Perhaps because setting boundaries is the same or more diffuse than drawing open lines, a filmmaker such as Isaki Lacuesta has chosen to frame his Masterclass, ‘On the Limits of Reality’. He’s chosen two titles from his filmography, La leyenda del tiempo, shot between 2004-2005 on San Fernando Island in Cádiz, and Entre dos aguas, shot between 2015 and 2018. The setting and the protagonists are the same: the territory of Camarón and the brothers Isra and Cheíto, two gypsies scarred by the murder of their father. The look of the person looking is not the same, nor, of course, that of the protagonists.
“There’s always a bit of confusion when we talk about documentary and fiction cinema. I prefer to speak of prepared cinema versus unforeseen cinema. I liken it to the difference between symphonic music and a jam session. In my films there are both. My intention is to create a portrait and to achieve this I sometimes use fictional strategies, and sometimes I don’t.”
Knowledgeable about narrative techniques, which is why he can skip them, Lacuesta used his debut film Kravan vs Kravan as a preamble to take us to the Casería de San Fernando neighborhood, and he told us that “in the history of this character who disappeared a hundred years ago, I worked with a written script, shots and reverse shots, with historical and journalistic research, and while I did it, I discovered that what interests me is what I could not foresee. An interviewee lies and the camera captures him, as he captures the voice, the trace, the footprints…it’s those moments that I’m interested in capturing. That range of emotions.”
“Documentary cinema allows us to get inside other people’s heads. I have the feeling today that although we can move around freely, we are more closed in on ourselves. Cities are designed so that you only cross paths with your own class”, he says.
He throws himself to slaughter what would end up being his second feature film, La leyenda del tiempo, with an open script, put together day by day, year by year, with the leading protagonist children growing up, making financing difficult, but getting it. He remembers Mercedes Alvárez’s plight and her beautiful film El cielo gira, and thanks José Luis Guerín and his film, Under Construction, for paving the way. “He created a model and was a reference…The challenge of an unwritten film is like it was the first time, an apprenticeship again,” he pointed out.
Ten years later, Entre dos aguas arrived, with substantial changes. “We worked on the sequence shot and in digital because I think that digital texture is going to be the one that would best portray these grown children, and ourselves.” He continues, “And since we are talking about limits, in this we worked from what was agreed and also the improvised, the two registers. Entre dos aguas is a fictional film with characters who perform things that have never happened to them.”
He embellished his talk with anecdotes until he ended up sharing a confession, “The documentaries I make are increasingly conceived as an installation.” Listening to him is as pleasant as watching his movies, “On the Limits of Reality.”