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Eloy Enciso, your film Longa noite deals with the 30-year Franco dictatorship through some emblematic characters: how did you choose the literary texts on which the dialogues and situations of this choral film are based?
My first idea was to find a sole text as a starting point for the script. I was looking for something about how a totalitarian system affects common people’s lives. I started diving into the literature written in exile and I discovered the works by Seoane, Valenzuela, Aub... These texts are the base for the first chapter, where the film portrays the different social layers of the time through some recognizable archetypes. A second part of the process consisted in reading memoirs from those who lost the war but stayed in the country. They lived those years in silence, but, once Franco died, they were able to publish their memories. The last source of texts came from real letters from prisoners who were in jail or concentration camps in Galicia during the 40s. These letters communicate with all their potential what was my main interest: trying to express through plain language the fight and contradictions between the individual and an authoritarian system, which does everything in its power to mitigate any kind of dissent; both political and human.
The acting has already been the basis of your previous film. How do you choose the people to work with?
I visited amateur theatre groups all over the province to find the actors. I prefer the protagonist of my films not to be experienced in cinema. Also, because I think the best cinema is always a celebration of human fragility: Pasolini, Buñuel, Straub-Huillet... There’s a significant, transcendent outcome when someone is not completely sure, when we are doing something we care for the first or like the first time, out of our comfort zone. Despite some differences, I followed all of them through the same routine of one or two sessions per week for months and the rigidity of the proposed text, our search for rhythm and musicality in the spoken dialogues and the way they should be performed: not to just speak or recite or dramatize lines, but to embody them.
In the final part, the film is transformed from a conceptual experience to a material one, from political cinema to cosmic cinema. Why did you introduce the natural landscape in such a strong way?
This film takes place in a historical moment, and because the production couldn’t afford complicated set design, I assumed a comprehensive natural landscape: nature is past, present and future at the same time, and if there is a thesis for this film, I would say it’s not far from this idea. Furthermore, Galician and Spanish landscapes are full of silenced stories of resistance. Sadly, you don’t need to dig that deep to find vestiges and stories that can help us to understand our present and its problems.