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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 09.29.17] scifi drama

Writer/director Mateo Gil has never shied away from big ideas. Be it as a writer or a writer/director, he tackles life's questions with insight and an understanding that engages audiences without talking down to them.

His latest, a cryogenic drama called Realive (review), tackles the questions that arise when one lives beyond our natural lifespan. That's the case of Marc Jarvis (Tom Hughes), who has himself frozen until medical technology can cure his life-threatening illness.

The movie imagines, rather vividly, the hardship of waking up from years of frozen sleep but beyond that, touches on some of the bigger ideas Gil is well known for: how does ones psyche handle the fact that everyone you once knew is gone and that the world has changed beyond recognition?

I had a chance to speak with Gil about the project, where the idea for it came from and Hughes, who gives a brilliant performance, was cast.

Realive opens theatrically on September 29 and will be available on VOD and Digital HD on October 3.

Your movies, both the ones you direct and those that you write for others, are very intellectual. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I don't consider myself very intellectual. I like ideas but am not especially cultivated person or a real intellectual. I will admit that sometimes I like to approach things from an intellectual point of view. I like to think about things.

That really comes through in the films because your movies are a combination of big ideas but they're presented so that they're easy to understand. It's one of the things I really like about your films and what I really like about Realive. Where the idea for this particular story come from?

I had the very first idea for this when I was writing Open Your Eyes more than 20 years ago. I always wondered, in the future, what interest people would have in resurrecting people from today. Beyond that, what it would be like to be cryonized and resurrected in a time that is not yours where you don't know anyone and your world view is old fashioned. Those questions stayed in my mind for many years until in 2008 I read the news - the same one you see in the movie - that cryonization is now a viable option.

You mention having lived with this idea for 20 years. Has it been in the back of your mind the entire time or have you brought it out from time to time to work on?

It happens with many of my ideas. They come and go for many years. It wasn't a story that was always on my mind but it was something that I kept coming back to.

More than the idea, it was the questions that I kept coming back to.

There was another movie that was very important to get the "wood for the fire" and that was The Sea Inside. That movie doesn't have anything to do with this but there are some problems, some questions, that are in that movie that informed this movie.

It seems like you've been working towards this for some time.

Oh yes, it was maturing in my mind.

I really love the movie not just for the idea but for the performance Tom Hughes' performance. I can't imagine it was an easy role to cast, notably because it's not only a really emotional perofrmance but also a really physical one.

It was a little difficult. Tom appeared in a casting call in London and it was very close to the start of shooting. We were in a really dangerous situation because it was close to the start of shooting and we hadn't found an actor yet. It was very hard to find the actor but when I saw him I knew he was perfect. He had exactly the combination of energy I was looking for.

You're right about the emotion but also we, the audience, had to understand, without thinking about it, that he's not a bad guy but he's also not a nice guy. It was very difficult to find someone who embodied that.

Do you find it easier to work with actors working in a different language now that you've directed a couple of movies in English?

I was a little nervous starting this project because there's a lot of subtlety in the script. Thankfully there was a natural understanding on set with all of the actors and it was very easy to work with them so I was very happy once shooting started.

I was particularly thankful for the ease of working with the actors because the shooting was difficult for many technical aspects.

I'm curious about how you decide if a project is going to be in English or Spanish. Is that a conscious choice or is guided by the way a project develops?

It depends on the project. In this instance, there were two aspects at play. I needed the story to happen in a country with a cryonization warehouse and there are not many. If you cryonize yourself in Spain they are going to take your body somewhere else because there are no warehouses in Spain. I also needed the film to be shot in English for financial reasons.

So we shot in the Canary Islands because there, I could pretend we were in California. It was an equilibrium of many aspects.

Realive opens theatrically on September 29 and will be available on VOD and Digital HD on October 3.

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