Director Albert Serra will follow up “Afternoons of Solitude” with his 2022 breakout “Pacification,” an impressionistic documentary that explores bullfighting from the harrowing perspective of the man in the ring. The filmmaker is also developing his first English-language feature, diversity Learned.
“Bullfighting is one of the most extreme examples of the primitive origins of southern European civilization,” Serra says of his longtime passion project. “It has a kind of showmanship on the edge of being art, and I love that idea. I love its violence. I like pressure.”
“The film is about the spiritual torment of the torero,” he continued. “Of course we know about the suffering of animals, but the people involved also suffer. I’m more focused on that than the social debate about practice.”
Produced by Serra’s longtime partner Luis Feron, Montse Triola and Pierre-Olivier Barde through their Underground Films banner, “Afternoons of Solitude” began shooting quietly last summer and will resume in Seville, among other bullfighting meccas, when the season opens. the spring
Although Serra and crew will continue shooting through the fall, don’t expect the doc — which recreates a series of intense emotional situations — to follow any kind of conventional production schedule.
“It’s not a documentary where we follow subjects for three days here and 10 days there and then again three months later,” Serra says of his particular brand of slow cinema. “Instead, I want to be present, in the moment, to live something unique, being able to manage the emotions that are intense in this short period of time with good sense.”
“For me, this is where fantasy and fiction can evolve into something else,” he adds. “When you spend your time just following people, it’s hard to create that kind of fantasy, that kind of engagement. And I want to evolve the subject to something very rough and wild and real. It is a performance after all.”
2022 proved to be something of a banner year for the Catalan auteur, who entered the Cannes competition for the first time and later won France’s most prestigious film trophy, the Prix Louis-Deluc. Now building on that greater reputation, Serra is developing an English-language feature with international partners.
If many concrete details remain distant and undefined (“My inspiration comes from being on set,” Serra says), the filmmaker envisions an English-language project with the same scope and the same singular sensibility as “Pacification.” “I won’t abandon any element of my style,” he promises. “And anyway, the new producers don’t want me!”
Serra’s credits include “Story of My Death” (2013), winner of the Golden Leopard at Locarno, “The Last Days of Louis XIV” (2016), which won the Lumière Award for Best Actor for Jean-Pierre Léaud, and “Liberty” (2019 ), which won the Special Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes.