A moody, bewildering mystery about identity


This was the official website of the 2007 film, Yo (Me), a moody, bewildering mystery about identity.
Content is from the site's 2007 archived pages as well as from other outside sources.


Thought provoking and disturbing

********/ 10 IMDb Review: 30 July 2007 | by thegirlwhogotoverit

Yo tells the intriguing story of Hans, who moves from Germany to Mallorca to take up a job as a groundsman on a large estate. Lost (in more ways than one) from the moment he arrives in the small town, Hans struggles against a bleak and somewhat ominous atmosphere from the word go. None of the locals seem interested in his attempts at conversation, and those who do engage with him can't seem to remember his name – which becomes even stranger when one realises that the previous groundsman was also named Hans.


The first Hans was a dominant, somewhat dangerous character, and his shadow hangs heavy over the new Hans as he tries to forge his own place in the community. In a village where names seem to define not just identity but also station, Hans struggles to keep himself distinct from his predecessor in the minds of both the villagers and himself.

A fascinating and disturbing film, Yo has something to say about how circumstance and the opinions of others can come to define us. Well made and making excellent use of light and mis-en-scene (especially reflections, and that door to old Hans' bedroom that can never seem to stay closed), the film's subtle air of menace keeps one on edge even during the most innocuous of scenes.

Alex Brendemuhl as Hans nails his character's gradually escalating confusion and frustration, and brings an endearing dorkiness to Hans, which contrasts nicely with the "ladies man" reputation of the old Hans. Without spoiling the climax, I can say that it poses more questions than it answers; Yo is sure to leave everyone who sees it talking about it for days.


Trailer YO - Rafa Cortes I 2007
Directed by Rafa Cortes.
Critics' Prize at the Intl. Film Festival of ROTTERDAM.

ME (YO), 2007, Fausto Productions, 100 min. First-time director Rafa Cortes makes an impressive debut with this moody, bewildering mystery about identity. Co-writer Alex Brendemuhl stars as Hans, a German handyman who goes to work for a boorish German businessman on the island of Majorca. Hans soon discovers that his employer’s previous hireling was also a German named Hans, a man who was universally reviled in the village. One day he disappeared, leaving all his belongings behind. As the oppressive rainy season on the island gets decidedly gloomier, Hans becomes obsessed with the secret of his predecessor. Was the man murdered? Or perhaps a murderer himself? Are there answers to the puzzle? Or are they only the fevered musings of our vulnerable protagonist, a man who may be coming unglued in a Lynchian universe of interchangeable identities? Winner of the 2007 FIPRESCI Prize at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Introduction to YO (ME) with director Rafa Cortes. 


Yo relevant: My girlfriend is a movie geek. Recently she started to compile films that had won the Breakthrough Film of the Year at Cannes and seeing if they were available for streaming. Yo turned up for 2007. We could try a 7 day free trial of Eurocinema Carte Blanche on Amazon or subscribe for $3.99/month if we wanted to watch it. It turned out she were a number of films that could only be streamed on Eurocinema Carte Blanche, so we ended up subscribing. The film is also available for $34.98 on DVD if you like to actually collect films. My dog Sitsu snuggled up to watch the film with us, slowing inching her way up onto my girlfriend's lap.

Although my girlfriend likes animals, Sitsu can get a bit overwhelming particularly when she insists our pillows on our bed are the perfect place to sleep at night. I have bought several dog beds, but Sitsu has rejected all of them. There has to be a dog bed designed for a dog that loves pillows. So I spent some time doing a search for round dog beds and found an e commerce site called GoodnightDog that sells a round dog bed in designer fabric. Their dog beds look like high end floor pillows. We ordered one and then ordered a second when we saw that Sitsu loved her "bed pillow". WE now can sleep without a dog for a pillow and stream movies in the living room without having a dog in our laps. When friends come over and try to relax on one of our "floor" pillows, Sitsu lets them know that they belong to her, but she's willing to share if the person doesn't mind a dog in their lap.

My take on Yo...it certainly did deserve the accolades that it received. I've recommended it to several friends.


Interview with Rafa Cortes


"I only use the verb to be with Alex Brendemuhl: he's the best actor I've seen in my life."

Since it was presented at the Rotterdam Festival and won the International Critics Award, the 'I' abroad trajectory is being unstoppable. Selected in more than fifty Festivals, including Cannes, where it was distinguished as the Breakthrough Film of the Year, 'I' raises an unusual interest for a debut film, and fills the rooms wherever it goes. In Spain, it has been released with only five copies, but the film industry in this country has already focused on its director, Rafa Cortes, a 33-year-old Mallorcan, author of two short films and several commercials.

