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Igor Legarreta • Director of Ilargi Guztiak. Todas las lunas

“I like to switch film genres”


- The Basque helmer is finally launching his second film, after its shoot was brought to a standstill by the spread of COVID-19 and its release was delayed by the umpteenth wave of the pandemic

Igor Legarreta • Director of Ilargi Guztiak. Todas las lunas
(© Matteo Rovella)

The 2021 Bilbao FANT Festival was opened one week ago by the world premiere (see the news) of Ilargi Guztiak. Todas las lunas [+see also:
film review
interview: Igor Legarreta
film profile
, the latest outing by Igor Legarreta (Bilbao, 1973), after he made his feature-length directorial debut four years ago with When You No Longer Love Me [+see also:
film profile
. While on that occasion the movie was made as a co-production with Argentina, in this case it was France that got on board to finance a fantastical tale about possession, vampires and everlasting childhood.

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Cineuropa: In what way have the adverse conditions we’ve been experiencing affected your film?
Igor Legarreta: The first few days, when we had to halt the shoot, were the hardest. We’d successfully completed four weeks, we had three to go, and then the lockdown hit: it was a strange situation for us all, as we had no idea what was going to happen in our day-to-day lives, plus there was the anxiety of not knowing whether we would be able to finish the shoot… Because now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but at that time, we didn’t have a clue. It was hard, but we were also able to turn the situation around, and we began to pre-edit what we had shot so far. That work kept us busy and focused, and it also allowed us to assess what we had done so far, tweak it and improve it as we prepared to return to the set.

Did that state of mind have any influence at all on Ilargi Guztiak. Todas las lunas?
I don’t think so, because we had a clear idea of the aesthetics that it would have: I was looking for naturalism in our approach, giving it a magical or fairy tale-like touch. When we went back to the shoot, I remember there was also some uncertainty because we were some of the first to resume filming, while observing the health-and-safety measures. We didn’t know what was likely to happen, because if there had been any infections, we would have had to grind to a halt again… But the cast and crew were dying to wrap the film.

As a matter of fact, this was a shoot where you were in very close contact with nature: there are exteriors in woods and caves, and around lakes I suppose all of that must have made the logistics quite challenging.
Yes, it really did – it’s a film that required 4x4s, with a winter shoot in the Basque Country and Navarre. There were some locations where it rained so much that we even had to call a halt to the shoot at times. The cast and crew had a lot to endure, but they were strong and had so much talent; they believed in the project, they were all pulling in the same direction, and in the end, they saw it through.

But are you a fan of horror and the fantastical genre?
I’m a fan of film in general. I love musicals, for example, and mainstream cinema (as long as I’m hooked by their stories), and I also like to switch genres: I currently have a comedy project on the go, which has nothing in common with Ilargi Guztiak. Todas las lunas. But I’m definitely a fan of horror and the fantastical: the seed of this story first sprouted when I got together with Jon Sagalá; we’re mates and studied together, and we both had the idea of writing a vampire story.

This is a co-production with France, but the dialogue is in the Basque language Why did you make this decision? Was it to remain faithful to the time and the surroundings it takes place in?
Yes, to make it believable: we intended to shoot a fantastical film with a naturalistic approach, which exudes truth, even though we are using the code of a fairy tale. In that rural environment in the north of Navarre, in the 19th century, the use of that language generates more truth and believability than Castilian Spanish would have done. On the other hand, Basque is an old – even ancient – language, and it’s mysterious, too, as no one knows its origins, and it’s simultaneously poetic and primeval. Besides, in Basque, luna means “dead light”, which is a true description of a star that reflects a light that is not its own, but rather that of the Sun. My feature is a story where immortality is linked to the moon, which makes itself out to be this wonderful source of light, but actually, it’s not. This imbues the tale with some attractive poetics.

Was it hard work casting girls in order to find the main character, and how did the hiatus in the shoot affect her acting debut?
Finding the leading girl was the biggest challenge of the film because we embark on this journey with her, and it’s an emotional roller-coaster. We did a casting session for girls who spoke Basque, and it didn’t take us long to find 13-year-old Haizea Carneros. As soon as we picked her, we set up a coaching group to work with her and to teach her about shooting techniques. She coped well with the hiatus in filming and would write me messages in which she showed me how badly she wanted to get back to the set. She was at a transformative age, and I didn’t know if she would have changed physically after the hiatus, which lasted from March until July 2020; even though she was in the middle of puberty, she didn’t change that much, luckily. It could easily have posed yet another challenge, but it didn’t, and just as well, because we’d already had more than our fair share…

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(Translated from Spanish)

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