This spring, Spanish and Latin American film festival ¡Viva!, returns on a tour around the UK. Following the success of Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, it couldn’t come at a better time. With ‘Celebrating Women in Global Cinema’ as its central theme, ¡Viva! has come to Glasgow Film Theatre to showcase five new films, all which pass the Bechdel test with flying colours. The selection includes Ana de día, an experimental, almost Lynchian piece exploring the relationship between identity and freedom. The film centres around Ana (played by Ingrid García Jonsson), whose banal life is fast interrupted by the incision of a doppelgänger; doing, saying and living Ana’s day-to-day life. But in very anti-Hollywood form, Ana chooses flight over fight, packs her bags and dances into her new-found freedom. Screened on March 25, I met up with debut director Andrea Jaurrieta at the CitizenM hotel lobby to discuss her career and all things cinema.
GG: The Glasgow Guardian is a university newspaper, written by students for students. So before we talk about Ana de día, I’m interested to know how you came to this stage in your career. Had you studied film academically?
AJ: I studied audio-visual communication and drama. When the crisis came to Spain I tried to work as an actress but it was impossible, so I started writing and directing my own films, and then did a masters in direction in Barcelona. I was also in Rome for a year, writing. Actually, this film started in Rome with a scholarship, and after studying in Barcelona I started trying to develop the film. In total it has been eight years.
GG: I understand you worked on Almodovar’s Julieta. How did you get that job?
AJ: I had been working with the producer of Almodovar’s film, Esther García, on a documentary we made in Spain about abortion. I sent my CV to Esther, and she gave my name to the production director. I had two interviews and they got me in. I saw the last one (Almodovar’s new film Pain & Glory) that’s going to be in Cannes and it’s great, very intense but very good.
GG: What was it like working with him? Did it influence the way you worked on this film?
AJ: For me it was very impressive to see how he has the control of every element you see in a frame. If he wants something to be in a shot, he will have seen 15 very similar things until he selects the one that is perfect, and that for me was amazing.
GG: Did you find yourself doing the same thing when you were working on Ana de día?
AJ: A little bit, yes. Not because of Almodovar, because I couldn’t select between 15 things. But I tried to have control of every frame because for me it is very important to know every detail, everything has a significance.
GG: As well as writer and director, you’re also an actress, producer and editor; do you think it is important for writers and directors to have experience in all areas of filmmaking? How has it affected your writing and directing process?
AJ: Everything is complementary. Overall, studying acting gave me the tools to direct other actors, and also to write characters. I think it’s something every director should do, because otherwise you can’t talk to the actors with the same language they use. Sometimes they feel very uncomfortable in front of the cameras, very insecure, and I try to put myself in their position. It’s also very important to be an editor. Everything is complementary.
GG: Let’s talk about Ana de día. It’s a captivating thought you pose – what would you do if you had the freedom to change your life entirely – and I imagine most audiences will walk away asking themselves the same question. Do you think it’s an important question to ask ourselves?
AJ: I think it’s a question that all of us ask one time in our lives, but it’s very difficult to know the answer. It’s very difficult to know who you are actually. In the end we can’t run away from ourselves. It’s very difficult to confront total freedom because we are not allowed to think about it, and that’s why the film is about identity, not the conflict with the double.
GG: I was most compelled by the use of sound in the film, it seems very discordant and shocking throughout. What made you use sound the way you did?
AJ: I was with the sound designer the whole time. For a film like this that’s very small and independent, we couldn’t have all the things we wanted. But with the sound we could recreate them, so that was why the sound design was very concrete and detailed. Also the music is very strange in a way, because we have three levels of music. One level is psychological; every time we have something related to the double or related to the old life there’s this kind of atonal music that creates discomfort. I love working with sound.
GG: Red is a recurring colour throughout, except at the beginning when we just have white. What was the importance of that to you?
AJ: Until Ana runs away, everything is very pale. It is related to a short film that we made some years ago about the beginning of this character, the past of Ana, called The Passing Years Will Show. Everything is grey because her life is grey. It’s like normal life without any excitement. That’s why we wanted everything to be pale, pink, grey, and when she starts living this new life I tried to break her limits. She needs to destroy herself so she can start again, so she can understand who she is, and for me red was the colour of this. Actually, the last dance she does, where she wears the red dress, in theory should have a Stravinsky song called Firebird. It’s about a phoenix, but at the end it was too expensive so we couldn’t do it.
GG: How conscious were you during production of having a 70% female crew? Did it influence your decision-making in any way?
AJ: The crew were very young, I think an average age of 30-35. It was a new generation, and in this new generation we don’t care if it’s a woman or a man. We are used to having everyone in our crews, we were all gay women and one straight.
GG: What do you know about the festival’s other films and their directors? Have any of them peaked your interest?
AJ: Quién te cantará is a great film. Three years ago Carlos Vermut won Best Film and Best Director in San Sebastián International Film Festival with Magical Girl. He’s a friend of mine and a very good director. Petra is a very good film also. Petra and Quién te cantará are two of my favourite films of the year in Spain.
GG: The success of Roma shows Spanish-speaking and global cinema breaking into the UK mainstream like never before. It might be a new cinematic form for a lot of audiences, but it’s such a broad term. For fans of Ana de día or the ¡Viva! festival as a whole, could you recommend any other titles or directors for audiences to look into?
AJ: I love Lanthimos (director of The Favourite). In Spain there is a director called Ramón Salazar who made a very good film called Sunday’s Illness, it was a very nice film. I see a lot of cinema from the 1960s and 1970s. I love it because it was very free, I love free creativity. I don’t like something that is politically correct, I prefer to break the rules and that’s why I love that kind of cinema. That’s why I love Lanthimos because he tries to make different things.
GG: Finally, what’s next for you?
AJ: Well I’m trying to write a new personal film, again about the returning of a woman to her past. It’s about identity again. But I’m also writing a comedy with a friend. What I want is to direct, and I hope to make another film in maybe three years not eight.
Glasgow Film Theatre continues to showcase ¡Viva!’s films until April 29, with Sergi Portabella’s Jean-François i el sentit de la vida (Jean-François and the Meaning of Life) next up on April 8.
For more information, go to https://glasgowfilm.org/shows/viva-spanish-latin-american-film-festival.