Today we bring you an atypical article, since we are going to talk about a full movie, and not just on the part related to its music as it would be usual.
Last Thursday, Asier G. Senarriaga attended the press conference to present the film 70 BinLadens by the Basque director Koldo Serra, shot entirely in Bilbao, and he leaves us this article for SoundTrackFest where he talks about the movie, about its music, and his impressions of the pre-release, all seasoned up with an interview with Koldo Serra where he highlights the importance of music in his movies and his collaborations with Fernando Velázquez, adding also interviews with the rest of the cast members (Emma Suarez, Nathalie Poza, Daniel Pérez Prada, and Juan Viadas).
On March 7, 2019, exactly one year after starting filming in the neighborhood of Santutxu in Bilbao, the pre-release of 70 BinLadens, a film by the Vizcaya director Koldo Serra, took place in Bilbao. The place, the Azkuna Zentroa, introduced by the Fant (Fantastic Film Festival of Bilbao) that will celebrate its 25th edition from May 2 to May 11, 2019, which invited us to cover the presentation of the film, to attend the press conference with the cast and crew of the movie, and gave us the opportunity to interview several of its members, sharing their opinions about the production.
Let’s indicate before continuing that a Binladen commonly refers to a bill of 500 euros, one of those bills that nobody has seen but that everyone knows they exist. The film, an old style heist thriller, shot with a firm pulse and crescendo nerve by a Koldo Serra at the controls of the project, is a clockwork mechanism and a fantastic work with a superb script, which makes the audience vibrate, taking us into a roller coaster of feelings and emotions, giving us half a dozen, at least, of memorable and committed performances, which elevate the film to the category of an instant classic of the genre, and one of the first movies to be very much considered for next year’s awards season.
The script written by Javier Félix Echániz, Asier Guerricaechevarría and Juan Antonio Gil Bengoa, demonstrates the love of these young writers for the cinema, with winks to classics ranging from Pelham 1,2,3 to Dog Day Afternoon, Jackie Brown or the wonderful The Usual Suspects, in a continuous and vibrant parade of twists, surprises, and revelations, that make the spectator get involved and follow with passion the evolutions of the story, or even laugh with the calculated full blows of humor.
However, as we already anticipated, where the film reaches greatness is in the impressive work of its cast, where we find from a captivating Emma Suarez, with such magnetism and interpretive force that it will be one of those creations for which this wonderful actress will be remembered in the future, to a fascinating and tremendous Nathalie Poza in a role that many actors would kill to find sometime in their careers, and that she defends with sensational conviction and charisma, of an animal wounded by life, and very very dangerous, together with a Hugo Silva, Daniel Pérez Prada, Bárbara Goenaga and Juan Viadas, outstanding and unforgettable, with a fantastic staging and rhythm, which are a real joy to discover and taste.
After the press pass of the film, the Fant team escorted us to the place where the press conference would take place, and that you can enjoy in its integrity here:
There, a joyful Koldo Serra, Emma Suarez, Nathalie Poza, Hugo Silva, Daniel Pérez Prada, Bárbara Goenaga and Juan Viadas, shared their experiences, their love of the city of Bilbao by an Emma Suarez delighted to return many months after the filming was over, or jokes about filming and Santutxu‘s neighbors who were charming and hospitable at all times. This included anecdotes such as the fake ATM prepared for the movie that people tried to use to get money, or how Hugo Silva was constantly called by the fans to come out of his trailer, told with spice and fun by Koldo Serra, or even the curious theories about the significance of the number seven in the film and in the script, in which the artists themselves had never even thought of.
My contribution was to tell them how grateful I was for having been “cheated” by the evolution of the script, not having foreseen any of its twists, and how sometimes the audience loses opportunities of enjoyment looking to guess next steps, instead of getting carried away and when they guess some surprise, they feel disappointed, when it should not be like that. This comment was appreciated by the creators of the film, as well as my particular view on the structure of the script based on character-duos, which was corroborated by all the actors and Koldo himself, recognizing that perhaps they had not been aware of it, despite being like that.
Also acknowledged by the public and press there, was the work of the 7-year-old girl who participates in several essential scenes with great self-confidence and a brilliant work, pointing out the director that at the premiere, the young actress had only attended the prologue of the film to watch herself and then had to abandon the screening, as she could not see the parts not suitable for minors, not having the occasion to watch the end of the film yet, where she participates again. A woman in the audience insisted that they should let her see the final part of the film, insisting so much, that Emma Suarez herself promised to confirm this aspect.
The press conference lasted about 40 minutes, which passed in a second, after which we moved to the interview area and waited our turn with the team. Thanks to the management and kindness of Irma Cerro from the press office of the Festival, we were given the opportunity to interview several of the actors and Koldo Serra himself, with whom we discussed among other things the musical approach and his collaboration with the Basque composer Fernando Velázquez throughout his career.
The truth is that it was a real luxury to find a person so eager to share information and a vision about his career and about the project like Koldo, when suddenly the individual interview was transformed into a joint interview, when Emma Suarez appeared. A joy of replies and counter-replies between two artists who coincided wonderfully, to the point of completing each other’s sentences and vice versa, in total harmony in their ideas about cinema and their work in 70 Binladens, till the point of being both eager to be in another joint project, to work together again as soon as possible.
With Koldo we talked about his collaboration with Fernando Velázquez from his beginnings with the short films Amor de Madre (1999) and El Tren de la Bruja (2003), until his subsequent cinematographic experiences, each one very different from the next, starting with The Backwoods (2006), with an atavistic score and very little music, and the employment of the txalaparta (Basque folk instrument) to specify the location and at the same time providing an earthy path to the narration.
