Making a film about bullfighting is as unpredictable as a bullfight. You must listen a great deal and observe unceasingly, and even then things remain which have to be told.

I think of the structure of ARENA as a sort of mosaic whose pieces took shape on a long path past the different landscapes, faces and facets of the bullfighting world. The film does not seek to provide a didactic introduction to its rules and codes, but rather a sensitive approach to the complexity of this phenomenon, whose roots are as old as those of civilisation itself.

The characters appearing crossed my path and I incorporated them into the tale with the feeling that the film itself had invited them. Starting from a script resulting from a long investigation, I let myself be carried along by my own curiosity, my astonishment and my fascination, and this tale grew into its current form.

Nowadays, political correctness often leads to dogmatic, intolerant postures. The majority feels that its own sins are redeemed by censuring the conduct of a few. That happens with bullfighting. It is very easy to attack it, because it shows its hand as it plays and does not hide what society usually conceals. Bullfighting is however anything but a glorification of suffering. Roland Barthes explained what is celebrated at a bullfight: “Not man’s victory over the animal, but victory over ignorance, fear and necessity.”

Günter Schwaiger