We’re pleased to present a candid Q & A with Spanish Director, Juli Suàrez. Who this year submitted his film ” One More Year” to the Cut Critic Movie Awards. Mr. Suàrez won acclaim as one of the best documentary, and we are most appreciative to him for granting access from the Cult Critic publishing team for this interview.
As he shared his professional insight, Cult Critic was able to learn a little about Suàrez’s aesthetics on film making. Let’s see what art house filmmaker Juli Suàrez has to say about his own work and what’s in store for the future. This was a great opportunity to share a filmmaker’s insight into the human condition and learn how it affects his film making process.
Cult Critic – Juli, first of all I would like to congratulate you for the huge success of your documentary “One more year” and your kindness in the partaking of this interview. It has been screened almost every part of the world and received so many awards. What actually provoked you to make this movie?
Juli – I met Paco Bernal in 2007 through his painting, I loved his paintings, his way of painting. But when I met him in person my life changed. My gaze towards disability, at that time, was generalized. And it was thanks to him that I started asking myself questions. Why is it so difficult for us to relate them to disability? Why many times do we not see them? Why do we continue to have a charitable look towards them? And above all, why is it so difficult to change that gaze? Then I understood that all adversity hides an opportunity, the opportunity to change our gaze, to see things from another perspective. Disability is not a health condition, it reflects interaction, our coexistence. It is us, society, who create or eliminate barriers. We are the limiting factor. And that was my great discovery, to understand that the limit was in me and not in Paco. Because we continue to measure disability from limitation. That is why I decided to tell Paco’s story and try to help change the gaze on disability.
Cult Critic – Can you explain more the relation between Paco & Rosa , how mentally & emotionally they are depended with each other.
Juli – To answer this question, let me make a short introduction. In Spain, at the time Paco was born, in the sixties, people with disabilities could not go out on the streets, they were beings who had to remain hidden in their homes, since they were pointed. Rosa decided to leave everything to dedicate herself fully to her brother. She enrolled him in painting workshops and other activities, still against many factors. And that was when Paco began to express himself through his painting, and Rosa confirmed that she had been right to leave everything behind to enjoy the relationship with Paco.
Paco and Rosa are as if it were the conjunction of a single person. Paco has been lucky to have Rosa, and she is lucky to have him. Only with a look or a gesture they already knew what to do. But above all, the love they had. You were at his house and everything was love. Rosa had found her place in the world and that was to normalize Paco’s life. That union was very strong emotionally and, in addition, with the large number of friends they have cultivated over the years, Paco’s world was a world where friendship was the central axis. And that is reflected in the documentary.
Cult Critic – Is there any specific reason to choose the title “one more year”?
Juli – Yes, there is a very important reason. When Paco was 24 years old, he got very seriously ill with the lung, they gave him six months to live. Rosa, then, sayed to her brother: “If you recover, I’ll organize a great party for you, with all our friends.” Upon leaving the hospital, Rosa organized Paco’s birthday party with the message to resist. “For every year that you endure, we will have a birthday party of resistance, of resisting one more year,” Rosa told Paco.
In the film we show the day of his 54th birthday party, all an example of resistance to live and enjoy his friends. For this reason, we believed that it was very appropriate to put the title of “One more year”. Although I must tell you that filming was not easy. Paco died in the middle of the shoot, so everything got complicated. It is a film with two shoots, the magic of editing made it easy for us to finish and present the film.
Cult Critic – What’s integral to the work of an artist? What role does the artist have in society?
Juli – I think that for a filmmaker the fundamental thing is to film what life itself offers you, with fundamental values and trying to improve our society. It is the same with a documentary film as with a fiction film, the message must always be clear: “We can improve the world in which we live.” In the documentary, the message is always more one of denunciation and awareness, because it shows more the reality. And in fiction, a world is created, not too far from ours, where the problems of our society have a solution, so it ends up having messages similar to the documentary, but with a fictitious creation.
Art plays a mediating role and a driving force in communication, since the artist, through his creation, transmits not only emotions, but also messages, and makes us reflect on our existence, social problems or life in general. From this perspective, it becomes a tool that can change or educate a society. As therapy, the cinema can bring peace, happiness, love, hope to human beings: watching movies to dream, to learn or simply to have fun.
