Lunch with Coelho Mau (Bad Bunny)
Who is the “bad bunny” in this story?
He is about to understand defeat, loss, loneliness – which makes him angry. He is also in the process of becoming invisible: to his mother because she escapes into a sort of wayward bubble where he won’t have a role; and to his sister because he has to switch places with the gigolo who will give her what he can’t. I think these are melodrama tools that people can relate to, but above all these are important political and cultural reflexes of zeitgeist coming into the core of society, which is family. My urge to explore such themes is always a political one, mostly if it can slip into people’s minds disguised as a fairy tale.
What motivated you to explore the theme of punishment?
Honestly, I didn’t think much about punishment. To me, the trigger to make the film was to try and understand, if at all possible, what tenderness can remain in anger, and how the mechanics of affection work under extreme circumstances. But this is, in my opinion, a highly literary scenery, perhaps even close to “grand-guignol”, and romanticism very often relies on struggles with domination, cruelty or power.
Your films Boa Noite Cinderella (Goodnight Cinderella) and Coelho Mau both have a fairytale-like atmosphere with references to the dark world of fetishism. What was the inspiration behind the games that the characters play? What do you like the most about this atmosphere?
Fetishism is a word I never use. I think people wear masks every day and they’re naturally drawn to objects, sometimes to the point of obsession, without it ever being sombre. Most people have closer relations to their iPhones or clothes than these characters do with masks, motorcycles, pop idols, blood or medicine. The shoe in Goodnight Cinderella is never as important as a tablet or a credit card would be today, but it somehow is a representation of those objects. As for fairy tales, I’m mostly interested in folklore. It is interesting to know what variations on the Cinderella myth have existed since the first record in China 2,000 years ago. The tone you mention was intentionally more related to romanticism in the case of Cinderella and Japanese literature in the case of Bad Bunny.
My source of inspiration for the games that the characters play was the idea that these games exist in daily life, but for dramatic and symbolic reasons, they had to be enhanced and over-simplified in the film.
Will your future work follow in the same tracks?
It is perhaps present in my first feature film, which I’m post-producing now, but repeating it any further would be pointless. I find non-repetition the most challenging and stimulating aspect of filmmaking.
What are your cinematic influences?
Basically dreams and nostalgia. Memories of stuff that never happened. Sometimes literature is a resource for structure, music for rhythm and painting or photography if I can’t really tell my DOP what I need for the shot. Other films influence me very little although of course, as a cinephile, I have obsessive tastes for filmmakers like Buñuel, Lang, Kurosawa, Alan Clarke. Yet, when I’m working, I am only interested in what I have at my disposal: actors, locations and ideas.
Would you say the short format allows more freedom?
Quite the opposite. Short fiction is cheaper to shoot but harder to write. We have to keep everything very tight and essential, which leaves very little space to drift. Drifting can be the best part of a narrative (or non-narrative, for that matter) but doing that in a short format will always be compromising of either form or idea.
If you’ve already been to Clermont-Ferrand, could you share with us an anecdote or story from the festival? If not, what are your expectations for this year?
This will be my first time in Clermont-Ferrand. When I first went to film school back in 2002 my theory was that I only wanted to make short films. The Festival of Clermont-Ferrand became a sort of a canon, a target, a goal for me and many of my classmates. We were interested in thinking cinema for the future and somehow short films seemed like the perfect art form for the streaming age, 15 years from then. So a big celebration of that art form would be our Mecca. Fifteen years on, we have all started to work on our features, but deep down I hope that showing my film in Clermont-Ferrand will bring some of that spirit back.