Cinema is audiovisual, that is, image and sound (even silent films). And, although sometimes it does not occupy the importance it deserves because of the impact generated by the visual, music, through its soundtracks, is of capital importance. It is no exaggeration, then, to say that much of the ability of the seventh art to convey emotions derives from the good work of composers and sound technicians. In the same way, it is fair to conclude that a fragment of the personality of a cinematographic work is due exclusively to what enters through the ears. So, what would happen if a soundtrack is reinterpreted by other musicians? This is one of the questions posed by the Retina Festival, a cultural proposal to be held in Zaragoza from this Wednesday until September 25, in which groups and soloists create a new protagonist in the films they face: their music.
The Retina already reaches this 2022 a fifth edition that, before arriving in the Aragonese capital, moved for the first time to the CaixaForum of Seville, Barcelona and Valencia. In these cities they were able to enjoy in July some of the programmed shows, such as Le Parody and El espíritu de la colmena, in Seville and Barcelona, or Carla and Gravity, in Valencia.
As its director, Eduardo Pérez, explains, the festival was born from another project, the Cinemascore held in Castellón, which was based on the same premise, the question of how much a film changes if its music does. “We thought it was a curious exercise and an interesting challenge to get the bands out of their comfort zone,” he says.
It is also a proposal that, in his opinion, is “original for the public and allows to unite different areas” and, in the case of Zaragoza, in festival format, it opens to make “more reflection” with its segment of talks and screenings.
“The basis of the proposal is to change a film by adding the imprint of each group”, says Pérez about what is “a very important challenge” for the musicians, since they are not facing a blank canvas, but one “already painted, which they have to accompany”.
The surrealism of El Milagro de P. Tinto and Fetén Fetén Fetén or the challenge of Casi Reptil with Her.
“When we propose it, we always warn them -the artists- that it is something demanding and what is important is that they are enthusiastic about the idea because it is something that is going to require a lot of work. It has to motivate them a lot,” emphasizes Retina’s director.
In this fifth installment, the main section of the festival, that of films with live music, will have the Burgos band Fetén Fetén Fetén facing El Milagro de P. Tinto (Javier Fesser, 1998), this Friday, at the CaixaForum in Zaragoza, and the Andalusian Le Parody doing the same with El espíritu de la Colmena (Víctor Erice, 1973), the next day and in the same space.
The Aragonese Les Conches Velasques will reinvent Lo que Arde (Oliver Laxe, 2019) on Thursday 22 and the Catalan Carla will fill with music the space of Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, 2013) on Friday 23, both at the Teatro del Mercado.
Amorante will be in charge of redefining The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963) and the Zaragozans Casi Reptil will face the difficult task of resignifying with their music the wonderful Her (Spike Jonze, 2013) on September 24 and 25.
Before that, this Wednesday the festival will land in Zaragoza with a talk by musician and philosopher Marina Hervás at the IAACC Pablo Serrano about the evolution of the music used in the western genre, while another talk will address the figure of composer Vangelis, author of soundtracks for classics like Blade Runner or Chariots of Fire, who recently passed away.
In addition, this year the Zaragoza Film Library will once again host the Retina, something “crucial”, according to Perez. This space will host screenings of two films in which the soundtrack plays a particularly important role.
Specifically, they will be La Isla Mínima (Alberto Rodríguez, 2014), winner of the Goya for Best Original Music and Best Sound, on September 14, and Sound of Metal (Darius Marder, 2019), which won the Oscar for Best Sound, on September 21.
Local talent, one of the cornerstones of the project.
Although consolidated bands from all over Spain have passed through the festival, one of its cornerstones is the promotion of local talent, with the participation of Aragonese musicians. As Pérez points out, this is “something important” for Retina, since they want their proposal to have “an important link with the city” and because they consider it “a way of projecting the groups outwards”.
On this occasion, Les Conches Velasques and Casi Reptil will be the bands that will put their local stamp on Retina. Juan Vallés, the bass player of the second of these groups, explains to Go Aragón that participating in the festival means “a lot of work”.
“We knew it was something that requires a lot of time to do well,” he says about a challenge in which other tasks, such as composing new songs, would be “relegated”.
However, he emphasizes that Casi Reptil took up the gauntlet “with great enthusiasm”, since all the members of the group are film buffs. “We immediately started scheming about which film could fit,” he says.
Finally, Her was the chosen one, a feature film “of consensus” among the members of the band that, because of the way it is recorded, with, for example, many conversations with helmets, offers “a framework of images” on which to play.
Facing this film has been “a very big challenge” for the band, since it is an Oscar winner and the soundtrack is by the Canadians Arcade Fire. “It may have a sound close to ours, and staying true to what we do, it fit that sound within the film,” says the bassist.
For Diego Galaz, half of the duo Fetén Fetén Fetén, the perspective is similar with El Milagro de P. Tinto: “It has been very pleasant, very fun, but very complex, because the soundtrack that already existed, by Suso Sáez, is spectacular”.
“It was a very arduous and complicated job, but absolutely fun. We also realized that Fetén Fetén Fetén’s sonorities looked good in the scenes and the surrealism was enhanced a bit”.
A surrealism that, by the way, he also observes in his own music: “I guess playing with a camping chair or a handsaw has a surreal point,” he says, sardonically.
In fact, the saw is one of the instruments they will use in their performance, in addition to violin and accordion, which are their two fundamental elements, and other more special ones such as the theremin.
Tickets for the films with live music can be purchased on the festival’s website for a price of 12 euros, in the case of the events scheduled at Teatro del Mercado, and 6 euros for those to be held at CaixaForum Zaragoza. Access to the talks programmed at IAACC Pablo Serrano and the screenings at Filmoteca de Zaragoza will be free until full capacity is reached.