Although an early career, Elena Martín is synonym of future. Two projects come support this affirmation : Las amigas de Ágata where she played the main character, and her first features as director Julia Ist. Two projects which allowed her to appear as a spanish cinema’s hope.
Let’s start from the beginning. From where your vocation for cinema comes ?
I was already following lessons at the theater school when I was a child in due to I did not like others extra-scholar activities, so my mom put me in there. From this point, interpretation always be a part of my life as a necessity, I could not live without – and this is still the case nowadays ! To play on stage is for me a way of meeting with myself and this is a very good tool to work on your emotions. About cinema in itself, I could not say where it started, but my parents are moviegoers. I liked spend time with them, gathered around the 7th art.
Just as well Las amigas de Ágata as Julia Ist, they are two projects which intervened at the end of your formation at the Pompeu Fabra University. How do they feed you there to make some much talent ?
(Laugh) I think to do a formation on a public university rather than in a cinema school – where it is more squared – I could meet professors who allow you to enter in their world and they teach you they way of thinking. Thus, a critical mind can develop until your courses’ end. I had tutors as Elias León Siminiani, Mar Coll, Isaki Lacuesta or Javier Rebollo and they have a real importance in my development thanks to this freedom without forgetting giving their teacher’s opinion.
While you were studying , you were part of Las amigas de Ágata‘s cast. What does this feature mean ?
It was the first time I had a so much important role and so the first time I had opportunity to develop my character in a long-view, especially with a narrative arc so though, complex. I learned a lot because you have to get used t the camera and in which environment you evolve in order to act in a full consciousness of what you provide to the scene, control yourself to be freer. In due to we shot a lot for Las amigas de Ágata, I could lost my fear of the camera, what is to say to have it so close and to be recorded during so much time. I could develop a more natural play, I really learned a lot from this experience.
And from there you’ve been to your first feature direction : Julias Ist. How did this project emerge ?
When we were shooting Las amigas de Ágata, my friends and I had the idea to make a movie about our Erasmus experience. So when we finished the film shooting we concretely started the script writing. We were still at the university, with those tutors I told you about, what fed our approach. We provided a movie of 50 minutes and then we continued to shoot, working on the script again and again… And so for three years.
In Julia Ist you are director, actor and screenwriter. How all those aspects could interact together ? If they did…
They even fight each other ! (Laugh). During the process, interpreting and directing part had a lot of problems because I could see what it had been shot and I blamed myself and I was not satisfied. Also, I was hungry against my directing part because I could not provide all the necessary time to look atthe shots and improve them.
Then during edition, I had inner struggles about the scenario. We had to work again on a consequent part especially in due to scenario was not satisfying. So indeed I knew difficult moments.
Some critics said Julias Ist has a bittersweet look on Erasmus generation. For you, is the movie in correspondence with this analyze ? What your generation has in particular ?
Our intention was to explain how really had been our Erasmus, in comparison with how we imagined it. We had the sensation that, even if our generation appears to be well prepared by our language skills essentially, our Erasmus was not how we imagined it. And not only us but also many people we met. The fact that we were 21 and so we were not the adults we thought but more teenagers who were looking for themselves. From this feeling, we would realize a portrait of the generation we belong too.
Until now you just played characters who are close from your age or your own experience. What are the benefits ?
Well I think it allow me to feel legitimate to explain story because in a way you deal about yourself with the risk to be criticized. On the other hand, to deal about yourself, or about a so close person, do not let you to take a step back to properly analyse and so to do your self-critic is not easy. But you also have lot of argues to explain in details because you lived it !
As you as your friends of Las amigas de Ágata, you are recognized by many to be the new Spanish indie cinema. Do you recognize yourself in this appellation ?
I see I am starting to know people and I take every appellation as a compliment. However, to call me a director whereas I just directed one movie seems funny (laugh) I don’t know… “New Spanish indie cinema” ? If it means new movies directed by independents authors, so yes we can say I belong to this group.
Lastly and more than never, debate about feminine lacks opportunities to make movie in Spain in present. Do you feel with your generation some barriers are broken ?
I would like to believe in, yes. In my case for example, and in that of others from las amigas de Ágata, it is a little bit different because we did not have to pass through industry to start. We did not have this filter. So it is not a victory in itself. Of course, it show we have determination and things to say, but no opportunity in particular had been provided to us. We did it and then it has been known. But yes it is true many features directed by women receive positive critics, they have an interesting look, and I believe people have to win to watch this type of movies, of sensibility – if there is one specific. I believe that, yes, things are going to change.
Cinema Jove gives you the price Future of Cinema. Recognizance arriving generally at the end of a career whereas you are just staring. What does it mean for you ?
(Laugh) When Carlos [Madrid, Cinema Jove’s president] called me, I firstly though to a joke and still today I can’t believe it. At any time I though he could change his mind. It is a really important source of motivation for me to see that people are interested in what I am doing. At the same time, it is a little bit scary because I think about ” and what about if after it is not the same ?” But I really try to focus on my current work without making me too many illusions.
Let’s speak about your future : how do you see it in a few years ? Without putting precise dates, which goal would you like to raise ?
The truth is, I don’t know ! I like to tell stories, creativity which could emerge among a team. I prefer not to impose myself any goals because they can disturb me on what I am currently doing. I like to travel too. And I would not get away from theater. So I am thinking about doing some theater abroad, to do some residences, go to some festivals… Doing this for cinema too. I am currently wondering a lot about acting in other languages. About directing, I would like to find a good story to tell. I am wondering a lot about this. I don’t know, I want to continue what I am doing, but I always want to push into my limit.