Director, actor, producer and screenwriter Fernando Colomo has been one of the greatest figures of the Spanish cinema since the release of Tigres de Papel (Paper Tigers) in 1977.
Since then, he has directed more than 25 films, making him one of the most ironic Spanish filmmakers. His inner ability to turn drama into brilliant comedies of situation was the cause of him being awarded several national and international prizes. His filmography includes gems of the Spanish cinema, such as La vida alegre (Happy Life, 1987), for which Verónica Forqué was awarded a Goya, Alegre ma non troppo (1994), starring Penélope Cruz, El Efecto Mariposa (The Butterfly Effect, 1995) and Al sur de Granada (South from Granada, 2002).
Considering your long career as filmmaker, how do you think we could give more importance to the Spanish cinema, both nationally and internationally?
To me, the Spanish cinema has right now high levels of creativity, not only in actors, but also in filmmakers, photography directors… All of them are in high demand mostly abroad. What we lack, as usual, is industrial support. In Spain, laws have been delayed for years, there is little governmental collaboration, production companies are becoming broken… everything is frozen, and intentionally!
So, the problem lays in aids then.
In almost all international festivals I have attended, I have been said that we are making films of a really varied nature, which is such a great feature considering all the limitations we face. However, this type of crisis cannot be faced without any institutional aid, which results in very bad times for our industry. We are making films without any type of aid at all and big production companies are the only ones who have access to aids, but in fact do not really need them.
You are also well known for being a talent scout since you have found many of the famous figures of the Spanish cinema and give them their first chance on the big screen, such as Antonio Resines and Carmen Maura. Do you think our figures are over demanded on our cinema?
I think this is not particularly a feature of our cinema, especially if we consider expensive films that are always trying to include figures in their casts. I have always preferred to choose the perfect actor for each character, regardless of his or her fame.
The big screen is an expensive industry; that is why it is believed that having a figure can help recover the initial investment. Films made by big production companies always ask for well-known actors and do not allow you to go beyond a particular genre.
Your next film, Isla Bonita, takes place in Menorca. What inspired you to choose the Balearic Island?
I have had that on my mind for almost thirty years. Films on islands are special. The characters are isolated; it’s a real stage. I already did this in 1983 with La línea en el cielo (Skyline), a film about Manhattan. This time, I have chosen Menorca because it is beautiful and, fortunately, its coast has not been highly affected by tourism. I visited Menorca thirty years ago for the first time and I came back two or three years ago. At that moment, the idea of making a film with local characters came back to me so I suggested some people I knew to make a story.
You are also a main character of the film. What has been directing yourself like?
It has been weird. At the beginning, I could not picture myself but then I had no choice but to do it. I was able to picture myself when we were already putting the film up. It has been a very nice experience. You can have greater control of the film. The fact of working with a reduced staff gives you more freedom.
And the script of the film is also yours!
That is true. Moreover, the particular feature of this film was that actors did not have written dialogues; that was the easiest way to make “non professional actors” play their part. The team included professional actors, amateur actors and inhabitants of the island.
Have you made an effort to advertise the island?
It is true that the film intends to show Menorca Island and its environment. But we did not intend to show everything, just what was necessary for the story, such as beaches, coves, gorges, the characters’ homes, boats …
How has Menorca changed since you visited it thirty years ago?
There still exist some past mistakes but most of the island is magnificent, practically being the same as thirty years ago. Mallorca has been crowded whereas Menorca has been kept in the background. Fortunately, the island has been well protected, mostly thanks to environmental groups existing for years now.
So, what is Menorca’s advantage compared to Ibiza or Mallorca?
Mallorca is a much more touristic destination, although it also has its hidden corners. Ibiza is well known for its party and its clubs, and it is also known as the “white city” with its hippie nature.
Menorca is quite different. It is a small island you can easily get to know in full. And that is an advantage because Menorca receives a high standard tourism, fond of being relaxed without having to fight for a little space on the beach where to put a blanket.
How did inhabitants of the island welcome the idea of making a film there?
On the one hand, we have received the voluntary help of some people. We asked for people for scenes in which we needed to have a room full and it would get crowded. Everybody collaborated with scenes on the street or at the harbor. On the other hand, we have received institutional aid from government through Illes Balears Film Commission, Consejo Insular de Menorca and Fundació Destí.
Are you currently working on any other project?
The only thing I can say is that I am writing a comedy script. It seems to be very promising!