Five years after winning the Palme d’Or for his acclaimed Oscar-nominated short film Time codeSpanish filmmaker Juanjo Giménez has returned to the international festival circuit with his second scripted feature film, which makes its North American premiere on Monday, 2021. Toronto International Film Festival.
Directed by Giménez and co-written by him and Pere Altimira, Out of sync (Three en español) follows a talented sound designer named C, played by Marta Nieto, the star of Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s Oscar-nominated short film Mother and his follow-up of eponymous traits, who must rethink his life and career when his vision and hearing are out of sync.
For his first feature film in two decades, Giménez, who has worked in various areas of post-production, wanted to play with the two most basic elements of cinema: image and sound.
“[Altimira and I] I had this idea of [being] very, very early, and we wrote a first version where the delay was the main character, not the woman now that we have as the main character, ”Giménez tells Observer. “But then we decided to put this disease in a human being and try to play with a woman who is aware of this problem. We play with [this idea of] internal and external desynchronization ”, which means that the more C he avoids confronting his own personal problems, the more desynchronized his vision and hearing become.
In a brief Zoom interview from his home in Barcelona, Spain, Giménez talks to Observer about Nieto’s selection process for the title role, how this film mixes elements of multiple genres, and the unique challenges of shooting scenes. asynchronous.
Observer: There is a real sense of anguish and discomfort throughout this film, because hearing sounds is an intrinsic part of human nature. When you first set out to write this script, did you talk to a specialist to better understand how the brain synchronizes sound or the role that sound plays in our daily lives?
Juanjo Giménez: Yes absolutely. We contacted some neuroscientists, and there are even some real cases of this disease. There is a Korean pilot who has something similar to our character, not to these extremes of course, but it is a very real disease. And we know, reading these articles and from our experience [of making this film], that being out of sync is very, very uncomfortable. Our brain is doing [an] effort at every moment, trying to synchronize images and sound. Even now with Zoom or Skype, we are used to this delay, and we see the lips of our interlocutors move and we are not receiving the sound. [right away]. There is always a discomfort, and you feel this kind of limbo, as if you are in a place nowhere, and this interests me a lot. This place where the sound and the image do not fit, it is very interesting to play.
Marta Nieto has called this project the hardest job that she has ever done. How did you first get involved in this project, and how did you work together to build and develop this protagonist, who seems to have no full name?
Yes, it has no name. No one in the movie calls her by name because they don’t know who she is. She is getting to know herself [in this film].
Marta contacted the project in the early stages. I was doing a release in Galicia, about 1000 km from Barcelona where I live, and she was in the audience watching my release and seeing a teaser that we had done. So after he contacted me and asked if I had some kind of audition, he wanted to be there. That was two years before pre-production started, so I contacted her when the audition took place in Barcelona, and it was very, very clear that she was C from the beginning. We started to work and it is very, very difficult to rehearse something like that. You need to trust [each] others and have confidence in [each] another, and I had it with Marta. We made up some new sequences for the shoot that weren’t in the script, and it was very, very rewarding because we didn’t exactly know the outcome of that. It was an adventure.
Out of sync blurs elements of various genres, especially suspense and fantasy. As a co-writer and director, how did you arrive at this genre blur approach for this film?
Working with Pere Altimira, my regular co-writer, we decided that we wanted to make a fantastic movie, not a science fiction movie in a pure sense, but we decided to put everything [those elements] in the sound part of the movie. I consider myself No. 1 [fan] from superhero movies, like when Spider-Man is bitten by the spider and starts climbing the walls, so he wanted to create a female superhero. We mix the supernatural with this game of playing with sound and vision. It seems very complicated, but if you set your own rules very, very carefully, and then [follow] these rules, you can take them to the extreme.
How difficult was it to film those asynchronous scenes as opposed to synchronous ones, and how did you come close to directing them differently?
Well, we had a few types of codes: one code for the synchronized sequences and completely different ones for the unsynchronized sequences. But even with that in mind, not just for Marta but for the rest of the team, it was like a little nightmare. (Laughs) It was fun, but sometimes unnerving. It was like an additional obstacle, we also had the pandemic, so it was like an obstacle. [course]but in the end, I think it stimulated in a different way than a normal movie. At the time we were filming and even writing, we did not know exactly the result. It is not an experimental film, but it has something subversive about it. [that viewers don’t always expect].
The protagonist begins with a rare medical condition that gradually evolves into the supernatural, where she can hear sounds from the distant past or even the near future. What was the reasoning behind that creative decision?
We were arguing a lot about this because we needed to know the rules of this disease or whatever, so we decided to put it not only in time but in space. There is a moment, a twist [point] in the plot that everything seems related to time, but it is not only time. Is the time and space. There is also the will to play with the cinema itself. There is a time when we use subtitles like in silent movies, and she goes on a journey to her own past in the cinema itself. There are many parallels there.
For a film that relies on sound design, you probably spent even more time in post-production adjusting the audiovisual elements for this project. What did you do during that stage of the process to really enhance the sensory experience and the role that silence plays in this movie?
At first, I wanted to shoot the movie in a different way. I wanted to film for two weeks, then stop and try to post audio and video to see if this out of sync thing was working or not. This is not a typical way to work, but I wanted to do that … but it was impossible due to the pandemic and conditions at the time. So we shot in the usual way, for five or six weeks and then we stopped and started post-production.
But when working with Oriol Tarragó and Marc Bech, who were the sound designers, we discussed a lot. There were many sequences that were better than [what was in] the script. They were forced to do it wrong. It’s hard to say to a sound designer: “Get it wrong, please, because that’s the point.” (Laughs) But they went into the project in a very, very creative way. They were very involved and told me, for a sound designer, this was like candy. Normally, they are used to working in some way, and this movie forces them to work on the opposite side, trying to work from a different point of view, or a sound point. (Laughs)
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Out of sync It will premiere on Monday, September 13 at the Cinesphere IMAX Theater in Toronto.