In the heart of Armugan

Director's notes

When presenting a film, it is common that the first question to be asked is: “Where did the idea to make this film come from?” Answering this question implies referring to a set of concerns that are collected in my filmography and that cover questions related to the concept of “life”.

On previous occasions, I have tried to approach this question from an eminently political perspective and it has not been until now that I have dared to consider an existential approach.

Exploring death as part of life constitutes the central idea of Armugan.

I have tried to embody a story capable of supporting the development of this idea, choosing a character inscribed in a close cultural reality that is also representative of a lost symbol in the narration of extinct traditions.

Armugan is a fictional character. He stands, however, as an icon of a tradition present across many ancient Mediterranean civilizations, a figure whose function is to nobly accompany one in the transition between life and death.

The ancient communal wisdom that kept the activity of these “end-of-life doulas” alive challenges the tendency of today’s societies to hold the fragility of life and its transitory nature as far as possible from our daily troubles. However, the false recourse of denying the idea of life in its authentic contingent dimension constantly collides with the reality of bodies exposed to the implacable stalking of decadence, disease and death.

Today more than ever we are collectively urged not to delay the bioethical debate on how we deserve to live our inevitable relationship with death.

This film endeavours to invite that universal and collective reflection with its emphasis on beauty and tradition, nature and value of acceptance, conscience and freedom of belief. It aims to do so by pointing uncomfortably to that place that we prefer to ignore, alluding to a truth can never be hidden behind a false promise of eternity.

Armugan is a visual poem about the final journey that does not always arrive at the expected moment, nor under a logic that allows it to be viewed as a “natural” process. For this reason, nature and spirit have been merged in a story of few words, loaded with gestures and relationships between conscious beings and beasts. We have produced symbols and metaphors instead of closed discourses; life germinated behind glass fed by human breath, inert rocks marked by unequivocal signs of a past, using the invisible territory that surrounds what we call “life”, to speak of death. This secret dialogue is where Armugan’s heart beats, where its essence blooms.

Often, those of us who work chasing dreams, trying to catch mysterious and sensitive essences, wake up unexpectedly in territories where fiction is confused with reality and vice versa. Events of ordinary life contain cryptic messages that spill over the lines of the script. In this case, my father’s death shook what must have been yet another allegory. Without warning, I found myself face to face with the reality of what I was plotting with mere words. Masked shadows altering what until then I called “my life”. Nothing seemed real because of the deep sense of interim into which my perception of everyday life had plunged, the relationships with the rest of my family, confronting the abyss beyond. Absolutely everything threatened to resignify itself in an immediate and brutal way, with no time or possibility to stop that devastating emotional force.

Despite its ruthless synchronicity, nothing that happened at that event could be returned to fiction. My film had to be faithful to that contention with which I set out to create it. It had to maintain the level of detail and silence where I could allow myself to speculate, before feeling in its own body the insolvable emptiness of a father’s death.

That is why I decided to place the film in an environment where I could talk about death, as part of life.

Jorge Fuembuena

Jo Sol

Jo Sol began his work as a writer and filmmaker at the end of the 80s with audiovisual creations for artists and stage companies such as La Fura dels Baus, Sol Picó, among others. Initially focused on visual anthropology, he developed various essays in India, Cuba and Mexico and it was during this period he came into contact with experimental film teachers such as George Kuchar, writers such as Eliseo Altunaga, and figures from the literary world such as Gabriel García Márquez.

In 1998, he directed the telefilm “Renda Antiga” and the short film “0’7 YA!”, presented at various international festivals. In 2000, he made his first feature film “Tatawo” and between 2001 and 2003 he returned to Asia where he made a series of video creations that started the project “We’ve got the night (a journey
toward the will to live)”, a piece currently in postproduction and scheduled to premier in an exhibition showcasing important works from the past two decades that combine film, imagery, script, and philosophical thought.

He is known for his films “El Taxista Ful” (2005), “Fake Orgasm” (2010) and “Living and other fictions” (2016), all of them selected at film festivals such as San Sebastián, Locarno, Bafici, among others. In 2018 he wrote, directed, and produced the TV series on human diversity “Trèvols de 4 fulles”. His filmography combines the experimental arts with writing and his hybrid documentaries show a marked political and social character.

He is currently working on the ambitious film production “Burn the Cuckoo’s Nest”, experimenting with narratives in visually and aurally immersive formats for fulldome theatres and VR applications.

2021 – We’ve got the night (in post production)
2020 – Armugan
2018 – Trèvols of 4 fulles
2016 – Living and other fictions
2010 – Fake Orgasm
2005 – El Taxista Ful
2001 – Tatawo

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Armugán - El último acabador