Julio Medem is back with his first film in four years, Chaotic Ana, which is screening at San Sebastian this week. Charlotte Rampling (speaking Spanish) and newcomer Manuela Velles star in the film, which ventures into the troubled, psychotic world of a young woman named Ana.
Following its world premiere at the Toronto film festival earlier this month, all the Medem trademarks are at play in Chaotic Ana - sumptuous visuals, mystical overtones and lots of sex.
"The person who bought it for Israel said to me three hours after watching the film she couldn't move because she was so touched and taken by the subject," Medem recalls of his trip to Toronto. "The images of the movie meant she had to sit down and absorb and digest it slowly."
The $7m film is co-produced by Medem's own production company Alicia Produce, and Sogecine, which has backed all of his films to date, including 1998's The Lovers Of The Arctic Circle and 2001's Sex And Lucia. Financing came from Canal Plus Spain, local Basque TV broadcasters, Media Plus and the Institute of Films and Video Arts of Spain. Sogepaq has international rights and has sold the film to Germany, Greece and Belgium, as well as Israel, with more deals on the table.
Chaotic Ana is the story of the journey of Ana during four years of her life, from 18-22," says Medem, who shot the film on Sony's HDCam 950. "Delving into her psychosis under hypnosis, Ana proves that her existence seems like a continuation of other lives of young women who died in a tragic way, all at the age of 22, and who live in the abyss of her unconscious memory. This is her chaos."
The deep character psychoanalysis stems from Medem's early years when he studied to be a psychiatrist, before succumbing to the allure of film-making. "When I was studying medicine, at the beginning of each year when I had no exams I made short films using a Super 8 camera," Medem reflects.
Medem made his feature debut in 1992 with Vacas, which won him the Goya award for best new director and marked Medem out as a visionary film-maker willing to tackle challenging subject matter. Vacas was sold to more than 30 territories off the back of its Goya win.
"The way that people received the movie convinced me I was capable of selling my stories in my own language and that I would be able to live from telling my stories," says Medem.