Director's cut: Whit Stillman on Fernando Colomo's comic Skyline

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The Independent Culture
The first film I was involved with was a Spanish production called Skyline, which was made in New York in 1983. One of my main jobs was to go to the airport to meet stewardesses who had envelopes full of Spanish pesetas - it was illegal to exportpesetas at the time - take them to the money-changers and pay the lab. And I was also the film's sales agent, so I got to see it a lot of times. Fernando Colomo, the director, was one of the first people to emerge from what we call the Madrid school of comedy. He hasn't got much foreign exposure, although Skyline was shown at the London Film Festival in 1984. It was subsequently bought by BBC2 and has been shown a couple of times on British television.

He does these very naturalistic small films, reminiscent of early Truffaut, and I feel I come more out of that tradition than out of the American cinema. Skyline is a mirror-image of my new film, Barcelona, in that it's about the plight of a confused Spaniard in New York, while Barcelona is about confused Americans in Spain.

There's a scene in it that I particularly love. Fernando had decided to use a pop-flamenco recording artist for the soundtrack to express the point of view of the main character (above), a Spanish photographer trying to make it in New York. There were a couple of pieces I didn't really care for, but one was very beautiful, and he used it in a scene where the character is at a romantic and professional low point, wandering round the city feeling lonely. This music is playing and it's very evocative; a wonderful interlude in the film.

Fernando makes comedies similar to mine - there's a lot of light humour, a lot of talk, a lot of social scenes. And I think it's nice in films of that kind, which are otherwise conversational, to have a bit of time when people aren't talking and the audience can react emotionally to the images.

Whit Stillman is the director of `Metropolitan'. His new film, `Barcelona', is on release

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