Joan has won multiple awards for his gay short films. As a director and a producer, he believes in the power of cinema to unite people and give more visibility to the LGBT+ community.
What did you study at university?
I studied Communication in the University Premia de Castellon, here in Spain.
I always wanted to study media because I really believe in the power of communication to show different point of views, tell stories and open people’s minds.
I’m currently doing a Masters in the Cinema School of Catalunya, but also in film business, to better understand the industry from a business perspective.
Why did you decide to make short movies?
I hadn’t planned it at first. When I was in the UK and didn’t know many people, I thought I would use my degree in film to meet people. So I spoke with the Bulls LGBT rugby team and asked them why they created a Gay Rugby team. That’s when I decided to make a short movie about them where everyone participated and shared their stories.
The good thing about short films is that because they are so short (approx. 10 minutes long), people are more willing to give it a look. You can learn something in a short amount of time and it can spark interest in many different topics. It’s important to grab people’s attention and make them reflect on what they’ve seen. I’ve had people come up to me and ask me about more details or how to get more information on a given topic, and that’s rewarding to me.
Do you have a favorite short film you made?
My favorite short movie I made is called “Estiu” which means summer. The story revolv es around a short summer love romance between two men, and one of them is HIV positive. The idea was to raise awareness and educate people on the topic, to break the stigma.
The beauty of film making is that whether it’s a project or a short film, it’s not just created by one person who is gay or lesbian but rather by so many people of different nationalities, genders, religions, beliefs etc. It’s a team.
Why is it important to give visibility to LGBT characters in movies?
I think that giving visibility to LGBT characters is important so that people can connect with the characters and break the preconceived stereotypes that cinema and culture have created in the past. I’m not saying we need LGBT people to be the main characters or that the movie must revolve around the fact the character is LGBT. On the contrary, we need to include LGBT people and not focus on their gender/sexuality but rather on their personality and what they bring to the story.
I applaud movies such as Xavier Dolan’s ‘I Killed my Mother’ because the focus of the plot is the relationship between a mother and her son without focusing on his homosexuality.
I always tell other LGBT filmmakers that he’s just a regular person, something happened to him, a plot emerges, and oh, he just happens to like men. But again, his homosexuality is not the plot, it’s not the subject.
As filmmakers, we have to make sure people can identify with the characters. Many straight people think LGBT movies are not for them, but I always say that if I cry when I watched Titanic and they were a straight couple, then I think that straight people can cry watching a gay movie. We have to try to reach out to everyone equally.
How important is it to have LGBT role models? Are you satisfied with today’s representation?
When I was a child, I don’t even remember seeing gay characters in movies. Things are changing today thankfully and we see more and more diversity.
I believe we need more movies like 120 Beats per Second, the French movie, or Milk which remind us how far we’ve come and that that we still need to fight for our rights around the world, even today. The ABC TV series When We Rise also shows how difficult it was to come out to your family and friends 40, 50 years ago and now we see society slowly becoming more accepting and open to diversity because people have fought for their rights.
Another beautiful example of LGBT representation is Moonlight. It’s the first time that we get to follow the life a young black homosexual man and learn from his journey. And that’s something that’s usually very taboo among the black community, so it was amazing to watch it.
I think it’s also important to show a larger representation of the LGBT community today. In my opinion we don’t see enough older gay men, or older lesbians for example. I spoke to older gay men who said they didn’t identify with the perfectly young, fit, good looking young men - and that’s a problem.
Your films have been selected in many LGBT Festivals, how does that make you feel?
I believe that LGBT movie festivals are important to give more visibility to LGBT people. My short films have been selected in large cities such as Barcelona, London, Madrid but I would love to reach out to smaller cities too as they tend to be less accepting of LGBT people. There are many areas which are still closed-minded, conservative so it would be wonderful to show movies there. It would help LGBT people in these areas know that they are not alone and relate with the characters.
I consider my film successful only if I attract a diverse crowd. My movies aren’t just for gay people - on the contrary. The more diverse the crowd the better. I noticed that many people who come to LGBT film festivals aren’t LGBT but they come because they love cinema and enjoy movies that break the stereotypes portrayed on TV.
What’s most rewarding to me is to know that parents and grandparents also come to LGBT film festivals to support their children, better understand what their LGBT child goes through everyday, and that is truly inspiring for me.