The director closes the San Sebastian Festival with 'The forgetfulness that we will be', an exciting and full celebration of goodness, beauty, justice and memory
Chance is sometimes mistaken for fate in such a strange and precise way that it ends in simple causality. The place of the s matters. 'The forgetfulness that we will be' is a film that, like Héctor Abad Faciolince's autobiographical book in which he stands, speaks of the need, now more than ever, for issues as abstractly common as dignity, fraternity, beauty , goodness … It would seem that both, the film and the novel, boast of Platonic idealism in a time gained for the obsessive Aristotelian particularity. It would seem that we are before the best Fernando Trueba (Madrid, 1955) who returns fully to the full celebration of bodies, life and memory, which is also the exaltation of comedy among everyday drama. The film, which closes the San Sebastián Festival on Sunday after being the only film with a Spanish director (the production is Colombian) to receive the Cannes seal, returns us to the happy and wounded universe of ' Belle époque' with the same clarity as raises in essential testimony for times of COVID: the story of a doctor (Héctor Abad Gómez) who taught an entire country to wash their hands is also the story of now. The story of a worthy man killed by the unworthy is the same old story. And then there is the immense Javier Cámara transmuted into Colombian in an interpretation very close to the miracle. But that, another time.
How much of your own family does the Abbot family have? My family is the exact opposite. They were all girls and a boy, and mine were seven boys and a girl. But recreating the family atmosphere, the conversations, the meals, the noise … I like all that and the challenge was to bring that chaos to life: 'We are the forgetfulness that we will be', a verse from a poem attributed to Borges and that it appeared on the corpse of the murdered father of Héctor Abad Faciolince, makes express mention of personal and collective memory. Is it a political title? Memory is an issue that has me obsessed right now. Maybe because of age. It is curious that both this and the film that concerns me now, 'They Shot the Piano Player' [an animated project in the style of 'Chico and Rita' with Mariscal] are about her. I am intrigued by how the same fact lives in pieces in the heads of different people and how that puzzle is composed and recomposed over and over again. There is something fundamental that is what moved Héctor when he wrote the book and it is the need to leave a story to his children, to the grandchildren of the murdered grandfather . Perhaps the key is that so basic of overcoming oblivion. What does it mean for you to shoot an entirely Colombian production in Colombia? What impressed me the most about Colombia when I was preparing the project was the liveliness of the cultural debate in certain circles and that it reminded me to what existed in Spain when I was young. Have we lost our love of culture in Spain? A little yes. With respect to the 80s, no doubt. Why? I don't know, maybe there has been a continuous and self-serving attack on culture. I don't know … It is a matter of study more for journalists and sociologists. What impressed you most about the book? Without a doubt, the beauty of a character as beautiful and complex as Héctor Abad Gómez was . Impress that love to life and people. He was a guy who gets into trouble to help others, so that the shacks have drinking water, so that children are vaccinated, so that there are hygiene measures, so that the concept of public health ends up being imposed throughout Latin America. … They seem all measures against COVID … We were not aware when we made the film. In fact, there are many scenes in which the protagonist insists on washing his hands and they say to me: 'But is this really necessary?' Now, suddenly, those images are the emblem of the film. Perhaps it is less coincidence that precisely now this type of politicians who dignify the office of politics is vindicating … These people are always vindicable, they are the type of people that we should clone instead of cloning so many idiots. He was a guy who just dreamed of a better world. He was a liberal in the real sense of the word . A neoliberal? No, by God, not in that sense. He was liberal in the sense of tolerant people who respect another way of thinking. The kidnapping suffered by words like liberalism is worrying. Do you think that a good part of the political class has now lost the meaning and grace of their office? I wish political men were like Héctor Abad; I wish politicians would think from the time they get up until they go to bed to make people's lives better. There is a phrase by Isaiah Berlin that I never forget. He said he said that the first duty of a politician is to cause the least possible suffering. What is happening to us then so that things are so differently different? Two verses by Léo Ferré come to mind: “We live in an epic time / but we have nothing epic about ourselves.” I can add little. Anyone who puts something else before what is really the main thing is betraying the people. At this time, we should all keep our ideas to simply help, even if votes are lost. What has disappointed you the most in this time of pandemic? The situation in Madrid; that for once we are pointers in something and be in this. Seeing that what was said in March that we are going to get out of it and learn a lot has been false, it really disappoints me. Now we are in the second wave of infections and we have not learned anything. That is disappointing: the ability of human beings not to learn. We should all be very close and it is just the opposite. Are you worried about success? It is not poetic to talk about success. How did the failure of your previous film, 'The Queen of Spain' weigh on you? It helps you to overcome that you are happy with the film and I am very happy. If I have to choose between being happy with a movie or having it succeed, I choose the former. There are some that I will not say with which I am not so happy, but I accept them. They are part of my life.The last time he was in San Sebastián, a great commotion was mounted over his statements on account of the National Film Award in which he declared himself a citizen of a country called cinema and which were interpreted as a refusal to be Spanish … Well, it was a bitter affair … Is the wound healed? Nothing is completely healed. You have to learn to live with it. I imagine that if you were to investigate you would discover things, but for what. How do you get on with closing a festival as rare as this? Yes, it is rare. But it is always rare to close. If you are the opening film, half the people have not arrived, and if you are the closing film, they have already left. Will COVID make us better? Let's say what happens intensifies as you already are. I see people throw themselves out to help others with passion. But those were already good. And others are discovered as authentic … But those were already bad. Everyone follows his intensified process.