About the script

What was the germ of 'I'? 
The first time I spoke with Alex, I already had the idea of ​​the film in my head. The idea came from a seemingly normal German who came to Estellencs, the town where I was vacationing, and ended up self-harming and attacking the neighbors. What I proposed to Alex is that we try to find what could lead someone, in a state of apparent balance, to show that way. It had to be an internal process, in such a way that the story had to be a psychological story, although there were other objective facts that could be interpreted differently. This split between the inner and outer world led us to the style that the film finally has, and that gives the audience the possibility of having their own interpretation.

The script is signed by both you and Alex Brendemuhl, what was your participation in the script? 
It can be said that almost the first word of the script was placed between the two. Since neither of them was a scriptwriter, I proposed that each one work from what we knew how to do, in my case from the direction and in his from the interpretation. What we lacked, we would try to solve it between both. The character of Hans came up very soon. From it, the method of work was very close to improvisation: Alex improvised the parts of Hans and I gave him the replicas of the rest of the characters. What we liked stayed and what we did not, we discarded it. 

How long were you working on the script and how was the creature growing?
We were working on the first version for a year. At first the plot of the bottle emerged, someone who believes he is accused of something he has not done. And we developed it to a point where Hans does something similar to what he ends up doing in the last sequence of the film. We finished a very primitive version of the script, in which the other Hans did not exist, but the script worked. We presented it to a production company that was interested in it, and we tried to lift the project for a year and a half, but in that period it did not get enough strength, and it ended up falling. That the project collapsed was a blow, and then Alex and I separated from him about six months. And I think that for us to trust in the project again, we need to reinvent it. We incorporate new elements to the script, giving it more layers, and interestingly, it is those added elements that have ended up having more strength in the end. What at first was the main plot became an apparent main plot that gave way to the most important, and, structurally, the story has been in a very atypical terrain. It would never have occurred to us to do such a thing in a cold way but it was the very circumstances of the story, and our illusion to carry it out, which led us to reinvent ourselves and reinvent ourselves.

When I saw it, it seemed like a very thought movie. The whole sequence of the bottle seemed to me to be very good for the character, to represent, on the one hand, that Kafkaesque anguish for finding a sense of the uprooting and hostility felt by the rest of the people, and on the other, that fear to be discovered and expelled by the community for something he has not done. That feeling of guilt developed in the first part, is resolved in the second to atone definitively his sin. And yet you say that the film did not have a preconceived thesis.
There are directors who start from a thesis, and build history. In our case it was not like that, we started from a story that we developed in the directions in which we felt comfortable, and from it the thesis arose. At the beginning we had a story with very simple elements that was limited to giving an ironic view of a way of being. By adding more layers, it seems all as much more thought, as you say, as if starting from a thesis. Although that idea was already present from the first plot, it was increased the moment we introduced the vanished Hans, with his enigmatic presence, his strength, something that we have never wanted to define too concretely. In the end, it is logical that this thesis arose, because it is something we believe in and with which I feel very identified.

I have read in some other interview that you were based on Polanski's 'The Chimerical Tenant' to write the script. In what sense and how did you use it to build your history? 
The film began to interest us at the time that the other Hans appeared, since it had a very similar theme and structure. What we did was to see it two or three times, identify the elements that had served Polanski to tell the story, and think what we could take from Estellencs that had the same function. 
When the point came when Polanski's film did not work for us, and we were very misplaced, we asked for help. Mireia Vidal helped us for two weeks when we were very stagnant, and then Michel Gaztambide adjusted some aspects that did not quite fit us.

Michel Gaztambide is one of the greats ... how did you manage to get one of the best writers in Spanish cinema interested in your screenplay? 
Michel's story is quite curious. I met Michel in Valencia. I was invited by an actress friend to a dinner where I did not paint much, and I sat next to a man, invited in turn by a producer, who painted the same as me. We started talking, and after a while we introduced ourselves and it turned out that this man was Michel Gaztambide. We were talking and we liked each other. I told him I had a script on my hands that did not quite fit, and I was lucky that he agreed to help us. When a big one does that, it makes it bigger still. 

And how was the method of working with Michel?
Michel's work could be summarized in a process in which he sent us his notes, we worked on them, we re-sent the script, we received notes again, and so on, until we found the solutions to the problems. But we did not have to touch the structure, the problems were solved on the scenes themselves.


