Photo: Daniel Gimenez Cacho in Blancanieves
When he was 11 years old, Spanish-born Mexican actor Daniel Gimenez Cacho went to his first bullfight and was absolutely fascinated.
Now at 51 his dream has come true, even though it’s on film in Spanish moviemaker Pablo Berger’s “Blancanieves”(Snow White), which won thunderous applause Friday night at the San Sebastian Film Festival.
“The father of some friends of mine took me to my first bullfight when I was 11 years old and I loved it. I told my parents I wanted to do that. But they said no, I wasn’t to learn that,” the winner of four Ariel Awards, the highest honor in Mexican cinema, told Efe.
In this atypical take on the Snow White fairy tale, being silent and in black and white, Spanish and about bullfighting, Gimenez Cacho wears a “suit of lights” to play the father of the Brothers Grimm heroine, a character almost invisible in other adaptations.
“He’s a very striking character, whose drama begins when his wife dies giving birth to their daughter on the same day he is gored by a bull,” he said.
But the pain and his physical disability put him in a wheelchair from where he observes, tenderly but stoically, the changes in his daughter, the victim of manipulations by a stepmother with the features of Maribel Verdu, with whom he worked in “La Zona” (The Zone).
The son of Spanish parents and born in Madrid, Gimenez Cacho attributes his passion for bulls to “a nostalgia for being Spanish, being the son of emigrants,” for which movies have been a great compensation since “Blancanieves” marks another milestone in a career of Spanish films, having worked previously with Pedro Almodovar, Vicente Aranda, Agusti Villaronga and Joaquin Oristrell.
“What I do have for Spanish movies…I have enthusiasm. I came to live in Spain in 1999 after working with Vicente Aranda in “Celos” (Jealousy). And here there’s an affinity for a kind of movies different from Hollywood , which in Mexico I’m closer to,” he said.
Oddly enough, “Blancanieves” now has the movie Mecca in its sights, since it could represent Spain both in the Oscars and in the Mexican Academy of Film Awards, though right now a prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival, which runs through Sept. 29, seems to be within reach.
“It’s a universal language, like the classics. You take Shakespeare, it grabs you immediately. Its very direct, the world is full of stories with conflicts like this, and, in the case of Mexico, we’re very familiar with the world of bullfighting,” he said.