Virginia García del Pino • Director of Romance Scam | #ukscams | #datingscams | #european

– The director explains the process behind her documentary, her first feature film since 2015, and what it has taught her about love

(© Zinebi)

A few weeks after the world premiere of Romance Scam [+see also:
film review
interview: Virginia García del Pino
film profile
at the Seminci, Virginia García del Pino is in Bilbao for the screening of her fascinating, intimate and revealing documentary at Zinebi, a festival that is close to her heart. The director tells us more about this connection and about her film.

Cineuropa: What is your relationship with Zinebi, and why was it important for you to screen your film here?
Virginia García del Pino:
I’ve been coming to Zinebi, for the Networking part, for six years now. I do consultancy before the teams go to pitch. Basically, I analyse the work and tell them, from my point of view, whether it works or not, and how to improve it. I do this with both the Spanish and the Basque documentaries. I know the whole team; they’re like family.

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I hadn’t made a single feature since 2015, and a feature is always far more impressive. And you know that documentaries don’t really work in movie theatres. So I’m excited about seeing it in a cinema, and besides that, it’s a doc that was shot within a movie theatre, which made it even more important. It’s like a show of support for what goes on in the theatre.

How did you find out about the story that shaped the beginnings of the film?
It was all over the media. It was quite a viral story because it was the first time a romance scammer had shown his face. He was in interviews. Nobody shows their face in these cases because then the game’s up; after that, who the hell are you going to scam? Any woman will know it’s you.

But if he was in the media so much, why doesn’t he appear in the film? Was it your choice?
Yes, he was originally going to appear, but the film is a kind of revision of a script I had written to do something else. In the script that I’m reading with the producer in the film, he did appear there. And in fact, part of that script I filmed, and one scene was with his lawyer, where we did talk about the possibility of him appearing. But then, what interested me most was not the scammer’s approach. I think these romance scammers think they’re very clever, but they’re not. Deceiving someone is so stupid; it has no merit. It’s immense stupidity.

How did you choose your “audience”?
Actually, that was at Cineteca Matadero [Madrid]; they asked me to give a workshop on film, and I already had this script that I’d written, which in principle I was going to shoot like this. But I didn’t want to shoot it like that; I had already started shooting three sequences, but I was bored out of my mind. I found it very unexciting to have to record that. What gives me an adrenaline rush, what makes a shoot fun, is precisely knowing that anything can go wrong. That’s why I like the documentary field, because everything can be turned upside down. The films that interest me are the ones that take risks, and that shows.

The audience had a great time. They still came back, even though they had no contract. They were chosen at random. I told them, “The only condition for you to be here is that you give your consent to be in a film, and you will attend a live filming. But we’re going to learn about love.”

What did you learn about love from the film?
Basically, there’s no need to die or kill for love. Everything we’ve been told in most of the stories that exist, both in music and in the film industry and in all the romantic literature, has created a lot of pain and a lot of death. You can fall in love in a different way. But I also learned that without love you cannot live; love is in the human condition.

Why didn’t you add your own experiences and opinions to those of the participants?
In the script I wrote, there was a conversation with an ex-husband and another conversation with a fling, but they weren’t included in the end because I wanted to stay in the role of presenter, or as a group facilitator. I’m on screen, but I wanted to go unnoticed, and the important thing was the testimonies of the experts and the people. I gave two or three glimpses [of my intimate life], but nothing more. My love life has been very conventional and boring. If it had been interesting, maybe it would’ve been included!

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(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)

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