing the actors, working with a big team and delegating the camerawork. These factors brought about a change in perspective which I really liked.

We don’t often see a film with so many female protagonists. As a woman director helming her first feature film, was it difficult to bring such a film to completion?
Producing the film myself was a complicated process, yes, because it’s still difficult to make films by women, because it’s an arthouse film and because it’s a first work. Obtaining finance was a long process; it was crazy being the film’s producer too. But we did it in the end and I hope the next one will be easier.

On that topic, are you already working on your next project?
Luckily, I’ve received the first development grant for my next work. I don’t dare say what it’s about because it’s such a long path that you can end up getting burnt, you and your idea. What I can say is that it will once again be played by women, it will be set in Galicia - but by way of Portugal - and it will take place in the 1970s.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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