London-based Filmmaker Nathalie Biancheri’s short documentary “Xavier Corbero: Portrait of an Artist in Winter” reveals the first and last glimpse into the universe of iconic Spanish sculptor Xavier Corbero. A kaleidoscopic life and career that traversed a turbulent moment of Spanish history.
“Xavier Corbero: Portrait of an Artist in Winter” will screen at New York Lift-Off on Wednesday 27th June at 9:45pm, as part of Shorts Programme 2. We interviewed director Nathalie to hear a little more about how this film came to be, and her path as a filmmaker.
Interview by Sneh Rupra
Did you come across Xavier, who then inspired this doc, or did you know you wanted to make a doc in this field, and then went looking for a subject??
The film was commissioned by Natalie Kadoorie, a close friend of Xavier Corbero’s. She wanted to immortalise him as he was before he passed away. He’s always been very reticent to being film but in his old age he finally agreed.
What was your relationship with Xavier like on set? How much did you balance direction with simply acting as an observer?
He’s definitely boss! You can direct him, but only to a certain extent. He never complained about doing things for me, getting certain shots, walking, etc. but it was rather problematic when I actually wanted him to talk more about his art. His inspirations. He didn’t want to talk about that. He felt it was reductive.
How much, if any, creative input did Xavier have in the look and feel of the film?
None. After we shot I worked on the film with the Exec producer and an editor. Very sadly Xavier passed away before he got to see the finished film. His wife says he would have loved it, which makes me happy.
How did you approach filming the sculptures in comparison to filming people?
For me those sculptures were people, were ghosts from his life, fragments of humans he had met and forever immortalised. I used a MOVI to try and give them movement, dimensionality a sense of presence.
Were there any unexpected challenges you faced during production?
It was a relatively calm shoot and they were all very helpful. It was an easy shoot -very unique in this industry!
Did you discuss Xavier’s philosophy and approach to his work a lot before filming?
I had a three day interview process with him before he agreed to have me make a film about him! In the end he decided I was smart enough and genuine. That’s why he gave the OK.
Has the experience of making this film changed your perceptions in any way?
Every film is a fragment of the world you carry with you, isn’t it? He’s given me a small part of Spain, a small part of a time, of an art movement, of a way of being that will never be again.
Are there any new projects on the horizon that you can tell us about?
Too many 🙂 I just finished a feature doc I co-directed and have two fiction features on the go, in different stages. I continue to direct documentaries for hire as well as art films.