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Monday, 15 September 2014

Camera Catalonia at Cambridge Film Festival 2014 Part I : Q&A with Mar Coll, director and co-writer of We All Want What's Best For Her (2013)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2014 (28 August to 7 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

15 September

Summary account of a Q&A at Cambridge Film Festival 2014 with Mar Coll, director and co-writer of We All Want What’s Best For Her (Tots volem il millor per a ella) (2013)

* Contains spoilers *

As detail fades already, this is necessarily an impressionistic account of a Q&A that followed the second screening, at Cambridge Film Festival 2014 (#CamFF), of We All Want What’s Best For Her (Tots volem il millor per a ella) (2013) with director and co-writer Mar Coll, and hosted by the curator of Camera Catalonia (for the third year running), Ramon Lamarca, at 1.00 p.m. on Friday 5 September

Next on the blog (the 1,000th posting), a write-up of Q&A2 from @camfilmfest with Mar Coll, director of We All Want What's Best For Her...

The first screening of We All Want What’s Best For Her at Cambridge Film Festival, at 6.15 p.m. on Thursday 4 September, had been a UK premiere and so was also followed by a Q&A*.

Ramon Lamarca and Mar Coll at Festival Central - image courtesy of Tom Catchesides

To judge only by the end of that previous Q&A, this second one maybe gave a little too much weight to the question of Geni’s character (played beautifully by Nora Navas**) being a woman. That said, Ramon has since indicated that, because Birds Eye View is interested in and for exploring issues of gender and society (in relation to film-making), they had been very present in the discussion on Thursday evening – some might therefore be coincidentally interested in the following Tweet :

The reason for asking about Geni’s gender is that the main friend, on whom the film’s handling of the topic of recovery Mar Coll and her co-writer had based the premise, was a man called Eugènio (hence Eugènia, shortened to Geni) – maybe one of those slightly irritating facts that everyone wrongly thinks that they are alone in having heard and then so many people ask about it…

In fact, Mar did not think that it would have made much / any difference for Geni’s character to have stayed as a man (and, unfortunately, the reason that she gave for making the change has not registered mentally). [However, one is – only slightly – reminded of Cambridge Film Festival 2011, and confronting British actor and first-time director Paddy Considine with the possibility of such a reversal in his Tyrannosaur (2011), i.e. the idea of Peter Mullan’s character Joseph switching, say by becoming Josephine, with that of the now-everywhere Olivia Colman, so that we have a battered man (they exist), rather than a battered woman…]

For those who had seen Mar’s film before, this repeat screening was an opportunity to notice that, however ambiguously (and, of course, fully deliberately so) the question of paying the taxi-driver may have been left, we do not see Geni’s wedding ring after when she decided (after a hesitation) to leave it with him as a ransom,: the driver has been mean to her, and could she – on some level – have been acknowledging her husband Dani’s own meanness and have been making a symbolic sacrifice ? (For example, we soon see Dani (Pau Durà) criticizing Geni for stumbling in her speech, not talking in full sentences because she is upset, and how he patronizingly cajoles her, whilst all the time calling her ‘babe’.)

Mar acknowledged the possibility (which another audience member thought might even have been at the subconscious level of a Freudian slip) that parting with the ring is symbolic : as expected in the best of film-making, Mar wants the viewer to conclude what he or she thinks happened before / is happening on screen. (So when, after the Q&A, it was briefly mentioned that maybe Geni senses that Dani is attracted to Geni’s sister Raquel (Àgata Roca***), and perhaps has even been having an affair with her, Mar just agreed about the attraction, and left the rest as a possibility**** (although it is consistent with Dani’s lack of arousal when Geni, feeling close to him, tries to initiate sex on her return home, if he had been with Raquel earlier.))

Portrait of Mar Coll by, and image courtesy of, Tom Catchesides (@TomCatchesides)

As to future projects, Mar tempted us with mention of an exploration that she is doing with a group of film students, working on an adaptation of a Pinter play, and which your correspondent established to be Betrayal. When Mar asked, many of us knew the play, even the Jeremy Irons / Ben Kingsley / Patricia Hodge film (which Mar indicated that she was less keen on), so that sounds something to look forward to…

To come (when time / energies permit) : transcript / write-up of a interview that Mar Coll kindly gave about the film and its main character…

In the meantime, this is a link to a pre-Festival review (written with the kind assistance of Ramon, the producers of the film, and the Festival), which this account of the Q&A, and, in due course, the interview are intended to amplify (as the review had consciously been of a non-spoilery nature)


* At which Tom Catchesides’ (@TomCatchesides’) striking double portrait of Mar and Ramon was taken, when Ramon interviewed Mar (together with Birds Eye View) :

** Whom we had seen before, in the Catalan strand at the Festival in 2012, as the mother in Black Bread (Pa negre) (2010).

*** Whom we also saw during the Catalan strand two years ago, in V.O.S. (2009), and also this year in Camera Catalonia, in the same director’s (Cesc Gay’s) earlier Fiction (Ficció) (2006), which screened at 2.30 p.m. on Saturday 6 September – review to come...

**** At Enric’s – Geni and Raquel’s father’s – lunch-table, we seem to gather that Dani and Raquel knew / shared with each other at university, which strengthens the parallel drawn in the review with that wonderful predecessor Hannah and Her Sisters (1986).

Mar was pleased with that link, and also with having spotted the design influence of Allen’s earlier, neglected drama Interiors (1978) (for making which he had to endure such criticism, even abuse, because it was a drama, not comedy :

A style of film to which, after Match Point (2005) and Cassandra’s Dream (2007) (a review that, implausibly, has more than 10,000 page-views on the blog…), he has only fully returned to great acclaim, in Blue Jasmine (2013).)

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

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