About the actors

I am very struck by the diverse origin of the 'I' actors. On the one hand, there is a professional like Alex, and on the other, actors with an amateur theatrical experience or practically none. Tell me a bit how you configured the cast. 
There are characters that came before even having the script, like Miquelet. I discovered Rafel Ramis in a play by a friend in Can Picafort. I crossed the island to see the work and suddenly I discovered that man, who ran from one side of the stage to the other, with that energy ... I called Alex and said: "We have Miquelet". Since then we wrote thinking about him. In fact, taking advantage of the fact that Rafel was in Barcelona, ​​or that Alex was in Mallorca, we counted on him to write his parts.
Heinz Hoenig is a German actor impossible to get: either you have a lot of money, or a very important project, or if it is not very difficult to have him. Making a simile something absurd, Hoenig would be in Spain a mixture between Bardem and Resines, a very popular character, who has done a lot of television, and very well considered in the cinema. I read an interview with Hoenig that Alex had at home, with a picture of him in a pool showing his muscles, and he looked so much like Tanca, that we wrote his paper a bit thinking about him. And we were lucky that he liked the project.
Then we did a couple of castings, one in Barcelona and the other in Mallorca, to which the whole profession appeared, consecrated theater actors, and people of very different types. The experience was very beautiful. What happened is that we liked very diverse people: on the one hand, actors, and for other people who were not, people who liked how it was but not how it worked. This greatly influenced the time to direct them, because in some cases we rely more on their way of being than their interpretative possibilities. 

So you account for your experiences with Miquelet and Tanca, when it comes to conceiving a character and working with the actor, you have very much in mind as an individual to build the character. How much of Alex is there in Hans?
Alex has a very rich inner world, which makes him have that deep look, and after all, the film reflects our fears, mine and Alex's, but in fact Alex is the opposite of Hans. If Hans is a fearful personage to exist, Alex is very external in his real life, someone who is very similar to his characters, and who is closer to the alpha male than to Hans. While it is true that Hans is the character that has more composition in the film, with the rest we do more for the actor-character. 

With such a heterogeneous cast, how did you direct them so that the whole was organic?
In general, the actors confused them by changing the phrases just at the moment before shooting. The more vague it was in my directions, the more interesting it was that it came out, because if I told them very concrete phrases, they repeated them. You had to find the right point to lose them enough to make it look like they were inventing what they said, and at the same time to say something that made sense. That was the technique and we used it with almost everyone. Characters such as Catalina or Nina did not need so much explanation, I found two actresses who stuck very well what they were and that, therefore, left less space for improvisation. This method allowed actors with a more standard way of working to be more like actors who did not have it.
Except for Alex, no actor read the script, they knew the fairness of the story to compose his character: where they came from and their objective on the scene, but they did not know what they were causing in Alex, who was the only one who knew the story We were counting 

Do you consider key then the amount of information you provide to the actors to direct them? 
For my way of working, yes. I like that the information is contained in the point of view, and I believe that the more information Alex's character has and the more his plot is composed, the more he is overwhelmed by the naturalness and loss of implication of the rest of the characters. This underlines Hans' efforts to look good and try to fit in, in contrast to the rest of the characters. In The legend of the Sevillano, a short film that I made, I already worked with actors who were not and I learned the technique, which allowed me not to be so scared when filming Yo. 

I imagine that this method of work that you used with the actors should have its resonances in other aspects, such as the script or the staging. How was it affected? Did you take as a model the working method of other directors, like Mike Leigh? 
In general I do not like to be inspired by another's work to shoot. I never say "We're going to shoot this scene like he did this in I do not know what movie." What I do is to see the needs of the film, believe me, and from that, to guide. The base in YoIt was very simple, the staging was based on three types of planes: clean planes of Alex, contraplanos with their foreshortening, and some point of view. We would shoot Alex's foreshortenings with the other actor first, because we knew he was going to improvise. Alex, who could not see his lips, tried to make a foreshortened reply, and to get what we wanted out of him. Once we had filmed that, which usually lasted a cojón and often did not serve more than 40%, we sat down to study what could be good of all that. When we decided what we were going to use, then we wrote Alex's replicas. And those yes that had to be respected scrupulously, because otherwise, the editor would cut my throat. Of Alex we only rolled one side, either the left one, or the right one, depending on what we would like to suggest.

About Alex Brendemuhl


How did you meet Alex Brendemuhl? 
I met Alex during the filming of A Bank in the Park, and it was at the San Sebastian Festival, where we presented the film, when I took the opportunity to present the project. At the time, Alex did not have much work, and could get involved from the beginning. 

Do you think his presence in the project helped lift him?
Yes and no. It is clear that I would not exist without Alex, and not just because of his participation in the script. Alex has his unconditional inside a certain type of cinema, but still has no weight for the industry of this country. But that is changing. I think he is going to kick the stomach of Spanish cinema when suddenly, and it will not take long, he will be caught for a big international project. Then many will throw their hands to their heads and say, how come I did not take it? 

