• First Film Competition



Tamara Garcia Iglesias

Soap operas have proved rich material for a lot of feminist analyses. The genre is known for being a vehicle for stereotypes in social representations of couples and families. The director makes a shrewd nod to Goenkale, a Basque telenovela, at the heart of the film. Zarata is like the sediment of a serial novel whose reassuring colours have been swapped for depressing black and white, the musical emphasis liquidated, replaced by a sobriety conducive to listening. What’s left is what makes these successful forms so appealing: the long discussions on the phone or in the car, which, here, in a pared-down, fragmentary production, are the setting for secrets, outpourings and the dissection of love’s trials and tribulations. Two actors portray June and Marian, cis straight forty-something single women. Taking the opposite tack from the facile soap opera, the conversational machine is the ideal playground for making explicit – in no uncertain terms – an economy of desire caught in the trap of gender relations and domination. This is a film that resembles a couch that doesn’t shy away from the question of cinematic direction. Not without irony, Tamara Garcia Iglesias superimposes production documents, like a critical background that reveals a certain prescriptive order in the making of movies. But the fact remains that Zarata turns out to be a place where things can shift… although the film opens with a man’s self-confident words cynically laying out the industry’s funding issues in the light of today’s identity politics, it is a woman – perhaps the director’s alter ego – who has the last word.

Claire Lasolle

Zarata combines several sequences, some of which deal with the conditions of filmmaking and seem directly inspired by your own experience. Was this dimension present from the outset of the project? Can you tell us about the different stages in the writing process ? 

Yes, my experience is in the film. I guess our experience is always in the movies we make. You can’t separate life from the movies. The personal is political, and always will be.

There was a first part in which I wrote and described June and Marian, two friends who help each other as best they can, who envy each other as usual, who accompany each other, and how one of them, Marian, uses June’s experience to make a play. That was the beginning. Then I realized that to understand the two of them, it was necessary to see the man they talk about, a totally narcissistic being who makes movies just as he is in his personal life. I realized that this is how the production system is made. I went from the small, from the everyday, to how a system is generated.

2) You use two actresses in a conversational game that is often asynchronous. How did you work on the dialogues with them? Did you improvise during the shoot?  Have you shared any readings ?

I think the hardest thing in the world is to be synchronistic: to know what it feels like at the moment when things happen to you.  I recorded sound scenes, without image, with them.

For me the film was a conversation, in which, you don’t say what you want but what you can. I shared cassavetes, which has a sound that is the product of improvisation and technical deficiencies. But above all, my daily conversations are audios with friends, not conversations, which make the dialogues go a little out of sync.  That and the bad sound. Now I listen to everything with low sound quality. Cell phone, computer. This was super important: noise as low sound quality.

3) The film opens and closes with the figure of the horse. Does it have any particular significance for you or in Basque culture? Why the world of horse racing as the opening sequence?

It’s a way of talking about competition. Of the constant competition that is cinema: the subsidies, winning wips, the festivals.  And that’s also how the movement started: with the study of a horse.  Everything is an optical game. And also because of a personal experience: when I was little I used to go to watch my father train at the racetrack.

4) The film moves back and forth between the Spanish and Basque languages. What is the logic behind the distribution of their use? 

 Well, that’s how life is for me: I go from one language to the other. And I didn’t want to make a film exclusively in Basque because it’s not true in real life. In fact, there is a conversation in which Marian and June can’t find the words in Basque to talk about a sexual practice.  In Euskadi speaking, writing and making films in Basque is a political decision.

5) Why did you choose this sober, serious black and white?

Because it is very theatrical. It’s like me setting up some scenery. The whole film is shot around my house. I write some texts and see what happens. It’s like choosing 2:35, when it’s meant for something much more “beautiful” or for landscapes, and when you talk about small things with very sober places, you have half of the image left over. As if my stories fit in a 4:13 and I insist on making them bigger when I tell them.

Interview by Claire Lasolle

  • First Film Competition
18:305 July 2023Artplexe 2TICKETS
16:456 July 2023Artplexe 1TICKETS
10:007 July 2023Artplexe 2TICKETS

Technical sheet

Spain / 2023 / 62’

Rights holder
Tamara García Iglesias