Places and people have an inherent quality to themselves which escapes any narrative. That specific atmosphere stays with us for a long time, that feeling which evokes that particular time and space. And it keeps evolving as time passes.
The Valley of Tobalina had an impact on me. I arrived there with a checklist in my mind: Showing what’s life around a nuclear power plant, deciding what’s my opinion about this kind of energy, getting advantage of this picturesque scene to create surreal scenes full of contrast.
I had mostly worked in animation, and that’s what you do when you work in fiction, you plan. But then the reality stroke, and my script kept growing and unfolding every day, finding a new way of following my purpose, and embracing what the unknown had to offer.
I spent two weeks sitting with old men in bars, exchanging vigorous words about their opinion, often unclear, after possibly too many beers. Following ladies through the streets to steal one word or one image from them, with constant and frustrating declines. Discussing the damage of nuclear energy with the few young ones who made a conscious choice of leaving the city, and found a place full of terrible corruption techniques, practised by politicians and massive corporations. I heard stories about once lively days and busy roads, about the joy that brought the nuclear plant, as a sort of cicerone, to their employees and their families, and I saw the villages which once contained life turning slowly into a dead landscape.
All these memoirs were distinct from the ones heard in any other rural area of Spain. They were all full of fear. A few speak frankly, maybe only the ones who never had anything to lose. They all seem to have an opinion, but it stayed inside their walls, with the perpetual ghost of the power plant. I decided to filter through my lens the essence of that reality, capturing that mix of normality and singularity which conforms this peculiar and haunting place, following my instinct, trying to let go any judgements, and embracing the grey area. Corporations might be evil, nuclear energy might be destructive, but people only get to live.