Alex already played an extraordinary role in 'Las horas del día', and it is a pity the little diffusion in Spain that 'Yo' is having, because he does such a brutal job that should be recognized, without doubts, as the best actor of his generation.

Alex is now with Me strolling through half the world, and is receiving the most amazing reviews I've ever heard. I hate the verb 'to be', I only use it with Alex: he is the best actor I have ever seen in my life. What Alex does in I seems supernatural to me, from going out of himself and speaking like a German from Saxony, and then transposing him into the Castilian that speaks, with the grammatical mistakes that a German from Saxony would make, but in such a way that it remains understandable for the viewer, up to the containment and ambiguity that the character requires. I would talk hours about him. He has a great technical ability, and is able to suggest where to walk to simplify the work of the director of photography. In spite of all the limits and constraints that he had taxes, he was able to delve into the little space he had left, because he is already a very content actor. Many times, he was so subtle that he had to say, "Spend a little, you've eaten all of you". Many people who have seen the film think it is a German actor, but Alex is not German, he is Catalan and he has had to do a great job to make it so real. Not only with the accent, but with the way of dressing. Any German would know what part he is, just by looking at the clothes he is wearing. If he were a little coarser, he would have been recognized for what he is, but since he does not seem to act, it will be difficult for him to get the Goya. He is Catalan and has had to do a great job to make it so real. Not only with the accent, but with the way of dressing. Any German would know what part he is, just by looking at the clothes he is wearing. If he were a little coarser, he would have been recognized for what he is, but since he does not seem to act, it will be difficult for him to get the Goya. He is Catalan and has had to do a great job to make it so real. Not only with the accent, but with the way of dressing. Any German would know what part he is, just by looking at the clothes he is wearing. If he were a little coarser, he would have been recognized for what he is, but since he does not seem to act, it will be difficult for him to get the Goya.

Did Alex have any participation in the actors' direction?
Alex was a help with the actors at the moment when I was improvising with actors who did not know what the story was about and he was the only actor who, not only knew what he was doing, but also was a co-writer. Many times I was about to enter to give some indication when Alex had already redirected him. Anyway, Alex broke up very soon, and I think with great intelligence, of his condition as a scriptwriter, because we needed the rest of the actors not to see him as someone who was above them, who judged them and who had some weight in the shoot. We saw that very quickly and it was Alex himself who suggested that if we had to deal with some aspect of the script, we did it apart from the rest of the team. I was the one who worked more with the actors.


About production

When did the 'I' project start? 
We tracked all the producers in Madrid and Barcelona, ​​until we found Ramón Vidal, from Fausto. The project finally started when we received the subsidy from the Ministry of Culture. It was small, € 86,000, but it was our engine, because as a result of it, we received the ICIC in Catalonia and another from Mallorca for the participation of La Periferica. Then, EscAndalo Films, the producer of ESCAC, joined us and contributed material and humankind so that we could definitely start shooting with just over € 300,000. We started very battle, but in the end, thanks to the co-production of TV3, everyone earned a decent salary. Some were colleagues outside the ESCAC, with whom I had previously worked. The editor, the art director, and the musician already knew them. Óscar KaAiser, who seems to me a genius, He is a guy who also commits himself to death, and when I said, I want a piano music, which is already the hardest because it cuts in, Oscar went right into it. Oriol, the art director is also a great air freshener, andI was not a film as much of construction as of setting, because although it does not look like it, there is a lot of work in the sets. The house of Hans was more or less well when we arrived and all the decrepitude that is seen is his work, and the bar, was no longer a bar, but the hall of those who had been the owners. As ex-students of the ESCAC, the director of production, the sound engineer and the director of photography, David Valldeperez, joined, and although it might seem an imposition, I must say that I was allowed to choose previously, and that I am very happy with the work what did you do. In that sense, I have to admit that I was very lucky.

The staging is one of the aspects with a more defined identity, and that you can see from the plans of the initial credits. How did you establish the link with David Valldeperez to get him the idea that you had of the movie?
With David I talked a lot, discussing about each location, the most appropriate way to propose the staging. That there were no general plans, it was clear from the beginning. The rest was appearing as we spoke, and when things were clear, we kept the ideas we applied and discarded everything else. The truth is that, with David, from the moment we specified, there was very little talk. His rapport with Alex was perfect. In sequence plans, for example in which Alex is going to leave the bottle, which goes down, goes up, calls from the cabin, goes down again, enters, that were rolled with camera in hand, in reality it was they who did everything . I just gave a few indications, "always at the same distance, and on the same side", and suddenly you realized that everything you could impose, was coming out alone. If you set two or three clear things, it is the people themselves who end up doing what you have in your head. In the background is finding a point of balance in which the team has some guidelines, and at the same time a space for their creativity, so that everyone does what I want, without saying anything. It's a bit of a contradiction, but rolling is a kind of passive dictator.

