“We are concerned because it is costing people to return to the cinema”

He is finishing his last work, The jump, where it will show the living conditions of migrants on the other side of the border. Because that’s what you like Benito Zambrano (Lebrija, Seville, 1966), delve into the truths of life so that fiction is pedagogical. The filmmaker trusts that human beings will ever learn, and firmly believes in the power of a clapperboard for this. More than 20 years after his first film, alonecontinues looking for stories to tell in his own way…, which is ours.

–A year ago he presented Lemon Poppy Seed BreadHave your expectations been met?

–It is a film that has connected well with the public and at the box office it was quite good compared to how badly Spanish cinema is doing, and that is the reality. Except for some successes, it is costing people to go to the movies again. We are all very worried, but we have to keep making films, we have to keep trying. We knew it was not a movie of festivals, of awards, it is a movie for spectators, to enjoy it, few people remain impassive when watching it, so in that sense it has covered the objective. Plus he’s going to have a good run.

–Dramas, women… are constant premises in your work. Is there still much to tell?

–There is a lot of pain to tell, to show and to reflect in the cinema. As long as we have sensitivity they will make us suffer, we will make us suffer, so they will always be issues. It is substantial to the human being. Stories of happy people are not told, in quotes it is boring. If you don’t count the pain, that pedagogical function would be lost, in some way you are trying to help so that in real life people suffer as little as possible. Better to cry in the movies than in real life. We try to help to be a better society, to be better people, it is a very beautiful function in this art of storytelling. You teach and you learn, losing. Until one day you win.

–Your women’s cinema, is it only for women?

“I’ve never thought of that. I always intend to make a cinema of people, of people who have things happen to them. I like women’s stories, their world, listening to them, but I don’t intend to make a women’s cinema. I do what comes my way, what I can and what, sometimes, I find. I’m not going on purpose. It wouldn’t be funny to make a cinema just for women. In fact, one of the most beautiful things that has happened to us with Lemon Poppy Seed Bread it is that many men cried, they were moved, which means that many things have changed. They are capable of empathizing with the pain of women, of accompanying, of being complicit in their pain. It also happens that I am always related to the world of women, but in my filmography there is a tie. There are also male leads.

–Gender violence, a damage that does not stop, is everything possible done in cinema?

–If we take into account that the percentage of men in cinema is still higher than that of women, it is clear that it wins by a landslide that the universe that is portrayed the most is that of men. Also the hardest and most dramatic social conflicts are not told enough in the cinema. Sometimes we flee from getting in and telling what happens to us, giving preference to something much more escapist, but there is goodwill. Most filmmakers have an enormous sensitivity to the world of women and, since there is a lot of information now and the laws are changing in a positive way, it can be counted in millions of ways. It is not something invisible in society. When I made alone I did not consider it from the message, but from the emotions, but when shooting it in 98 the world of abuse was bigger and more difficult to show, so when it was released it was seen from that perspective. I didn’t mean to, although it caught me wonderfully off guard. It’s wonderful that almost 23 years later it’s still useful.

What does a story need to get your attention?

–The first thing is that it catches me, that it moves me, if it doesn’t excite me, it doesn’t interest me. If that doesn’t happen, bad. I also ask that when you read a script or a book you know that there is an intelligent story, that it contributes, that it makes sense and has value. I am asking the viewer to give me two or three hours of his life when he goes to see one of my films, and in this way I pretend that the time and money that he is going to invest is worth it.

“I like women’s stories, their world, listening to them, but I don’t pretend to make a women’s cinema”

–In his cinema he always shows more road of its characters, its optimism, that the final outcome.

I guess it’s my way of telling stories. For me, that journey that is made in a film is very important. In the trip there is emotion, learning, teachings, life experience and I believe that this is fundamental. The entire film should be an apprenticeship to live and to feel.

–After the pandemic, is it difficult to come back?

–Yes, and not only for Spanish cinema. What is successful are family movies, but the two years of the pandemic have done a lot of damage. So much time locked up has made people learn to watch movies on platforms. For the money of a ticket you have a month at home.

–So, television platforms, yes or no?

Whether I am for or against is irrelevant. They are there, they have arrived, it is a way of seeing and it is a way that has changed the way of perceiving the audiovisual. They have their good points and their bad points. Right now it has caused a lot of work in the world, a lot is being shot, many series, a medium-good professional does not stop working. In that sense, we are in a good moment and interesting things are being done. Also, when they put on our film there is the possibility that it will be seen internationally with much more chances than before, when the distribution was worse. The problem is who are the owners of the platforms and where are the boards of directors of those platforms that are going to decide their content. So what happens? Well, every time things are more controlled by fewer owners. So they are the ones with the power.

–What is missing from Andalusian cinema?

-Money. Our small industry is what will always be missing. We need strong producers so that Andalusian cinema is as autonomous as possible. For the rest, there are a lot of good professionals inside and outside Andalusia.

“We are concerned because it is costing people to return to the cinema”