2015

VIRUS OF FEAR (EL VIRUS DE LA POR)

VENTURA PONS

The day the group of swimming pool children begin their exercises without a bubble, Jordi, one of the monitors is accused to kiss a kid. The parents react hysterically. The versions about the kiss do not match and they fight with suspicions, doubts and fears. Is it a tender gesture to calm a frightened child or the monitor had any other purpose? 

 

“Virus of fear” questions our contemporary lives, human relations, prejudices and trust.

 

EL VIRUS DE LA POR, VENTURA PONS
VIRUS OF FEAR (EL VIRUS DE LA POR)

The day the group of swimming pool children begin their exercises without a bubble, Jordi, one of the monitors is accused to kiss a kid. The parents react hysterically.

 

The versions about the kiss do not match and they fight with suspicions, doubts and fears. Is it a tender gesture to calm a frightened child or the monitor had any other purpose? 

 

 “Virus of fear” questions our contemporary lives, human relations, prejudices and trust.

 

EL VIRUS DE LA POR  VENTURA PONS
EL VIRUS DE LA POR  VENTURA PONS
 
VIRUS OF FEAR
VO/SUBTIT-ENG
 
VIRUS OF FEAR
VO/ENG-SUBTIT.
 
VIRUS OF FEAR 

This virus, this fear

 

In 2012, I was struck by a magnificent play by Josep Maria Miró, at the Barcelona Grec summer theater festival, Archimedes’ Principle. After a long struggle, I have managed to bring it to the screen with this new film: Virus of fear. 

 

Some weeks later, I noticed a piece in a newspaper, where the writer talked about its plot: “Literature is a metaphor or it is nothing.” In his opinion: “The story presents a moral dilemma and does not hide a reflection on freedom in the private domain and even in the realm of intimacy that says a lot about the political compromises occurring in today’s society”. I find this viewpoint (which I share) to be an appropriate start to analyze the meaning of the story.

 

The central concept, the key to the whole narrative, is not suspicion, a theme that has been widely used in literature and the cinema. The Loudest Whisper, Doubt and The Chase are three examples that come to mind. What makes the story interesting, from our shared viewpoint, is that “it talks about how things are seen, the social transformation of the way of seeing, and how the same facts may be interpreted in a very different way today than they were a few years ago. In a world that is ever more proudly free and democratic, where access to information will provide equal opportunities for all, our way of seeing things has become tinged with fear, and behind this fear, true freedom has vanished. There is talk of renouncing freedom to achieve a hypothetical security. And on this, one can indeed undertake a political reading."

 

Four adult glances defending four very different positions. What kind of society do we want? Does fear of losing security generate violence? How does doubt, cast on a simple, seemingly innocent gesture that we’re not even sure actually happened, become paranoia, a sick social psychosis? Is suspicion, itself, the guilty verdict, the sentence? Are the new paths of communication, social networking, Facebook, perverse propagators of unverified information? Can these networks become lethal? Where will the limits of political correctness take us?

 

Moreover, and this is very interesting to me as a director, Virus of fear is formally proposed as a puzzle, a discontinuous narrative game, a “going back and forth” in a relatively short time. Everything happens in four short hours that disrupt the life of a young man assaulted by an inappropriate interpretation (or not?) of a small moment of emotion.

 

This narrative game with time, this reverse of logic structure, is for me a pleasure that goes back many years. I recognize it in a few works from my theatrical years four decades ago, and it can also be found in some of my previous films (Caresses, To Die (or not), The Why of it All), where I had the supreme pleasure of evading conventional narrative linearity. But in Virus of Fear, I find that its discontinuity, the small repetitions and switchbacks that firm up the story, help me to be more precise in conveying this political metaphor of our time.   

 

In Virus of Fear, Jordi (Rubèn de Eguia) is a swimming instructor in a Barcelona municipal sports complex. He’s a good professional, gentle, intuitive, and affectionate. A child he is teaching to swim is terrified of the water and Jordi attempts to calm his fear by kissing him on the cheek. A fear, of the water of his pool, that Jordi himself had as child, but not everyone sees the (alleged) kiss in the same way. He is accused of abuse, and in a few hours, undergoes a traumatic, emotional transformation that leads him from innocence to cruel suspicion — a life under relentless scrutiny. And perhaps, to his own negation as an individual. But, how do those around him react?

 

Anna, (Roser Batalla) a woman in her forties and manager of the complex, faces a difficult dilemma. Her experience in life is a suggestion of what has occurred in our culture. Now it would be impossible —political correctness forbids it!— to swim nude around children in the summer camps where the young Anna worked as monitor. Or for two camp monitors to let a homesick, crying child sleep between them. Quite natural, nothing unusual, no consequences.

 

Social behavior has changed: at some point certain actions ended without anyone being aware of it. They ended because the possibility to have an unattended relationship has been extinguished; our way of living is now under constant inspection, controlled by cameras that are hidden or not, real or imaginary, but always activated, always aware of what is or is not being done. Anna has lived this process of change over decades, but Jordi experiences it hastily, traumatically, in a single afternoon.

