Spanish-Chilean writer/director Alejandro Amenábar is renowned for his feature films that explore life's Big Questions through the experiences of individuals: think his Oscar-winning film The Sea Inside, which considered euthanasia from the experience of Ramón Sampedro (Javier Bardem); and Agora, which articulated the tension between religion and science, from the perspective of Hypatia (Rachel Weisz), in a way that still resonates in 2021...
In the six-part drama series La Fortuna, Amenábar continues this pattern, in a story of identity and legacy, in the tale of a Spanish bureaucrat who stumbles on an international scandal involving buried treasure, and the charismatic American adventurer (Stanley Tucci) who helped himself to it.
With the launch of La Fortuna in Australia, Amenábar joined SBS On Demand head of curation Fiona Williams for a lengthy chat on The Playlist, SBS' culture podcast that offers a deeper dive into movies and series, with Fiona in conversation with the creators.
Highlights of the conversation
On the balance of old-fashioned adventure in the tale of the La Fortuna: "I wanted to get back something of what I had felt when I was a kid and I was started starting to love movies"
On drawing from his own experience going to Hollywood from Spain early in his career: "I think it's what made what made me feel attracted to this project; the fact that you have this young guy who is starting his job in the ministry and he fights against all the bureaucracy who is very, very, very Spanish, and then he has to go to America. And that's something that happened to me or more than 20 years ago when when I did the movie, The Others, and I had to be in contact with people from Hollywood. So I feel like this David, sometimes against Goliath. And I really identified myself with that, and I wanted to show the details about how it is in America for someone who comes from abroad"
On Stanley Tucci's portrayal of a modern day pirate: "I like it when you when you play with good or bad characters [...] and sometimes he's a pretty horrible guy. But still, he's real."
On his film career, and the common threads in his storytelling: "My creative process starts on something that I care about or I'm worried about"
On the eerie parallels between Agora and the present day political divide: "I somehow feel that some of the things that I was worried about then unfortunately are happening now"
Topics also covered:
- What he has been watching lately
- ...and where he keeps his Oscar
Listen to the interview
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The S1 box set of La Fortuna (Spanish/English language) is available at SBS On Demand. Start here:
Movies by Alejandro Amenábar you can stream at SBS On Demand
MA 15+ 2h 2m 2009
Genre/s: Historical Drama, Romance, Adventure
Stars: Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Ashraf Barhom, Rupert Evans, Richard Durden, Sami Samir, Manuel Cauchi, Homayoun Ershadi, Oshri Cohen, Yousef Sweid, Harry Borg, Charles Thake
What's it about?
A slave turns to Christianity and falls in love with philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria
MA 15+ 1h 42m 2015
Genre/s: Thriller, Crime Drama, Mystery
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Emma Watson, David Thewlis, Lothaire Bluteau, Dale Dickey, David Dencik, Peter MacNeill, Devon Bostick, Aaron Ashmore, Kristian Bruun
What is it about?
A detective and a psychoanalyst uncover evidence of a satanic cult while investigating the rape of a traumatised teen.