Don’t call me Veal It is, depending on the place at the table occupied, the best interview of Jordi Évole (or one of them if the reference at the opposite pole is the one perpetrated against Yolanda Díaz not so long ago) or an avowedly mediocre film. When last September 11 The mail published the now famous letter against the programming of the film in question within the San Sebastián Festival, the management of Zinemaldia rushed to present its defense and, alongside the arguments of a moral, political or historical nature regarding the commitment of the contest with its time and its land, others of a, let’s say, cinematic nature appeared. Indeed, making the monster speak has a long, devastating and very fruitful tradition in the history of recent cinema.
The classic example, without a doubt, is that of Claude Lanzmann and his mammoth piece Shoah. Throughout its nine and a half hours duration, three large groups of witnesses alternate: members of the Special commandos those in charge of cleaning the gas chambers of corpses, Nazis occupied in the camps or the management of the ghettos and inhabitants of the areas adjacent to them. What’s more, even though they were left out, the director even interviewed soldiers from the operational groups, or special platoons with the mission of eliminating the Jews during the Russian campaign. Lanzmann maintained that only what is morally correct can have an aesthetic meaning and, at this point in life, no one in their right mind can argue with the opportunity and sense of placing a film camera on the culprit, the monster, the murderer in their attempt to complete a film that would not only recount the Holocaust but outin the director’s words, the Holocaust.
Alongside this, one could cite the works of Rithy Panhwhich in its punctual description of the horror of the Khmer Rouge did not hesitate to turn some of the most brutal torturers into protagonists of films such as S-21: The Killing Machineor, much more spectacular, the exemplary work of Joshua Oppenheimer who, in The Act of Killingconvinced those responsible for the massacres committed in Indonesia between 1965 and 1966 to literally they will interpret their atrocities convinced of being part of an action movie. In all examples, the camera is placed in front and appeals to the viewer’s intelligence, never to his emotions. As Lanzmann said, his film is a film against generalities.
And now we come to Don’t call me Veal (which Netflix will broadcast starting December 15). And then doubts arise. Is there really any idea? One begins to suspect not when time and time again one comes face to face with the recurring shot of the interviewer touching his beard or looking with a serious expression or simply being there. It is understood that this is the place for questions, but it is misunderstood. The face of the questioner is, in effect, the place for the questionnaire on a live television set where time runs linearly for everyone. But does it make sense in a pre-recorded and exhaustively edited interview like this one? Évole not only appears in shot every time he speaks, he also does so when for whatever reason a cut is necessary, which, at times, gives more the impression that for Don’t call me Veal es It is more important to point out the innocence of the questioner than the guilt of the answerer. And that is very close to unreasonable, we will not say immoral so as not to disrupt.
One of the highlight and most talked about moments of the film even before the film’s premiere on Friday at noon is the supposedly sudden self-involvement of Josu Urrutikoetxea (Ternera) in a new attack on his sinister resume. The victim of that crime, Francisco Ruiz Sánchez, is the one that appears at the beginning and end of the film and says that tremendous thing about “The shots hurt me as much as the neighbors’ indifference.” When the terrorist makes his confession, the interview does not stop. Behind the interviewer’s astonished face, everything continues as if it appeared on the schedule of the program that at that moment was about to reveal a revelation. The level of detail in the questionnaire about a 1976 attack indicates that either the interview was interrupted at that moment, the questions were prepared and assembled in continuity, or that the news was agreed upon in advance. In one case or another, what is relevant is the breakdown of what we could call the principle of truthfulness, of the pact that such an interview, conducted face-to-face, maintains with the viewer. There is an unnecessary and somewhat ridiculous theatricalization that, in its own way, sets the tone for the entire documentary that, strictly speaking, is not such. Errol Morris, another recent and classic example, created a system in his productions so that the interviewee looked at the camera at all times, which is a way for him to look at the viewer. The idea, also scenic, is to make the questioner disappear. It would be the opposite example of Oprah-type interviews, which is the model to which it seems to aspire. Don’t call me Veal.