25/5 — 1/6/2022
62nd International Film Festival
for Children and Youth
24. 8. 2020

Laura Jou about LIFE WITHOUT SARA AMAT “A silence that was completely new to us”

13-year-old Pep has a crush on Sara, a girl from his grandfather's village. One summer night, Sara disappears but, after a few hours, Pep finds her hidden in his bedroom. The girl of his dreams explains that she has run away from home and asks if she can stay for a few days. Knowing that the whole town is looking for her, Pep becomes her protector, which will put him to the test and make him grow up before the summer's end.

Under the burning summer sun, the first feature by Spanish director Laura Jou captures precisely the moment when the child becomes the youth in a tender and sensitive story. You can watch the film trailer here.

One of the elements defining this movie is its beautiful setting in a small village community. Where did you find such a place?

Laura Jou: The film was shot in a small town named Talladell, circa 90 minutes away from Barcelona. Not to lose too much time, the entire crew went living there during the production. 

You found a playful way to integrate the small streets, houses and corridors in the film’s visual vocabulary. 

Jou: Integrating small village life in an almost lyrical way was my passion. When we were kids, we usually spent the summer with our grandparents on the countryside, far away from the city. Life was very different in those small towns, and there were many new things we learned to appreciate: the birds, cats, roosters, the chatting with older people, and especially the silence, that was completely new to us. The atmosphere from those summers, I tried to recollect in LIFE WITHOUT SARA AMAT.

With my special compliments to your costume department who turned up with an unforgettable collection of polo shirts.

Jou: Yes, also they are a part of our childhood memories!

Part of the scenery is created by the use of sound. There is a big difference between indoors (where the radio is on and voices are always to be heard) and outdoors (where birds are singing).

Jou: Absolutely. We gave a great importance to the sound design and editing. We even used subliminal sound. You might have noticed that in the scene with Sara’s mother and Pep, there is a subliminal layer of what we called ‘witch sound’: wind blowing, breaking glass, etc.

In matters of love Sara seems very much in control.

Jou: She has to be! Sara is very determined about her goals in life. Falling in love with Pep is impossible for her, as that would collide with her dream. She has to stand strong though in the end she kind of explodes, and we all understand where these feelings come from.

The film gives me the impression that when it comes to love, different generations - old & young – can learn from each other.

Jou: Love is love, but there are many ways to express it, depending on age and circumstances. That is why we did a lot of rehearsing before shooting, for instance to find the right poetry and delicacy in the scenes that explore the physical undertone in their relationship. When casting our main actors Maria Morera (Sara) and Biel Rossell (Pep), from the very first moment we realized there could be this chemistry between them.

Is it true that you have a background in coaching young actors?

Jou: Yes, and this background helped me a lot. It permitted us to work faster. We also had an acting coach working for us, which was a great help. When there is only little time for shooting, you need to be very well-prepared. 

 

The interview for the Zlín Film Festival was conducted by Gert Hermans. Thank you!