"Under Control" is a Colombian-Spanish short that shows the story of a lonely man whose mental health has been affected by the pandemic.
The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou
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"The confinement due to the covid-19 pandemic has brought out the worst demons of a lonely man, who, desperate to understand what is happening, removes every last of his arguments to find an iota of clarity that frees him from so much confusion”.
This is the plot of "Under Control", a short written by the Colombian Jessica De La Rosa and directed and starring José Sospedra that puts on screen all the thoughts that many have formulated, but few have dared to express with respect to the true nature of the current coronavirus outbreak.
José Sospedra is a Spanish actor with a long career in film, television and theater. His great qualities have led him to interpret different characters in productions in Europe and Latin America. Some of his most notable works are: "The abysmal life", "Land of wolves", "La Pola", "Lost", "Wash, mark and bury", among others.
In this short film, he ventures as a director, guiding the character's emotions and speeches towards telling a story beyond words.
David Félix Manzano, co-star of this story, is a director, screenwriter and a graduate of the Shakespeare Foundation of Spain. After studying in London he settled in Bogotá where he was successful with the play "More troubled than ever."
In the short, both European actors are part of a conversation that reflects how harmful confinement can be to people's mental health.
"Under Control" has had a great reception around the world. As proof of this, the short is filming at five festivals: Essex Doc Fest (Quarantine films) 2020 in England, 8th Kolkata Shorts International Film Festival 2020 in India, Online Isolation Short Videos Festival 2020 in Moscow, Filmets (Badalona Film Festival), and Spring Short of the Year from Spain. In the latter, the short filmed in Bogotá received special mention from the jury.
The Woman Post met with the scriptwriter and director of the short, whose similar tastes brought them together not only sentimentally but professionally to learn more about the details of this work.
The Woman Post: Jessica, the idea to create this story was born from you. Tell us a little about yourself.
Jessica De La Rosa: I am a social communicator and journalist. Actually, I am not an audiovisual producer or anything like that, but I had always really liked this topic, especially writing, making videos and telling stories.
TWP: José, what challenge did “Under Control” represent for you?
José Sospedra: I had always wanted to direct and had never had the opportunity to do so. Being at home and with the team ready, we made the short as a creative exercise, but once we started receiving good reviews we started moving it through festivals, being selected in five. In one of them we have received the special congratulations of the jury, we are very happy with the result.
TWP: The idea comes from Jessica and from a conversation between you guys, what exactly were you talking about?
JS: It was a moment when we were quite frustrated and angry because we didn't understand anything that was going on. At that time, we had already been locked up for about 40 days and it was a little unbearable. We started talking about the coronavirus issue, what is being done and what is not being done, about conspiracy theories and Jessica began to talk about interesting things so I put my phone to record the conversation. The next day we listened to the recording and transcribing it, we realized that it was important and special material, so we looked for a way to relate those ideas in a story and that is how "Under Control" came about.
TWP: The short opens with the following quote: "There is only one absolute truth and that is that the truth is relative." Does this sentence summarize what you wanted to cover throughout the story?
JDLR: We are surrounded by so much information, it being our decision to believe it or not, but the idea that it may be true or false affects you. Beyond the interpretations and opinions that the character gives, we are not telling an absolute truth at any time, but we also do not believe that what the media has shown us is the truth.
TWP: How long did it take you to film everything?
JS: The truth is, very little time. We didn't really know how to put it flat. We were coming up with ideas and we were doing it, because it was a short one of almost half an hour and we had to cut everywhere. We also wanted to tell a little about the mental instability that the character has through sounds and playing with the discomfort of the viewer.
TWP: The short was recorded and published in May 2020, how did you understand from such an early start of the quarantine the magnitude of what was happening?
JDLR: Fear was what motivated us to get all this out because we were in a state of total paralysis not only in the face of projects and the everyday, but also on a psychological level and we wanted to show that internal conflict between the rational and the passionate.
TWP: Precisely with the dialogue a climax is being reached, especially in the part of "everything is a political act", did you want to cause a reflection in the spectators with this or simply to vent?
JDLR: When the character begins to get excited about these issues, we want people to think a little more about their acting within a society; because beyond the information we receive and everything that happens around us, we have a responsibility to ourselves and to others and we must consider ourselves as political subjects.
TWP: Where can the general public watch the short?
JDLR: Right now we are shooting festivals. We are at a Spanish festival called Spring Short of the Year, they assigned us a space inside the home and the more views we have, the more chances we have of winning.
JS: This award depends on the public, not the jury. Until October it will be available on this website. The option to see it will be available once it finishes shooting through all the festivals.
TWP: This merger between Colombia and Spain is very beautiful, the idea of seeing how a foreigner lives in Bogotá through quarantine is very attractive.
JDLR: Yes, the truth is precisely because of José's honesty to act, that conviction that he has to do what he likes and to be one of the lucky ones who works on what he is passionate about, he had an urgent need to act and everyone told me so the days. So we said "this is the perfect opportunity for you to take action." He has a very small circle of friends and colleagues here in Colombia so we called a friend of his.
JS: We also wanted the other character to be Spanish (Author's note: the reason is in the plot twist of the short), at first we thought that he was a Colombian, but it was going to be strange by the end, so we decided the 2 Spaniards.
TWP: José, how did you turn out in Colombia?
JS: I was living in Colombia 10 years ago during the filming of "La Pola" (playing the character of Leandro Sabaraín). I was here for a year and a half recording it and then I returned to Spain. Last year they called me from RCN to do a casting for a novel, but in the end they removed me because they said that the Colombian public was not going to feel identified with a Spanish actor as the main character. I stayed for a month and I got work on Caracol novels in "La Venganza de Analía" and my friend (David Félix Manzano) came to Colombia to record a Spanish series that is "Perdida" that is on Netflix that has Colombian and Spanish cast and it happens in a house in Colombia. They took advantage and I went to work there too and I met Jessica. I went back to Spain in October to record a series and as soon as I finished I came here again and here I was caught by quarantine.
TWP: Anything else you would like to add?
JDLR: I want to be very emphatic that although it was not planned, that does not detract from the merit of developing an idea, it did want to be shared from the bottom of our heads (not even from our hearts), because it was a situation that it was bothering us and we wanted to get it out. The best way to do it was through this short that we hope will reach many people because we want them to reflect beyond just seeing it and think about everything that is happening to us now that it is a situation that definitely marked the history of humanity. only because of the virus but because of how it conditioned our lives, and also reflect a little on our role in all this and how we should consume the information that comes to us.
JS: Also, something we would like to emphasize is that sometimes we stop doing things because we don't have money or we don't have the means. The work that 15 people usually do, few of us have done without having knowledge of anything, neither editing nor sound. We had slight notions and we have done everything by looking for tutorials on YouTube, so excuses of "no money" do not work. I want to thank and claim that the things that you want to do, can be done.