 

Hèctor, (Albert Ausellé) his colleague and friend, turns his back on him. He won’t get into this, and provides no opinions or advice. His silence is the sound of conformity, that of the submissive majority. And David, (Santi Ricart) one of the parents who takes his son to the pool, the prosecutor, represents the fear that encloses us. His obsession is security above freedom, convinced that he is protecting his kid from suffering and pain. He is a man of certainties and no doubts, that banishes the possibility of the mistake, and he gives the victim no chance.

 

A story of a radical humanism. An inconsequential fact becomes a deep social burden. As is occurring internationally with the great success of Miró’s play, I hope that Virus of Fear, this virus, this fear, will become a metaphor of our times and help us understand ourselves.

 

Ventura Pons

 

 
VIRUS OF FEAR

A production of

ELS FILMS DE LA RAMBLA, S.A.

TELEVISIÓ DE CATALUNYA, S.A.

 

Screenplay 

VENTURA PONS & JOSEP MARIA MIRÓ

 

Director and Producer

VENTURA PONS

 

TV3 Delegate Producer

ELISA PLAZA

 

Photography

ANDALU VILA SAN JUAN

 

Editor

MARC FARRERAS

 

Direct Sound

NATXO ORTÚZAR

 

Sound Studio

FYPOS

 
VIRUS OF FEAR
ANNA
ROSER BATALLA
JORDI
RUBÉN DE EGUÍA
HECTOR
ALBERT AUSELLÉ
DAVID
SANTI RICART
LAURA
DIANA GÓMEZ
 
VIRUS OF FEAR

MONTRÉAL (Quebec/ Canada) Festival des films du monde

BOGOTÁ (Colombia) International Film Festival

LOS ANGELES & Denver University (USA)

Istambul Film Festival (Turkey)

Santo Domingo  (Dominican Repúblic)

Guatemala, La Antigua Guatemala, Quetzaltenango y Escuintla (Guatemala)

FIC-CAT (Roda de Berà)

Quito (Ecuador)

Festival Zinegoak de Bilbao (Spain)

Piriapolis ( Uruguay)

Santiago MOVLH ( Chile)

Cambridge ( UK)

Santo Domingo Outfest ( Dominican Republic)

LesGaiCineMad ( Spain)

Halifax ( Canada)

La Cinémathèque québécoise of Montreal (Canada)

OUTFEST Lima (Peru)

LGFEST Panama (Panama)

ICA London (UK)

Llamale H Film Festival (Uruguay)

VIRUS OF FEAR

Affection under suspicion

 

Director Ventura Pons has made a very concise and measured film, putting his finger on the pulse of where every gesture can become an accusation.

 

It is on this slippery territory that playwright Josep Maria Miró wrote “Archimede’s Principle”. Set on the premises of a public swimming pool over a few hours, the play described the relentless collective (moral) poisoning  from a gesture which, while seemingly innocuous, can give rise to the most destructive misunderstandings: a swimming instructor’s embrace of a frightened child before he jumps into the water. Ventura Pons has turned Miró’s play into “Virus of fear” by using the very same cast that premiered it onstage.

 

The filmmaker has therefore approached the play with a strong determination to be faithful, but striving at the same time, with the subtle resources of the language of film, to enhance the functionality of the brilliant original structure; this consists of constant jumps back and forward in time to contextualize earlier scenes and thus play a sophisticated game with the viewers’ perceptions. Pons transforms what in the theater were small changes in the set, contrasting camera placements that make it clear that, at heart of the conflict  is all about point of view. The story moves forward, the tempo is charged with potential suspects and innocents, making every spectator a passive accomplice, accusing or redeeming the central figure -Jordi, a monitor accused of pedophilia. In Miró’s play, he was shown already to be an essentially problematic man, full of edges and dark spots, but not necessarily guilty of what he is accused of.

 

Pons has made a very concise and measured film, putting his finger on the pulse of our society where every gesture can become an accusation. All of us are living in a state of self-imposed surveillance, with brand new tools of social interaction for the accusation.

 

Jordi Costa

El País

Los cubanos, hicieron un debate muy rico con el VIRUS, enacarado desde los abusos, el estigma de homosexual, el miedo latente en las sociedades y la propagación por medio de las redes sociales. Al público le gustó mucho la película.

José María "Cote" Romero

Director - Llamale H

A great story about how we are becoming increasingly fools. My God, how much truth we find in this film!

THOMAS SPIEKER.

FILM PRODUCER.

The argument is very impressive, because it deals the issue of sexual harassment of children, and it discusses the universal collective paranoia. One of the first books I read in the United States at age 17, was "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller, who under the historical story of the burning of witches in Massachusetts in the seventeenth century, spoke of the pursuit of suspected communism, the era of Senator McCarthy. Today the United States is also submitted to the dictatorship of political correctness and suspicion when someone is accused with insinuations (not to say actions) of sex. I've seen quite close a couple of occasions and it is usually the end of the academic career of the accused.

