Young independent filmmaker Raya Martin describes his new film, “Buenas Noches, España,” which will premiere at the Locarno film festival in Switzerland next month, as a “road trip.”
Using a vintage super 8 film camera, he traveled around Spain with two popular European actors, Pilar Lopez de Ayala and Andres Gertrudix.
“It’s my first long film shot outside the country,” Martin explains. “It’s a very exciting step toward discovering more of the world outside, but still asking the same question: Who is the Filipino?”
He says the film revolves around “relationships, drugs, teleportation, death and life.”
Last year, while shuttling between Madrid and the Basque country, the idea hit him.
“I discovered the Juan Luna paintings at the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao and wanted to make something around it,” he relates. “I learned a lot about where Filipino identity could stand on colonial soil.”
It was a very personal journey for him, too.
“It was a lot difficult for me to make a new feature after (friends) Alexis Tioseco and Nika Bohinc died,” he admits. The young film critics were murdered in 2009.
“When this (film) happened, it was the perfect reminder from Alexis about the process of spontaneity and being open to the world outside. The ideas came from trying to live in the now,” says Martin.
While working on his last two films was “claustrophobic,” shooting in Spain, primarily in Bilbao and Durango (near Guernica), proved to be a “refreshing” change of pace for Martin.
“I previously shot a short film called ‘Tales’ in the south of France,” he recounts. “It was a similar process—with friends, carrying a camera and going where the wind blows.”
It allowed him to experience a certain measure of freedom, he says, “because I leave my expectations back home.”
He was merely “visiting friends and trying to live life there.” As a result, “it was easier for me when it was time to pick up the camera. I was already trying to understand their lives. I’ve always hated to come as a tourist … the way other filmmakers come to the Philippines and exoticize our culture.”
Working with the two Spanish actors was a breeze, in spite of (and maybe because of) their fame. (Lopez de Ayala is a Goya winner and makes movies in the art-house circuit and in Hollywood, while Gertrudix appeared in “El Orfanato,” says Martin.)
“It was strange,” he looks back. “It reminded me of famous Filipino actors … being down-to-earth and ‘normal.’ We shot in a small town, with essentially no crew other than the camera. People would recognize the actors who were very approachable. I treated them as good friends, with no special treatment. But now, they’ve become a special part of my life.”
He’s now looking forward to traveling with them again—this time, to Switzerland for the Locarno film fest next month.
He is presenting another film, “Boxing in the Philippine Islands,” and will serve as juror in the Filmmakers of the Present section (where another Filipino film, Vincent Sandoval’s “Señorita,” is competing) in Locarno, now on its 64th edition.
“I’m just really excited to watch the films in the section where I’m in the jury, present my films and hopefully catch up with other film friends from different parts of the world,” he says.
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