"Upon Entry, being a film d'auteur, was aimed more at prestige audiences than the mainstream, but we succeeded in bringing it closer to being a thriller"
After winning the FIPRESCI Prize in Tallinn (Estonia) and the Best Film Award at the Kolkata Film Festival (India), 'Upon Entry', the debut feature film by Alejandro Rojas and Juan Sebastián Vásquez, will feature in the Made in Spain section of the San Sebastian Festival. Carlos Juarez, from Basque Films (one of the producers of the film together with Zabriskie Films and Sygnatia), assesses the background behind this film.
- Upon Entry will be screened in the Made in Spain section of the San Sebastian Film Festival. What is your assessment of this feature?
We're happy, the film had its world premiere in Tallinn, which is another international world-class festival, and won the international critics' award. Now we've brought it to a close and we're back home for the San Sebastian Festival, which is not only the most important film festival in Spain, but also one of the major festivals worldwide. In addition, the Made in Spain section brings together the finest Spanish-produced works of the year, which is a great honour.
- To anyone who hasn't seen it yet and now has the opportunity to do so at the Zinemaldia, how would you present the film to us?
A young couple travels from Catalonia to the United States with the aim of advancing their careers and changing their lives, but circumstances at the airport cast doubt on all their plans. It really is a thriller that bring issues such as relationships and US immigration policies to light.
- The film and its cast have also won awards such as Best Film at the Kolkata International Film Festival and the Silver Biznaga for Best Male Performance for Alberto Ammann at the Malaga Film Festival. Are you satisfied with the response from the public and critics?
When we were selected to participate in the prestigious Tallinn Film Festival, we knew that the film would already have a good run at prestigious international festivals. We had always thought it was mainly an audience film, but at the Tallinn festival we won the international critics' prize. Since then, we have combined critical and public acclaim.
As a fact, we have seen the film from the perspective of the emigrant countries, with viewers getting heavily involved, but also from the perspective of countries that are recipients of immigration, as is the case in the United States, where it was received with great enthusiasm at the major Austin festival SXSW.
- Grossing more than 100,000 euros and more than 17,000 spectators, the film's performance has been more than positive. Were you surprised, or were these figures the ones you expected?
In truth, initially, being a film d'auteur, with new directors and shot in three languages, it was aimed more at prestige than at a mainstream audience, but we succeeded in bringing it closer to the thriller genre. I think that's why we've managed to have a more general audience and to be able to guarantee its release in cinemas abroad, as well as getting releases on streaming platforms and TV in part of the world.
- How far does the film still have to go?
The film will be available on Filmin and then on Movistar Plus+, but it will also be available on Netflix and on TVE and TV3 in free-to-air format. Worldwide, we reached an agreement with FOX through their TUBI platform for a global deal across the American continent, where they saw huge potential in the Latin audience.
We think there are still a few more events left where Upon Entry is likely to bring us more joy.