Saturday, September 30, 2023

“The Girls Are Fine,” a summer fairy tale about women who play princesses

They are themselves, and they are not. It’s fiction, but it goes hand in hand with a documentary. They are women; they are actresses; they are princesses. They live a fiction within a fiction based on their own life stories. Playing with literary texts and princess stories to re-appropriate them from a feminist and modern perspective, they talk about death, love, friendship, interpretation, etc. They are Bárbara Lennie, Irene Escolar, Itziar Manero, Helena Ezquerro, and Itsaso Spider. They are the protagonists of The Girls Are Fine.

Its also Arana’s feature film debut, which premiered at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, is what its director describes as a “camp film” in which the predominantly female crew created a female niche. A room—a country house and an old mill—in which four actresses and a director are rehearsing a play. They look at each other, talk and listen to each other, learn from each other, laugh, sing, and work, protecting a space of trust and respect, building a place of remembrance at the cinema, and happily walking around dressed as princesses in crinolines. “Why not?”

This is an unconventional film; it has the feel of a cinematic experiment.

It’s good intuition because it’s a mix of things. On the one hand, I come from a family with many women. As I witnessed my father’s death with all the women in my family around his bed, it stuck in my mind like a reverberating image, and I always thought I had to do something with it. On the other hand, it had to do with the whole imaginary world of literature, with many women who are locked up waiting for something, with “The House of Bernarda Alba”, “Little Women,”… Stories of this kind had always appealed to me, and I didn’t know quite why. Something clicked in my head with this double dimension—the vital and the literary or aesthetic. And then there was the idea of ​​bringing several actresses together in what I call a kind of film camp. Friends, actresses I admire, worked with, knew through various experiences,

But were you working on a closed script, or was it written on set?

Well, it’s been done and undone. There was a script. It was a screenplay with an unusual use of language, for at times it seems as if the word and the cinema are like oil and water, while there is a tradition of heavily spoken cinema. I suggested a river movie over time; it was a group of girls talking. I did some personal interviews with each of the actresses about the themes of the film, and in the end, we put together a sort of album of anecdotes and experiences. So the script was, shall we say, a tailored suit? And as we shoot, we continue to write the film within the take. We also improvised about the themes but proceeded on an agreed-upon basis. We have created an ecosystem of trust where not everything is possible. They needed to feel safe and respected… The film is directed rather than staged, I felt like a free player between the camera and the actresses, which allowed us to open the windows a bit.

Is there an intention to reinterpret the traditional princess tales from the perspective of today’s women?

I hope it looks like it, and I hope it reads like a reappropriation, a reappropriation in the typical costumes of stories about contemporary bodies and about our way of seeing the world. I think there is no choice but to open the corsets a little. If we want to play with the roles that are aesthetically linked to femininity, we have to see how we do it and not remain in the male gaze but look at each other. See how these stories resist, that the gaze is between us, and that we don’t wait for someone to look at us or show us how to do things.

The women in your film speak and are heard. Did you want to show how women speak?

Yes, shooting the film with men would be an interesting experiment but I think of Jane Fonda saying when men get together they stand side by side and watch a football game or whatever. It’s not like that between us, we women look at each other. I think there is a look between us that has become private and that we need to restore. Women tell each other their life stories and there’s a kind of sensuality between us… That’s the way I like to connect with my friends. But I also believe that there is enormous pressure to be competitive between women and that in the specific case of our guild, there is a lot to overcome.

How does this work determine whether the characters are actresses?

I think about it a lot, in the final tone of the film and the genre. There is something beautiful and strange about our work that is almost witchcraft at times, this strange work of becoming someone else and being someone else to yourself. For me, it still holds an incredible secret. Some professions make us live a little between realities. It also allowed me to switch between genres or interpretive textures, and the best part is that the film can be viewed as an interpretive treatise, as there are many layers of fiction running through these bodies. Sometimes the film looks like a theatrical reading. There are times when you have to be naturalistic. There are almost confessional moments, more poetic moments, sometimes it seems like a summer fairy tale… and I think that’s because they’re actresses. Interpreters are people who are very used to using their living materials for their work. Also, I think we can move easily between the deep and the light. I think actresses are more nervous.

They can also detect transmission from one generation to the next. Did you want to show this kind of learning niche?

For me, conveying life lessons is the absolute driving force behind making the film. The selection of actresses of different ages seemed essential to me. There was something special about the choice of the two youngest actresses because they had a very strong experience as an orphan. The two eldest may not have that experience, but they do have an excellent working memory of acting. Everyone’s experiences are valued, listened to, and supported. There is a transmission from one to the other. And then there’s Mercedes, the homeowner, and the girl, her granddaughter, who takes the stories far more skeptically. The moment when the girl starts yawning when you read her a princess story is beautiful, but then she wants to go to the river in a princess outfit, Why not?

Is there another way of working with women, working in the cinema?

In filming, the usual thing is imposition, for many directors, leadership is imposed, but there are other types of leadership as well. As an actress, it has become clear to me over the years that filming takes on the character of the director. It’s an extension of the personality of the person in charge of the situation. The philosophy that drives the film lies in the shooting. Virtually all of the film’s crew leaders were women and women a little younger than me (Sara Gallego, photography; Marta Velasco, editing; Laura Renau, art direction and costumes). It was very important to create an environment full of care and respect. I always say that Los Ilusos (the production company) makes bad luxury films, We shot for fifteen days but we had everything we needed to tell what we wanted to tell, it’s almost like a philosophical position on cinema, and in terms of of of that kind of cinema classism that exists in filming. We were a small team where all team leaders got the same salary… and that’s important to be clear with the budget available… these are gestures that people notice.

What did you learn after this film?

I’m still wondering but yeah we did a toast before we started filming, I was very scared it was the first time I’d shot a film and then a few tears came to my eyes and I told the crew that there was nothing wrong and that this film was born out of fragility. On the last day of shooting, as we offered the final toast, I said I realized the strength that comes from fragility. I’ve always had doubts about myself, I had doubts about whether I could do it alone in a way that would make me happy, and I realized that to lead things, you don’t have to change, you don’t have to pretend to be a power, for in reality there is a true power that comes from fear. You have to get used to other forms of leadership.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
Latest news
Related news