Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. In Law of Desire (1986), the transsexual played by Carmen
Maura goes into the church of the school where she studied as
a boy. She finds a priest playing the organ, in the choir. The
priest asks her who she is. Carmen confesses to him that she had
been a pupil at the school and that he (the priest) had been in
love with him. Is that the origin of Bad Education?
A. More or less. Long before that, I had written a short story
in which a transvestite goes back to the school where he had studied
in order to blackmail the priests who had harassed him when he
was a boy. While filming Law of Desire, I remembered that story
and it gave me the idea of Carmens character going into
the church at his school and meeting a priest who loved him when
she was a boy. By then, I was considering the idea of developing
the short story in detail. Carmen is a foreshadow of Zahara.
Q. There is also a film director in Law of Desire?
A. Yes, and like Fele Martinezs character, he mixes
his personal desires with his work and, in the end, he pays a
very high price for it. Ive always been interested by the
story of the artist who works with his own guts. Its a fascinating
adventure, even if it never ends well.
Q. In your statemenets, you denied that the film was autobiographical
A. Paco Umbral says that everything that isnt autobiographical
is plagiarism. The film is autobiographical, but in a deeper sense.
I am behind those characters, but Im not telling my life
Q. I believe you were the soloist in your school choir?
A. Yes. And I sang all the time, masses in Latin, motets,
etc. I sang all the religious ceremonies and the celebrations.
And I guess I didnt do it badly. The priests recorded some
of the songs I sang and played them at the door of the church
to attract the faithful.
And I remember that we filled the church. Id give anything
to recover those tapes, but I dont think they exist. What
I most enjoyed in my time at school were the religious ceremonies.
Im agnostic, but I think the Catholic liturgy has a dazzling
richness, it fascinates me and moves me. But its been a
long time since I went to mass. I dont know what its
Q. Does Fr Manolo exist?
A. Yes, as a character.
Q. But did he really exist?
A. No. Hes a made-up character, although, for some scenes,
I was inspired by two priests at school.
Q. For what scenes in particular?
A. The harassment by the river and in the sacristy.
Q. Are they real scenes?
A. Two schoolmates told me about them. If youre a boarder
at a school, you eventually find out about everything.
Q. If the two people who were the inspiration for Fr Manolo
are alive, arent you afraid they may react?
A. Admitting that they were being alluded to would be like
accusing themselves. Im a director and a scriptwriter. For
me, Fr Manolo is a character, one with whom, I should mention
in passing, Im very satisfied.
The character isnt a weapon thrown against the Catholic
church (which does have a lot of problems to solve, including
its priests sexuality. If celibacy didnt exist, there
wouldnt be so many cases of abuse). I didnt create
Fr Manolo and his prolongation, Mr Berenguer, in order to attack
They are elements that allow me to talk about two of the many
faces of passion. When Fr Manolo is played by Daniel Giménez-Cacho,
the passion he feels for the boy, and his abuse of power, make
him into an executioner.
When he calls himself Mr Berenguer and has cast off his habits
and falls in love with Juan, the same terrible character plays
the opposite role in the roulette of passion. Now he is a victim.
The film is inconceivable without these two characters, who are
really one, and without their incarnation, by Daniel Giménez-Cacho
and Lluis Homar respectively. Although they are two veterans,
they were two great discoveries for me.
I can never thank them enough for their lack of prejudice, their
depth and their unending willingness to satisfy all the demands
of a director as insatiable as I am.
Q. What can you tell me about the rest of the cast?
A. They are superb. Fele Martinez, Francisco Boira, the kids,
Javier Càmara, Alberto Ferreiro, Petra Martinez, Francisco
Maestre, and, naturally, Gael. Its a miracle to get it right
with all the actors, especially when you dont know any of
them, except Javier and Fele.