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Interview:

Sergio Oksman: "Festivals like Festimatge give me motivation".

Sergio Oksman is the winner at the 2013 edition of the Festimatge with his short film "A Story for the Modlins" which has garnered awards at festivals around the world. Oksman talks about winning this award at Calella and thinks that the real and the unreal sometimes blend into their work.


By: Àlex M. Franquet
Calella.


- What do you think of the Festimatge?
- Festivals like the Festimatge give me motivation. I've been to a lot of festivals, but this award at the Festimatge is special to me for many reasons. The heart of this festival is the enthusiasm of the people who organizes the Festimatge and its visitors. Being here in Calella, is my way of saying I like what you do. It is a very interesting festival.

- Thanks ...
- I would like to have spent more time in Calella. I reckon this festival as unique, because it is the only one I know linking film with photography at the same time. I really enjoyed the love and dedication that Foto-Film Calella puts in this festival. I will try to go back as soon as I can.

- Your documentary is it real or fiction?
- Who cares? The origin of the short comes from a photographer from Madrid who found these things or someone who passed him this things. These photographs appeared in a trash can, on a street in the center of Madrid. For sometime, this photographer did some research about the life of this family. They made a movie that you can even see on the Internet. But in the end, they leaved the project and passed me this stuff. I worked with a script writer and made the movie.

- How long did all the work took you?
- We spent three years. The original idea was to tell the story of who could have been the Modlins.

- It must have been difficult.
- Sure. There were many gaps in the stuff that was found on the garbage. We had only isolated incidents. People think that by having a story, then the film is made. The story is only the starting point. Even if you have a good theme, you can make a fantastic movie or a bad one.

- That story was a puzzle ...
- We spent a lot of time thinking about how to tell that story. We made different versions before reaching the final cut.

- And the final version is reality or fiction?
- What is reality and what is fiction? What is reality and what is a lie? My documentary is not a fake documentary because I show some real facts. The family photos were found in the trash. But I use fiction tools to tell the story. I'm a journalist and I understand that journalism tools are not enough, sometimes, to approach a story. Imagination is a legitimate tool and can be useful to tell a story. It was difficult to explain the life of a family that is already dead.

- Who threw that stuff away?
- Relatives from America came to Madrid, after all the Modlids were dead, and threw away many photos because there were many copies of each photo.

- Which are your projects for the future?
- I'm preparing a story about my family to let me know if I can exorcise my conviction, which is to repeat what the men in my family did. If with the Modlins I spent three years, maybe I will present this film in Calella in 2020.

- I don't think so...
- I hope so...

- This won't be your first long movie. You directed two previously.
- Yes, the first it was called "The beautician", about a woman who met the Nazi doctor Mengele in a concentration camp. The second film was about the grandfather from the TV show "The Munsters" and it was called "Goodbay, America". My work always plays with memory.

- A short film of your was about Ernest Hemmingway. It was called "Notes on the Other" and also plays with memory, with the present and the past.
- It is a speculation about what could have happened to Hemingway in Pamplona and its relationship to the San Fermin festival. That's where Hemmingway created his character and image.

- This short films explains that Hemmingway was in Pamplona and that from his hotel room he saw a man lying on the ground hit by the bulls. How did you find that hotel room?
- Carlos Muguiro, the scriptwriter of the short, explained me that Hemmingway was in the balcony of the hotel and saw a man run over by bulls on the ground. When I was in Pamplona, ​​I saw that from the balcony you could see no corner. In addition, that year Hemmingway was not on that balcony. Carlos Muguiro, the writer makes a trap, a game. It is the source of my current job. Hemmingway was there another year. Who cares?

- You never know what is true or unreal in his shorts.
- Sure. I try to rebuild and reinvent reality. The result is a sense of reality. The representation of reality is always arbitrary. We try to build realities and play with them.

- You seem very interested in Hemmingway's character...
- Yes, Hemingway committed suicide in the same way he did his father, with a shotgun in his mouth. The movie I'm doing now on my family it is also a bit about that: some things are hereditary. Generations inherit convictions.

- What do you think of the so called Direct Cinema, a subgenre in documentary filming?
- I do not believe in the idea of ​​the fly on the wall, which does not interfere in what it is being recorded. By the time I put a camera, I'm cutting reality, leaving things out. Everything is subjective. The same goes for the supposed "objectivity" of a journalist, who thinks he can reach some truth by contrasting information.

- But you have to try.
- Yes, you have to try, but you have to take what is impossible and what can not be told. The holes and gaps have to be filled with imagination. It is legitimate to do so.

Plot of the awarded short film.

After appearing in the movie "The seed of the Devil" director Roman Polanski, the American actor Elmer Modlin fled with his wife Margaret and his son Nelson to live in Madrid. Margaret was devoted to painting the apocalypse arrives, taking Nelson and Elmer as models. When all died, thirty years later, hundreds of photographs and documents from the intimate family appeared lying on the sidewalk like a puzzle, waiting for someone to imagine a story Modlins.

www.sergiooksman.com

www.youtube.com/watch?v=xY0p1ulbNGk

Profile:

Sergio Oksman was born in Brazil. He studied journalism and cinema. He lives in Madrid, where he Dok Films producer, and professor in the School of Film and Television (ECAM).

Filmography:

La esteticién (2004).
Goodbay, America (2006).
Notes on the Other (2009).
A Story for the Modlins (2012).
El Asesino de Aguas Libres (En postproducción).