Redemption from evil
You've just released the film, The Evil that Men Do, shot in English.
Yes, it's my first film in English. It happens at the border between Mexico and the US, we shot in Martorelles, a small village near Barcelona. The team was Catalan but the script was in English and in the cast we had English-speaking actors such as Andrew Tarbet or Daniel Faraldo, who is from Los Angeles.
You were born in Lleida, where exactly?
From a very tiny village, Bellmunt de Segarra, there are only 50 people. In my family there are seven of us. I love going back there for Christmas and as often as I can.
How did you switch from Philosophy to film?
Actually, I started Economics and I studied that for two years, but I was unhappy, so I went back home and told my parents I wanted to do something else, and I started Philosophy and after two years started film studies, in parallel. It was good, because the two degrees had a connection: every film has an ideology, and it's all about the human condition. I've made five films so far, and they are not just for entertaining, but reflect on morality and social dilemmas.
So why is this film in English?
Here we've tried to do something different in terms of the market, because all the industry that sells films worldwide is in English. It is really difficult to sell a film overseas in Catalan, or even in Spanish. With my previous film Catalonia Über Alles I maybe went to 25 festivals, but that doesn't mean sales. So we are trying to sell this film around the world, and we have a Canadian company in charge of that, with good expectations.
You described the film as a moral narco-thriller.
Yes, it's not just about narcos and shooting people, it's about violence and the limit of cruelty. We are surrounded by too much violence: on TV, in the news...The film is about a drug dealers and mercenaries, who carry out orders. One day they receive a different, unexpected delivery. It's a story of love, betrayal, religion and violence.
It has been said it has elements of Breaking Bad or Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs.
In my opinion, it has more elements maybe of Polanski, in terms of psychological terror. The way characters try to manipulate each other, it creates a psychological tension which is more frightening than physical, explicit violence.
The title of the film is a quote from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. How come?
Each act we do, and any evil act that we do, has consequences, violence generates more violence. We are responsible for our acts. In the film, violence cannot be justified with the excuse of obeying orders. In the moment you commit an evil act, it is your responsibility, and it has consequences. This is the idea behind the title.
Where did the idea come from?
It started from the setting, this huge warehouse. We thought it was an amazing place to shoot a film. I showed Daniel the space and he loved it. He had the idea of mercenaries and redemption, and I had the idea of a film about a child kidnapped by the mafia.
The character of the innocent girl among all those mercenaries and drug dealers...
It allows us to talk about the limits of violence. I have never seen so much violence before in my life. On TV, all the news about the refugees, terrorism in Paris, it's terrible. And straight after we watch the sports news. I feel we need to reflect and react. Otherwise, what comes next? This is what my film wants to reflect on: “Do we have a limit or not?” Are we condemned as a species and just have to wait for our final hour, just like my characters in the film?
Is there any space for redemption?
Yes, this was my idea, although it is not easy to empathise with such bad characters. I can't imagine anything worse than cutting people into pieces as a job. But as the film goes on you can see that there is place for redemption, even for these bad people.
Which festivals are you going to take the film to?
We started in Montreal and we found a very enthusiastic audience and a good response. Next, we are going to Chicago in April to the Latino film festival, and then to festivals in Catalonia and Spain, as well. I like the contact with the audience, I learn a lot from the Q&A sessions.
You already started working on your next project, based on a book by crime novelist Andreu Martín.
Indeed, Societat negra, and we've just finished the script. It's ready for shooting, and we are trying to get a co-production with an US partner. It's a comedy thriller, about the Chinese mafia in Barcelona, full of black humour and with bad guys who are also very human. It will also be shot in English, with a multi-ethnic cast.
Ramon Térmens Each Wednesday at 7.10 pm, El Punt Avui TV airs the series of interviews, Catalan Connections. Marcela Topor talked to Ramon Térmens, director of the film The Evil that Men Do.
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