Interview with José Mari Goenaga, director of “Flowers” and “80 Days”

Loreak (Flowers), your Basque-language film, has been nominated at the Goya Awards for Best Film and preselected to represent Spain at the next Oscars. It’s the first time that this has happened, how do you feel?
Very, very happy; it would be wonderful if the Basque language were represented in the Oscars for the first time. Even so, I would like people to vote for the film because they think it’s the best one.

A woman receives flowers from an anonymous person every week, always at the same time of day. Where did you get the idea of this story from?
The original idea came from an image: the flowers that we sometimes see on the roadside which have been left in remembrance of someone who’s lost their life in that place in a traffic accident. It’s a dramatic image, one that everyone recognises. But it’s also a very mysterious one as you generally don’t see the person who puts the flowers there; you see they’re renewed regularly but never actually see anyone do it or, indeed, know who does it. So, we asked ourselves, what would happen if the family or friends of the person who had lost their life in such a way were to discover that somebody anonymous was leaving flowers at the place of the accident? That was the origin of one of the plots.
The film has two main plots. The one just mentioned comes up later on, and the first one springs from the song “A bouquet of violets”, where a woman receives flowers from an anonymous person. In this film there’s also a woman (Ane), who starts to receive flowers every week but she doesn’t know who the sender is. In both plots we play with the same element: there are some mysterious flowers, there’s someone who’s excited by them, and there’s someone who perceives the flowers as a threat. We liked the game of mirrors between both these plots and how one is the consequence of the other.

In this festival you’re presenting Flowers and 80 Days. Which common characteristics do you think they share?
The films have grabbed people’s attention because both focus on female characters, and even more so because both films are directed by men. It wasn’t something planned; the two stories came about in completely different ways. The idea for 80 Days was developed by Jon Garaño, who also drafted the first script, whereas the idea behind Flowers was mine.
80 Days is a warmer film, and is focussed on its characters, whilst Flowers is colder and, although we don’t ignore the characters, a greater focus is given to the plot and storylines. In both cases we intend to show a great fondness for our characters and empathise with them even if their circumstances are totally alien to our own.

José Mari Goenaga will be in Edinburgh presenting Loreak (Flowers), Saturday 3rd October, 2.45pm, and 80 Days, 3rd October, 8.30pm, both at Edinburgh Filmhouse.
You could also enjoy 80 Days on Monday 5th October at 6pm (introduced by Prof Nuria Capdevilla from the University of Exeter).

Buy your tickets for Flowers here.
Buy your tickets for 80 Days here.