We also talked about Gernika (2016), with a score of classical drama and symphonic grandeur, and choirs in the style of the great Hollywood classic films, of brilliant preciosity and emotion, and a film that on this occasion, uses a lot of music.
And we ended with 70s Funky, with the jazz trends and the melodic and instrumental ideas of classic composers like Lalo Schifrin, David Shire or Michael Small for films like Bullit, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Night Moves or Dirty Harry, and applying the rhythms, cadences and structure of these compositions to the creation of 70 BinLadens, but without updating that style, just returning to the spirit of those works of the past, with the particular touch of the great Basque composer, Fernando Velázquez.
In the movie we can find the rhythms of the drums, bass, very careful percussion, Rhodes keyboards, and brass section, reminding us of these classic works, but also perfectly defining this universe of petty thieves, polices of different generations, the game of intelligences and subtleties, and above all, manipulation and lies, many and very credible lies.
The police parts are defined by jazz, rhythms, and funk, which sticks to the skin of negotiators and assault forces, snipers, and Ertzainas (Basque police) as a second skin, while the main “leitmotif” goes to the character of Emma Suarez and accompanies her, defining at all times her inner strength and intelligence, maybe somehow… murky?
We really look forward to the CD edition of the score, which will come out fortunately soon from the hand of Quartet Records (find more), to taste again this world full of wounded and dangerous animals, and many, many subterfuges full of intelligence and risk.
Emma listened to us fascinated, praising our memory to remember all the titles cited as a reference and our mental agility to bring them at such a speed, in a curious analogy with the speed of thought and intelligence of the character that the actress embodies in the film, and about which we proceeded to ask her. The actress pointed out how happy she had been to meet such a complex and difficult character, in a register that she had not faced until now, and that she always felt supported by her director to feel safe at every turn of the road. She pointed out in a curious way that when she asked Koldo Serra about what he had seen in her previous jobs to offer her the role, he answered that nothing in particular, that he was looking for something totally new and different for her. That immediately convinced her to accept the role.
As an inspiration for the preparation of the character, Koldo asked her to watch a series of films to understand what he was going to ask and enter the character. With my question of whether those films could be made public, Koldo pointed out that of course, and we ended up talking about Jackie Brown, and the character of Pam Grier, a seemingly weak woman that everyone takes advantage of, but which shows that she is the most intelligent of all at the end. Or for example The Usual Suspects and how the character of Raquel Crespo is a kind of Verbal Kint, while Daniel Pérez Prada symbolizes David Kujan in that film, with the first one playing at various levels with everyone, with the plot that involves the 75 bills of 500 she needs to get out of the terrible situation in which she finds herself, situation for which the cast also watched Spike Lee’s film, Inside Man.
An extremely pleasant talk that gave way to the meeting with three other members of the team, for our second and last joint interview of the day.
A very kind Nathalie broke the ice by initiating the conversation to tell us about a phrase that Manuel Martín Cuenca taught her and that fascinated her: “You want to be forbidden to be free”, referring to the guidelines need to achieve the desired interpretation on the part of the director, and the burden sometimes felt by the actors if they are given too much freedom and few or no indications: “The confidence in the director must be total, and that way you feel sheltered at all times; there is the basis to build a character and do a good or a great job”.
Juan Viadas told us the experience of a choral cast and the perspective of a supporting actor, how the generosity of the cast makes the work of everyone shine, and how to rely on the strength of the script and the director’s advice, and starting from that base, give the right touch to each scene, without deviating from the lines of dialogue, respecting points and commas, and only improvise if the director hopes to find gold there and asks for it.
We point out to Daniel the magnificent entrance he has on stage explaining the character only through his presence and corporal expression, before even saying his first sentence, making us understand that this is a character perhaps tired by his work, which faces an extremely dangerous situation for the first time, physically and for his career, beyond the indicated in script. He is grateful for our words and clarifies that he understands what we want to say, but that perhaps it is not exactly fatigue, but trying to master a situation in which he sees himself for the first time, and that he has to lead efficiently, despite his insecurity, where he trusts in his knowledge, but he is not sure one hundred percent of the next step, that is why sometimes he is wrong.
Nathalie also tells us about her interpretation with Emma, and how her wounded animal character perceives her, and how she seeks to take advantage of what she has to offer. To dominate and take advantage of others or to be dominated, that is the key. Juan also offers us his perspective on his culminating moment in the film and the dramatic turn that affects his character, before which we indicate that it is one of the big moments of the film, and he is directly responsible, of how we feel, to convey that moment and impact to the viewers.
To end the interview, we talked about the extra contributions to the script that the actors added during shooting, such as calling the shotgun “the puppy”, Nathalie‘s character’s finding, pointing fingers between Daniel and Kándido Uranga, which causes the hilarity in the audience, emphasizing a sentence twice instead of a single one, or when naming the “extreme mus”, idea of Daniel and also cause of laughter among the audience.
And the end comes and we say goodbye letting them know that, even though it is not a film to score 10 points, a masterpiece, they have achieved a clear distinction, first class entertainment, and that the spectator’s fun is guaranteed thanks to the brilliance of their work. Finally, we wish the cast the greatest success at the box office and we hope that many of them will be present in the awards season next year, when Nathalie gives us an effusive “thank you for all your love”, Juan says that if it comes true he will call us, and Daniel asks us between smiles to tweet that “immediately”.
In short, a great film and absolutely recommended one. Go to the nearest movie theater while the movie is still being screened, you will have a great time without a doubt, being a precious experience having shared these moments of promotion with their artistic cast.
See you soon.
Article and interviews by Asier G. Senarriaga