• Flash Competition



Mario Sanz

Ten Minutes to Midnight asks the question: how do you meet other people? Like an invitation to rediscover Levinas’ ideas, the film traces a path towards a face, the revelation of the infinite and the home of the whole of humanity. Text card: a gentle, manly voice addresses a man named Pascal in the voice-over. The delivery is hesitant. The words stumble and stutter in broken German. Out of the density of the mumbled words, bodies emerge, drawn out from the darkness by fragments electrified in beams of blue light. They dance. The camera then picks out the various different bodies and faces that make up the RambaZamba Theater troupe. Some display the distinctive features of Down’s syndrome. One shot dwells on the face of a young boy who we see experiencing ticks and the extreme mobility of his features indicative of disability. The film thus presents an enigma : Whose voice is expressing the fragile lament in the voice-over? Is it the young boy’s? The voice tells us that Pascal, to whom the words are dedicated, has left the theatre company and is a musician. Bluish smoke rises up from a concert venue, as the young boy’s handsome face and muscular body emerge in a musical epiphany. Ringing in our ears is the heavy, deep sound of 21 DownBeat, his band. We realise that this is Pascal, to whom Mario Sanz is speaking. This belies the film’s delicate tour de force: the director has entangled Pascal’s presence with his own voice, in the raw precariousness of the stumbling delivery. In the course of moving performances, Mario Sanz turns the portrait on its head, gracefully reversing its movement. The director, resigned to the fact that he will never see his protagonist again, turns his disappearance into a philosophical and sensory experience. A remarkable, poetic lesson on the gaze – Ten Minutes to Midnight restores its subject to the complete enigma of otherness and allows us to come face-to-face with this original encounter with the irrevocable “Other like a face”, who always eludes us. (Claire Lasolle)
(Claire Lasolle) Mario Sanz

Interview with Mario Sanz

Your film revolves around the figure of Pascal. Where did you meet him? Where did this film project come from?

It all started in December 2017, after attending a concert performed by the electronic music band 21 Downbeat, a project of the Berlin-based company RambaZamba Theater. There I met Pascal Kunze: singer of the band and actor of the company. After that meeting I started filming with them intuitively in different contexts, focusing on Pascal, curious to meet him, with the idea of working on a feature film project together. Simultaneously, I was developing the project during my stay at the film school Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola.

You interweave your images with a text spoken off the record, which is like a letter to a loved one who has disappeared. Is the disappearance of your character a fictional spring? Can you tell us about the writing of the film and the stages of shooting?

Two years ago, while I was working on the development of the feature film, I was told that Pascal had left the theater company for no apparent reason, and no one has heard from him since. I had been working for a long time in a particular direction, and this news shook the whole process. However, thanks to my own disorientation, the short film was born. Rereading what I had written and digging through the material I had shot, I felt that the film had to be geared towards the person who had made it impossible for me to do what I had originally intended to do. It is from there that I began to confront myself in a search to build a film with the documentary material I had already shot; trying to move towards fiction in the fog, in order to create a tale with a mysterious tone

Why did you choose to say it in German and in this stumbling way?

During the shooting, Pascal didn’t speak Spanish or English, and I didn’t speak German. My tools to communicate were a camera and a microphone. After we met and before he left the company, I started to study German to be able to talk to him. In the film, thus, I approach Pascal in his language. If he ever watches it and listens to me, I would like him to understand me.

The film initially organizes a confusion about the identification of its characters: who is speaking, who is in the picture. How did you work on the editing?

Editing the film, I realized that confronting the figure of Pascal meant confronting myself. He is a recipient and a mirror at the same time. The film begins and you don’t know exactly who is speaking and who appears in the image, and it is as it progresses that you discover and identify the mathematics behind things and their characters.

On several occasions you replace the ambient sound with a muffled sound that sounds like the creaking of a boat. How did you conceive the soundtrack?

This film was born from sound, from the music of 21 Downbeat at that concert. It’s something that moved me from the beginning. I try to dedicate as much time to sound as to the image, or even more, and use it as a tool to help me question my subjective perspective of reality. Therefore, I worked for several months with Xabier Erkizia and Martin Scaglia on the aural universe of this film. While I was editing, I had been working in parallel as an editor on a large exhibition about the first circumnavigation of the Earth by ship. On a wall I read a quote that raised the question: “Is the ship a microcosm?” I instinctively related the idea of the ship to Rambazamba, imagining the brick building that hosts the theater company as a ship in the middle of Berlin. I transfer this feeling, this idea to the film through the soundtrack and its dynamics, thinking about the out-of-field and what we don’t see but hear. Obviously, when you listen to the film you don’t necessarily perceive this, but what you do perceive as a spectator is a specific tone and atmosphere. How does Rambazamba sound?

Unlike a portrait which intends to deliver the image of its subject, the mystery around Pascal thickens. What were your intentions regarding the question of the portrait?

The film doesn’t solve anything because I still have the same curiosity and the same questions I had in the beginning. The process of making the film has been a work of self-knowledge and imagination, rather than the discovery of his person. Sometimes, it is better not to reveal the mystery.

The title refers to the world of the fairy tale, of Cinderella who transforms and disappears at midnight. Where does it come from and what is its meaning for you?

It’s nice that it reminds you of that fairy tale, this came to my mind too! In the final sequence, when Pascal drops the watch on the floor, I feel that the object, being his, also becomes a protagonist. Pascal started talking about it with enthusiasm – I didn’t understand anything – « Ten minutes to midnight and it will be the last time we see each other »: playfully says the voice-over before our farewell. And so, at the end of the film, just before the hands of his watch overlap to mark 00:00, Pascal continues his way back home.

Interview par Claire Lasolle

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Technical sheet

Spain / 2022 / Colour / 17’

Original version : german, spanish
Subtitles : english
Script : Mario Sanz
Photography : Mario Sanz
Editing : Mario Sanz
Music : 21 Downbeat, Xabier Erkizia
Sound : Xabier Erkizia, Martin Scaglia
Avec : Pascal Kunze, Hieu Pham, Leo Solter, Heiko Fechner, Moritz Höhne, Sebastian Urbanski

Production : Mario Sanz (Orna Cine), Luis Cerveró (Terranova).

Filmography : ΕΥΡΩΠΗ, 2016.