Mariano Barroso • Director of La línea invisible
"Who’s going to go into a movie theatre, and when?"
- Filmmaker Mariano Barroso, who is also the president of the Spanish Film Academy, talks about the repercussions of the health crisis on the audiovisual sector and his new series La línea invisible
Today, 8 April, Mariano Barroso releases La línea invisible, a series that tells the story of the origins of terrorist group ETA, on Movistar +. The president of the Spanish Academy of Film Arts and Sciences had a quick chat with Cineuropa over the phone, in between meetings with the Minister of Culture and Sport, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes.
Cineuropa: Other European countries have already implemented specific measures to support the film industry.
Mariano Barroso: We’re going at our own pace here... Many people are concerned, and it’s hard to see which way we should go. Because who’s going to go into a movie theatre, and when? The production-distribution-exhibition chain has ground to a halt all of a sudden. The only things that are operational are film development and the digital platforms. The sooner the crisis is over, the sooner we’ll be able to start rebuilding everything.
Releasing films online, which A Contracorriente Films has started to do (see the news), could be a solution to some extent...
There’s going to be a huge bottleneck, but many films require a theatre and, granted, not all of them have an agreement with the platforms. For the most modest titles, which have their sights set on very few theatres and festivals, streaming does not represent a solution. It’s generating a lot of debate.
A few days ago, you made a call for the sector to mobilise.
It’s a call to be more active and to look at which direction we’re headed in, so that we’re not standing still, as we are very prone to wallowing in pity: we need to start thinking of measures that have to include more parties than just the government, which is going to end up penniless. It was a call to come up with ideas.
Let’s talk about your new series, La línea invisible. You’ve already worked for this channel and for Netflix before, and even for TNT prior to that.
Yes, Todas las mujeres [+see also:
film profile] was a series on TNT and subsequently a film, which came out in cinemas: that was the last time for me. After that, the streaming platforms came along, together with a huge demand for content. It’s easier to finance series for them than it is to fund movies intended to be shown in theatres. With them, I’ve discovered this fantastic world that allows me – just like in La línea invisible, over a total running time of four-and-a-half hours – to fully flesh out characters, showing all their layers, contradictions and dimensions.
Do the financial resources of these companies make the work easier?
We shot this series in 16 weeks: it’s the equivalent of three feature films, as if we’d shot each one in five weeks. Movies take more time to make, and all the ins and outs of funding – the whole process, right from the moment when you write them – can take up to five years. In contrast, series, once you have the green light from the channel, progress swiftly.
Much like in What the Future Holds, your previous work for Movistar +, you once again tell a historical story in La línea invisible.
I was thinking that I should have shot them together because I could have used the same cars and wardrobe, although this one is set in the Basque Country. As a result, it’s more complicated, and not just because of the topic it tackles and the old wounds we had to open up and poke around in, but also because there is less film infrastructure there, and the geographical and weather conditions are not ideal for film shoots. After these two series, it would appear that I’m an expert on 1960s Spain, but I’m dying to make a musical romantic comedy in Andalusia because there were so many dark shadows in that world of late Franco-era Spain! All that darkness, silence and repression…
Is it appropriate to recall how ETA came into being?
It’s one of those twilight zones in our history, but it’s in our interest to shed light on it, and it helps us to get to know ourselves better and to understand the things that are happening. They are relatively recent incidents and are still very raw: when you talk about the topic in the Basque Country, you notice how there’s nobody who doesn’t have some kind of personal connection with this subject and also that there is this curiosity to know how it began. This generates interest, and it fascinated me to be able to delve deeper into those origins and get to know the people behind it.
Does the series remain faithful to what actually happened?
Every single inhabitant of the Basque Country tells you a different story. Our version is based on the facts that we came across when we were reading up on it, but we also tried to make it relatable, meticulous and human. However, it is still a fiction, which means you have to pare down the storylines and the characters, because if not, it would last 20 years. But everything tallies fairly well with reality.
(Translated from Spanish)
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