Daniel Monzón (‘The laws of the border’): “The despair of the quinquis of the 70s connects with the young people of today”

We spoke with the director and actors Begoña Vargas, Marcos Ruiz and Chechu Salgado at the San Sebastián Film Festival. The film, an adaptation of the homonymous novel by Javier Cercas, opens in theaters on October 8.

A group of young people and a feeling of rebellion, of finding the first love and seeking freedom. The laws of the border, the new by Daniel Monzón, is set in the 70s, but the protagonists could well belong to the youth of today. “There is a connection between the present moment, both aesthetically and existentially, that brings both moments closer together”, count to SensaCine Director of Cell 211 and The child at San Sebastian Film Festival.

The laws of the border, the adaptation of the homonymous novel by Javier Cercas, hits theaters this Friday, October 8th, after closing the Official Section of the 69th edition of the San Sebastian contest. In the middle of the Spanish transition, the film follows Nacho Cañas, a middle class young man who falls in love with Tere, a quinqui for which he will get into the band of the Zarco. The protagonist goes from being an innocent young man who suffers from bullying to becoming just another criminal.

As Monzón continues:

To the public of my age it means a trip to their adolescence and childhood, but the young people who see the film and who are the age of the protagonists feel very close to the emotional drives […] The film talks about teenage rebellion. Any teenager has the same impulse that Nacho has to skip conventions, to live fast, to have adrenaline explode through his pores, to fall in love to the feet of a fascinating woman …

Adolescents can be seen reflected not only in what Nacho does and feels, but also in the feeling of hopelessness of the quinquis of the time. “There is something about the hopelessness of that moment, that of the quinquis, who saw the democracy party from the sidelines and said: ‘Why aren’t we invited?”

‘The laws of the border’ and the evolution of the popular quinqui cinema

“They took justice into their own hands and they all ended up dead: shot by the police or by a misplaced spike of herioin,” says the director about the quinquis of the time, those criminals who lived crowded around the big cities and that they belonged to certain marginalized social groups. “That is very different from the youth of now, but that hopelessness of what is of our future does have a lot to do with what young people feel now. […] That hopelessness connects a lot with the young people of today “.


To give life to these young people of the 70s, the director had three actors for whom this film seems to represent a before and after in their careers. It may be with a Goya nomination or as a way to boost his future in the industry. It is about Marcos Ruiz (Mothers Love and life), Begoña Vargas (Malasaña 32) and Chechu Salgado (Homeland): Ignacio, Tere and Zarco; respectively.

The laws of the borderLike many other productions, it was forced to delay its start of filming. However, that gave the leads time to prepare more for playing their characters. “We did a lot of Skype where we watched movies, we shared books, fanzines, programs … Then each one talking with the people around him who had lived that time and putting everything in common”, says Salgado.

“We sent everything. We had a WhatsApp group before filming,” adds Ruiz. And what was that WhatsApp group called? Well, like the bar where the Zarco band meets. “¡La Font!”, all three answer. “What’s it going to be called, man?” Says Vargas.

Monzón is not the only one who sees a connection between the past and the present in The laws of the border. As Salgado explains:

There is something common, which is freedom, wanting to hit the table, having character and looking for your identity and personality. That is timeless. That will always exist and it is necessary

The themes of The laws of the border there are several: rebellion, first love, the need to belong to a group … “There are many issues that are touched on and all are very important. From the love story to rebellion. It is very difficult to choose one”, he says Salgado when we ask the main trio what it is your favorite movie theme.

“The ambiguity that everything we know has. Nacho has to break what they have educated and taught him to be part of the Zarco band”, indicates Ruiz. “The love of freedom”, emphasizes Vargas. “How complex it is to love and how difficult it is”, adds Salgado. “And the of ways that there are”, shares his companion.