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Mortal Playground: Interview with the filmmakers of Pim Pam Pum

Asier Urbieta and Andoni de Carlos, winners of the Terry George Film Challenge, talk about their dangerous childhood, cinematic influences, and how to tell a story in 60 seconds.

October 6, 2017  |  by Creative Armenia

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Pim Pam Pum, the winner of Terry George film challenge

1. Could you describe for us the physical setting of Pim Pam Pum?


The story takes place in our childhood. Andoni and I are Basques. When we were children, in the 80s, there used to be many protests in our town due to our country’s political conflict. It was very common for us children to go and see the protests and play to pick up police pellets. Of course, whoever found the most police pellets was the winner.


2. What made you want to tell this story?


When we became adults we realized that the game we had was a brutal metaphor of the innocence of children. We realized that what for us was a normal game, had nothing normal in it. We faced a lot of danger and lived in a very violent reality for a couple of 14 year-olds. We began to realize how many children have no choice but to play in warlike environments and how often they pay for the atrocities of adults. It looks like an innocent game, but there is a very powerful story behind it. Children always find a way to be happy even though they live in a very hostile environment.


3. At what point, when you were young, did you lose your innocence of the conflict surrounding you?


It's rather a complicated question. I think we were losing innocence little by little, we started playing in protests collecting police pellets at 14 years old -- eventually, we realized that such a game wasn’t normal. Andoni and I met each other in London when we were 20 years old, a new city and another reality. Then we lived in Madrid for 7 years. I believe the distance is what made us see that what we lived through in our homeland was not normal.

4. How did you approach the challenge of telling a story in under 60 seconds?


This is a perfect story to tell in 60 seconds, because it is a concrete fact, very brief, that at the same time is a much deeper metaphor that can make the viewer think. That was the most attractive part of the challenge: to find a very brief story that can make the viewer whole. It has been impressive that a jury as prestigious in the film industry as in human rights – with such members Terry George and Atom Egoyan – have chosen our piece as the winner. We are very grateful for the prize and for being part of the important anthology Children of War, which we hope will have an interesting tour in international festivals.


5. What are some of your cinematic influences? Favorite films, favorite directors?


It was very shocking that the challenge was presented by Terry George, because In The Name of The Father is the reference to the film that we are developing. We are also very passionate about The Promise and Hotel Rwanda. Atom Egoyan is also one of our favorite directors: Exótica is a marvel to us; Ararat, Where the Truth LiesChloe are movies we have seen many times. Cinematic influences are very varied, we like quite diverse things, from European directors such as Michael Winterbottom or Jacques Audiard to Asians like Kim Ki Duk or Wong Kar Wai, or Americans like Martin Scorsese or Darren Aronofsky. We love Denis Villeneuve. For this short film the influences were Nine Lives by Rodrigo García, Children of Men by Alfonso Cuaron, and Victoria by Sebastian Schipper [a feature film in a single shot].

Pim Pam Pum set

 Asier Urbieta on the set of Pim Pam Pum

6. Have you ever had any contact with Armenia or Armenian subject matter?  


We have always been interested in history and especially knowing different places of the planet. We have informed ourselves through film and literature on the Armenian Genocide. We know that it is one of the oldest cultures of mankind and that it has a great diaspora spread all over the world. This award has generated a peculiar curiosity about your culture in a greater degree. We would love to travel to Armenia to get to know it first hand.


7. Do you feel there is a certain kind of war story that cannot be told on film?


We believe you can try to reflect any story in a movie, but that cinema and reality are two different things. The cinema can try to reflect a feeling, an idea, an event…but to live it, in reality, is something very different.

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