Institut Ramon LLull

Scriptwriting: Two weeks of working, living and collaborating together at Faberllull

paperllull.  OLOT, 09/06/2021

With the aim of kickstarting cinema production – a sector which has been heavily affected throughout this last year – the Institut Ramon Llull ran a feature-film scriptwriting residency. The initiative, which took place from 17 until 31 May at Faberllull Olot, was supported by the Academy of Catalan Cinema and the Associated Scriptwriters of Catalonia (GAC). Esteve Plantada had the chance to talk to those heading up five of the nine projects




The cinema industry is one of the cultural sectors which has been worst affected by the pandemic, with shootings postponed or outright stopped, festivals cancelled or having to reinvent themselves online and cinemas shut for months on end. All this and with a great level of uncertainty looming on the horizon. In an effort to help the sector and undo this situation, Faberllull Olot organised a feature-film scriptwriting residency.

The programme – with board and lodgings, tutorials, group sessions and masterclasses all included – has contributed to the development of cinematic projects to be finalised and produced in the medium term in Catalonia. In an isolated space, and with the cooperation of other creators and the assessment of experts, the chosen screenwriters had the opportunity to commit themselves, over the space of a fortnight, to developing an initial treatment of their projects.

The chosen scriptwriters were: Núria Dunjó and Carlos Villafaina (Festina Lente), Gabriel Ochoa Peris (Nena), Irene Moray, Irene Solà and Jan Matheu (La Belleza), Arnau Vilaró (Els homes i els dies, an autobiography of David Vilaseca), Victor Sala (Criatures), Sara Gutiérrez Galve and Núria Roura (Mala gent), Natàlia Boadas, Laura Azemar and Marta Vivet (Costa Brava), Pau Subirós (La jugada) and Aina Clotet (Oh, Nora).

 

Pau Subirós: illness and a dramatic twist

The writer and producer of La Plaga and Staff Only (El viatge de la Marta), both directed by Neus Ballús, Pau Subirós has come up with La jugada as his first solo project.

La jugada takes the shared conclusion by many who have suffered from a serious illness: from the moment they overcome that trying experience, they assert that there is then a before and an after. It’s a starting point that relates certain personal experiences which have led them to reflect a lot on the issue.

“You see the relationship between siblings, love and the wish for a cure. And also, it prompts us to reflect on where the border is between curing someone and infringing on their autonomy,” Subirós explains.

The experience of working at the Faberllull residency has been very rewarding. “I’ve received a lot of feedback, from both the tutor, Neus Rodríguez, and the group.

“Living together and a community are the best things that the residency offers you,” he points out. “On the one hand, by having put aside a certain amount of time and being isolated from the outside to a certain extent. But, on the other hand, because of the feedback: I’ve always looked to cowrite or share ideas in all my projects. And here I’ve been able to keep doing that. Receiving valuable opinions helps you to progress.”

 

Sara Gutiérrez Galve and Núria Roura: a choral story

Two young people who are grounded and aware of the privilege of being able to make films. “For us, being here is a huge gift,” they admit. With their whole careers ahead of them – and with a desire to do it well, with no rush or added pressure – they view the residency at Olot as an opportunity to make the most of.

“Besides the tutorials and the activities, the best thing about being at Faberllull is that much of our time is spent with these fourteen people.” Conversations with a lot of talking, and about everything. “We’re interested in how they do it, and not just about writing, but also about making a living doing this,” they reflect.

After a powerful debut with Jo la busco, Sara Gutiérrez Galve and Núria Roura are totally engrossed in the script of Mala gent, a second film they are writing, and which will be directed by Gutiérrez. The idea is to make a choral film, with a variety of characters and themes.

“We are at an embryonic point. We wanted characters that didn’t resemble ourselves, ones from different walks of life and ages, something which has meant he have had to do our research,” they assert. “The characters come from jobs and emotional situations which interested us.”

Arnau Vilaró: the challenge of a life

A professor and the scriptwriter of Carla Simón’s films, Arnau Vilaró’s project is based on the adaptation of a “difficult to adapt” book, Els homes i els dies (L’Altra) by David Vilaseca (1964-2010). The author, who remains fairly unknown outside of literary circles, was an outstanding and celebrated figure, as demonstrated in the obituaries dedicated to him in The Guardian and La Vanguardia after his death in London, following an accident with a lorry as we was cycling.

Vilaseca – a writer, professor and Catalan philologist – specialized in studying homosexuality in autobiographies (queer theory). “I came across him when I read his book in 2017. It’s one of those pieces of work that give you something straightaway,” Vilaró recalls.

“I know that it’s a book which isn’t easy to adapt: it begins in 1987 and ends in 2010, and it is written in a diary format with more than 700 pages.” At the beginning we are in the USA, then in London, where he does his PhD. Vilaseca returns to Barcelona, from ’92 until ’94, and then back to London.

“I’m very interested by the queer part, which I still don’t know how to present,” he explains. “As a character, he wasn’t queer, he was an intellectual. But he was in his way of living, through the subjectivity that was created and through breaking down heteronormativity.”

Núria Dunjó and Carlos Villafaina: creation from an intimate reality

“By being here, we make really beautiful connections with one another. When we eat lunch, dinner, are walking around, we share everything: it’s very interesting, you feed off the others,” Carlos Villafaina and Núria Dunjó agree.

They both find themselves working on the project of Festina Lente, which explains how Daniel, a single man of 42 years of age, sees how his life takes a sudden turn when, one night, he receives a call from Alejandro, his twin brother, who tells him that their mother has died. Daniel has to face his past and return to the family home he ran away from at the age of eighteen in order to take charge of the burial and of Alejandro’s care, who has cerebral palsy and has always lived alone with his mother. The story is also based on the real-life experience of Carlos, who has a twin brother with the same condition.

“This project which we are making at Faberllull comes out of the idea of talking about that moment in which all people who have an ill and dependent sibling think about what will happen to them when their parents die, and you become their guardian. What will happen when the care which you parents give becomes your responsibility? We’ve made a piece of work which projects a fictional story in the future, but by drawing on a personal reality.”

Gabriel Ochoa Peris: freedom and the Ruta del Bakalao

Gabriel Ochoa is, in essence, a playwright. “I started in theatre, and from theatre I moved to scriptwriting. And then to documentaries. I have a very odd background,” he admits, off the bat. A scriptwriter for film, TV and theatre, he currently works as a writer for Miguel Bardem. The project he is working on at Faberllull is Nena, inspired by an episode of his own childhood and with a title taken from a very well-known Miguel Bosé song from the 80s.

“In the summer of 1987, my parents took my brother and me to spend the summer with Auntie Lola and Uncle Tony. The reason? My mother was to have an important operation and she needed peace and quiet to recover. Luckily, nothing came of it and, in September, we were back home with our parents. But those summer days in L’Eliana, a sleepy little town just next to Valencia, were very important for our education as people: we got to know fear (what would happen to our mother?), freedom (for the first time we could go around and about by ourselves on our bikes) and my Aunt Lola’s joie de vivre.”

The project, which he started in 2018, is from the point of view of a boy who realises that his aunt is in a relationship with another woman. “This is a massive shock, not just for the young boy, but for the area they lived in as well. The location is very important, because there was a series of nightclubs, part of Valencia’s infamous Ruta del Bakalao nightclub scene of the 1980s and 90s.”

At Olot, Ochoa is working on a fourth version of the script with his tutor, Anaïs Schaaff. “It’s been great for me to be able to work on a few characters and internal conflicts.”

 

Text by Esteve Plantada

Translated by Will Kirby

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