The filmmaker will be should have the role of reflecting human culture, to preserve the cultural heritage of a people and transmit it to our generations. In addition, it must be subjective, expressed in a universal language that is understandable to any human being, since it appeals to our senses, emotions and the ability to think.
Cult Critic – I find many independent filmmakers saying they don’t believe in the grammar of filmmaking. They just want to break the rules and to be creative? What is your opinion?
Juli – To me, the issue is not breaking the rules or being creative. For me the fundamental thing is the discourse, since it expresses our vision of life. Discourse deciphers the way we exist. So the filmmaker who doesn’t care about having a discourse doesn’t make movies, he makes entertainment. When the viewer finishes watching an entertainment movie, he feels that something is missing, okay, he has spent an hour and a half entertained, but could he have spent your time it in something else, right?
On the other hand, cinema with discourse responds to our human need: Who are we? Where we come from? Where we go? Rehabilitate our relationship with the world. It helps us understand our human condition. That is why cinema with discourse is essential and expresses the line of thought of the filmmaker. So, I don’t care who wants to follow the film’s grammar to the letter or, on the contrary, break the rules and be creative, nothing will do if the film does not have a discourse.
Cult Critic – Are you planning on stick to the documentary or are open to create something else?
Juli – Well, the truth is that I try to combine documentary cinema with fiction in short film format. I love the documentary because we are dealing with reality, real experiences from which we can learn. In that sense, the fiction short films in which I work start from the same base, that is, from real cases. Although, as an independent filmmaker, it is very difficult to carry out a production, since we do not have a Governmental culture that helps us “all” the filmmakers to produce films. My hope is to one day be able to make a fiction feature film, but for that I have to keep working.
Cult Critic – What do you expect from viewers after watching “One More Year”?
Juli – As I said at the beginning, I would like to help viewers change their view of disability. Look, one of the things that I like the most, after showing the film, is being able to share an open discussion with the public and talk about what they felt. They are very enriching talks, because we all learn from each other. But in some colloquia I have detected some silences. And it is because still the different scares us. Now that we have the “instagram, facebook’s, tik-tok, etc.”, where you have to be perfect, where you have to represent rather than be, the different scares us.
Society measures success in economic terms, such as profitability, productivity or social recognition, why can’t it be measured in values such as happiness and the ability to enjoy life? Diversity has to be shown in our society in a naturalized way. To include is to adapt the environment to the person, we are the ones who have to transform ourselves, let diversity enrich us. This film has enriched me and I hope the viewers have too.
Cult Critic – Juli, please tell us about your next work?
Juli – Between several projects, actually I’m working on the post-production of a short documentary titled “Odradek”. A documentary about illusion and fantasy, as faculties that will survive us as long as there is someone who can create them. Odradek is a contraption that Frank Kafka uses in one of his stories, and it is from this contraption that we show the work of a couple of catalonian artists who organize a small street show of shadow cinema, a 19th century paper theater and silent movies. All inside a small tent that offers a magical atmosphere. In addition, the protagonist of the film builds his own musical and visual instruments that he uses in the show.
Everything as a whole is a counterpoint to illusion, curiosity and fantasy as an activation of the imagination. Because the more imaginative a person is, the more prone he is, seeking to get out of the real routine, to speculate on immaterial illusions and dreamy fantasy that liberates the spirit; which forces us to know ourselves well to discern the limits.
I hope, by the end of the year, to have it finished and released to the festival market and, why not, present it at the Cult Critic Movie Awards!.
Cult Critic – Any advice for emerging filmmakers around the globe?
Juli – I think I am not in a position to give advice, I am more open to receive it. Still, if I can give my opinion. I think the best film school is on the street, not in any university or specialized center. The best experience and master in cinematography is take the camera, go out at to the street and film, without fear. It often happens that emerging filmmakers who have just graduated do not have the value to make their first film, mainly because they want to include all their knowledge in that first film. They spend a lot of time with scripts behind a producer, but if they are not lucky, or a “godfather”, little by little they are disappointed. However, whoever goes out into the street with a camera in hand begins his most uninhibited work, because there is no money involved, but only the desire to express himself through creation. From then on, anything can happen.