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CANNES L'ATELIER '06 INTERVIEW: Luiso Berdejo: "If you don't finish what you have to do, what you ha

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire May 25, 2006 at 5:43AM

Every day through the end of the 2006 Festival de Cannes, including weekends, indieWIRE will be publishing interviews with filmmakers participating in the L'Atelier du Festival, which according to Cannes, "was created in 2005 to reveal a new generation of filmmakers through the world, whose works, still at the project stage, might one day be honoured by being selected for the Cannes Film Festival." Eighteen filmmakers were given the opportunity to participate in an e-mail interview, and each was sent the same questions.
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Every day through the end of the 2006 Festival de Cannes, including weekends, indieWIRE will be publishing interviews with filmmakers participating in the L'Atelier du Festival, which according to Cannes, "was created in 2005 to reveal a new generation of filmmakers through the world, whose works, still at the project stage, might one day be honoured by being selected for the Cannes Film Festival." Eighteen filmmakers were given the opportunity to participate in an e-mail interview, and each was sent the same questions.

Director Luiso Berdejo is at L'Atelier with his feature film project, "The Quagmire," a story about a comic arist who is on the verge of splitting up with his wife when he discovers a farmhouse that resembles one he drew in his last comic. He meets a young girl there and everything in his life changes.

Please tell us about yourself and your background, including where you were born and how you became a filmmaker.

I'm from Amara, a neighborhood in San Sebastian, in the north of Spain. I was the typical storyteller boy who's always inventing and creating tales. San Sebastian is a city with an International Film Festival and lots of people there live and love the movies, so it's not hard to find someone to share with that beat for the movies and tales world. The toughest part is to become part of it. I know that the audience is a very important part of the movies world, but that wasn't enough for me so I decided to try to be part of the other side, and that's (from where) I'm writing you these lines.

Please tell us about your previous work, including information about your recent films and other creative projects.

I've made a couple of short films, "...Can't Walk Anymore" and "The War", (which was) co-directed with Jorge C. Dorado. There are personal stories about the responsibility we have with ourselves personified in children who want, or have to, overcome their personal fears. I've (also) written some feature film scripts, like "Christmas Tale" for Paco Plaza, (and) "Insensibles" for and with Juan Carlos Medina.

Please tell us about your new project. What is it about and what inspired you to pursue this new project?

"The Quagmire" talks about the personal quandary of a comic artist who has lost every kind of inspiration because of his catastrophic personal life, lost because of his inspiration write-off. He feels unable to finish the last album of his most successful collection and incapable to resolve his vitiated relationship with his wife. Step by step those unfinished things start to impregnate his life as weird elements that want to compel him to finish everything once and for all, especially from the moment he finds in the forest a farmhouse identical to the one he draws in that never (finished) last comic. "The Quagmire" is an exercise of supernatural classicism mixed with a personal quest of what we used to avoid, a kind of: IF YOU DON'T FINISH WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO, WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO WILL FINISH YOU. Probably inspired, again, in my personal fight against the resignation and the emptiness.

"The Quagmire" director Luiso Berdejo. Photo courtesy of the filmmaker.

What do you hope to accomplish for the project while you are in Cannes? What are your specific needs to continue developing your new project?

I hope to find in Cannes some people interested in becoming part of a personal point of view of the classical supernatural movies. People interested in a film that can get good commercial results without forgetting that a movie is a personal expression of what a group of artists want to share with the people. We've been working in the project for months, so we just need to close the budget to shoot it.

What are some of your favourite movies and influences, including other films and filmmakers, as well as other creative influences? Which films are you most interested in seeing at this year's Festival?

I wrote a paragraph a couple of months ago to explain, more or less, the influences that I see in "The Quagmire". This is it:
Jimmy Corrigan woke up surrounded by flies, swam in the Twin Peaks marsh to get rid of them, got out of the water at the jetty from What Lies Beneath, went into the Black Hole forest and laid down beneath a tree to read Julio Cortazar, not realizing that Jem Cohen was watching him unaware that Carlos Huante was drawing everything.

Those movies, those comics, those artists, are the main influences that I found in "The Quagmire" although I know that there are many others. I think that the principal influences in whatever I've done came up from the movies, artists and characters I've grow up with. Robert Zemeckis, J.D. Salinger, Luis Bunuel, Steven Spielberg, the war and monsters images, Corto Maltese, Tintin, Star Wars, the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, Marcel Proust, Annie Hall, the skate, Alien, Robert Bresson, the universe, Queen, Jem Cohen's video clip "Nightswimming", the surrealism, Alfred Hitchcock, beauty, and above all: THE LOVE. This can be weird, but it's really the main influence that I've always had on writing or shooting.

I don't really know exactly what I'm going to be able to see in the Festival because there are thousands of movies. But I'm excited with the possibility of seeing Guillermo del Toro and Sofia Coppola's last works. But I'll wait to see the whole program to decide how and with (who) I'm gonna exactly get nervous.

[Get the latest from the Festival de Cannes throughout the day in indieWIRE's special Cannes '06 section.]

This article is related to: Interviews