With Out in the Open, Benito Zambrano (Seville, 1965) once again speaks to us of violence, as in his popular Alone (1999), and of the disasters of war, as he already did in The Sleeping Voice (2011). This time it’s through a child (Jaime López) who runs away from an abusive foreman (Luis Callejo), and who find help and understanding in a shepherd (Luis Tosar). The filmmaker breaks down the keys to this rural drama with a message that is now released.
How many times have you been asked if Out in the Open is a kind of western?
Many! When writing the script based on the novel by Jesús Carrasco, one thing we never said was; “Let’s do a western”. But the film does have many western touches, but introduced in a natural and organic way: the landscape, the general shots, the sun, the homeland … Geography is another protagonist. It’s a western that goes from darkness to light, and that moves between Good and Evil. And it has quintessentially western characters: a boy and a man on the run, and some bad guys who’re chasing them.
The story is set in Andalusia after World War II. Could it be set anywhere else and today and still be as affective?
In present-day Spain, if a child is abused they can go to the police. In other places, maybe it’s not so easy. Out in the Open deals with eternal issues, such as hate. Human beings have a monster inside that’s terrible when it’s released. Another current topic? Clashes between people who think differently. It’s that idea of “you’re either with me or against me”.
When was the last time you saw Alone? What did you think of it?
Well, the truth is that I haven’t seen it for a long time, because I began suffering when I saw things I didn’t like about it. I see its shortcomings right away! Surprisingly, it also contains many themes that remain current and, unfortunately, have not gone out of style: loneliness of the elderly or abuse. But there’s a positive side to it as well; the birth of new family structures. Now, this has evolved towards families made up of, for example, a lesbian or gay couple. Fortunately, the concept of family has changed.
You released the mini-series Padre Courage in 2002, at a time unlike the current boom in national television series and productions. Do you think you’d enjoy that same freedom in 2019?
I haven’t had any further TV experience after Padre Courage, that is, I don’t know what things are like now. At that time, I was lucky to be able to make the series I wanted to make. The producers didn’t change one iota from the script, nor did they interfere in the editing. I’d like to be able to do that again, to tell a story over five or six hours. The miniseries is a truly beautiful format. I’d also like to shoot a comedy, but not just any old comedy, one that contributes something fresh. For me, the most important thing is avoid being boring or causing indifference. If, in addition to entertained audiences you can also move them or stir up something inside their minds… then that’s wonderful!
Your next project is the adaptation of Cristina Campos’ novel Pan de limón con semillas de amapola (Planeta). It’s a return to the to the world of women, that of Alone or The Sleeping Voice.
The thing is we’re still not seeing that many stories with women leads and cinema has to represent a society in which women already occupy many important positions. We’ve made progress in this area, but there’s still a long way to go. Almost every year, actresses at the Oscars complain that they don’t earn the same as their male counterparts and that there aren’t as many good roles available.