Director Found Non-Actors to Complement Star Javier Bardem in 'Biutiful'

Issue 56A - Golden Globes Preview: Javier Bardem in Biutiful
Courtesy of Focus Features

Foreign-language filmmakers reveal stories behind their latest works

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Director, Biutiful (Mexico)

In Biutiful, Gonzalez Inarritu tells the story of a dying man, Uxbal, played by Javier Bardem, who finds wonder in life.

“What I’m really most interested in is reality. I’m trying to portray the truth of the universe. Most of the people around Bardem in the film are nonactors. To find them and to get that realism with people who have really suffered [from disease] -- to get the casting right -- and to get them to perform was a very long and difficult process.”           

Denis Villeneuve
Director, Incendies (Canada)

Incendies is a coming-of-age drama that portrays a brother and sister traveling to the Middle East after the death of their mother to find a father they thought was dead and a brother they didn’t know existed.

“The first time I saw Wajdi Mouawad’s stage play Incendies, I walked out of the theater being totally astonished by its dramatic poetic beauty, its sharp intelligence and its dark depth. Its exploration of cycles of violence inside a family and a society is so accurate and contemporary that Mouawad’s words sound almost like a prophet warning us about never-ending war, both in the Middle East and elsewhere. If we don’t find a solution right now, when
will we find it?”

Semih Kaplanoglu
Director, Honey (Turkey)

Following Egg and Milk, the final film in Kaplanoglu’s autobiographical trilogy, Honey, tells the story of Yusuf, a young boy living in the mountains of rural Turkey whose father, Yakup, is a beekeeper.

“Yakup gathers black-hive honey, considered some of the world’s finest honey and specific to the region. It is the essence of an older world. I tried my best to find a location both suitable for placing the hives and the visual world I wanted to create. We worked in various forests, particularly in those where beehives have been placed for centuries.”

Paolo Virzi
Director, The First Beautiful Thing (Italy)

Tuscan director Virzi returns to his native city, Livorno, to tell the story of two brothers whose lives go in different directions. They meet again when they know their mother is about to die, and they have to come to terms with family matters.

“I did not want to make a nostalgic film; the past is not told in a sentimental way. My movie is filled with love and is an homage to the strength and the craziness of some women. It’s a love story between a mom and her children; it’s about how they were united, wounded, separated but always ready to encourage each other.”

Iciar Bollain
Director, Even the Rain (Spain)

Bollain’s film weaves the historic arrival of Christopher Columbus in America and Spain’s exploitation of natural resources (gold) with the arrival of a Spanish film crew in Bolivia and its misuse of natural resources (water).

“The Water War, which took place in Cochabamba in 2000, was a good example of civil resistance against the privatization of water, a commodity as precious as gold. In the script, Paul Laverty was able to relate the two things by creating a period film shoot in Bolivia at the time of the conflict. When I read it, it seemed an enormous and exciting challenge because, as a director, I would have to somehow tell three films in one.”