30th FID Marseille | 2019
Carlos Casas: "The mystery of the cemetery is also fundamental for ourselves as species and I believe that guarding the most ancient relation to nature there is another sentient being, another keeper and vessel much older than ourselves; the elephant."
CEMETERY | Dir. Carlos Casas | World Premiere
Cemetery deploys its four movements like stages in an initiatory trip towards a non-human, cosmological understanding of space and time.
Hello Carlos, many thanks for talking to TNC, how are you doing?
Hello, thanks for your interest in the film.
Are you looking forward to bringing Cemetery to FID 2019?
Yes, it is great to come back to present CEMETERY which was presented years back as a project at FIDLAB receiving the award back then, I have visited the festival a lot of times as a filmmaker, as a jury, as an avid spectator.
It is very important for me that this theatrical world premiere is here, which saw the beginning of the project and now welcomes it to competition, a full circle that means a lot to me. I love the team, the selection, and I love Marseille!
This will be the World Premiere of your film does this add any extra pressure on you?
No pressure at all, just relief, finally after all these years I will see it in a cinema hall with a cinema audience where it belongs, a place with its constraints and its limitations, but also its pluses…
What do you hope to take away from your experience at FID 2019?
I hope to enjoy some films and also get some positive feedback from mine. FID is always a surprise.
You discover some incredible films and meet incredible people.
Can you tell me a little bit about Cemetery, what can we expect?
Cemetery is an exploratory film, a sort of chimaera that encompasses different films or cinematic DNAs.
From adventure films to animal documentary to experimental film, even to sound explorations, it reflects in some ways my practice and my background or at least my interests. Ultimately is a homage to Tarzan and La Region Centrale if you want to go straight to the point.
What was the inspiration behind this film?
Let me quote some of my notes about the film which would be very pertinent.
The genesis of this film started as a mystery to me and became evident only long after the research started when I was confronted again with the film Tarzan. It was there that I understood that those films left a huge imprint on me as a child, they left a seed that finally was blooming. I wanted to finally uncover that mystery and truly honour it with a film, a film that somehow could bring back that mystery back to life. For years I watched and experimented with those films, those classic adventure films, trying to crack their secrets their inherent structures and moods, I read the lost world literary classics trying to comprehend those ideas of nature those stories of jungle exotica and exploration. In my last documentary films, I have dealt with the most archaic and remote locations of the world. I have somehow travelled in time to other periods, to ancient lifestyles, looking for an answer to the idea of the end of the world. Those myths that populate our souls, those ideas those memories or mind hunts are what interest me because they hold a secret that should be recorded for future generations.
Cemetery brings to surface my fascination for our imaginary of nature and the idea of sanctuary. I believe we are living the most radical times as species, as we are entering the Anthropocene. I believe in the next coming years most of the species and environments we now know will be extinct, our relation to landscape and environment has arrived at a peak. As the population grows and gets stagnated and the advance of civilization and technology reshapes nature, the idea of the cemetery remains even more fascinating, and it is today that this myth is more pertinent, to illuminate somehow a new vision of nature and our position to it. Along the way, while preparing this film I have to ask myself a lot of questions, that will be left unanswered but that will populate the film like ghosts: Is nature dead as we knew it? Are we the prominent species? Are we meant to guide in a new geological phase or are we one more species bound to extinction? Are we one with nature? Or are we a simple biological plague? Have we finally deciphered nature and our purpose within it? Are we meant to migrate to other planets?
The mystery of the cemetery is also fundamental for ourselves as species and I believe that guarding the most ancient relation to nature there is another sentient being, another keeper and vessel much older than ourselves; the elephant. My fascination for this animal is pair to its richness, from its amazing emotional and complex social life to its rich sonic language and wisdom, I believe it guards secret keys for us in its memory as species, this film is my way of reshaping a traditional animal documentary making it along the lines of a spiritual nearly mystical search, hence the will to work with Chris Watson and Ariel Guzik, both prominent nature and animal interlocutors.
Have you always had a fascination with documentary filmmaking?
I started making more documentary films to slowly diverse into different formats and genres.
Which changed by the contexts I started presenting the films, but also by my interests and fascinations, creative freedom is always what dictates the films. I find it always more difficult to define films by Documentary or fiction. In a way CEMETERY questions this.
What it is about documentary filmmaking that interested you so much as a filmmaker?
Immediacy, freedom, direct contact with subjects, purity.
I was always interested in living the experience of contact with other cultures and places, by confronting myself to change my views to make them more and more wider to understand environment and situation in new ways, to become invisible in the world…
What was the most challenging part of bringing this film to life?
Working with elephants is not easy, they dictate and direct the film themselves, films like this are difficult to finance or find the contexts to get funds.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
I studied Fine Arts, but ultimately I was fascinated by Cinema and architecture. Through film, you can access ways of relating to this world.
How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut?
I have gained much more freedom and liberty in the way I work, I dedicate a lot of time to research sometimes too much, but that is the way I work.
Looking back at your work is there anything you would like to do differently or change?
I changed continuously, for me a film is never finished is always changing. My project Avalanche is a film that has no definitive form is purely site specific it changes according to contexts festival or place that invites it. I edited live and mix the soundtrack live myself and or with some guests musicians.
How important is the collaborative nature in filmmaking for you?
I don’t imagine a film without collaboration with musicians editors producers. A few years ago I set myself the goal to work always with the people I admire or that have in some way shaped my world, that is why I collaborated with Chris Watson for Cemetery, he has always been an influence it was not only a dream to work with him but a duty for me as a way to close a circle, to pay tribute to his influence and his participation in who I am as a filmmaker, it is an honour to be able to work with people you admire!
What is the best piece of advice you would offer an emerging filmmaker?
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this film?
I hope they can enjoy the experience, and get as close to elephants as possible and as far as possible from the cinema.