PIGGY (2022)

Carlota Pereda’s Piggy or Cerdita in Spanish, had its world premiere this week at the Sundance Film Festival. It is Pereda’s first full-length feature film. Pereda, the writer and director, has been named as one of Variety’s 10 Spanish Women Directors, Producers to Track. Her short films Las Rubias, There Will Be Monsters, and Cerdita received more than 200 international awards, including the Goya, the prestigious Spanish National Film Award. The film stars the amazingly talented and fearless Laura Galán as Sara, who suddenly witnesses the kidnapping of the girls who torment her by a mysterious and dangerous man. The film also stars Richard Holmes, Carmen Machi, Irene Ferreiro, and Camille Aguilar. In Piggy, viewers will find a distinctive and chilling take on human nature from a director who adores the horror genre and challenges the audience to empathize with people they may not like or understand.

Pereda sat down to talk with FANGORIA ahead of the premiere.

How did you decide to make a film on this particular subject?

I always wanted to make a film about bullying, maybe one about homophobia. But I got the idea for the short by watching this girl at a pool alone. It was the time of siesta, when it is so hot that there is no one outside. It was just me and this girl, and I started wondering why she was there. The short came from that idea. The film comes from the fact that I fell in love with the character, and I fell in love also with her conflict, because from a moral perspective, it was so strong that it just wouldn’t let me go.

It seems like a coming-of-age story, but the conflict is, at least to me, centered on how she was becoming her own person. She had a clear choice, the choice to be like the people who hurt her or not.

Yes, you know, sometimes what we don’t do defines us as much as what we do.

I noticed that there’s a very strong element of that Spanish type of humor in it that is not as sympathetic as some people might want it to be. How did you find the actress?

It took me two years to find the actress for the short. When I made the short, afterward, we got along so well. We understood each other so much that there was never the idea to change the actress for the film. For me, it was great because I made the movie for her. I knew that everything in the film she could do and do it perfectly well. So that was fantastic. It was so easy. And what you say about the humor. We deal with violence in everyday life in Spain. We deal with our violence with humor, and sometimes that humor is very dark.

One thing that you really did achieve with the film is that the viewer really puts themselves in the place of the lead character.

That was my main goal. I wanted people to walk in her shoes and understand what it is like to be her, for 24 hours of her life. For the duration of the film, you walk in her shoes and feel for her. Your idea of her changes with the movie, the conception that you have of her as a person will change when you finish watching the movie.

We do tend to make a lot of judgments about people based on superficial and external characteristics.

For me, it’s a theme that really haunts me. My first short, which is a comedy, a thriller-comedy, is about that as well. It’s about how your whole life can be defined just by your race or the way you look. It is just insane.

I think a lot of people expect films to have very clearly delineated reasons and that characters take immediate action. Like you’re supposed to immediately make up your mind and start shooting a gun.

For me, it was all about the ambiguity. When you’re a teenager, you’re confused. You don’t know what you’re doing, and you’re just stepping into the world. You don’t even understand your body. You may not even like your body. I think that’s part of being human. That’s part of what we need to address and accept. I think one of the things that the pandemic has shown us is that we all have dark things inside of us. We’ve seen it around us. It’s just there. There’s no reason to act like it isn’t.

I think coming to terms with that darkness or anger or resentment or any of those things inside of ourselves is really key because it becomes worse if you don’t deal with it.

Exactly. For me, it’s about that. You have to learn and embrace it, and that’s a whole journey.

I think it’s something that people need to see. I don’t know if it’s like that in Spain, but here, people really judge others.

In Spain, families and other people are into your business all the time. It’s like Latino families, I think it’s the same. They will tell you to dress better or will say if you would dress more like a woman, if you did your hair this way, if you didn’t eat so much. They’re always on your case. It has to stop.


Are there certain directors that you look to for inspiration? Do you go to films, or do you go to books for inspiration?

For inspiration, I try to go to reality. But, of course, I watch movies, and I read books because I love them. I will say that afterward, I realized that a big inspiration for the film was The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and a Spanish movie that is called Who Can Kill A Child. Also, Eden Lake and Trouble Every Day by Claire Denis.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, I think it’s wonderful. To me, it’s an art film.

For me, it’s an absolute masterpiece. The composition and everything about it. Just amazing. It’s very realistic, and it is also the first movie that really scared me. Yeah, well that and Night of the Living Dead. But The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was one of those movies that scared me even before I saw it. It was one of the main references for my film and also one of the few films that I put an homage to in the movie, but I cut it out. It didn’t make it to the final edit.

Why did you choose to go with the smaller town as the setting rather than one of the big cities?

For starters, because there’s the idea where you have this very idyllic town and something really bad happens in it. Also, I know the area very well because I spend my summers there. My family’s from that part of the country. Because it’s very trapped in time and it is one of the poorest areas in Spain. There’s also this saying that is true, small town, big hell. When I talked to the kids that had been bullied in the village, they say you go to school, the same kids that are bullying you at school are the same ones bullying you in the streets. There are only three streets. Then you go home and have the internet, and they are bullying you there too. There’s no escape. The more claustrophobic, the better it works for the movie.

The really strange thing is that the internet has made the reach of bullies so much longer.

Yeah, there is no private space anymore.

What are you looking to achieve in filmmaking into the future?

I want to make movies that move me, in some way or another. Where I feel some kind of connection, and I want to make genre movies. Because I feel more comfortable with genre and because I want to entertain as well. I want to make movies that are like open doors for us to enter and take sides—a movie where you experience the story in the same way as the characters. I just want to make movies that are entertaining, but also meaningful, at least to me.

Do you have any projects that you’re working on next?

I’m working on a longer version of my first short, which is a thriller based on a true story, a comedy-thriller. I’m currently looking for financing for my next film, a fantasy horror film.

It’s interesting that there are people who look down on the genre and they don’t think about how some of the masters in mainstream film, like Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, started off in exploitation or the horror genre.

Spielberg made two of the best horror movies.

I think people forget that. Some directors like to challenge their audience, some directors like to try and get their audience involved. What aim do you find more crucial to your work?

I would rather challenge them. Yes, I want them to leave the cinema and if they love it, they keep on thinking about it. And if they hated it, that they hate passionately.

I think that’s a great way to think of it because even if someone hates your work, they’re having a very strong reaction to it.

Yes, because you have had a point of view that they felt so strongly against. If you’re bland, there’s not going to be a reaction.

Horror film lovers have the opportunity to watch Piggy at the online Sundance Film Festival during its On-Demand public screening window starting on Wednesday, January 26 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, 8:00 a.m. Mountain Standard Time or 7:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. Tickets can be purchased here. Piggy is part of a new wave of female-led and centered horror films that are blazing new trails in the genre for all horror film fans to enjoy.

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