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Interview with Enrique Buleo, director of Las Visitantes

Tuesday 31 January 2023, by Abla Kandalaft

3 retired women travel by bus to discover Europe. They’ve recently lost their husbands and now it’s time to start living. They’ve heard people talk about the wonders of tourism all their lives and are dying to experience them firsthand.

"I love them, they are so brave!" responded director Enrique Buleo to a question about his feelings towards those three ladies. Why? They have the courage to openly dislike quite a lot of their travels. Good on them for being so blunt! What a change from the Instagrammable coffee shots and fawning posts. Indeed, Los Visitantes is frankly hilarious at times. Buleo’s portrayal of his protagonists is so warm and endearing that it just adds another layer of likeability and humour to their grumpiness. With the Brasserie, we caught up with Enrique and quizzed him on his short:

What made you want these ladies’ story? Were they inspired from people in your life?

In my village, most of the retired people that usually go to guided tours are women and many of them are widows. Widows are very common here (and maybe everywhere) and I’ve always thought that they really begin to live when their husbands die. I’ve been inspired by a lot of personal experiences and by my parents first trips experiences as tourists. They began to travel for pleasure when they retired and, sometimes, they have admitted that travelling is not as fun as they expected.

Why Italy specifically?

It’s not Italy, although I understand that the locations of the short film are quite similar to Italy or to any other southern European country. In fact, the short was shot in Spain, in Valencia and Albacete. I tried to do a portrait of any touristic European city, and that’s why, I avoided on purpose to name the place where they are. I wanted this place to be any touristic place.

There’s an impressive attention to small details that make for funny watching. Is the comedic tone something you wanted to communicate?

Surprisingly, I have never liked comedies, but after El Infierno y Tal, my previous short film, an ode to the end of the world, I wanted to make something lighter, even something more frivolous and I decided to make a comedy. But, taking into account that I am always looking for uncomfortable, defeatist and absurd stories, I finally made a comedy but a bittersweet one about disappointment.

What sorts of films do you like to make? Would you say you have a predilection for a certain genre?

I make a clear distinction between the films I like as a spectator and the films I like as a director. I love watching horror films and thrillers but I prefer to make dramas and dark comedies. To be more precise, I like making films with a very measured balance between dramatic and comedic situations with macabre and absurd elements and I love setting these stories in rural environments.

How did you work with the actors? How were they cast?

I prefer to work with amateur actors and actresses because I like to let them be themselves. What I do is to rewrite the dialogues for the actors to feel as comfortable and natural as possible. I lived in Albacete, a small city, for many years, and I used to go to neighborhood associations and retired people clubs to look for them. Surprisingly, they usually answer to the castings with a lot of enthusiasm and professionalism.

What’s your favourite short?

I don’t have a favourite short but I can tell you a director that make very good short films. His name is David Pantaleón.

What does the Festival mean to you?

I love Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival because I was selected here with my previous short film El Infierno y Tal and I had a very special experience. Besides that, we won the first special jury mention. I am looking forward to coming back here.

Any message or comments?


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