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César Pesquera — Circle One

Here’s the latest short film from Barcelona based audiovisual artist César Pesquera. As you can tell from the images above, it’s rather pleasing on the eye. You can see more beautiful stills here.

Circle one is the disturbing and distressing tale of René — a young man trying to get on with his relatively empty life. When things start to look up, the torment starts. I was drawn to the film by it’s looks, but it turns out the storyline is just as strong. The set design is beautiful and the attention to detail is super high, luckily this never distracts from René’s journey, partly because Pablo Menasanch playing René is so arresting and writer / director César Pesquera has done such a great job setting and maintaining the tone. And of course, hats off to the DPs, Alejandro Oset and José Luís Bernal for making the most out of the environment.

You can watch the trailer here.

César has been kind enough to give FormFiftyFive access to the film for two weeks — head over to the exclusive online preview page and use the password found on our Facebook and Twitter pages. The password will be valid ’til May 23rd.

The film is currently doing the rounds at festivals and galleries. You can find out more screening details on Facebook and Twitter.

After you’ve enjoyed the show, come back and read my short interview with César.

Hello César, I’ve just watched Circle One for the third time, it’s both beautiful and harrowing, can you tell us a little about your influences and inspiration?

—César Pesquera
Thank you. I am glad you like it enough to watch it three times. It all started with the idea of something happening or appearing in you daily life, in your normal environment. At the end of the day if you think about it all the horror movies are based on that, something strange, disturbing, unknown that produces a destabilisation in someone’s normal life. Then I had this image in my mind of someone walking down these corridors, very much like in THX 1138. I finally borrowed some elements from Dante’s Divine Comedy and that gave me some sort of scaffolding to start writing the script.

But I guess the central idea behind the film is to what extent those seemingly traumatic events are unconsciously caused by ourselves in order to facilitate the escape from a trap that is essentially of our own making.

In terms of influences, as I said, the film is a combination of the influence of mainstream directors like George Lucas and Stanley Kubrick, whose work I consider visually fascinating and, let’s say, more art house directors like Tarkovski, Bela Tarr or Michael Haneke, whose films I love and whose influence can be seen in Circle One’s pace and atmosphere.

Corridors seem to play a big part in sci-fi films, could you talk about the environment in which René is living?

Yes, actually this image of someone walking down these big corridors was present in the project even before any narrative element, so I knew that these parts where going to play a big roll in the film. Somehow I am fascinated by these kinds of transitory spaces, the idea of non-place coined by Marc Augé, they are places without history that affect our notions of space, our relationship with reality and with others. Can be supermarkets, highways or hotels. René is living in Circle One which in Dante’s Divine Comedy is the Limbo so somehow I liked the idea of him living in a massive non-place. It has also to do with the idea of liminality, the idea of being in some kind of transitional state, like René is. He is in a no man’s land somehow.

That’s really interesting, I’m a big fan on the non-place myself. I guess this must have been what attracted me to the film.

I noticed that some of the music was composed and performed by yourself, you must feel very passionately about it. How important do you think the sound design is?

Sound design is essential, but not only in terms of music but also in terms of the whole atmosphere of the short film. We worked a lot on that aspect, if you listen carefully you’ll hear these rumours, like engines. Somehow in my mind I was imagining that this world is formed by nine circles (like in the Divine Comedy’s hell) that are actually moving until their position periodically allows the redistribution of people between the different circles. That treatment in sound design gave the film that atmosphere of unease that I was looking for. Quique Montaña and Pau Tolosa from La Fabrica de Carbon did a great job with sound design. Vicent Fugere composed the track ‘Le Cycle Sans Retard’ and I composed ‘Architecture Of Uncertainty’. We are now thinking of remixing each other and releasing a limited edition of the soundtrack in vinyl.

It certainly produces an uneasy viewing experience! Makes me think of what a combination of Clint Mansell’s soundtrack for Moon and The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place by Explosions in the Sky would sound like.

You can see Build’s Grid-Based-Clock in the trailer — I personally love the light switch in René’s room, can you tell us little more about the technology in the film?

Those little details tell the viewer that the action is not taking place here and today but somewhere else, in a different time, in this case in an hypothetical future. That was important to me since I didn’t want to tell the story of one person, someone that could be your neighbour, but I wanted to tell an idea, a concept, like in a fable. Michael C. Place kindly allowed me to use his Grid-Based-Clock and I designed the rest of the graphics in order to portray, with just a few elements, an alternative world. In fact I even created an alternative alphabet in order to achieve that.

You did a great job. I like the fact it’s still believable, nothing too extravagant.

What are your plans for Circle One and the future?

At the moment I want to show the short film as much as I can at festivals. In June I’ll be talking about it at OFFF 2011 in Barcelona, and now I am working on a new short film that will close some kind of trilogy about transitory places together with Circle One and my previous short film Passer/8.

Well I wish you the best of luck and look forward to seeing it on the big screen at OFFF!


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Words: Sam Mallett / César Pesquera
Images: Alejandro Oset / José Bernal / César Pesquera

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