Javier Fesser (Madrid, 1964) landed in Spanish cinema in a UFO in the shape of Six Hundred. From him descended two little Martians, one macarilla and chop, the other candid and playful. The protagonist of ‘El milagro de P. Tinto’, played by a Luis Ciges of whom it was never known where the actor ended and the person began, accepted them without further ado, like the children he never had. In the director’s debut feature ‘Smiles and tears’ and No-Do, Berlanga’s cinema and Warner’s ‘cartoons’ were mixed. Two multi-award-winning short films, ‘That ritmillo’ Y ‘El sedcleto de la tlumpeta’, and some of the most celebrated advertisements of the 90s were the baggage of Guillermo Fesser’s brother, half of the radio duo Gomaespuma and co-writer of some of their films. Twenty-three years later, Málaga honors one of the most unclassifiable directors of our cinema with the Biznaga de Honor.
Javier Fesser has always gone to his ball. After the pitch of ‘Champions’, which won the Goya and had more than three million viewers, made a short documentary in the Philippines on child malnutrition. The sequel to another blockbuster, ‘The great adventure of Mortadelo and Filemón’, it took a decade to arrive and did so in cartoon form. His latest feature film, ‘Lamentable Stories’, was scheduled to be screened at the Malaga Film Festival last year before hitting theaters on April 30. The pandemic disrupted all plans. The film premiered on Amazon Prime Video six months ago, but Fesser made it a condition that it also do so in theaters, just as it happened this weekend on a few screens in various cities. “We could not financially afford the film to be in the drawer for a year,” explains the director. «We live in a changing situation, a new distribution and exhibition model. We are not going back to where we came from. We can stand by to see them come or participate in that change. Not all distributors have understood this experiment that we can go well or badly but that it will serve those who come after.
According to Fesser, “There will be room for everyone”, movies and series, cinemas and platforms. ‘Regrettable stories’ It consists of four interconnected episodes with deranged characters that refer to the cartoon humor of his early works. The germ of the film is a script he wrote in 1986, which he did not remember at all and which he found when he was moving at home. “At that time I had no idea of writing, but the script gave off the innocence and naivety of that moment when you believe that anything is possible,” he says. «They are characters that all come from the same comic, from the same tribe. We push them to the limit to laugh at them and ourselves. The film was always conceived to be seen in a cinema, “with the laughter of the public”.
“We are not going to go back to the place we came from, we can stand by and watch them come or participate in that change”
new distribution and exhibition model
«It was foreseeable that Opus Dei was not going to like it. Today I would do it again in the same way »
Fesser has never stopped advertising and ensures that he does not distinguish between commercials and films, short and long. “Advertising has a speed that makes you live very intense experiences,” he describes. «It takes you out of your comfort zone and keeps you in shape. In addition, this way you meet professionals and stay up-to-date with technological advances ». His best school, he says, have been Ibáñez’s comics, where he learned “the language of gag, color and movement.” When they presented the project to the cartoonist, he was calm: “He saw that I knew and loved the characters.”
One of the greatest satisfactions of his career was provided ‘Champions’: «His protgonistas were people who normally do not appear in the movies and who gave us their own life. If it transformed the gaze of some spectators towards a group of different people, I am already satisfied ». From ‘The Miracle of P. Tinto’ he remains with his friendship with Luis Ciges, whose centenary of his birth is being celebrated this year. «Luis was so unique that he didn’t know how to repeat himself: you shot twelve takes and the twelve were different. He handled humor, tenderness and surrealism like no one else, with humility and tremendous humanity.
His most daring and personal film, ‘Road’, the story of the medical martyrdom and the beatification of the girl Alexia González-Barros, gave him debts that he will finish paying in 2025 and the hostility of Opus Dei: “It was foreseeable that they were not going to like it. Today I would do it again in the same way. My memory is not of a controversy, but of all the beauty that it brought. It was a story that he had thought of before ‘The miracle of P. Tinto’, things that he had lived very closely. For the first time I approached reality from the documentation and not from the imagination ».