Adrián Silvestre • Director of Sediments
“There are so many clichés in films on transsexual topics”
- The Spanish filmmaker breaks down various aspects of his second feature, starring six trans women on the road, which is competing in the documentary section of the 24th Málaga Film Festival
Barcelona-based filmmaker Adrián Silvestre (Valencia, 1981) made a name for himself on the festival circuit with The Objects of Love [+see also:
film profile], picking up prizes such as the FIPRESCI Award at Seville in 2016. Now, at the Málaga Film Festival – in the non-fiction strand – he is presenting his sophomore effort, Sediments [+see also:
interview: Adrián Silvestre
film profile], which captures the relationships between six transsexual women during a trip to a rural part of Spain. In a couple of weeks, the title will take part in the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival.
Cineuropa: How difficult was it to get this film off the ground?
Adrián Silvestre: In 2016, I talked to Tina Recio, one of the protagonists, in order to make a film about the trans community, and she introduced me to the I-Vaginarium association. Once I had met them, I put forward my idea: “Exactly how I do it will depend on you,” I told them. We thus created a group, and each person outlined their conditions and red lines, as some of them didn’t want to appear on camera. I am always inclusive, and I took on whoever wanted to get on board. At the beginning, there were around 25 transsexuals, and I would meet up with them every Saturday. During various workshops, I taught them about film language and acting. We took anecdotes from their lives and acted them out: they gradually forgot that it wasn’t about playing a role, but rather about being relaxed, and to achieve that, I also told them a lot about my own life. Over time, I saw that the ones who were present the most were the ones who never let us down, the ones who believed in the project and wanted to be there. There were around ten of them, but I couldn’t make the film with so many of them. However, in the end, four backed out, leaving six – the perfect number. In addition, they don’t agree on anything at all, they are not alike in the slightest, and they all have interesting things to say. Plus, we reached a point where the camera wasn’t too overbearing for them.
Exactly – there are some particularly intimate moments, like when they are discussing a certain topic or the party scene. How do you construct a cinematic story from that point?
It’s a matter of trust: they gradually got more familiar with the crew, so that nobody would be indifferent or an awkward kind of presence. And like that, someone was always filming. I didn’t order them to start shooting, but rather, there was someone filming at all times, so they never knew if we were shooting or not. It was also important to get to know them very well: when you could sense a certain topic bubbling up, you just had to go straight away, as that’s something you can’t repeat. I had a few things up my sleeve, such as the visit to the church and the trip to the quarry. Or when they made the marijuana cake… But we didn’t know who was going to eat it.
How many cameras were there?
Just one, which was always around them, even when they were sleeping. We had an agreement that we would shoot all the time, without any fixed schedule, just go with the flow, and not everyone can do that. I wanted them to be comfortable with the camera accompanying their every move.
It’s funny to see that not everything is harmonious amongst them, but instead that there are also some tense moments…
I really like the fact that they are very different, and they do end up arguing, but they don’t hold a grudge; they always let bygones be bygones. Not a single one of them ever told me not to film, even at the most delicate times. They didn’t set any boundaries and devoted so much of themselves to the project.
It’s also astonishing how tolerant people are in rural areas…
Human beings are afraid of the unknown, and that’s where prejudice comes from, no matter the country or the period of history. With the closeness that you get in small towns, people know each other very well, while in cities, you get that anonymity, brusqueness and awkwardness of not knowing your neighbours. In that town, they accept others as best they can and with the tools at their disposal. I am interested in addressing that because it hasn’t been portrayed on screen as much. Trans topics always unfold in the city. We spent eight days in León, including the road trip.
Have you seen the 1983 film Dressed in Blue by Antonio Giménez-Rico?
That was our starting point: when I began working with them, I told them that we were going to do a kind of film course with some analysis of films on trans topics. We would see which ones they enjoyed, where they saw stereotypes or where they felt they were well represented – or, on the contrary, which ones seemed fake to them. It’s true that there are so many clichés on this subject, but the only movie they could agree on, the only one they thought was natural, was Dressed in Blue.
(Translated from Spanish)
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