Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival

The colors Pedro Almodovar picks are very hard to show on screen – Jose Luis Alcaine uncovered at the press conference in Bitola

15 September, Bitola – Following yesterday’s opening ceremony of the 40th jubilee edition of the ICFF “Manaki Brothers” with the film Pain and Glory by Pedro Almodovar, a press conference with the cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine was held today.

-He is one of the greatest, not just Spanish, but also world cinematographers. It is really a privilege that you are once again a guest at ICFF “Manaki Brothers”, Blagoja Kunovski Dore, the artistic director of the festival and the selector of the main program, said during the introduction of Alcaine.

Pain and Glory is the new work of Almodovar and as always he works with maestro Alcaine. What is specific about this film is that it is autobiographical, Banderas is the alter ego of Almodovar, and the shooting is in the actual apartment, which was transformed in a studio.

-It is very odd, because before Pain and Glory, I worked on the film Everybody Knows, which was directed by Farhadi. There were 10 main characters. There is usually one with Farhadi, but now there more main characters, so I had eight actors in the frame. I played with a high diaphragm in that film and in that way we achieved a very important depth of the image, so when everybody was in the frame – everybody was in focus. That is the weird thing in modern cinematography, you can have a focus on all the characters on the screen. We didn’t talk too much about the film with Almodovar. We only spoke about two sentences. We found ourselves talking about life over dinner, not talking about the film. We found a good way of collaboration. He was only telling me one sentence. He would only say: “I want focus on the whole screen” and because I had the experience from the shooting of Everybody Knows, I said to him: “Yes, I also think there should be focus on everybody”. Then we only prepared the film about the colors: the colors of the clothes, of the scenography and no more than that, Alcaine told.

For the cinematographer, the film narration is essential to read the film.

-For this, an important thing is the talk between Francois Truffaut and Hitchcock. Hitchcock says that two months before the start of the shoot, he has already shot it, it is all in his head. That must have been true for his films, but the film is constantly changing, it’s a fluid process and it has its life, so it can go one way or the other. And that is why the way Hitchcock thinks is impossible. That is a way of following the order of the shooting script, but I think that it is not the way films should be made. We have to be open to whatever during the shooting, Alcaine said.

According to him, “we can see a lot of films which are beautiful to watch, but the image doesn’t tell the story, it even goes the opposite way of the narration itself”.

Comparing the collaboration with Almodovar in his early years and now, Alcaine said that “there is a great difference because in the past years they have both changed a lot”.

-Both of us have changed a lot and we easily understand each other now than in the beginning, especially when we had disagreements. In the beginning, while we were shooting Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, I almost didn’t speak to Almodovar about the lighting in the film. He left it all to me, but after he would see, he would tell me if it’s good or not and then the problem would come up. The colors Pedro Almodovar picks are very hard to show on screen. We argued about the light which was supposed to show the green color of the cover on which Banderas was sitting. We were mad at each other for more than 16 years and I didn’t work on a film with him. He didn’t look for me, I didn’t look for him, all up to 2004 when Esther Garcia, who is a director of production on all the films of Almodovar, asked me: Did you stop being mad? You won’t mind shooting another film with Pedro? And then I thought that 16 years are enough to stop being mad and we worked together again. We work well together now, Alcaine said.