"No complaints; we must do better"

The nominees for best director at Sunday's Goya Awards discuss the state of Spanish cinema

It wasn't easy to get them together: Rodrigo Cortés and Alex de la Iglesia are shooting their new films, Iciar Bollain is preparing her next one and Agustí Villaronga is based in Barcelona. But on January 22, just after the party for this year's Goyas nominees, the four best director candidates met to chat about the awards and their films, each of which is also up for the best picture prize. That was before anyone suspected the outburst surrounding the "Sinde law" and the subsequent resignation of De la Iglesia as president of the Cinema Academy, but when there was a sense that the 2010 box office figures for Spanish films were not going to be very good...

Question. There has never been so much variety at the Goyas: a Catalan drama (Villaronga's Pa negre), a thriller in English (Cortés' Buried), a film shot in Bolivia (Bollain's Even the Rain) and a vision of the Civil War and Francoism from the perspective of two clowns (De la Iglesia's A Sad Trumpet Ballad).

"I was hearing about the crisis in Spanish cinema when I started in 1983"

Rodrigo Cortés. I think it is a coincidence.

Alex de la Iglesia. I think the Academy members' selection is interesting precisely because of that.

Iciar Bollain. I think it is less of a coincidence than Rodrigo. For a few years there have been people like Rodrigo, [Juan Carlos] Fresnadillo and [Juan Antonio] Bayona directing very different things in English. Catalan cinema has now been a force for some time, others go to other countries to film... And it is beginning to go like this: cinema moves on.

Question. De la Iglesia says you must never forget the audience.

I. B. No way. Awards serve to cheer you on and push people to see the films, but the reality is if people leave the movie theater with their face way down here, you have failed. I, at least, make cinema to communicate with people and with the hope that what interests me interests others.

A. I. When you make a film you want to put people in your position. You shoot a movie with your judgment and your way of seeing, but obviously you want them to enjoy it. You search to put that spectator you don't know in your head. And get him to see things as you see them.

Agustí Villaronga. I am more unfortunate than them. I have always thought about the public and have never connected with them. Now I think I have to have them present, but not at any price.

Question. Cortés, you won the Forqué producers prize...

R. C. I was surprised: I'm thankful for the lack of judgment of so many people.

A. I. Don't say that, don't be modest as it's not good. You have made a surprising film with minimal means.

A. V. It's true that the nominations have given life to Pa negre. Two nominations make no difference, but when you have quite a lot you reach more people than at its release.

A. I. There are many reasons that make things go wrong for us at the box office: cinema is a kind of distorted image of the society in which it develops, a distorting mirror: the small becomes very small and the big, very big [...] We are living in the same situation and we must not moan and expect to be helped more than others [...] There is no time to complain because soon another film will arrive that will suffer the same problems as the previous ones and you have to look for solutions: the only way is to sit down, look those responsible in the eye and see we are partly to blame. Do it better.

I. B. I started at 15 in 1983 and already then I was hearing about the crisis in Spanish cinema. It was always a precarious industry. But the thing is the crisis affects everyone, the banks have closed like safes, I suspect next year will be worse... And always new people appear, films that surprise us...

Left to right: Agustí Villaronga, Rodrigo Cortés, Iciar Bollain and Alex de la Iglesia, after the party for Goya candidates on January 22.
Left to right: Agustí Villaronga, Rodrigo Cortés, Iciar Bollain and Alex de la Iglesia, after the party for Goya candidates on January 22.CLAUDIO ÁLVAREZ

This is how it'll be...

There will be a helicopter with an aerial camera and there will be a seven-meter-high Goya Award in Madrid's Plaza de Oriente. There will be a 600 meter-square marquee and two kilometers of red carpet. There will be giant screens inside the Teatro Real, the venue for this year's ceremony, and possibly on the theater's terrace, which looks out on to Plaza de Isabel II. And there will be a lot of chat-show host Andreu Buenafuente, who returns to present the event. The 25th Goya Awards gala will begin at 10pm on Sunday (and will be broadcast live on TVE) and two hours and 40 minutes later we will know how it has all turned out.

On top of that, outgoing Cinema Academy president Alex de la Iglesia will present a homage to filmmaker Luis García Berlanga, who died last year, and there will be four clip compilations journeying through the quarter-century of Goya history, as well as four reconstructions of 2011's best film nominees. Mario Camus will receive the honorary Goya and, yes, Javier Bardem will be there and, no, Pedro Almodóvar is not expected.

And that, readers, is how this year's ceremony will be.

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