The Barcelona director Juanjo Gimenez (b.1963) came to the fore for the short film Timecode (2016), which won the Goya and the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, among other awards, and an Oscar nomination. He has made six others, such as Rodilla (2009) or Ascenso (2020), and the long documentary Esquivar y paste (2010) with Adán Aliaga. Now his fantasy film Three (2021) has won the Méliès de Oro Award at the Sitges Festival.
“It comes from two different places that we converged,” the filmmaker tells us. “One is that I really like sound post-production. I am not a professional but I have worked a lot making some short and some long even in the studio and, when you spend twelve or fourteen hours there and then go out, there’s a kind of feeling that the real world has a soundtrack and that it is as if you were listening to real life with layers, the environments … ”
“There is usually no music, but sometimes there is also”, continues Juanjo Giménez, “or your colleagues talk to you and you doubt if they are in sync or not. Paranoia reaches that point and, with that little idea, you ask yourself: “What if …?” And that’s the movie ”. But, “speaking with colleagues who are professionals, they have explained to him that this is not his thing, but something very common.”
“At sets both in your sound designer role that later are unable to abstractte“, recognize. “You are analyzing the world in that key, and that can be a problem but it can also have the creative point and start making a movie and spending three years of your life trying to build something like that.” In addition, “there is another issue, and that is that they wanted to make one that had a fantastic component.”
The evolution of the story of ‘Tres’ and its possibilities
“In the first version, [Tres] it was the typical example of a film in which nobody pays attention to the madman who says that the world is going to implode ”, explains Juanjo Giménez. “Then it mutated; and not just once, but many times, because we quickly came to the conclusion that delay was a very powerful idea but needed special care; tWe had to establish very strict rules for that delay. For example: is it permanent or does it come in attacks? Does it progress or is it constant? Does it affect slowly or over time? All those questions that we asked ourselves are answered in the film ”.
“We had to go through all that process of defining it because opens such possibilities of paths that it is impossible to cover them all. Well, same with five Breaking Bad-style seasons [Vince Gilligan, 2008-2013] we can get there and, if someone proposes them to me, I’ll do them, huh? ”, he jokes. But they had to choose, and he “believes that the key decision, the one that greatly marked the film, is to associate that delay or that desynchrony with a character, make it part of himself. That marked the entire development of the writing and of the film itself. It was a before and an after”.
The origin of a superheroine
“Perhaps this film is a bit far from that standard about seeing a fantasy genre, because it enters the best in a very intimate or traditional way, in which you are treating the characters from you to you,” continues Juanjo Giménez. “Before they used to tell Marta [Nieto] what is a movie that starts as one of the [Hermanos] Dardenne [Rosetta, El niño] and ends as Spider-Man [Sam Raimi, 2002], and I will sign this for you ”.
But it is possible “to transgress much more comfortably than if you stick to pure and simple reality.” And the Catalan director is not new to this: “He has made many shorts and let’s say that thirty percent have that fantastic touch. I mean, what do you like [el género], it moves well ”. He loves comics, too, “and this it’s a movie like number one superhero. And, when he is a fan of one and his origin is not very explained, he is intrigued ”and wants to know him. And, in Tres, they practically expose “the origin of a superheroine.”
‘Tres’, a film in the hands of actress Marta Nieto
“Martha [Nieto] it’s the movie”, Declares Juanjo Giménez. “At the moment we chose her as the protagonist, we were in her hands because the character has her in his in such a way that he lives through her. As in all movies, but in this one, there is this sensory dilemma for which we had no references that made things quite special ”.
And “she saw from the first moment that the thing was going to work because she contributed things that even the script only pointed and that later, in the filming or in the work with her, they have been emerging. Even some sequences were improvised by “the man from Barcelona” or they developed them together, so she got involved in an incredible way “.
“When you shoot a fictional movie like Tres, in which the rules are so strict and everything is so detailed, it is difficult to get out of that planning,” admits Juanjo Giménez. “But even so, I can tell you that there are three sequences that emerged on the set. The movie was alive and I insisted on it too. Making it live is a mission of the director, not to do something dead from the start, and to be aware of how to make it grow until the last moment, even after filming ”.
The cinematographic references of Juanjo Giménez
“The street law [Francis Ford Coppola, 1983] it is a happy exception because it came to me at the right time. Although there are other Coppola films that I really like, such as The Conversation . I love it Jim Jarmusch, an absolute reference; you see Dawn by Law  you’re twenty years old and you think: “Damn! Can you do this in movies?” and it blows your brain. And another director who is now very forgotten and who in his day marked me a lot is Harley thing [Trust, Henry Fool], and I was going to watch his movies with devotion ”.
Juanjo Giménez also mentions Luis Bunuel, author of The Forgotten (1950) or Viridiana (1961), al Victor Erice from The Spirit of the Beehive (1973) and The South (1983), a Aki Kaurismaki, with The Girl from the Match Factory (1990) or Passing Clouds (1996), already John Carpenter: “Flipo with The Thing ”, He confesses.
“And, of people who make films now I really like Chema Garcia Ibarra [Espíritu sagrado], because he is my colleague and I think he makes a spectacular cinema. We were talking about whether our film is original, but Chema’s films are not original, they are something else beyond, three towns beyond original ”. And he ends: “I give you this example because sometimes you say:« John Ford, Buster Keaton … »But Chema García Ibarra is also valid”.