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5 Questions with Pablo Trapero of The Clan

The Clan is one of the scariest films that an audience member will see all year. The Argentian film, which debuted to a thunderous response at this year’s TIFF, (as well as at Venice, where it won the Silver Bear), is electric. We were lucky to sit down with writer and director Pablo Trapero at the Templar Hotel in Toronto, along with his translator, and discussed this magnificent and frightening family story.

Scene Creek: Your film seems real and unreal at the same time. Does that make sense?

Pablo Trapero: This was one of the biggest challenges that I had, to show the reality. I offer the audience the other way, the stuff that is unbelievable. So are you ready for that? Fasten your seatbelts and join me, you know? It is like a, how you say, a rollercoaster! Once you’re there, it’s hard for you to stop.

Scene Creek: Did you think that the father and the son felt regret?

Pablo Trapero: I don’t think so. I mean, Arquìmedes, to his very last day, was like, “who, what, whom”?

Scene Creek: The actor playing the father, Guillermo Francella, was scary because he was so calm. How did you get him to act in that way?

Pablo Trapero: That’s a great compliment. It was enjoyable in a such a way, if I can use that word. I’m not joking! So he was surprised but sad to not be recognized by people on the street. And he was challenged and it was a tiring process. He changed his way of walking, his way of talking, and his way of dealing with things. Yesterday (at the premiere at the Elgin Theatre), I told a funny story: I asked him not to blink. Like just, keep not blinking, (Trapero does an impression of not blinking for a short time). He’s begging me, “Pablo, I can’t do it any longer”. So it’s really something that we created together, and I pushed him very hard, but we enjoyed the process.

Scene Creek: The soundtrack is incredible. Did you have trouble obtaining the rights to any of the songs?

Pablo Trapero: Oh, absolutely. You had troubles to get it, but we got it, we did it. But it took ages. The last three days of the mixing process were really a moment for us, because we wanted to close the mix, but we don’t have some of the final signature tune. So for example, The Kinks, (a song by the band, Sunny Afternoon, is prominently featured), it’s about the outfit, about the companies, it’s a really long process. It was about the time, the eighties, but it’s also about the victims, they play the songs that loud, because it was done this way with the victims. There’s all this happiness that was done with the eighties, a certain sense of lightness.

Scene Creek: Do you find the banality of the story, how they went about their lives, to be quite scary?

Pablo Trapero: Absolutely. At first I thought that the story would be a mix between melodrama and thriller, like a horror movie (laughing), and I decided to use it. Like when the phone rings, and the whole family is worried and it’s the general that calls, it’s like horror.

The Clan opens on March 25th at The Varsity in Toronto, and in select cities to follow.