Cinema

Let's keep the party in peace', a family, fun and musical proposal.

Juan Manuel Cotelo's sixth feature film as director, Let's keep the party in peace, is a musical comedy about family in which the audience is the driving force behind its success. In its first weekend, it has placed in the top 10 of the billboard. Omnes interviewed its director.

Rafael Miner-December 10, 2021-Reading time: 6 minutes
Let's keep the party in peace

When filmmaker Juan Manuel Cotelo is asked if it is possible to make an optimistic film about the family, he says: "Of course it is possible. Even... should it? It's not right to stand idly by while watching the destruction of something as precious as the family unit."

"Films like Benigni's "Life is Beautiful" or Chaplin's "Modern Times" address dramatic issues with good humor and good music, good photography, good actors... and the result is healing and joyful," Cotelo tells Omnes.

Indeed, Let's keep the party in peace, a musical comedy that wants to bring families closer together at Christmas, has become one of the most watched films on the billboard, in its first week of release.it is a brave, funny and musical proposal. It is the fifth feature film of the Infinito + 1 Foundation which, with Juan Manuel Cotelo, wants to be "part of the solution to this pandemic of so many family breakups, which cause so much pain".

-Let's have the party in peace is presented as a film "based on real families". Is it possible to make an optimistic film about the family today?

Of course you can. Even... should it? It is not right to stand idly by and watch the destruction of something as precious as the family unit. Surely the family would not be so battered today, if we had been more diligent and less negligent.

In the first place, to defend the family itself. But also in defense of all families, countering the public attacks on the family unit, which have come from so many fronts.

Conclusion: better late than never. Good intentions are not enough, we must take action.

- Speaking of taking action, how to recover the family, for example, from the cinema?

First of all, relying on the innate desire of any person. We all long to be loved in our family, or does anyone not? Let's remember that until very recently, most families stayed together forever. Let's look at our grandparents' generation, without going back any further. It was rare for someone to stop loving their parents, their children, their husband or their wife. Were they special people or did they have an easier time loving each other? No. What happened is that the cultural leaders of modernity managed to discredit the word "sacrifice", as if it were something negative in human relationships. And in reality, all love requires sacrifice. The first task is to restore prestige to sacrifice, effort, dedication to others... and to discredit the opposite: selfishness, comfort, laziness, laziness, cowardice. Conquering a love and keeping it alive will always be a sacrificial task.

The family unit has been attacked without dissimulation, publicly discrediting, with mockery, marriages that remain united all their lives, those who sacrifice themselves for their children or for their elderly parents, and in a special way, women who live happily their maternity have been attacked. On the other hand, unfaithful boyfriends or husbands, people who complain about getting married and having children, disobedient and ill-mannered children have been presented as sympathetic characters... these profiles have been applauded and celebrated as little heroes. In seemingly innocent ways, the deep ideals of any family - love, unity and fidelity - have been effectively discredited.

- How do you manage to make a funny movie with a very serious subject matter?

Any difficulty in life can be treated in cinema with delicacy and kindness, offering hope. Films such as Benigni's "Life is Beautiful" or Chaplin's "Modern Times" address dramatic issues with good humor, good music, good photography, good actors... and the result is healing and joyful. Denouncing or diagnosing a problem is good... but it is not enough. The challenge of Let's keep the party in peace is to invite hope, to provide solutions, to offer light in the darkness. For this, both good music and good humor are extraordinary allies.

No language is kinder than music, nor more penetrating to reach the heart, nor more universal. If to good music we add good lyrics, good choreographies, good dances..., the most bitter things can become kind, attractive, nice and sweet. And if we also add good humor..., the result is a delight.

- Let's talk about the protagonists. Was it difficult to find such a "normal" family?

I thought it would be a long and costly process, especially to find the children, because they had to act, sing and dance very well. In addition, they had to undergo the discipline of a long shoot, with many rehearsals beforehand. My plan was to screen many candidates but, to my surprise, it was not necessary. Because I met a very nice family, in Valencia, who take their love of music seriously, while they study at the same time. I met them... and I was so enthusiastic on the first date that I didn't even call a casting! Not only do they sing and play beautifully, but they also exude sympathy, joy, good manners... The two main girls are sisters in real life. And through them, I met their brother in the fiction, who also turned out to be a crack.

Let's keep the party in peace 2

-Children acting is always a challenge, but what about adult characters?

Both Mamen García -who plays the grandmother- and Teresa Ferrer and Carlos Aguillo -who play the parents- have a very solid experience in acting, singing and dancing. Their work has been recognized with very prestigious awards, both in acting and musicals. Although the most outstanding thing is that, on a personal level, they are passionate, creative and simple people, with whom it is a pleasure to work. This sounds cliché, but it has really been a luxury to have them.

-Let's talk about the "special effects" that so many viewers talk about. What does this film have that others don't?

Being a comedy, the first effect it provokes is laughter - the audience laughs with pleasure, all the time! But they also cry with emotion, yes, because the voice of the children sends a strong message, calling for more love in homes, more unity in families. And that message comes through loud and clear, straight to the heart. One person said to me, as I was leaving the cinema: "I can't wait to get home and kiss my wife". I replied that that is why we produced this film.

-The first week in theaters has been a success. It has positioned itself among the 10 most viewed films, along with titles from major production and distribution companies. How do you see it?

The start has been fabulous, thanks to the vote of confidence of the first viewers. But there is still a lot of Christmas ahead of us and the competition is fierce. We feel like Tom Thumb, playing basketball against a team of giants. Every new day on the billboard is a great conquest. That is why we ask that whoever wants to see it, go to the cinema as soon as possible, without trusting that it will remain on the billboard the following week. We are playing everything in very few days, unlike what happened with our previous films, whose exhibition could be extended in time, without any problem.

-You have sometimes said that you don't like to be asked about the difficulties of making films with a clear evangelizing content, because you understand that these difficulties are a natural part of the journey. Tell us about the satisfactions?

It is full of satisfactions! And of course there are difficulties, but they hardly have any weight, if you focus on all the positive things you want and find. The most positive thing, without a doubt, is the certainty of producing a film that will help those who see it, not just entertain them for a while. We have seen this with all our productions and now it will happen again. Just one person saying "this film helped us to love each other more in our family" would justify all the work we have done. But then, filmmaking is beautiful, from the first to the last day. The only thing we could call "difficult" is the financing of each project. But even in that, it has been wonderful to discover how many people have joined this project with generosity, to defend and promote family unity, through cinema. In short: everything has been satisfactory, we have only reasons for gratitude.

-And the Sagrada Familia..., does it have any reflection in the film?

Of course! Otherwise, it wouldn't be a Christmas movie, strictly speaking. Its mission, as a family, is to help us families love each other more. Those of us who believe in Jesus, Mary and Joseph can turn them into decorative figures, or turn to them for help. They accept the protagonism we want to give them.

The challenge of Let's keep the party in peace is to invite hope, to provide solutions, to offer light in the darkness. For this, both good music and good humor are extraordinary allies.

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