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Nuria Giménez • Director of My Mexican Bretzel

“I don’t feel comfortable in the virtual world”


- With her first feature, My Mexican Bretzel, Nuria Giménez has garnered a sweep of awards at national and international festivals. Now this intriguing documentary can be enjoyed in cinemas in Spain

Nuria Giménez • Director of My Mexican Bretzel
(© Pol Rebaque)

We met with Nuria Giménez, director of My Mexican Bretzel [+see also:
film review
interview: Nuria Giménez
film profile
, at the very start of this year, just as this unique and moving film was finding its feet. Several months later, we’re well overdue for a catch-up: Giménez’s film has emerged as one of the most talked-about festival hits of 2020, and is poised for release in Spain on 11 December.

Cineuropa: We last spoke just before the pandemic hit. That must have really thrown a spanner in the works of the film’s festival run.
Nuria Giménez:
Absolutely, but thanks to the platform Filmin, it ended up finding a much larger audience than I expected, and it was that success that got Avalon on board as co-producer and distributor. So yes, it’s been a really intense year, and nothing has happened the way I thought it would.

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Of all these competitions, online or otherwise, which award and which festival means the most to you?
Every one was a cause for celebration, but the one that I was most excited about was the audience award at the D’A Film Festival in Barcelona. I was so moved by that. The film caught on through word of mouth, and that really surprised me — I didn’t expect it at all. It also just won at the Mannheim-Heidelberg festival [read more here], and that I couldn’t believe. It was just awesome, because that’s the big league. Both of those had me tearing up. Over the last few months, I’ve been really busy with all sorts of things to do with the film. With all these virtual festivals, you need to submit an introduction video, take part in online chats, send in video clips, and so on.

So, in a sense, you’ve been on a virtual world tour of festivals…
No, it’s miserable doing them like this. I’m so grateful that festivals have continued, because I’m sure it’s all been a massive challenge to organise, but it’s nothing like the real thing. The Viennale was the last festival I attended in person, and it’s night and day... I had an amazing time. I imagine that it’s similar for you, as a journalist, when you can't leave your city. I don’t feel comfortable in the virtual world; it’s not the same as being there in body and interacting with people.

As journalists watching from home, we were also taken by surprise by the warmth and positivity of audiences’ reactions.
Exactly, because although audience discussions still happened online, it’s a completely different experience. And like you say, that human warmth, and being able to have a drink with people afterwards and talk about the film. All of that interaction is lost. That’s why I enjoyed being in Vienna so much. It’s a shame; hopefully all of that will get going again soon.

What kind of feedback have you got from people — what’s the most touching thing someone has said to you about the documentary?
People have said such lovely things, and lots of them have thanked me. What I’ve loved the most is hearing all the different interpretations of the unfilled gaps I left in the film, for the audience to fill in themselves. Some of them are just delightful: two days ago, a girl was commenting on the phrase about the “sweet death” of the writer who appears in the film, Kharjappali: everything is still going on around you, but your mind is absent. Vivian says that for her it’s the other way around; she is constantly in motion, while everything around her is still. This girl was relating that to the experience of filming: that sweet death. There have been thousands of other interpretations, and around the title as well. For example, some people have pointed out that a pretzel is heart-shaped and, with its three holes, could be a symbol of the triangle that appears in the film. So many ideas and interpretations, and elements that have resonated with people at a personal level, or that they identify with — especially the character of Vivian. Then again, Kharjappali has won some fans too.

Definitely. My Mexican Bretzel is a film that invites viewers to draw their own conclusions, where everyone sees something that others don’t see.
I love that; there’s an invisible layer that everyone colours in for themselves, from their own perspective, and that’s fantastic. The things other people see can teach you something, or inspire you. The film also seems to appeal to a very diverse audience and to people of different ages. Suddenly, very young people are identifying with the character of Vivian, and I find that so exciting.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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