Noticias Festival
Official Section interviews: Guillermo Polo, director of ‘Lo carga el diablo’

“We’ve all been losers at some point in our lives”


Tristán is a frustrated writer who lives by writing inspiring phrases on sugar packets. His routine life changes the day he agrees, under mysterious circumstances, to transport the frozen body of his troubled brother Simón from Asturias to Benidorm to fulfill his last wish: to be buried in the house where they both grew up. Throughout this journey, the protagonist will find himself involved in bizarre situations in which he will have to deal with very eccentric characters. The humor will arise from the contrast between the surrealism of the context and Tristan’s conformist personality.

Director, screenwriter and producer Guillermo Polo makes his feature film debut in this Iberian road movie starring Antonia San Juan, Manuel de Blas, Pablo Molinero and Mero González.


– The script for ‘Lo Carga el Diablo’ began to take shape a decade ago, and four screenwriters have participated in its development, David Pascual, Guillermo Guerrero and Vicente Peñarrocha. Has the original idea changed much from what we see captured in the film? What have been the development phases of history?

– Yes, I wrote the first treatment of the script in 2011 when I lived in Madrid. Then, it was resting for a year while I lived in the United States and in 2015 David Pascual joined me on the first versions of the script. We were developing the story, the characters and the dialogues. Later, Guillermo Guerrero joined, who has continued until the latest version, and Vicente Peñarocha, who also contributed his experience and perspective. Being an atypical trip, the script has many frameworks and elements, so moving any piece affects many more. The work with the production companies has also served to refine the essentials.

Although the plot thread has been maintained, the story has evolved, just as we have with it. For better and for worse, cinema moves in very long times and gives us many things to think about along the way.


– The movie is populated with losers. Both the protagonists and the secondary characters have traumas, bad luck, murky pasts or secrets that they are reluctant to confess at first. However, everyone, even the villainess or Tristán’s annoying brother, is very human and easy to love. What meaning do you give to being a loser?

– In some description of the film, I commented that we have all been at some point in our lives, or on repeated occasions, that loser that Tristán (and the rest of the characters) represents. It may have happened in truncated job aspirations, in issues of heartbreak, or simply in the search for being in this meaninglessness. And I think that in those situations, where we are most vulnerable, is where we humanize ourselves and interesting things happen. Especially in a society that rewards the opposite. They are characters that are built between the comic and the tragic. I’ve experienced it myself in the prolonged madness of making this film.


– What symbolic function does the character of Álex have in the film as Tristán’s companion? And the dog?

Álex embodies both in his personality and in his generation, a look that does not judge by preconceived ideas but by how he really experiences them. And that is in direct contrast to what defines Tristán, a person loaded with references that define his world and his personality. Likewise, Álex, being a digital native and party lover, seeks constant stimulation and finds it difficult to look inward.

What I like about the meeting between these two characters and their generational leap is how they complement each other with their virtues and shortcomings typical of each one’s origin. And without a doubt, Álex, the dog and Simón, are the reality check that Tristán needs to stop navel-gazing so much.


It is a film with traditional themes and characters, but the photography, the composition of shots and the colors are quite far from the norm in this type of Spanish films. What was your aesthetic approach and what references did you use?

– After that time living in the United States and writing a photography book (“Los Feliz, Los Angeles”) about what caught my attention there, I often asked myself why not transfer that visual language (Edward Hopper, William Eggleston, Mary Fray, Stephen Shore, Wim Wenders…) to Spain, without giving up our authenticity. And when I returned, I observed from another perspective the Spanish landscapes, characters and places in danger of extinction (hostels, gas stations, roadside bars, billboards…) and they transmitted to me the same magnetism from there but with our symbology. We began to visit many places on the peninsula and look for spaces that have given the film the feeling of a special trip. Several of the sites we located were torn down or completely renovated before we could film, so the film is also a document of these 20th century places that we are not being able to preserve.


Is it more difficult to make a comedy work from the creation of situations and characters, compared to doing it through the succession of jokes and gags in the script?

– Just as in the aesthetic and characterization section I felt that we were exploring a direction, a similar thing happened to us in the approach to comedy. Comedy seems difficult to me and, furthermore, when you mention it in Spain, it tends to be pigeonholed into the script gag system and the acting emphasis. And when talking about black or absurd comedy, an unknown world also opens up because each person understands it from a different place. Therefore, by basing ourselves on atypical situations that surround the characters who live them truthfully, it has been a creative challenge and to involve more parties in the project that were tuning into the same language. We have found more Argentine films or from other countries where we can look at ourselves to find our own language.


– Tell me a little about working with Antonia San Juan and her character. In this film you take her out of the comic register for which she has perhaps been best known until now.

Antonia is a brilliant and versatile actress who has been in the world of cinema, theater and television for many years and her involvement in the film has been total. She is capable of giving a very long monologue as well as improvising a scene and providing new details that she feels at the moment. In the series “Hierro” or in the movie “El Hoyo” he also left that best-known register and we found it very interesting for the character of our bully where she can make her uncomfortable, react viscerally or show tenderness with her gestures.


– Can you reveal something about your second feature film?

Yes, for now I will shoot a short at the end of the year that is the seed of this feature film that I am beginning to develop. What I can say for now is that instead of a road movie here the central axis of the project will be a place on the corner of a neighborhood and it will be the characters of the area who come to the place. Plus it will be set in the early 2000s and I’ll have to dig out the photo albums and Mini DV tapes to refresh my memory.