Spanish scriptwriter and director Anna M. Bofarull graduated with a degree in Film Directing from the Centre D’Estudis Cinematografics de Catalunya in Barcelona in 2000, and went on to do Film Studies at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris. Since then, she has written and directed over seven films, both fictional features and documentary features, which have screened at festivals internationally. Here, we learn more about her artistic intent for her film, Sonata for Cello.
How personally important was it for you to illustrate the pain felt by fibromyalgia sufferers?
This issue touches me closely, as my mother suffers from fibromyalgia. Every moment that I have lived by her side, every memory of her, is somehow tainted with the pain of this illness. As a syndrome that has been named as such very recently, fibromyalgia affects a very high percentage of people in Europe, most of them women. It is very difficult to diagnose, due to the changing nature of the physical pain areas. The patient usually gives the impression of someone who is always in pain but doesn’t seem to pinpoint a definite reason, and in addition suffers periods of depression. The illness is characterized by deep and chronic pain. Patients and doctors have no knowledge about its cause and, what is worse is the fact that up to this date there is no efficient treatment or cure for it.
The style of Sonata pays close attention to details. What films, if any, were inspiration?
[The stylistic objective of Sonata was] a motion picture cut after the model of an independent auteur and art house film in terms of the detail. For this we took as reference films as Three Colors: Blue, by Krzysztof Kieslowski, Autumn Sonata, by Ingmar Bergman or The Piano Teacher, by Michael Haneke.
Julia fights through physical pain in order to play her music. How much does music mean to her?
Music is for Julia, our lead character, something more than just a few notes; the music that she plucks from her cello represents a melody that envelops her day to day; it guides her look at life, sparks off her deepest emotions, [it is] her most intimate and intense pleasure. Music is something that lives inside of Julia, and she can hear constantly, even when other people cannot perceive it.
You say that music “lives inside of Julia” – it is her one true vocation. As an artist yourself, what is your personal view on the artistic process?
The process of artistic creation has always seemed to me as something of a very complex and in many aspects undecipherable nature. [It’s] a procedure that merges precise experience – e.g. painting a canvas, sculpting a rock, strumming a violin – with something indescribable and mysterious that has something to do with a gift that turns the person who possesses it into an exceptional being. Physical limitations felt by any artist who is driven by their spirit to create beautiful works of art, is a current problem of any period. [This explains] the daily fight of Julia’s willpower against the limits of her own body, and [her] need for tearing the intangible greatness from [her instrument despite] physical pain.