Manuel Embalse

What’s your background?

I studied at a public film university in Buenos Aires, the city where I grew up and where I live. There, I met the people with whom I currently work and with whom I formed a collective: Antes Muerto Cine. In my adolescence, I learned to make songs and to think about life through sound. I composed songs and recorded nine albums that were released on the Fuego Amigo Discos label. Then, I began to edit and do the sound design of my short films, always in a self-managed way and only with a handycam or a cell phone. Over the years, I became the editor of short and feature films directed by other people, generally oriented to documentary and experimental. Now, I am the editor of all my friends and I work on what I like and the way I want. I'm interested in historical and environmental themes, and that they are directed by kind and creative people. I am not interested in lobbying or working for the big companies in the industry. I am also occasionally a sound designer. Working collectively in Latin America is key, because the resources we have are very limited and our creativity is gigantic. At Antes Muerto Cine, we all have different roles, and in my case I'm a translator, assistant director, editor, director, producer, distributor and sound designer for many of our films.

What influences you artistically?

At this moment, I don't know if I'm inspired by particular people. I'm inspired by my friends around me, making films from the soul and with a huge political commitment. I'm not down by this unjust present we live in, on the contrary, this horrible context that we're living inspires me. I think we're going through such a big environmental, political and social crisis that I need to believe that we can change something about it. I'm not interested in defeatism: if we are alive, today, now, here, we have to do something. Even if it's just making a .MOV that changes someone's life. I believe in cinema and audiovisual language as a medium that can move sensibilities and ideas. Seeing nature disintegrating, poverty growing and the ultra-right dominating global politics scares me, but gives me courage to try to fight back. Collective organization is and will always be the way out.

How do you start a new work?

What I like most about creating is not realizing when an idea is born. Sometimes I think of a specific topic that interests me, and years later I realize I'm editing something about it. I like the creative freedom and not so much premeditating things. Sometimes, I'm very impulsive and I edit something quickly and finish it in a few months. Other times, like right now, after ten years of accumulating footage, I'm finishing a film that I didn't "write": the time gave me the idea.

What are you working on right now?

Currently I'm finishing my second feature film, "The new ruins". It's an experimental essay about e-waste and archeology, based on my personal footage recorded since 2012 until 2023. As part of my investigation, I work with Xu Lizhi's poems, a 24 year old chinese poet and worker from Foxconn, a factory in China that assembled Iphones and a lot of different electronic devices. Before he committed suicide, he left a book of poems about his daily life in the factory. His friends published it on the internet, as if they were throwing ashes to the wind. So, as I film e-waste, a ghost poet appears and start guiding me in a trip through my footage.