Oscar winning director Fernando Trueba (Chico y Rita, Belle Epoque) has created an exquisite film, nominated for 13 Goya Awards this year including Best Director and Best Picture for his latest film ‘The Artist And The Model’. The film transports us to German occupied France of 1943, where an elderly sculptor and his wife live in a small town close to the Spanish border. Several years have passed since the 80 year old artist Marc Cros (Jean Rochfort) stopped sculpting. He has lived through two wars and is disillusioned by the world around him. One day his wife (Claudia Cardinale) brings home a young woman she sees in the streets. Her name is Merce (Aida Folch) and she is on the run from Franco’s army. The couple offer to shelter her in the sculptor’s workshop. While she is there, she models for what will be the last work by Cros. Slowly, a beautiful friendship is born between the young woman, whose life is just beginning, and the old man, who senses that his end is near. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Academy Award winning director Fernando Trueba and actress Aida Folch to discuss the making of ‘The Artist and The Model,’ the challenges of bringing it to screen and what they learned along the way.
What was it about the world of film that intrigued early on in your lives and made your pursue your passion?
Fernando Trueba: Since I was very young, fifteen or sixteen, I have been interested in everything about movies. I was almost living at the cinematheque. I was there every day, watching classic movies. I have loved the cinema since I was very, very young. I am still a great film lover, all these years later. I watch films all the time. I watch classic movies, the things that I love, it is my life!
Who would you cite as your biggest influences?
Fernando Trueba: In my case, I would say I have been very influenced by both European and American movies. I love the work of the classic American Masters of comedy like Gene Wilder. There have been many famous French directors Renoir, Plassart or Truffaut who have been very important in my life. Not only as a filmmaker but as a human being too.
What were your inspirations for the story of “The Artist and The Model”?
Fernado Trueba: My inspiration basically came from many stories about the world of art. I have always been interested in art and artists. The movie was really born the day I put together some moments of the life of Henri Mattise with some moments of the life of Picasso.
As a director, what makes this film special for you and stand apart from your early work?
Fernando Trueba: For me, we are in a very delicate moment of history, in life but also in art. In cinema, we are undergoing a big transformation — a transformation in technology. For me, this movie is about both the old and the new. It is a movie that has a lot of reference to the past, classic cinema and classic art. At the same time, it is a movie that uses digital technology but not just for use or direction of special effects. This is a movie that, for me, lives and was born in the middle of this incredible transformation. That is what I needed. I needed to experience making a movie like this. We have both the old and the new in our hands!
What was it about this character that drew you to your role in the film, Aida?
Aida Folch: It is a very beautiful character and I was very free to create this character. Also, working again with Fernando and making a film very special.
What have you learned from each other in your experiences working together?
Fernando Trueba: You know, I worked with Aida for the first time when she was just fourteen. It was her first movie. I always wanted to work with her again and I wrote this movie with her in mind. What I like about her is the freedom of which she was speaking. She is a very serious actress but at the same time she brings a lot of real life to the character. She is like the model in the hands of the artist, so generous to this movie. You have to know, when I first talked to her about this movie, she decided to go to France and learn French just for this character before we shot the movie. This is movie that would be great for an actress but I was happy she was very confident in the project and working with me to make a movie and character like this.
Aida Folch: I did have a passion for this movie. Fernando is very passionate in his work. My dream is to always work on films like his.
Fernando you have made quite a body of work through the years. Aida, you career is much newer but your work as an actress is impressive. How do you both feel you have evolved through the years when it comes to your craft?
Aida Folch: I think now I am better because I have much more experience. I think the work is real. When I worked with Fernando earlier, I was fourteen and it was more like playing. Now, I am very passionate…
Fernando Trueba: It was a game.
Aida Folch: When I was young, it was much like a game. Now, this is my life and I love this work and making films. I love the opportunity Fernando has given me for working with this very beautiful character. I have a lot of desire to make more of these very good and beautiful films.
Fernando Trueba: For me, I would say, as you get older making movies, you learn things. At the same time, you know how to direct but you start from nothing with each movie. You learn to concrete to concentrate on the essential things of the movies you want to make. You refine your language, storytelling and the way you use cinema. That is the important thing — to grow. It is a process of growth in storytelling and as a filmmaker. The beautiful thing about movies is that you can tell stories and use life and human beings as inspiration and a tool to tell the stories. It is very strange, risky and interesting.
What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to your people when it comes to pursing a career in film?
Frenando Trueba: There are enough bad movies in the world. Don’t make movies unless you think you can come up with something that really deserves to be told. Make movies for passion not for fame. I think when you are making movies, you are working in the tower of film. You are adding to the work of others who worked before you and you have to try to give the best of yourself. You work for the audience, the people, yourself, your friends and the cinema! You work for the movies and it is very important to never forget that! You work for an art form!
Thank you both for your time today! This is a beautiful film and we wish you both the best of luck in the future!
Fernando Trueba: Thank You!
Aida Folch: Thank you very much!
‘The Model and The Artist’ opens in theaters August 2nd in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.