In ‘El Planeta’, artist Amalia Ulman considers crooks and the great recession

Ulman’s mother, Alejandra, shines in her very first acting role as someone who looks more like a child than a parent, but casting her came partly out of necessity – in fact, Ulman didn’t. never intended to be herself in front of the camera. “Because it was happening in Spain and it had to be in Spanish and we had a very limited budget, it became very obvious that we weren’t going to be able to count on the help of good actors, and no one was going. to care about the project more than we would. Fortunately, her mother is a movie buff and a natural artist who was looking to Blue jasmine and Gray gardens for references and is “always ready for the camera”.

Photo: Courtesy of Utopia Distribution

When it comes to humor, Ulman prefers those who run through different moods, like Ernst Lubitsch (“everyone is very glamorous, even if a lot of them are going through a difficult period”), Jim Jarmusch (“miserable but also very stylish and funny, with a neurosis of being a stranger “), and Louis CK” I know it’s canceled, “she said,” but I really liked the mix of tones in Louie– there is surrealism interfering with some really mundane scenes, which I have always found fascinating and beautifully crafted.

El Planet, which lingers on closed storefronts and offers a squeaky video call, has gained new resonance amid the pandemic. “A lot of people are facing this for the first time in their life because of COVID – feeling trapped in your hometown or not being able to take advantage of an opportunity because you can’t leave the country,” explains Ulman. “It all feels very real, especially now. “

Ultimately, the movie shines a light on the fantasies we hold onto when life is tough, whether it’s through consumerism, celebrities, or even the movies. And Ulman hopes it engenders empathy for others and their facades. “You never know what someone is really going through. Just being poor is not an example of virtue. Everyone has the right to be complicated.

El Planet opens September 24 at the IFC Center in New York City, expands to other cities on October 1, and will be available digitally on October 8.

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