August 26, 2019
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Spanish director Javier Fesser takes new approach in portraying disabled

Playa del Carmen, Mexico, May 12 (efe-epa).- Spanish director Javier Fesser said in an interview with EFE that he tried to portray developmentally disabled people in a different light in "Campeones," injecting humor into the characters in his film.

"It wouldn't occur to me to do a portrait of people with cognitive disabilities without humor, because it's one of the essential ways in which they express themselves," Fesser, who was nominated for a Platino Award, said Saturday.

The Platino Awards for Ibero-American Cinema will be handed out on Sunday during a ceremony on Mexico's Riviera Maya.

Fesser, who was born in Madrid in 1964, told EFE that dealing with the issue of disabilities in his film was not a "delicate" matter because "when you do a portrait based on admiration, there is nothing delicate (about it) or any lines to cross."

The director said that the first step in bringing a character to life was to "understand" the person you are creating.

Fesser said he followed this process with "Campeones," a comedy that won the Goya for Best Film and tells the story of a basketball coach who takes over a team made up of people with mental disabilities.

"These are people who use irony and nastiness in a funny and sincere way," the director said, adding that he considered comedy the best way to tell the story.

Fesser, however, said that "Campeones" was a different kind of comedy.

"This is not a comedy based on jokes and funny local stuff, it's more of a new and positive way of looking at people with mental disabilities," the Spanish director said.

Fesser said "Campeones" carried a "universal message" that allowed it to transcend Spain's borders, and the film garnered Platino Award nominations for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay, as well as a nomination for the Platino Award for Values in Education.

The Spanish director said he hoped that the movie would go beyond the traditional portrayal in films of people with developmental disabilities, an approach that provided a "very superficial view."

"Many times, due to lack of knowledge or fear, people did not know how to interact with someone whose response you could not control, and this makes you take a superficial approach," the filmmaker said.

As a result, Fesser said he opposed using disabilities as a "label" for people considered different.

"It's clear that we all have a disability of some kind," Fesser said, adding that "disabilities are so relative that you can't generalize."

Fesser has tackled many different subjects in films ranging from "Mortadelo y Filemon" to "Campeones," prompting him to respond to a question about his style by saying, "I have no idea."

"All the films have something that shows my way of telling a story, but the clear thing is that each film comes from a different perspective because you can't tell every story the same way," the Spanish director said.

Fesser is the competing for the Platino Award for Best Director against Alfonso Cuaron ("Roma"); Alvaro Brechner ("La noche de 12 años"); and Cristina Gallego y Ciro Guerra ("Pajaros de verano").

Best Ibero-American Film, Best Miniseries or TV Series, Best Actor and Best Actress are among the other awards that will be conferred during Sunday's gala, which will be attended by international stars such as Spanish actress Penelope Cruz and Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio, star of the Oscar-winning movie "Roma."

"Roma," in fact, leads the way with nine nominations in this year's edition of the Platino Awards, which are promoted by the Spain-based Audiovisual Producers' Rights Management Entity (EGEDA) and the Ibero-American Federation of Film and Audiovisual Producers (FIPCA).

The goal of the Platino Awards has been to promote and disseminate Ibero-American cinema and help ensure that the films' success at the most prestigious festivals is translated into outstanding results in commercial theaters.


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