Did the low budget force you to shoot in digital video?
Due to circumstances of the producers, we had to choose to shoot in 35 mm or in HDV. With the budget we had, and taking into account the method of work that I was going to use with the actors, which involved shooting many shots, the 35 was unfeasible. With Rafel Ramis, Manel Barceló or María Lanau we got to do up to sixteen takes, because we needed to lead them to that state where they felt completely lost, but not enough that they did not control, and I must thank them for allowing me to work like that. We chose HDV, but with 35mm optics since we were clear that later we would like kinescopar. I believe that with 35 mm, a different film would have appeared, very stiff. The only problem with digital video is that it has very little latitude, and then you eat blacks,

Did you make shooting easier using digital video instead of film, to simplify aspects such as lighting or the assembly of camera equipment? 
We did not want to make a Dogma movie. The concept that David had was the same as it would have been if we had shot in movies, and the film is lit with the same criteria, with the only difference that the light truck we used was smaller. 

Did you have the possibility to assemble what you were rolling to verify that it was viable to assemble the plans of Alex and his contraplanos?
Up to a month and a half after finishing shooting I could not see the first material captured. Anyway, it was not my idea to do it, I was very focused on the shoot and very convinced. I do not know if it will give intuition, or have worked as an assistant director, but when we finished a shot, I knew whether we had it or not. 

Did the reduced budget also affect the shooting schedule? 
We had six weeks of shooting, a privilege. If I had had a million euros more, I would not have asked for more days of shooting. I had very clear what I wanted to do and, in almost all the assembled sequences, in the end we used all the shots that we shot.

Abroad, the film is having incredible acceptance, and in fact, it has become the revelation of the year. On the other hand, in Spain, it has been released with only five copies, although the reception by the critics has been generally fantastic. What are you blaming this big discrepancy?
I am a film aimed at a universal audience. In this sense, it is not made ad hoc for the Spanish public, unlike most Spanish films. Honestly, I absolutely do not care how cinema is made here so that it works in Spain. If this film is called to work not only in Spain, it is fortunate, after all. On the other hand, the industry has welcomed the film very well. I think they see me as a geek who has made a martian, but who can do other things, and I guess they will want me to do those other things.

About the identity

One of the things that caught my attention was the role that the community plays in determining Hans's identity, since it is not seen as an enemy of the individual, responsible for their alienation and uprooting, but as the answer to that search for identity. Hans knows who he is at the moment he finds his place in the world. Does this conception reappear in your new movie? 
I do not know if the conclusion will go that far. The new film talks about the existence of several personalities in the same individual, but it is not concluded in that way, although it may end up appearing. It's happening a bit like with Yo, in which Alex and I knew we wanted to tell a story but we did not know which one. At the moment I have a written synopsis, but I still have not clear the speech. 

When I saw Yo, I must admit that one of the reasons why I was excited is because it deals with the issue of identity. We live in a time in which the absolute values ​​that contributed religion, or political movements, have collapsed and have been replaced by a relativism that morally equates all options. Today's society has nowhere to hold on to configure its own identity, and in that sense I believe that your cinema is very contemporary.
I consider myself a militant of relativism. Sometimes I find it difficult to position myself, define myself, and define people, because I want to see relativists like me in them. But deep down there is a component of criticism and irony about that, because although I personally feel that way, I admit that there is a problem in which we have nothing to hold on to. A problem or a reality that makes us very definable and very manageable. 


With a theme as clear as identity, both in your shorts and your first length, your next project goes back to delve into it?
My new project also starts from a personal experience, and connects with the feeling I had when I left Mallorca. In that moment I realized that everything I had lived, or told or did not count. For a long time, now not so much, every time I returned to Mallorca, I became another person, not so much because I behaved differently, but because I had changed my point of view: about myself, about people ... And from there arose the story of someone who from a moment of his life becomes two people. Does that split that occurred when leaving Mallorca do not make you feel like a foreigner wherever you go?

Yes, in part yes, although since I returned to Mallorca to shoot, this feeling is normalizing a bit, and a kind of cushion is being created that puts me in a slightly less strange situation. But it is true that I have always felt a little foreign at home. It can be said that I am a permanent exile.



Rafa Cortes presents 'Yo', a film that reflects on the value given to identity

04/07/2007 | https://www.elmundo.es/

  • The film has had a very low budget of 500,000 euros
  • The actors involved in the film are mostly non-professionals

The director, together with actors Alex Brendemuhl and Aina de Cos.

