An Interview with Chico Pereira (Director)
An Adventure Story of Animal-Human Friendship
Q: What kind of thoughts about living freely and true to oneself went into the making of this film?
CP: This film portrays the relationship between animals and nature. My Uncle Manolo thinks that animals and humans are equal, and he lives a simple life, close to nature. But he does not deny technology, and uses it where he needs it. There is a scene where he phones a travel company, and when he tells them that he wants to go on a trip with a donkey, he is turned down. I think that scene and others like it prompt us to think about whether he or the townspeople have the broader worldview.
Q: You’ve said that you’ve admired Manuel for a long time; what did it mean for you to point your camera at him?
CP: That’s a good question. Manolo was estranged from the family for 25 years, and when I was a kid, people said all sorts of terrible things about him. When you see him in the film, he looks tall, but in fact, he is small in stature, and I filmed him from the point of view that I would have had as a kid. I filmed wanting to express how we had looked at him with admiring eyes.
Q: I thought Manuel’s decision to travel from Spain to America was a very profound resolution. Was there anything you were particular about when you were filming his thoughts or resolutions?
CP: There is a French videographer who said, “When you are making a film, there is no guarantee that it will be a good film until you complete it. However, you can enjoy the process of making the film.” In that light, the process itself might be more important that the completed product. I think that might apply to Manolo here as well. You could say that this film, which I made by dragging my family into it, was an intermediary that allowed me to reconnect with my family.
Q: How did Manuel respond when you were filming?
CP: We’ve been estranged all this time, but I think it came as a surprise that I missed my uncle. The truth is, he might have hesitated about going to America, but he told me, “If only you would say so, and we could spend some time together!” The act of going to America gives the film a sense of direction, and is thus symbolic, but my uncle’s legs also pained him, so as one might expect, we had to really be mindful of that and whether he was okay.
Q: It felt like you were showing us the images from unique angles, such as the shot from the donkey’s point of view, or the one contrasting the scenery before one’s eyes—did you have a particular design in mind?
CP: I employed a style that shifts and obscures the focus. I was playing with the effects of hearing and sight, such as when, by obscuring the images, I expressed the heightened focus on sound that you get whenever you close your eyes, or when, in another scene, I underscored the sounds that a donkey would hear, since that they must hear everything with such big ears.
Q: You’ve said that for you and Manuel, this film is “the greatest adventure story,” but were there any ideas, or messages that you would like to convey to the audience that went into the title Donkeyote?
CP: It’s a portmanteau of donkey and the Don Quixote from Spanish literature. The character Don Quixote has big dreams, but I was portraying the fact that my uncle also has those kinds of dreams, the idea that animals and humans are equal, and the friendship between animals and humans. The title is catchy and easy to remember, but it also carries the meaning of “someone who has been left behind by the times.”
(Compiled by Niwa Erika)
Interviewers: Niwa Erika, Abe Shizuka / Interpreter: Matsushita Yumi / Translator: Joelle Tapas
Photography: Nahata Fu / Video: Matsuguchi Haruka / 2017-10-09