JOAN-RAMON RESINA

STANFORD UNIVERSITY. PALO ALTO, CALIFÒRNIA, USA

I liked it a lot. Ventura Pons, has chosen a topic or several hot topics. Facts such as these have created this uncontrolled fear that has lead people to behave irrationally. The director describes it so well in his film, in this regard that reminds me a bit of Fritz Lang's Fury. He earned a very good interpretation of the two leads, especially Roser Batalla, her expression is showing lots of sadness and doubt.The way Ventura Pons break the linear narrative and I liked both the opening and the end. Society has changed and will continue to change, sometimes forward, sometimes backward. In front of the doubt we prefer to blame a person who may be innocent when it would be more correct to maintain the presumption of innocence in all cases. Ventura Pons continues portraying so well the human soul!

RAMON LAMARCA

LONDON UK

VIRUS OF FEAR is very powerful. The performance by the female lead is excellent and very finely nuanced. She is a good actress and communicates a great deal by doing very little. The director has made an eloquent and thought provoking piece about the dangerous ambiguity of misunderstanding and prejudice. As so often happens in his work, Ventura Pons achieves a very concentrated focus which is very engaging. I hope it garners the success it deserves!

P. SMITH

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY. UK

I am very impressed by the plot presented by the film director, his way of presenting it (with its own peculiar temporal structure) and his power of suggestion and reflection on the society in which we live. That metaphorical power of the story seems to me indisputable, and I find Anna an especially attractive character, with her doubts, fears and hesitations; especially with her humanity.

FERNANDO LARA

Ciudad, estado

You do not disconnect from the subject for a moment, and this is a very good thing! Ventura Pons is very respectful with the original text of the former play and as happens there, it is also very good that the end is not resolved. When the movie is over anxiety is even greater because you can imagine 20 endings, all of them horrible ... the higher shot in a never ending crane and the music, what music!, a great success.This film is very well acted, edited and directed, of course, the director is very meticulous. I think this Virus, this Fear so well explained, will work very well.

RICARDO RAMON

CCEB URUGUAY

What a big surprise! My impression is that Ventura Pons’ directing style is marked here by the use of the camera as much as by narrative repetition, different perspectives on the same story (which fits perfectly with the theme of defamation and distortion of the story in social networks, which works as a virus out of control, infecting and inflecting the story through rapid reproduction). The water and dream symbols emphasize this even more. The actors’ work is outstanding. The depiction of the male body is fascinating. All eyes are on Jordi and only he. His role as both object and subject of desire is very credible because of his physical presence and his swagger. The theme of sexuality also goes a long way. Even more so in the case of Héctor. And the children. And the girl and the desiring and jealous mothers. The script is very good and above all, speaks without fear about a social taboo and the social panic associated with - brilliantly reflected in the parents’ reactions.

SANTIAGO FOUZ-HERNÁNEZ

DURHAM UNIVERSITY. UK

I loved VIRUS OF FEAR. Ventura Pons has managed to create an atmosphere of fear and insecurity. The actors are terrific. The interiors are claustrophobic, the sense of not knowing where there is truth, and at the end where the plot, the main story, is not closed easily. He has achieved something very special. Congratulations

MARÍA DELGADO

QUEEN MARY UNIVERSITY. LONDON UK

'Virus of Fear': Who can touch a child?

 

“Archimede’s Principle” by Josep Maria Miró was a theatrical happening, three years ago, and later on it has become a worldwide success: St. Petersburg, Buenos Aires, Athens, London, Mexico, Miami...  With such great impetus it was logical that filmmaker Ventura Pons decided to take it to the screen.

 

Pons’ film emphasizes the 'Virus of Fear' in the state of the permanent suspicion in which we live, and talk of a society where libel flourishes in social networks. The film questions the state of overprotection --or not-- in which children can live with parents in a permanent state of guilt, while pointing to the possible dictatorship of the child over them.

 

And so begins the drama. But this suggestive film by Ventura Pons goes further and notes, with the mechanisms of the tragedy, how the value of the facts is in the eye of the beholder and the speaker who spreads the word. We live in the times of Facebook and Twitter, something not to be ignored. The director confronts his adaptation with the wisdom that a history of 26 fims allows him. And with his usual need to see clearly. We must remember him also as a magnificent documentarist.

 

Pons is a master of camera movement, full of expressiveness. Confident in his knowledge of the film narrative… Pons makes the end something like a drama without recesses or harmonics, without resonances. Drama with a clear line. What you see is what you get, nothing less ... Pons has the good taste not to show the fact that triggers the tragedy, we have to admit it. So everyone just by judging, but Facebook will end judging us all.

Salvador Llopart

La Vanguardia

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