'Artists should try to be different'

Albert Serra Every Wednesday at 6.30pm on El Punt Avui TV, Marcela interviews prominent English speaking residents in Catalonia or relevant Catalan figures. Here is her recent interview with Albert Serra.
You're wearing sunglasses. Tell me about your look.
I try to make a difference. I've always thought that artists, as they are different from other people, should behave or dress a little bit different as well.
What message are you sending with your image?
It's like an attitude and a mental discipline. Dalí said that artists should always put pressure on themselves and try to find new original ideas. Your image is part of this activity as an artist.
Tell me about your relationship with English.
I started as a kid with private lessons, and then when meeting people from other countries it's natural to practise because it's the universal language.
Do you find it easy to learn new languages?
I know French better; it's my favourite language. I also speak Italian, but not German, even though I spent three months in Germany two years ago.
What do you think of the fact that most TV and cinema is dubbed here?
I hate that. Original version is very good for languages and quality in general. It's a big mistake not to change dubbing, from the artistic and moral point of view, and for general elegance. Dubbing kills 30 or 40 per cent of the magic of films. In eastern countries or Portugal, they don't dub, and they have a better tradition in cinema. They build up cinematography with a personality, not based only on Hollywood criteria. But here politicians don't have the courage to do something that could be controversial.
Tate Modern showed a retrospective of your filmography in March.
It's not my first retrospective, but it's the first one in the UK.
One of the films was The Story of My Death, which received critical acclaim.
It's my most successful film, and got an important award at Locarno. It stars Casanova and Dracula, so it was risky because it could have looked grotesque mixing these two characters. But for me it is important to start any project with something challenging and it worked.
You described it as a Baroque journey through the limits of pleasure, pain and desire. The imagery is stunning.
Maybe because I don't like to move the camera people sometimes say they look like paintings. I like long takes, it's a characteristic of all my work and it deals with the subject of time, the perception of time, the contemplation of it, a more atmospheric approach to images. It's part of my style.
You are going to represent Catalonia at the Biennale festival in Venice in May.
It's an installation with five screens, called La Singularitat. It's based on the idea that maybe one day machines will be more powerful than humans. I use a lot of fantasy and other elements I can't usually use in feature films so it will be original and unique for sure.
You are also preparing a new film on the death of Louis XIV, with Jean Pierre Léaud, an icon of the French nouvelle vague.
Yes, an old project of mine. When I first talked to Jean Pierre I told him that I had only worked with non-professional actors before, and he said not to worry, as he is a professional non actor. He is amazing and I think ideal for the role.
Tell me about your idea of working with amateurs.
The main reason and the truth is because I don't like professional actors as human beings. I met many of them at the Institut del Teatre. I know them well; they are transparent for me, and I don't like their souls.
So how do you choose your actors then?
By chance in general. It's intuition, it's part of my job and my talent. I think casting is very important because in the middle of the shooting you cannot change your actors so you have to be aware of your choices before.
People seem to either love or or hate your work.
My work is original and different. It's pure fantasy, like a psychedelic trip; you accept it or reject it. You are not there to judge what's going on, you are inside or outside. You can have a good or bad psychedelic trip of course, it's part of the deal.
Are images more important than the script?
Godard said that there are filmmakers who shoot with the camera and others who shoot with projectors. But projectors don't record, so you have to forget what is behind the camera, the idea that you had in your head or the script, and really concentrate on what is in front of you and the camera.
Your next film, I am an Artist, will be in English, Catalan and Spanish.
It is perhaps my most ambitious film so far. It will be in different languages because it is a portrait of the contemporary art world. In fact it is a portrait of the young artist nowadays.
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