Within the framework of the exhibition 'Jugar amb Foc'we were able to count on the presence of the film director Oliver Laxe at Rural Life Museum (Tarragona) to get into the movie 'Or that burns'and analyze the current rural world, the great forest fires and the ancestral culture of fire, among other topics.
1.- What has motivated you to make a film about forest fires?
Oliver Laxe (OL) - It is difficult to synthesize the motivations behind a creative process and less than a feature film.
On the one hand, in 1999 there was a fire that almost burned my house. He arrived at the foot of the houses and a pavesa in the air burned the hórreo. As a consequence, I already have a personal and close experience of a forest fire. On the other hand, I have always had an almost magical fascination with fire. I think that there is something monoplastic and pictorial about him that attracts me reliably. Therefore, I see that the motivation responds to two dimensions: My poetic attraction and a political rejection.
I say political rejection because we as artists did not want to put people in jail, as activists, politicians or the press do. As artists we want to get people out of jail to try to understand beyond the trial, beyond the drama. We wanted to take a little distance.
Making this film has meant constantly looking for the balance of this duality that I have: the political / activist and the pictorial. Being very grounded and at the same time allowing yourself to fly a bit.
As artists we want to get people out of jail to try to understand beyond the trial, beyond the drama. We wanted to take a little distance.
2.- In the filming process, you will have shared the stage with the locals, whether they are shepherds, ranchers, farmers, environmental agents, etc. With what learnings do you stay?
OL- First of all, I would highlight that living with the people there has been, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful parts of this project. In particular, I was struck by the vision that society and the administration have of the forest firefighter profession. It is a profession misunderstood by these two sectors.
Conversing with them, the large amount of money that is being invested in extinction is highlighted (only in Galicia about 160 million euros). Meanwhile, investing in prevention would be much more profitable economically and effectively. Something is wrong here.
One of the examples of prevention that is being done in Galicia is the creation of model villages. They are some villages that are very abandoned, and their objective is to recover them again and put them in value for different purposes. One of the objectives is to offer security to small population centers at risk of fires. These villages when they begin to be managed can serve as natural firebreaks so that they do not reach the most populated areas.
I also want to emphasize that thanks to the opportunity I have had by living with the locals, I have reaffirmed, for example, how the peasant will always go to the field with a knife and a lighter. They have the culture of ancestral fire embedded in their DNA. However, we are experiencing a cultural and existential problem regarding fire.
At the media level, misinterpreted statistics are often pointed out and emphasized, criminalizing people who have 'intentionally' burned the mountain, when in reality the percentage of arsonists is very low (not even 2%). This percentage is magnified by inflating it as a main reason. The experience of this project has allowed me to reaffirm that the rural world is doing essential environmental work.
The peasant will always go to the field with a knife and a lighter.
3.- What would you recommend us to communicate the work and mission of the Foundation? When we communicate with facts, with solid arguments supported by researchers and experts, society in general is lost and disconnected. If we want to experiment and be more communicative, the scientific community throws itself at us for not adding nuances and not being precise.
OL- I recommend that you be solid and open people's hearts. In an affirmative and not dialectical way. Communicate at that level and it will pay off. Your intention is noble, you have to be persistent, tenacious, and above all believe in what you do.
4.-Would you ever make another movie talking about forest fires?
OL - It's funny because when you are in the fires you feel a powerful energy and it traps you. But, even so, I am not sure if I would make another film about forest fires. What I do want is to visit the friends I made during filming. These friends did not even want to charge to participate in the film, they believed in the idea and in what it was going to generate, and this was enough for them.