37th BFI Flare 2023
Saturday 18 & 21 March 2023 SOLD OUT
March 15, 2023
In the last years, Carmen has dedicated herself body and soul to caring for her wife Rosa, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. In each gesture, Carmen maintains the hope that Rosa will look at her as she used to do when they were younger.
Hi Fernando, thank you for talking with The New Current, how has your 2023 been treating you so far?
Very well, indeed! It’s been a busy year so far, but I’m enjoying it very much. I feel 2023 will bring many good things and I’m enthusiastic about it. We'll see!
The World Premiere for The End / Fin was at the 25th Edition of the Fancinegay Extremadura LGBT Film Festival in Spain, and you had your International Premiere at at Ljubljana LGBT Film Festival in Slovenia, did you imagine your powerful short would get such an incredible and touching response?
We were thrilled to have the International Premiere of The End at Ljubljana. Mary Anisi, our protagonist, is the daughter of two Slovenian immigrants that came to the US before she was born, so screening the movie in her parents’ home country was very special. Plus, it’s the oldest LGBT Film Festival in Europe, and it felt the right fit for a movie that is so much about hope and love despite the passage of time. The Ljubljana Film Festival has been supporting queer voices for so many years, and we were excited to be part of this year’s edition.
You are currently a MFA in Film Candidate ‘24 at Columbia University School of the Arts, how much is your time and experience there helping you to refine and define your filmmaking technique?
I could never imagine that I could learn so much in so little time. The MFA focuses on the story as the cornerstone of making a movie, which has given me an opportunity to hone my voice and deepen the stories I want to tell. I’m constantly writing, directing, and sometimes even producing. Every day is challenging, and demanding but when I look at the robust body of work that I have developed in only two years my mind blows. Also, I feel that being part of such an international and diverse community of filmmakers is helping me to find my best version.
What does it mean to you to have your short film The End / Fin in the HEARTS Shorts section Ageing With(out) You at the 37th BFI Flare?
Thanks to BFI Flare, more than 200 people are going to watch our movie. It's amazing! I think making movies only makes sense if you have an audience who watches them. As a writer-director, my priority is to provide an experience that makes people feel, reflect, and connect with others or with themselves. I’m excited to see how people react to it. I also believe movies are about the conversations they generate around them, and Festivals are the perfect place for that to happen. Also, I’m thrilled to connect with other queer filmmakers and explore future collaborations. Collaborating is everything in this industry.
Will there be any nerves ahead of the screening, or are you able to enjoy the ride?
I’ll be nervous for sure, but I’m so looking forward to it. It’s such a unique experience to watch how people react to your film; that’s the moment when you know if you have achieved your goals as a filmmaker. I can’t wait to see how people react to the movie and how the room breathes after watching it (if it does!).
What was the first LGBTQ+ film you saw that really left an impact? Mine was Beautiful Thing, still is, a beautiful British film!
I haven’t watched Beautiful Thing but I’m adding it right now to my letterbox watchlist. There are many but since I’m from Spain, I’m gonna say a classic film that I love: Law of Desire by Pedro Almodóvar. The scene when Carmen Maura screams “Water me!” at the street sweeper stuck with me for many years. Queer joy is such a powerful act of activism, and that's what the scene portrays. It was important in the day, and it is still today.
"You will need to remember why you are doing this in the first place when you face resistance and unexpected circumstances that will come."
How essential is it for LGBTQ+ filmmakers to continue to push the boundaries of the stories and themes they want to explore in their films?
It’s essential. Our movies are mirrors to see ourselves but also to make our realities be seen by the whole society. One reaction that I never expected from the audience after watching The End was that some people would assume that the relationship between the two elderly women is that of a mother and daughter, despite them being the same age! Nobody would have ever thought so if they were a man and a woman. This tells a lot about the assumptions we still make when it comes to what two women together can be in our society.
Can you tell me a little bit about how The End / Fin came about, what was the inspiration behind your screenplay?
I was interested in exploring the boundaries of love at the end of our lives, and what is to love someone who is terminally sick and already gone in many ways. I think hope and love are two powerful forces that tie us to the world, and I wanted to explore them while also representing the loneliness of elderly people in our time. When it comes to LGBTQIA+ people, we have many elderly couples who never had children and/or didn’t have supportive families and find themselves very lonely in the last stage of their lives. I think this is an underrepresented reality within the LGBTQIA+ community and wanted to look where almost nobody does.
When writing a short film like The End / Fin how close do you like to stick to your screenplay, do you allow yourself and your cast much flexibility?
I’m only loyal to the story, but not to what is written on a page. To me, the script is a roadmap to keep deepening the story during pre-production. It allows me to better understand and explore the characters and their behaviours during rehearsals. I actively listen to everything happening around me during the process, and I incorporate as many elements as I consider necessary to tell the story. I’m never too attached to what is on the paper unless I consider it essential to tell the story.
What was the most challenging scene for you to shoot?
I think the last scene was the most challenging to shoot, especially because of the use of stunts with Deidre Lynn, and because it was very demanding for Mary Anisi. The camera work was simple, and all the heavy work was on performance. I don’t want to spoil the story for anybody so I won't say anything else about the last scene. Come and watch it on the big screen!
What has been the most valuable lesson you have taken away from making The End / Fin?
I think the biggest takeaway for me is that rehearsals are key in my directing process. I could have not made this movie without the many rehearsals with Mary Anisi and Deidre Lynn. We came to the set very well-prepared with a clear understanding of what we were doing, and I think that was crucial to make the movie.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking, screenwriting, and storytelling?
Yes, although it took me a while to understand how to channel my passion for filmmaking. I grew up in the south of Spain, specifically in the countryside of Lorca where being a filmmaker was not even an option on my horizon. When I was 18, I moved to Madrid, where I started doing theatre as an actor, and later as a playwright. I loved theatre but I was so amazed by the power of movies to reach larger audiences that I decided to jump to the cinema when I got a scholarship from La Caixa Foundation to study the MFA in Film at Columbia University. Since then, I have written 8 short movies, two feature screenplays, and two TV pilots, and have written, directed, and produced two short movies, The End and Leo, whose postproduction I just finished.
How different was your approach to The End / Fin compared to how you made your previous short films?
I only had done one short movie before, Blackout (2021), which was an adaptation of a short play that I had written and directed. I had no clue how to make a movie at that time, so I basically put together a group of friends and we made a movie. The result was a short movie with many theatre elements which makes sense given that I was transitioning from theatre. Making The End felt more professional to me since I understood better how to make a movie. Regardless of this, I think I always put the story and the audience at the centre of any creative process, and I did it on both projects.
Do you have any tips or advice to a fellow filmmaker or screenwriter who are thinking about making their own short film?
Yes, I do. Find your personal need to tell the story, make sure is important for you to tell it to the world, commit to it, and then hold on to it during the entire process. You will need to remember why you are doing this in the first place when you face resistance and unexpected circumstances that will come. It won’t be easy, but if you have a personal reason to tell it, you’ll make it and it will be gratifying in the end. Also, work with people who are better than you.
And finally, what message do you hope you audiences will take away from The End / Fin?
I want them to think about what is the best way to love somebody at the end of their lives. I only have the question, I leave the answer up to them.