The scene is nocturnal and fatal, but in it the points of light shine. They are emitted by the sirens of the ambulances, which turn with apparent uncontrol, added to the iridescent reflections of the isothermal blankets that cover the backs of dozens of extras, scattered throughout the road of a wide Parisian boulevard. Director Isaki Lacuesta has summoned them to make them survivors of a mock attack, although so realistic that it immediately unearths endless repressed memories of that tragic night: that of November 13, 2015, when the Islamic State attacked the audience. of a concert in the Bataclan hall, in which 130 people died. It is one of the sequences that concludes, after eight weeks, the filming of One year, one night, new project of the director of Double steps and Between two waters, which ended this week in different locations in Paris and Normandy.
The movie is inspired by the book Peace, love and death metal (Tusquets), fictionalized testimony of Ramón González, a Bataclan survivor from La Mancha, who was 30 years old at the time of the events. Lacuesta discovered it when producer Ramón Campos (behind such successful series as Velvet, Great Hotel O Farina) proposed to take him to the movies. He acknowledges that his first reaction was rejection. “It gave me respect to address the issue,” admits Lacuesta. After a dinner in Paris with the author and his partner, he changed his mind. “She, who has always remained silent and has not wanted to be treated as a victim, related things that not even Ramón knew,” she recalls. “I was interested in how difficult it is to share an experience like that. Not even two people who have lived it together experience it the same way. That broke the stereotype of the victim community. In reality, each person is a world ”, affirms the director.
González was also reluctant to see his life on the big screen, but gave his thumbs up when he knew who would be behind the camera. “When I found out it was Isaki, it reassured me a lot. I knew that it would be someone who was going to treat the subject seriously, first, and in an artistic way, which was almost the most important thing, “says the author of the book, confined to a French village in the Cévennes, by phone.
The film tells the story of Ramón and Céline, a fictional and French version of the writer’s couple (actually, they are Argentine), who manage to escape from the Bataclan, although when they leave they are no longer the same. Through constant time jumps, Lacuesta will alternate the story of the night of the attack itself with his difficult digestion throughout the following year. One year, one night It is the largest project facing Lacuesta, with a budget of six million euros, well above his previous films, which barely exceeded one million. A change of scale that does not scare you. “Creatively, I have met with total respect. The only danger was dealing with such a delicate matter, “says the director, who faced certain misgivings. “They asked me what a Spaniard was doing talking about a French topic. Actually, I don’t think it belongs to a country or a homeland, because it concerns us all. In the 2016 Nice attack, for example, people of 52 nationalities died, ”he says. “I won’t be able to prevent someone from being offended, but it is a film made with and by the victims and survivors.”
Exterior, day. Three days later, the team rolls in el parque Buttes-Chaumont, the steepest in Paris, green lung northeast of the capital where, on a radiant spring morning, fans of the footing. The sequence is lighter. The protagonists, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, the Argentine actor from 120 beats per minute, and the French Noémie Merlant, whom Lacuesta discovered in the lesbian period film Portrait of a woman on fireThey try to stand upright on in-line skates. “During the whole movie, he leans on her, but here it will be the other way around, because she doesn’t know how to skate. Metaphors work when they play standing on the ground ”, Lacuesta says between takes. The cast is completed by Quim Gutiérrez, Natalia de Molina, Enric Auquer, and the musician C. Tangana, who plays the protagonist’s brother. “I have followed him for a long time and wanted to film him. I fell in love with his talent, ”says Lacuesta. They were introduced by Refree, who signs the film’s soundtrack.
Without documentary eagerness
Despite the fidelity of his recreation, Lacuesta insists that his cinema has no documentary desire. “It is a mistake that I will carry all my life. If one day I direct a delivery of Jurassic World, they will say that it is a documentary of animals ”, ironizes. “What I’m looking for is the feeling of truth, trying to make a sentence not seem written. But this is a fictional film, with a script and with actors, inspired by real events that I have transfigured in order to have a dramatic arc typical of a fictional story ”. Even so, he was extremely cautious. “We have been very respectful and I have received a lot of advice. I have consulted experts on the racial issue, because the film, like the book, will speak of the survivors’ fear of becoming anti-Muslim. Also with the judicial police and health workers. Some extras in the film worked the same night, ”says Lacuesta, who did not hesitate to ask them to correct anything that did not conform to reality.
“In Paris, the memory lives on, because everyone knows a victim. There is not a wound on the Rambla. In the Bataclan, yes there is “
Instead, shooting on the actual scene of the slaughter was never one of his aspirations. “It didn’t cross our minds. From the beginning we decided to reproduce the Bataclan on another site. It would have been borderline obscene. ” The exteriors of the hall will be real, retouched in post-production to adapt them to the appearance of the facade in 2015, but the interiors of the concert were shot in the Apolo hall in Barcelona. “We visited a dozen places and it was, by volume, the one that resembled it the most.” Later, Lacuesta discovered that it must be the next stage on the tour for Eagles of Death Metal, the band that was playing at the Bataclan that night. The group will not participate in the film, but they have yielded one of their songs for a crucial scene. “It was like attending the concert that was not done, the impossible concert,” says Lacuesta. González himself, who has not returned to the room from which he managed to escape in 2015, decided to participate in the filming of that scene. He appeared in the same clothes as on the day of the attack. “It will sound very poetic, but it was only because I haven’t bought rock clothes for years. I went with the same shirt and T-shirt because the rest of my wardrobe has become more formal, ”jokes the writer.
The filming, divided between Barcelona and Paris, allowed Lacuesta to compare how each society has faced the aftermath of its respective attacks. “In Paris, the memory is still very much alive, perhaps because everyone knows a victim, among whom there were many young people from the city. In Barcelona, the majority were tourists and the page was turned very quickly. There is not a wound on the Rambla. At the Bataclan, on the other hand, there is ”, the filmmaker responds. This co-production with France should be ready for the first half of 2022, perhaps targeting the big international festivals. Is Cannes in the spotlight? “We’ll see what festivals exist then …”, Lacuesta dodges, ready for the next shot.