In early March this year, the magazine Variety published a list of 10 emerging Spanish filmmakers to follow. At the head was Miguel Ángel Blanca (Sabadell, 1982). Some already knew him for being the singer of the Barcelona quartet Manos de Topo, whom EL PAÍS crowned as “sarcasm rodents” in 2016. From his home in Barcelona he confirms that he continues to display that title: “The most curious of all is that no one on the list was exactly young. “
Miguel Ángel Blanca is on this list thanks to Magaluf Ghost Town, a hybrid documentary with touches of horror and traditional comedy set in one of the most touristic towns in Mallorca. “The film is a love letter to these types of tourist places in decline that in their day were something incredible and that, over time, have been spoiling and losing their reason for being,” he explains. “Magaluf is a fascinating place, a fiction in itself, the perfect place to build new mythologies and new legends for these spaces.”
In 2003, Blanca graduated from the Escola de Cinema i Audiovisuals de Catalunya (ESCAC). Almost at the same moment, he began to write songs with his fellow student, the film director Alejandro Marzoa, with whom he founded what would end up being the germ of the band Manos de Topo. His first record, Pretty orthopedics (2007), was included by Rockdelux on his list of the best albums of the 2000s.
When in 2014 it was published Little paths of desire the cinema thing was already getting serious. That year he directed his first feature film, After the Happy Generation, under the pseudonym Guillothina. He also premiered with Raúl Cuevas A lloc on caure mort, which can be seen in Filmin, a documentary about how the singer of the group Autodestrucció tries to deal between his middle-class life and his career in punk and for which Blanca received the Award for Best National Documentary at the In-Edit Festival of 2014. In 2015, it would arrive The foreigner, a hybrid between documentary and science fiction that reflects on the gentrification of a Barcelona invaded by tourism that has already served as the seed for his project on Magaluf.
Magaluf, the largest set in the world
“There are many versions of what Magaluf is,” explains Blanca. “When I went for the first time, I wanted to see if everything they said was true: the madness, the balconing, the mamading … ”. [En el verano de 2014 un vídeo en el que una chica ebria practicaba una felación a varios hombres a cambio de una copa indignó al mundo]. But what exactly was Magaluf? He wonders. What was the truth that was there? Why did people want to go there on vacation? Suddenly, I realized that the place was a kind of tourist utopia where everything is possible ”.
Thus, Miguel Ángel set out to create a documentary that, without ceasing to be one, would play at building fictions within the real space. “We have played with the buildings as if they were television sets. It is clear that it is a murky, controversial place, but a lot of magic can also be born from it ”, Blanca tells us. Although the team arrived on the island in 2015 with the intention of recording the lag of the tourists, mostly English, they soon realized that all the people around them were much more interesting and that they have to live with them every anus. “How do they do that? How do they manage that love-hate for all these people who feed them but at the same time destroy their town? ”Asks the director. “It seemed like a super interesting duality to us. There was also a certain respect for tourists. When you walked into a local bar, everyone shut up ”.
To shoot the documentary they had in mind, they needed to find the right people. They realized that many of those who spoke with them were suspicious, thinking that they were going to shoot the umpteenth report talking fatally about Magaluf … Until they found Rubén and Tere, the two inhabitants of the city who carry the weight of the plot.
“Rubén was a 17-year-old boy who was studying to be a waiter. He felt that his future was already determined and he found it very unexciting. I thought he was a very cool character to talk about how a teenager grows up in a tourist area of this type ”, Blanca tells us. “To build the fiction that the documentary would include, I began to work with its reality and I asked it: what would you like to do with tourists? If you had to record your own movie, what would you do? Then he confessed to us that there were things that he had experienced with tourists that were not so far from a fiction: he told me about the relationship that young people have with drunk vacationers when they are on the beach at 5 in the morning ”.
“I like stories in which a universe of its own is built, as, for example, in comics Ice haven by Daniel Clowes. With characters that move in a city with very strange but very specific rules and it makes it impossible for you to know if you are facing a comedy or a drama. Clowes was a very clear reference for Magaluf Ghost Town”Confesses the director.
“We had a Spanish genre comedy, thanks to the character of Tere, which is like a kind of Carmina or pop; but on the other hand, we have vampires and zombies that come out at night, which are tourists … How could we put all these things together and make them hug and work? I think we’ve managed to get that mix right and it’s one of the things we’re most proud of in the film. “
Magaluf Ghost Town will tour the Spanish documentary festival circuit and will premiere in theaters across the country later this year.