Rodrigo Sorogoyen shooting The Beasts

Source: Latido Films

Rodrigo Sorogoyen

The Cannes Premiere screening of Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s The Beasts throws an international spotlight on the acclaimed Spanish director for the first time. 

The film stars Denis Ménochet and Marina Foïs as a French couple who settle in a remote Galician village to run an organic farm. However their arrival does not go down well witih all of the villagers, some of whom regard them as a threat to their way of life. 

It is Sorogoyen’s Cannes debut, and his fifth feature following multiple-Goya winning political thriller The Candidate (also known in English as The Realm) in 2018, May God Save Us in 2016, and most recently The Mother, which was showcased in Horizons at Venice in 2019. He works regularly in TV, most recenty on Moviestar+ drama series called Riot Police, and has made a name for himself for his fast thrillers and crime dramas. 

The Beasts is a Spanish-French co-production between Arcadia Motion Pictures, Sorogoyen’s Caballo Films and Le Pacte.  Latido Films is handling inteernatonal sales. 

The Beasts is new territory for you in terms of story, theme, style and landscape. What triggered the change?
It’s different indeed. What motivates Isabel Peña [the film’s co-scriptwriter and long-time Sorogoyen collaborator] are stories. When we made May God Save Us we were inspired by the tension in the streets in Madrid at the time, and here we were inspired by a news story of a violent event in a village in Galicia. 

Visually, The Beasts doesn’t have the long takes with camera moves that you are so fond of. But the framing is very meticulous.
One of the things I like best besides writing is planning the visuals of a film, devising what fits the story best. In this case, I went for a more classical approach and dared to shoot a long take without moving the camera an inch, letting the action and the acting convey the tension. Shooting outdoors we had to consider the changes in the landscape we needed, so we started late summer, then stopped for a month to allow enough time to capture autumn colours and even snow, which was perfect.

I told the DoP, Alejandro de Pablo, he had all the time in the world to prepare each shot. All the rush of previous films was gone. I wanted this film to be particularly aesthetic, a leap forward. We were not looking to capture the beauty of the landscape only, we were more invested in capturing its complexities. It’s beautiful and harsh at times  and that’s what suited the story.

Why did you bring Le Pacte on board as a French co-producer? 
We had already worked together on Mother and films of mine like The Campaign and May God Save Us have made more [money] in France than in Spain. In terms of storytelling, since we had to have two foreigners, we decided they would be French from the start of the project.

The Beasts

Source: Festival de Cannes

‘The Beasts’

The out-of-town strangers, the clash between different ways of life, and nature, are all themes that link The Beasts with the tradition of the western. How much were you looking to play with these themes?
I would not have been comfortable doing a classical western, but I did enjoy playing with all these themes and then taking the film in a different direction although I cannot reveal much more without spoilers. I will say I liked exploring the different way men and women deal with conflict. This is a story I had been meaning to do for a long while, before The Realm even, but we had to go for the latter first because of all the political corruption cases imploding in Spain. It made the topic more pressing, so we left what is now The Beasts for later.

There are some Don Quijote-like elements too in the character played by Denis Ménochet, fighting the set-up of windmills in the valley where he lives?
Yes! Someone who fights for his dreams.

It’s your first time in Cannes. What do you make of the festival? 
This is my first time here with a film but also the first time I have set foot in Cannes. I’m walking around with a smile on my face, like a kid, since I got here.