Following the screening of ‘Distances’ at the 40th Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), during the International Panorama section, Spanish Director Elena Trapé reflected on the film, at the Q&A session which took place.
The film follows Olivia, Eloy, Guille, and Anna who travel to Berlin, to pay a surprise visit to their friend Comas, currently turning 35. His reception is not what they had expected, and their friendship is put to the test during their weekend visit. As their disparities emerge, they discover that time and distance can change everything.
Trapé was asked about her choice of minimal narration style, as most of the film is composed of silent moments. “It is very hard to remain sincere to your friends and family when a long time passes,” Trapé commented.
As a result, she decided to develop the drama, through extending the silent looks of characters towards one another, and allowing these silent moments to become the sole revelation of their anxiety.
Another point was raised which was addressed was choosing Berlin as the film’s location, whilst the characters are from Spain.
“When I started working on the film, I thought of a place where the main protagonist can live. Berlin is a European city, where you can pay cheap rent, and where you do not need a big budget to survive,” she clarified. “At first, I thought about London or Paris, but later I decided that these cities will not suit the character’s lifestyle which is depicted in the film,” she added.
Trapé also described that she wanted to show what happens between friends, when time drives them apart. That is why she started her film with a group meeting, after the passage of a long time as, “This was the perfect to convey that feeling.”
On the generational theme of the film, Trapé thought about the frustration, due to the characters’ ages. However, when it came to how their relationships ended, she said that this can happen anywhere and anytime.
She also pointed out that reactions to the film were diverse, based on the audience. “For example, when it was screened in Madrid, people laughed.”
The four characters of the film did a great job in expressing this frustration. However, Trapé regretted not rehearsing enough with them, as she wrote a lot of details about each character. She added that they lived together during the shoot, so they became friends, which helped them to act as companions who were familiar with each other on the screen.
“I knew from the first moment that the characters are the most important elements of this film, so we worked freely, and took our time during the casting,” Trapé concluded.