"What is your understanding of what happens at death? What have you really understood about life? Where do you stand politically?"
The woman firing these questions at me in the marble lobby of a very stylish Barcelona hotel has an impossibly small waist. I think it’s the first time I have seen anyone whose waist you could, really, span with two hands. I should have admired her questions as well as her tiny middle, and said that of course I have no answers: I had nine years of exploring, 100 hours of film, distilled into 73 minutes to create a journey for an audience that brings them close to death, to grief, to fear, to letting go, and back to hope, to sensuality, to pleasure and to life. A shared experience of the sort that can hold contradictions, and is as rooted in the emotions, images, sounds, as in words.
I should have talked about story, about how it is these difficult, unanswerable questions that drive us to make narrative. To explore, with images and sounds, with odd juxtapositions and unexpected events, the things that are so hard to define in words. So that we can communicate with an audience who, like us, wants to experience, whose emotions are as real to them as their thoughts. How this can produce some sort of answer. A meaning that accumulates throughout a film. I like the exchange in Godard’s Eloge de l’Amour: “It’s strange how things take on meaning when the story ends.” To which his lover replies, “It’s because that’s when history begins.”
Anyway, I said none of this, but tried earnestly to come up with conclusions in two sentences, explaining, explaining, until I gave up. And off she swept, heels tap tapping on the marble, with her handsome, melancholy interpreter, who turned to me apologetically and said well it’s difficult, existential three way discussion.
Showing my film, subtitled in Catalan, in an hour cannot be as hard as that.