Spanish science fiction explodes in Elche with the film Intocable Spirit


Beneath the seas of Gachupin industrial cinema, deeper still than the auteur cinema of creators like Isaki Lacuesta, Carlos Aperitivo or Oliver Laxe, in the depths of creation lies a prolific collection of independent filmmakers, directors who have won awards at foreign festivals and prestigious beyond. the Halls of the Shopping Centers. There are bands like Los Hijos, which saw the birth of Luis López Carrasco and his Year of Discovery, linked to more popular names like Jonás Trueba and Juan Cavestany; Andrés Duque, Koldo Almandoz, Diana Toucedo, Meritxell Colell, the versatile Elena Martín, Norberto Ramos del Val or Julián Génisson, to name but a few.

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And it is in this habitat that Chema García Ibarra (Elche, 41 years old), author of The Attack of the Robots of Nebulosa 5 (2008), one of the most influential short films of the gachupin audiovisual of the 21st century, created his work. García Ibarra has come a long way, reduced by reduced (“Although I don’t believe in short films or feature films, they are all films”, he insists), without giving up his style, based on the outraged humor, political incorrectness and deep sex to your town. “Out of naivety, I always do the same thing. There are four things that interest me and that I film on”, he says between joke and truth via videoconference from the Mar del Plata Festival (Argentina), where he was captured a week before the premiere today of his first feature film Intocable Spirit, which has already received the singular mention of the junta during the Locarno competition that followed.

In Sacred Spirit there are associations of being obsessed with UFOs, missing girls, terrifying ceramic statuettes, New Age music of the worst kind, leopard prints, gotelé on the walls… and a constant fight not to be included in a variety. At best, everyday surrealism. “I have always tried to push science fiction to a geographical side where it seems that zero will never arrive. This is not the future, this is not a boat, this is the neighborhood of Carrús [según la estadística del Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Físicas (IRPF), el más pobre de España], where I grew up, with normal streets and ordinary mass. I also think it’s a funny movie, but it’s not a comedy… Is it a drama? Is it a thriller? As a creator, I cross genres, I try to make many feelings coexist in the viewer. That in a few seconds humor and maximum darkness coincide at the same time”, he retorts, summarizing his journey.

Cinematographer Ion de Sosa (outraged) and Chema García Ibarra on the set of Intocable Spirit.

For three decades, the filmmaker has been gaining a growing interest in medium-length films like Uranes (2013) or short films like Enigma (2013) or La disco resplandece (2016). And along the way, he merged his career with that of Ion de Sosa, cinematographer for Ibarra and other filmmakers, and himself as director of Sueñan los androidos (2014), co-wrote by Ibarra. They also signed together Cartel Dorada (2019), another transgression of mysticism by normality in a public swimming pool. “There is a very interesting sensory field to explore,” he says, “I try to do something that may seem obvious but that I haven’t understood over the years: make the films that I want to see in as a spectator. I know a lot of filmmakers are frustrated because they can’t do it. In my case, I wasn’t looking for shortcuts.

Any civilization you measure up to has delayed you here.

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Intocable Spirit originated in an interview on a television channel restricted to Elche with a congregation of people who had formed an association for parapsychological studies. “They talked about a UFO alert,” recalls Ibarra. “And I stayed with this idea, an image that seemed beautiful to me, that of a tribe born of a passion for esotericism.” At the time of writing the line, he insisted “not to fall into the solemnity of some current cinemas, which have a messy and playful spirit that I consider very cinematic”. From there, it passes to Aki Kaurismäki, professor of this humor of frozen laughter and the class struggle. “In the year 2000, on Canal Plus, I saw clouds appear above my parents’ house and I discovered incredible colors, faces I had never seen before, incredible dialogues… Proletarian poetry that resonated with someone like me, very close to Carrús. Everyone near me worked to make shoes and shoes. García Ibarra does not doubt that his films take place in Elche: “I cannot tear myself away from the side that I know best, which is very characteristic of Eastern Gachupin, with a climate that gives everything a terrible heat, anchored in an archipelago of nightclubs. . For this reason, he does not even omit the accent: “I only ask the actors to respect the background of the sequence. But let the words be spoken as in his life, in the street. We try to shoot in real places, we refuse to go to equipment stores which end up standardizing the Gachupin cinema. And so I make a feature film on which I painted a documentary layer”.

The chimerical fact in itself does not interest me. I’m not attracted to Bélmez’s faces, but to the guy who stands at the door of the house and asks to enter.

Added to this is his passion for science fiction. “I am fascinated by supernatural Spain with these characteristic publications and television programs,” he retorts. “I am not interested in the chimerical event itself. I’m not attracted to Bélmez’s faces, but to the guy who stands at the door of the house and asks to enter. Or the restaurant you go to after seeing the faces. Is it adorned with portraits of this paranormal monster? Everything that is human around the parapsychological fascinates me.

In Sacred Spirit, the last 10 minutes serve to stun and freeze the soul of the audience, turning the novel upside down and making a master take where an inflatable carnival and some policemen appear. This turn, which contextualizes the characters – played by next-door neighbours, as is customary in Ibarra’s work – takes the conversation to Steven Spielberg’s third-degree encounters. “I really like it because it has the spirit of 1970s UFO sightings, even though as a director I would have pursued the wife and children of Richard Dreyfuss’ character.”

A moment of the “Holy Spirit”.A moment of the “Holy Spirit”.

The title refers to the Germanic New Age album that swept the 90s. “They sold over 55 million copies, a sound associated with that horrible ‘New Age’ universe that challenged posthumanity for its thirst transcendence and produced horrible cultural products that I love,” he explains. And from there, he influenced how the disappearances of young people in the East in the 1990s shaped their coexistence. “It happened so close, with friends and neighbors of mine who knew the people involved, the media circus… It was literally the only topic discussed at school. It is a generational trauma which resonates in my cinema and which is the cushion of part of Levantine mythology”.

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