The director, together with actors Alex Brendemuhl and Aina de Cos. (Photo: EFE)


MADRID .- Mallorcan filmmaker Rafa Cortes has collected awards at festivals such as Cannes, Rotterdam and Malaga with his first film, 'Yo', which opens this weekend and which, with a script that co-writes with its protagonist, Alex Brendemuhl , reflects on "how it is not so interesting to be oneself".

Cortes has worked for several years as an assistant director in both film and advertising. Before directing his first feature film he made two short films: 'How to be Federico FernAndez' and 'La leyenda del Sevillano'.

In 'I' has had an approximate budget of 500,000 euros, quite reduced, and has opted to "give prominence to what usually has no weight in a movie." The actor Alex Brendemuhl explains as a summary of the film that "sometimes happiness is not in oneself, maybe someone else is happier",

In all the scenes the personage of Hans appears, a young German person who feels "as if it had arrived at a party to which it has not been invited", when it arrives at the Mallorcan town of Estellencs, where the population shows its indifference and which still weighs the absence of a former inhabitant , his name and nationality.

With a cast of mostly non-professional actors , but with the absolute prominence of Brendemuhl - who works with an East German accent - the film is based on a personal experience of the director himself in that same town, where he attended the erruption of a German neighbor who had cut off his arms in full festivities of the town.

Aware of the risk of the project, Alex Brendemuhl and Rafa Cortes - who met during the filming of 'A bank in the park' - have had the script saved for five years, since, according to the actor, the producers asked them, " Who are you so that I try to get money for this movie? "

Finally, the film could be shot, although with a semiprofessional camera with optics to improve the image that eliminated "the dictatorship of money and the fear of shitting it".Already finished, he has toured several festivals in which he has won several awards such as the Film of Revelation of the Year in the International Critics' Week of the Cannes Film Festival and a special mention of the jury in the Spanish Film Festival of Malaga.

The kind of cinema developed by 'Yo' makes its creators do not hide the "difficult to fit the film" on the billboards, but also claimed that "the public is a bit smarter and more sensitive than you usually think."

Apart from the commercial results, Brendemuhl and Cortes did not rule out the possibility of prolonging their collaboration in a future project, although, "following the spirit of the film, being yourself seems very boring, so we will try to do something totally different "



Alex Brendemohl and Rafa Cortes

Screenwriter and director talk about the award-winning Yo, who arrives tomorrow at our billboards

JUAN SARDA | 07/05/2007

From me to us. Rafa Cortes and Alex Brendemohl premiere their film, Special Mention of the Jury at the Malaga Festival, Fipresci Award for the Best Opera Prima award at the last Cannes Film Festival and selected at 40 festivals around the world. Both wrote the script together, then change roles and stand behind the camera and Brendemohl in the skin of the omnipresent protagonist. It is an atypical film that reflects the world as seen by a "man without attributes". Carlos F. Heredero contributes critical analysis.

Seldom have you seen a newcomer director and a seasoned actor writing a movie together: Me.A project that supposes a breath of fresh air in the Spanish cinema since it never looks for the complicit wink of the spectator but it explores a new way, very linked to the European author cinema with some elements of fantastic thriller, that gives rise to the film most incalissable Spanish of the year. It portrays the wandering of an omnipresent little-known character, Hans, a German worker who comes to a small town in Mallorca pursuing a new life. However, his plans are frustrated since the problem does not lie in the context he intends to leave behind (which is never explained) but in his own lunatic and paranoid character. From this premise, Rafa Cortes and Alex Brendemohl have made a film that aims to reflect the disconnection between our individual perception of the world and its own truth. He does it through some turbulent images, although the action is minimal, in which the gradual mental deterioration of the protagonist (who feels accused by a robbery that nobody makes him responsible) collides continuously with an environment that observes him between the indifference and the pity. In this way, the authors give new life to the myth of Pygmalion, according to which reality tends to become what we previously see in it. The Cultural brought together Cortes and Brendemohl in Madrid to analyze the film, as well as delving into its original creative process. the authors give new life to the Pygmalion myth, according to which reality tends to become what we previously see in it. The Cultural brought together Cortes and Brendemohl in Madrid to analyze the film, as well as delving into its original creative process. the authors give new life to the Pygmalion myth, according to which reality tends to become what we previously see in it. The Cultural brought together Cortes and Brendemohl in Madrid to analyze the film, as well as delving into its original creative process.

