Jaione Camborda: “I feel that I am part of the women who have been fighting for more fairness…”.
The Rye Horn (O Corno), the second feature by Jaione Camborda, has won the top prize, the Golden Shell, at the 2023 San Sebastian Film Festival.
«O corno» (The Rye Horn, 2023), set on the Arousa Island in 1971. Is a very visually compelling film with numerous moments of silence that guide us to feel and embark on a journey alongside Maria through the borderlands of Galicia, between the rural and coastal regions. It addresses themes of motherhood and also touches on abortion and the right to choose, shedding light on the loneliness of these women in a society that continually seeks to suppress them.
Animal instincts, sisterhood, and a cycle that opens and closes. Jaione reveals the truth about these women, and the harshness of their lives, without entirely discomforting the viewer, through sensations and new meanings that emerge from visual metaphors.
– Where does your interest in cinema come from?
-I studied audiovisual education, where I fell in love with analogue photography and spent a lot of time in the darkroom. As a result of this, I began to experiment with moving images, creating pieces more related to the experimental genre. Eventually, I had the opportunity to study film in Prague, where I developed a deeper passion for cinema, especially in its historical connection to animation and avant-garde film, which is quite influential there.
Prague has a school with a strong academic discourse and a dedicated faculty. I realized that this was what I wanted to pursue, so I decided to study art direction. I moved to Munich, completed my postgraduate studies there, and during that time, I wrote a script called “Arima.” When I lived in Galicia, I revisited this script, which would become my first feature film.
“I am the first because many women paved the way before me. I am a part of that chain…”
– In your second film, “O Corno,” which won the San Sebastian Golden Shell, you address a topic that, we could say, is very relevant due to recent changes in the United States and Poland. What led you to tackle this subject?
-The film somewhat stemmed from a need to explore the woman’s ability to give life and conceive. In exploring this capacity, I started to delve into my findings and understood that it was essential to examine the dialogue we have with life and death. It’s about having control or not having control, especially in the decisions regarding our bodies. I wanted to bring to the forefront what was happening in a historical moment when there was control over our bodies and engage in a dialogue with the present.
For example, there was a stylistic approach where the viewer was living in a bygone era, something that seems to have been resolved and no longer perturbs us. However, it was important for me to establish connections with the contemporary context, so that this issue remains a topic of discussion. There are still voices, which are gaining more political space, that cast doubt on this matter.
“I feel that I am part of the women who have been fighting for more fairness and the space we deserve”.
– Janet Novas is a contemporary dancer and choreographer with no previous experience as an actress. How did you discover her?
-She is a contemporary dance artist with a strong focus on the physicality and presence of the body, very visceral and animalistic. When I held auditions, I invited various actresses and individuals with no prior experience in audiovisual work, including several dancers. When I invited Janet, I quickly realized that she possessed formidable abilities in terms of dramatic performance and emotional expression. Additionally, she hails from a rural area in Galicia, and she resonated well with the character, as there was a deep connection between her and the role.
Her presence also embodied the struggles of those women dedicated to the land, leading a tough and sacrificial life.
– Could you describe your approach to directing actors and achieving exceptional results, as in the case of Novas?
– The truth is that every person has a kind of entry point. It’s very important for me not to establish the same method because each person, each actress, requires something different. It involves a strong effort to connect with them, to try to understand them, to observe them closely, and to figure out what they need to find that entry point. In Janet’s case, it was very physical; we delved into her emotional world through her body.
For example, in the case of Luisa, who was new to acting, we reached the emotions through very real things, drawing from her real-life experiences. When working with a more seasoned actor, the approach is different. Each actor, for me, has been unique, and it’s about adapting to that individual.
– On 71 occasions at the San Sebastian Film Festival, the Golden Shell had been awarded to a Spanish director 14 times. But not to women.
How do you perceive the current landscape? Because 71 years is a long time.
-Yes, it’s a considerable period. When I received the award, I wasn’t fully aware that I was the first, but I am the first because many women paved the way before me. I am a part of that chain; I’ve been the first, but without them, I couldn’t have achieved it.
I feel that I am part of the women who have been fighting for more fairness and the space we deserve. In that sense, being the first signifies progress, but it also shows that it’s not yet the norm, and we must continue to work for change.
– Do you believe that winning the Golden Shell at the San Sebastian Film Festival will provide opportunities or financial support, which is often one of the major challenges for directors when it comes to moving a project forward?
– I hope that it will indeed open doors for me. I don’t know in what form my next project will take, but I do anticipate that it will make financing it easier. However, one must stay grounded because we know that auteur cinema is also a path of struggle. Nevertheless, I’m still thrilled to continue, and I have the energy for the long haul.
– In the film, we encounter some recurring visual moments, like metaphors, such as the magician dividing the woman in two or the blackberry juice sliding down her body. Could you tell us how you arrived at these in your creative process?
-There are hours of thought behind each decision, and, in the end, it’s the language of cinema itself that creates these spaces with a certain ambiguity, spaces that amplify something, creating more poetic sensations. In that sense, they are like discoveries along the way that suddenly blossom in a certain way.
“It was important for me to establish connections with the contemporary context, so that this issue remains a topic of discussion”.
– What advice would you give to other women who want to follow in your footsteps?
-I would tell them to trust in everything, in themselves, in their abilities, in the life that surrounds them, to observe the world and have faith in it, and to trust in the cinema and the capabilities that the cinematic language possesses.
– Do you have any projects or ideas for the future?
-Yes, I have some ideas, but I’m very cautious about what I want to develop. Like every creator, I pour my heart and soul into my work, and I need to be sure that this is the right idea. I want to listen to what the film gives back to me before creating the next one.