A chat with: Daniel Monzon

We met El Nino (read here our review) director Daniel Monzon at one of the Afternoon Tea during the London Film Festival.

Friendly and helpful, we spent in his company 40 pleasant minutes that we now sum up in this interview.

Meanwhile let us congratulate with Monzon and with Jesus Castro (El Nino main character) for the awards obtained as Best Director of the Year and Best Male Newcomer at the Men’s Health Espana Men of the Year night.

Q: “A lot of Spaniard magazines linked your movie, El Nino, to Telecinco successful series El Principe. How do you feel about it?”

M: “People sometimes link things in a very easy way. Because El Nino was written four years ago and El Principe came one year later. El Nino was written before El Principe but they came out at the same time so was easy for people to link them. For me, El Nino is a movie about the problem of the drug dealing in the Gibraltar Strict; El Principe is only about Ceuta. But both their actors (Alex Gonzales in El Principe and Jesus Castro in El Nino) are really awesome, so it’s cool use the excuse for having them both on the magazines covers. El Nino besides, is half a movie and half a documentary about a subject “virgin” on the big screen. We did a lot of research and we talked with the protagonists of this problem: the policemen who are fighting the drug dealers and the drug dealers themselves. We made a movie before El Nino called Cell 211 that was an international success; so when we came to Ceuta to talked to both of the parts, they, thanks to Cell 211, knew we were going to do a movie as real as possible.  And delinquents loved Cell 211 so this was good for us because they wanted to talk to us, to tell us their stories. Everything in El Nino comes from the reality. There is almost….there is no fiction, actually. The fiction comes always from something that appended in the reality, always. Obviously we made it as much as possible attractive for the audience; but everything comes from what they told us: I went on the helicopter with the police, on the speed boats in Gibraltar Strait; I went with them both because I wanted to live everything to make the movie. There are no visual effects and sometimes we had to put the camera in places where even the police is too afraid to come. And we shot there, in very dangerous neighbors and places; we went to the marijuana plantation. And we need to remember we are talking about three countries in few kilometers: we have the United Kingdom with Gibraltar, Spain with Ceuta and Morocco. And obviously we have a strange situation of people strangling together: different religious, very rich people and very poor people…and they live together in a small ribbon of land and sea. El Nino is just one of the stories you can tell about this dangerous but wonderful place.”

Q: “I have to say I discovered this strange situation about this Spanish city, Ceuta, in Morocco where Spaniards and Moroccans are living so close watching El Principe even if I’m from a country really near to Spain. With El Principe and El Nino, a lot of people around the world are discovering about it. Do you think it’s more a Spanish or a Moroccan wish…or maybe both of them are hoping to put their story to world attention?”

M: “This is a really interesting question. Well, I’m Spanish and I read about the all thing in the newspapers or through the news on television; but I’ve never been there before and most of the Spanish people don’t know what it’s happening there..not even the people from the South. This is the reason why we decided to go there and do the movie; for all the people who are living in this really important spot of the world: the gate of Europe, alongside Napoli harbor, in every kind of traffic: drugs, weapons, people,… And they are a big deal for important people who are not interested in stopping it. If you ask in an intimate way to policemen how you can stop this, they answer that the only way is to make it legal, so the business can stop to make some people really rich.”

Q: “Cell 211 was filmed in a really small space. This movie is the opposite. How difficult was for you this change?”

M: “Obviously there were many differences. In Cell 211 the camera was close to the people, let me say, it was with them in this tiny tiny space. This one is the wider space you can imagine. Esthetically they are the opposite but both share research of reality and this naturalistic flavor. In both we talked with the protagonists of the stories. But it’s true, El Nino was something really different and new and for me was really interesting because I want to be challenging every time it’s possible and was a big adventure. But the most important part is the intimate part because you have to keep audience attention so your characters need to be always interesting. So, at the end, both the movies are really similar, this is simple when you have great natural help like in El Nino with these amazing landscapes and this wonderful sea because they are a big part of the ESPECTACULO”.

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