- Let's start with the end. In the penultimate and best scene of the film we see the protagonist, Hans, on the verge of delirium reciting the famous Catalan tongue twister "Setze jutges en un jutjat" at a popular party. 
- Alex Brendemohl:
 Without saying anything concrete, the subtext is: "I am here and I want you to see me and respect me". It is a manifesto. In the end, it does not matter what he says. It is a blow on the table where he wants to make public, before as many people as possible, his obsession that they are accusing him when he knows he is innocent. 
-Rafa Cortes: That cry has to do with the need we all have to be loved. If he had said something concrete, related to the plot, that atavistic character would have been lost. It has to do with an imprecise emotion.
- The scene takes place during the "massacre of the pig", a popular Mallorcan festival. Although it's funny because we never see the dying animal. Are you looking for some kind of symbolism? 
- AB: That party has very strong sensory components. The story required a popular court in which Hans could confront society, gathered in one place, to be able to unleash their fears and catharsis. 
- RC:It symbolizes how the past dies and a new horizon is born. The sacrificed animal is not seen because it would have been too obvious. We always wanted to run away from the most trite solutions. Neither do we recreate ourselves in the landscape of Mallorca nor do we demonstrate sterile virtuosity with the camera. What interested us was to portray the faces of the characters, delve into their psychological relationships. 

Small concessions 
- Right after that scene, almost violent, comes the calm with a conclusive sequence that is perhaps the most idyllic of the entire film in which we see a perfectly normal, even cheerful Hans. 
- RC: It
 was a way to balance the impact of that moment. What we wanted to say is that in the end he achieves a certain happiness while being very far from himself.
- AB: Advertising, television or even philosophy bombard you with the idea that one must be "authentic". The character lives the inverse process, decides not to be himself and there finds peace. Which brings us to the essential question posed by the plot: Who am I? I believe that an amorphous entity that consists of many things and that reacts according to each situation and each place. 
- We sense the weight of a dark past that the protagonist struggles to leave behind. 
- AB: It's tragic irony. Wherever you go you always drag your past, you can not start from scratch. Even if you want to run away from yourself, you will end up finding it. 
- RC:It is on the one hand what you drag and on the other, the concessions that you must make to fit in one place. It creates a kind of schizophrenia. The film is a metaphor about what we all have to do every day to be in society and how those papers can end up appropriating you. 
- The plot turns seemingly irrelevant facts into a great tragedy ... 
- AB: In a situation of personal crisis the scale of values ​​is blurred, everything has the same value. 
- RC: When you are in a place that you do not control, the most insignificant thing can destroy your way, anything can irremediably destabilize you. There were stronger elements that could have been the crux, but we wanted to give importance to details.
- There is also a reflection on the feeling of guilt. 
- AB: Guilt is an ancestral feeling. Not only because of the Judeo-Christian heritage, because it is a primordial fault. For example, you enter the supermarket, you carry money in your pocket and when you go to pay you show the bag so that the cashier you have stolen does not think, when nobody is accusing you. They are very absurd attitudes. Because the one who steals does it with impudence. 
- RC: They are fears that society imposes on us. Let's see the terror of terrorism. If we analyze coldly the very low probability of being victims of an attack we would be much more relaxed. But we can not. 

Suggest, do not show 
IIt is a very difficult movie to classify. It is author's cinema in a very clear way, but it can not be said that this label corresponds to any genre. 
- - RC: We flee from gender approaches. That does not mean that we did not take different codes to renounce them as we were building the project. In this way, there are elements of thriller, comedy or even at times we can talk about social drama. The boxes make everything more understandable but at the same time they force you to repeat schemes. The cinema is beginning to look like itself many years ago. Our intention was that the film should resemble life and not other movies. And life has no gender.
- The film takes place in a village in Mallorca and that reference is never hidden. However, it is a very universal story. 
- AB: - The film is located a very recognizable town that, on the other hand, could be extrapolated to any other in the world. In addition we find a series of very archetypal characters: the cruel and manipulative buffoon, the factual estates, the authority, the girl, the imposter or the evil boss. 
- RC:When you have the base you have to nourish it with elements of the place. If a table comes out, you have to look for the wood in the tree next to you and if you play cards, better if it is the game that is styled in that place. That also helps us not to be too vague. I see an analogy with Barceló's paintings, which seem abastrating but never lose the connection with a very recognizable reality. You had to find a balance. You do not have to be very intellectual to see the movie but it does awaken those mechanisms in a lot of people. 
- It is curious that it is a film about a psyche, at least, tortured but we do not see unfocused images or scenes of urine or fantasy. There is no subjective camera either. 
- RC:If the character has a nightmare we want to show how he has it, not how that nightmare is, so that each viewer can deduce different reasons. That's much richer, that's life. In the cinema there are many people who dictate what the spectator has to feel, or that explains what the character thinks. We have not articulated all the sentences with their adjectives. 
- AB: It's about provoking something in the viewer. The cinema has to invite reflection, to extrapolate to your own life what you see and find the references that connect with it. You must give freedom to interpret things your way. 
- How has the process of working together been? 
- RC:When I met Alex, I thought he was the perfect actor and I proposed that he work with the idea of ​​a man who manages to get angry with an entire community that has never had anything against him. It is a story that had been told to me and that was very surprising because the Mallorcan people are closed but not conflictive. From here, we build the character through him. We were two people who wrote a script based on the sensitivity of an actor and a director. I gave him the reply as if it were one of the secondary ones and he reacted. 
- AB: When we started filming we stopped being co-scriptwriters to be him the director and I, actor.




