Let me explain. Imagine my situation. 70 years passed, and nothing… I had a boyfriend here and there, but… what I always knew is that I didn`t want to die like this. And since everyone says it`s a wonderful, fantastic thing, the truth is that… it intrigues you. And I told myself: Begoña, if this is something so nice, you can`t lose out on it.

Begoña is an elderly woman—and a virgin. Convinced that death is close, she decides to hire a male prostitute, Daniel, to satisfy her curiosity about the thing that everyone says is so beautiful and marvelous. However, this will not be an easy task for Daniel. The First Time is Cobeaga`s first short film, which he made before he would become a household name behind such box office hits like Ocho Apellidos Vascos, Pagafantas, the weekly comedy series Vaya Semanita, or his Oscar-nominated One Too Many.

The short film was nominated for the 2002 Goya Awards, and received more than 30 awards in Spain and at international festivals. In his trademark mood of bitter sweet comedy, Cobeaga presents a completely anomalous situation that is nevertheless based on a range of familiar clichés: prostitution delivered to home. What is different here is that the client is not a man, but an elderly woman played by a splendid Mariví Bilbao. After the initial surprise about his client, the young gigolo (Aitor Beltrán) finds himself before an unprecedented query.

Cobeaga said this about the film, and the dark side of being an Oscar nominee from the perspective of creativity:

I like to pick diverse and different actors. I like this mixture. This has been present since The First Time, and also in the feature films there is this contrast: theater actors, humorists who work in television, actors who come from TV series…I think that 80% of the work of actor direction is about the choice of the actors. Sometimes I write with a particular actor on mind, other times no, but the election is always very scrupulous. When it comes to facing the direction of actors, I feel very confident, and I like it to be an intellectual process; I am not at all sensory when I talk with the actors. I intend to be very logical with what each character would do in each moment, and my behavior is the same in the dialogue with the actor. It is fundamental that they read the script from beginning to end, and transform the dialogues. From the perspective of dialogue, the script is never closed, and this gives tranquility. It generates good atmosphere, and the actors feel comfortable.

At a more personal or mental level, an Oscar nomination has its dark sides. The impression that you arrived at the Oscar when you barely even started yet… I developed a certain obsession with not believeing it too much, and this lead to self-confidence issues. Besides, a week after the Oscars I shot Río Puerco,  the short film that I am least happy with.  It was a tough blow psychologically. I started to think that the Oscar was tremendously accidental, that it happened to me, but it could have happened to any other person. It caused me insecurity. I was of low morale until the first script of Pagafantas came out.

The Monday Movies series presents Basque short films and contemporary cinema. Most of these short films have gained international recognition thanks to the Basque distribution program Kimuak, and they are part of our upcoming book Kimuak Short Films: Seeds of Basque Cinema. Enjoy!