First year cinema studies major Alba Robledo Díaz, wrote, directed, and edited an auteur short film, titled Accidentes, that was accepted into the Incorto International Film Festival and the 4th Short Film Contest of Asociación LaBanda, a Spanish film festival in Madrid. The film was created for her 2020 Winter Term project and takes a slightly satirical point of view on death.
While completing her first year remotely at home in Madrid, Spain, Díaz has continued producing films, including ones that reflect the current state of the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. Spurred by an assignment in a cinema studies course, Familia and Pueblo speak to her experiences with family and her country’s culture and traditions.
Read more about Díaz and her films in this Q&A.
Your film Accidentes was accepted into two festivals. What inspired you to make the film?
Accidentes started as a short story for the creative writing class Intro to Fiction Writing I took in fall 2019. While I was writing it, I couldn't stop imagining it as something more. The story itself was inspired by another project that I took part in last year, a short film called Terrícolas written and directed by Camilo Fonseca, a student filmmaker from TAI Film School in Madrid. I was an actress and played one of the three main characters. Accidentes has nothing to do with Terrícolas, but working on that project I was eager to know how Bruna, my character, met Eric, another character. Exploring that moment made Accidentes flourish. I am from Madrid, and Accidentes is also very inspired by it, as well as my hometown, Camarma de Esteruelas, where the film was actually shot. I gathered an amazing crew and cast student actors, and with the help of family and friends, we created this piece. I have always known that I wanted to be a filmmaker, and when I got to Oberlin I had been eager to make films. Winter Term gave me that opportunity.
You’ve also produced several short personal narrative films, Familia and Pueblo, as part of a cinema studies class (CINE 298). What do those films mean to you?
In Familia, my little brother Alex narrates his own drawings of our family, why he is special, and how this pandemic is affecting us. Alex is five years old and has cystic fibrosis, a genetic chronic degenerative disorder that affects his respiratory and digestive systems. I believe that his view is very unique during these times, especially with his background and illness, so I wanted to use that perspective to talk about my family. I couldn't resist only showing it in class, so I posted it on social media. It received an amazing response and got thousands of views and shares. It was also broadcast in an online event hosted by my brother's hospital in conjunction with National Cystic Fibrosis Day, which is celebrated on April 22 in Spain. It meant a lot to me and my family, as cystic fibrosis is an illness that is not so well known but completely changed our lives. We want to raise awareness about it and how it affects families.
In the case of Pueblo, I wanted to create something that not only spoke about myself but also the Spanish people and how this pandemic is affecting our culture. In Spain, we have an ancestral tradition, which comes from the celebrations of every year's harvests, that has been passed on generation after generation that we celebrate today. For a few days, every Spanish town parties together and enjoys spending time with family and friends on multiple local events including concerts, football matches, and bullfighting. These parties went on even during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), but most towns and cities are not going to celebrate this tradition in 2020 because of COVID-19. That has had an immense impact on our country at all levels but mostly on our morale as we have been deprived of a most dear tradition.
What’s it been like for you producing films during this pandemic? I understand you’ve been shooting your films on your cell phone.
It definitely has been a major challenge using a phone, and no matter how good its camera is it doesn't offer the same results as an actual camera. I also didn't have other types of equipment such as rigs, tripods, etc., so I had to get inventive to achieve the results that I wanted. I have also improved my editing skills, as I had to compensate for the lack of equipment when shooting. It has been an interesting challenge that I have overcome through ways that I probably wouldn't have thought of before this situation.
What’s next? Are you working on any other projects?
I am currently working on creating a documentary about my grandfather and my town that focuses on stories from older individuals in these times. I have an idea in mind that I can't execute right now because of social distancing restrictions, but as soon as I can get in the field I’ll start working on it.
Watch the trailer for Accidentes by Alba Robledo Díaz.
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