Rafa Cortes premieres 'Yo' in New York, where he seeks support for his next film

The Mallorcan filmmaker will present his award-winning film in the show 'Spanish Cinema Now' at Lincoln Center


JONAS CLIMENT / 12/04/2007

The Mallorcan filmmaker Rafa Cortes will participate with his film Yo in the Spanish cinema exhibition Spanish Cinema Now , which will be held from December 8 to 11 at Lincoln Center in New York. The feature film, which was filmed entirely in Mallorca, will thus see its premiere in the United States.

The film by Cortes will be accompanied by 17 other Spanish films that represent a selection of the best Spanish cinema of 2007. Among them, they are Caótica Ana by Julio Medem; Teresa, the body of Christ of Ray Loriga; Seven tables of French billiards, by Gracia Querejeta, and Mataharis by Icíar Bollaín.

The director recognizes that, after all the awards received by Yo , "it's no longer so surprising that they select me, but it's still exciting to participate in this show in New York." Before each screening Rafa Cortes will present his film and, afterwards, he will participate in a colloquium with the audience.

The Mallorcan filmmaker believes that the film can receive a good reception among New Yorkers because "it is not a Spanish, but tells a universal story that can be received worldwide." In addition, he considered that "in New York there is something special because, as most people are from outside the city, they can understand the desire of the protagonist, a foreigner who wants to adapt."

Cortes recalled that he had to make an effort to integrate himself in the Big Apple during his time as a student at the New York Film Academy, an institution he will visit during his stay in the city, although, this time, not as a student, but to offer a master class on his film. "I'm excited because you see that they are fulfilling stages," he reflected.

In addition, the director revealed that he will take advantage of his visit to the US to meet with some entities that are interested in considering support for his next film project, whose script is being prepared together with Jordi GalcerAn, author of the well-known work The Gronholm Method . In this sense, Cortes trusts that his product can be attractive because "it has a North American protagonist, parts would be shot in New York and has an international vocation."

However, Rafa Cortes recalled that his dream and goal is still to roll on his land. «I have received tempting offers from Hollywood. They told me they could put me a chalet and that I would not have to worry about money, but I prefer to shoot in Barcelona and Balears, "he explained. Although he points out that there are certain aspects that need to be improved: "Mallorca has a lot of people that are worth it, but we have to take away the complexes. We do not believe that we have something to contribute to the world, in addition to beaches and ensaimadas ». For this reason, he believes it would be good not to base the economy solely on tourism and learn from the American communication model where, as the cinema is its most important industry after the arms race, it shows that "through art and culture you can get economic objectives ».

Rafa Cortes also announced some of the new awards received by Yo at festivals: best debut in Albacete; best director in Tudela; best script at the Festival de La Palma; special mention of the Jury in Bergen (Norway) and best actor, for Alex Brendemuhl, in Toulousse (France). It should also be remembered that the film previously won three prestigious awards: the critics' prize at the Rotterdam international festival, the special mention of the jury at the Spanish film festival in Malaga and the film at the Cannes Film Festival.



Rafa Cortes

Born in Palma de Mallorca in 1973. Director and screenwriter educated in Barcelona and New York. His first feature film "Yo" (Me) has received numerous awards, among them the Revelation of the Year Award at the Cannes Film Festival, the FIPRESCI at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam and the Gran Prix at the Annecy Bienial. He has also shot campaigns for such brands as IKEA, McDonald's, La Quiniela and PhotoEspaña, and has won several awards such as the Golden Sol at the San Sebastian Advertising Festival, the Effectiveness Grand Prix granted by the Spanish Advertisers Association and the "Excellence in Advertising" Award at the Reina Sofia Modern Art Museum in Spain.

He is also the director of some of the referential music videos by Delafe y las Flores Azules and the "This is the Name" series, a microfilms project based on people's names, soon to be release online. Obsessed with giving the highest degree of plausibility to his images, his films don’t look like fiction and his commercials don’t look like advertising.