SAN SEBASTIAN — Via their BRBR collective, filmmakers Nacho A. Villar and Luis Rojo have directed award winning music videos, and commercias. Now they’ll make the leap to features with “La Mala Familia,” a gritty urban drama set in the outskirts of Madrid. Variety spoke with the film’s producer, Javi Tasio, who developed this project at ECAM’s Incubator program. It will shoot in the fall.
How would you describe the film?
It’s the story of Andrés, a nervous kid who lives in waiting for the trial of a crime that took place five years ago; though he is not guilty, he could still be sentenced to twelve years in prison.The announcement of the trial brings his friend Nathanael back to the neighborhood, and this friend tries to help Andrés find his way to freedom. His return makes Andrés realize that in order to build a future, he must first face the past, and with it a group of friends, crushed by the judicial process, who must rely on each other like a family.
All this stirs new emotions in Andrés, who can count the days he has left to repair the wounds of the past. He must leave adolescence behind and become a man, though he does not know how.
How would you describe the style?
“La Mala Familia” is an urban drama that follows a group of friends as they pass from youth into adulthood, with the trial as a backdrop that forces them to testify against each other.
We’ve cast our friends, not professional actors. This film is a portrait of them and of us, a photograph of a neighborhood or an attempt at a moral fable. [In that way,] “La Mala Familia” is a fundamental film to understand the present. It maps out a social moment that goes beyond any border and is present globally.
Could you talk about the film’s influences?
What drives our artistic practice, our number one motivator, is life itself and the world around us. We want to offer an honest depiction of our relationships… without referencing the texts of other artists, so we try to look inward rather than outward when it comes to finding ways of narrating that best suit the story we want to tell. Our friends, our family – by blood or by choice – and our own life, in short, is what most affects us and motivates our work.
In the specific case of “La Mala Familia,” it is a fiction inspired by the reality of a group of very close friends. They are the main inspiration of this story. This is a living movie, where reality is always ahead, and the script is re-written in real time. On a formal level, in the collective, we come from a mixed background that combines film school and artistic training, and this is something that will inevitably shape the creation of the work. We consider that a piece of work is complete when a specific line of dialogue builds upon an image to hit us in the gut, “La Mala Familia” aspires to nothing less.
Will this film continue some of the same aesthetic approaches you’ve developed in your commercial/music video work?
In BRBR we reinvent ourselves with each new project. We believe that each idea is unique, and we try to find aesthetic and narrative vehicles for that idea. In that sense, we try to avoid repeating formulas or recipes that have worked for us on other occasions.
Approaching each project from its own point of view gives us flexibility when working in frameworks as different as advertising, music videos or feature film.We understand that our job as creators is not only to produce content and release it to the world – in part, already saturated – but to reflect on how it is produced, question our responsibility and look for new ways to tell stories, which endure beyond trends.
In that sense, style is not something that we intentionally pursue. Style is beyond a conscious intention or a repetitive gesture: style is what remains – the spontaneous, the genuine – and as such, it can only be found later. It cannot be imposed during the ideas phase because that can confuse style with mannerism. Style is born in the succession of works; it is the common position among a whole series of heterogeneous acts.