5 Questions with Enric Rufas, the Catalan Screenwriter Whose Movies Keep Winning at Cannes

For a screenwriter with over a decade of experience, Enric Rufas doesn’t have a very prolific filmography. But don’t let that fool you – the Catalan scribe is a living, breathing example of what it means to produce quality over quantity. In addition to being a playwright, television writer, critic, and academic, Rufas has co-written a total of five films, four of which have had their premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. That’s not a bad batting average.

All four, incidentally, were co-written with perennial collaborator and Spanish arthouse phenom Jaime Rosales, who picked up a FIPRESCI prize at Cannes for 2003’s Las horas del día (The Hours of the Day), and an Ecumenical Jury award for 2014’s Hermosa juventud (Beautiful Youth). As if that wasn’t enough, Rufas has been nominated for a Goya Award, a Gaudí Award (the Catalan version of the Goya), and a handful of other important prizes.

As part of our ongoing 5 Questions series, Remezcla sat down to chat with Rufas about the economic crisis in Spain, psychological thrillers, and his next big challenge.

“Those of us who work in film are suffering from the economic crisis that is devastating the country…”

As a writer, what first attracted you to screenwriting?

I wanted to be a novelist, but one day I saw an advertisement for a film school and I applied. I was a huge cinephile, but until then I’d never considered it a possibility. Afterwards I also studied theater, which has been the other great love of my life.

For you, what would be the ideal dynamic between a director and a screenwriter?

Having worked with various directors, the best way to go about it is by having a lot of conversations before sitting down to write. It’s absolutely necessary to ensure that both parties are writing the same screenplay.

How do you see the professional landscape for screenwriters in your country? Are there many opportunities?

At the moment, there are very few opportunities in Spain. Those of us who work in film are suffering from the economic crisis that is devastating the country, and we’re certainly feeling it more intensely. Moreover, the current government seems to be afraid of culture and is taking measures to hinder our work.

‘Hermosa Juventud’
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“…The current government seems to be afraid of culture and is taking measures to hinder our work.”

Which screenplay has been the most difficult for you to write and why?

Los débiles, which is the first screenplay I’ve written entirely on my own. It tells the story of Gabriel, a 12 year-old boy who lives in a comfortable middle-class family. Gabriel disappears and his father is arrested as one of the primary suspects in his murder. When his mother finds herself alone in her home, she witnesses a series of paranormal phenomena. Everything seems to suggest that her dead child is attempting to communicate with her, which leaves her deeply disturbed. Now she’ll have to discover the truth that lies behind these apparitions, with a devastating and stunning ending. It was extremely complicated to write a psychological thriller, since the main characters are children and the terrifying atmosphere I created was very difficult to realize.

If you didn’t have to think about budgets, producers, or other limiting factors, what screenplay would you like to write?

Los débiles, since this project signifies a new direction in my career. It’s a very special story for me, and I want to start my career as a director with this psychological thriller.