The best year of Spanish cinema, as many have dubbed it, including the Film Academy, culminates and gives way to the next one talking about shorts. Among the 15 shortlisted for the category of best fiction short film at the Oscars, four comedies with a Spain brand have slipped in: El tratamiento, by Alvaro Carmona; Plastic Killer, by Jose Pozo; Tula, by Bea de Silva, and Votamos, by Santiago Requejo.

All of them have met this Tuesday at the Madrid headquarters of the Academy to celebrate a milestone – 25% of those selected by Hollywood have been imagined, produced and shot in Spain – and defend comedy, a genre “penalized” by critics. , between jokes and ironies —”The four will pass and the one who is not Spanish will win,” Pozo joked. 

“Light comedies no longer exist,” Carmona has emphatically declared. The genres have merged and have resulted in a modern comedy where the themes lend themselves to discussion and not to “joke for joke’s sake.” Although for De Silva it is sad that making people laugh is treated as a minor art. The youngest member of the group insists that this genre is born from pain and that is why, when she decides to tell a story, her refuge is laughter. Tula deals with the lack of sexual education through a conversation between the cleaner of a private school and the daughter of the director who has become pregnant. “When you bring up this topic with another woman, who may even be a stranger, you automatically become sisters because we have all gone through something similar,” she explained.

But it is not the only one of the four projects with a claim cut; in fact, it is another point that they have in common. Requejo, who was nominated for a Goya last year with Votamos, enters fully into the prejudices about mental health. He is not clear about having created a comedy, rather a drama with comic overtones, but his purpose as a director is to “put the accent on things that are not talked about.” The short was born from a story that a psychiatrist told him: a community of neighbors had turned against one of them because he was planning to rent his apartment to a person with mental health problems. “When I got home, I looked at the front door and I thought that I would have opposed it too and I didn’t know why,” he recounted.

Carmona bets on the treatment for the obsession with aesthetics in a world in which she thinks that personal empowerment is confused with superficiality. “It was funny to think how far you are willing to go to stop being bald,” he summarized about his short film, in which a man with alopecia goes to a clinic that offers a special remedy to cure baldness in one day for other. Pozo, for his part, appeals to individual responsibility in climate change in Plastic Killer, whose final intention is not to make a claim “pamphlet”, according to the director. Amparo, her main character, lives in an old abandoned haberdashery in the center of Madrid with Carmela’s only company, a plastic bag that she considers her daughter.

One of these directors could repeat on March 12 the feat of Alberto Mielgo, who won the Oscar for best animated short film last year for The Windshield Wiper (The Windshield Wiper in English). But there is no competitive environment between them: “There are four of us and there are five gaps,” Requejo joked. But first, on January 24, they will find out if they make the final list of candidates, where they will join the seven Spanish fiction short films that have been nominated in past years: Handcuffs, by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo; 7:35 in the morning, by Nacho Vigalondo; Binta and the great idea, by Javier Fesser; We Were Few, by Borja Cobeaga; That Wasn’t Me, by Esteban Crespo; Timecode, by Juanjo Gimenez, and Mother, by Rodrigo Sorogoyen. A whole list of directors who have become benchmarks for De Silva:

Requejo says that he almost fell out of the window the day the shortlist was announced: “I never thought that this short could travel outside of Spain.” Everyone agrees that their arguments are very local, although they touch on universal problems and “this is liked abroad.” Among the 200 international nominations submitted, another four Spaniards have been included in the first qualifying phase and this is due to the general “good quality” of the productions and not shooting with the prizes in mind, but rather telling interesting stories, says Requejo.

During their festival tours they have filled auditoriums with 400 people, which contradicts the belief that shorts do not reach the general public. The four directors see two problems in this regard: the lack of promotion and the scant presence on streaming platforms. The consumption of audiovisual products, paradoxically, is becoming shorter and faster. YouTube, Instagram or TikTok videos are examples of this. “We have the idea that nobody is going to pay eight euros to see a ten-minute short, but that is obsolete, we have to adapt to the new distribution formats”, De Silva maintained.

Now they have 15 intense days of promotion that are taken with humor. Carmona has decided to stop sleeping in order to reach all the projects that she has underway and has left advertising in the hands of specialized press agencies in this awards period. “They are specific agencies for this month and a half, I wonder what they will do the rest of the year”, she has joked. De Silva gives thanks to the time difference because “when they wake up, everything they have asked for has already been done.” And Pozo wishes that all the problems would be having to multiply if the Oscar race continues.

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