×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

CANNES Q&A: Penelope Cruz on Producing ‘Ma Ma’

Penelope Cruz will be in Cannes today to present “Ma Ma,” which is her first as a producer. In it, she plays Magda, a gutsy mother who battles to overcome tragedy. “Ma Ma” also marks Cruz’s first film with Spanish auteur Julio Medem, who has directed some of the most sensorial, sensual and involved portrayals of feminine sensibility in modern Spanish cinema (“Vacas,” “Lovers of the Arctic Circle,” “Sex and Lucia”). Cruz and Medem talked to Variety exclusively about “Ma Ma,” which bows Monday. “Ma Ma” is being sold at Cannes by Seville Intl., the boutique sales arm of eOne Films Intl. Cruz, Medem and Alvaro Longoria at Spain’s Morena Films produce, in association with France’s Backup Media Group. France’s Mare Nostrum co-produces. CAA represents U.S. rights.

You both live in Los Angeles. Why return to Spain to make a film in Spanish?
Medem: “Ma Ma” is right up my street: Large emotional and dramatic intensity, and it turns on the intimacy of the characters — one woman, two men, played by Luis Tosar and Asier Etxeandia, who love her, and a 10-year-old boy. It’s the first time I portray a character who’s not a woman and lover but a mother. Maternity is key in “Ma Ma.” The tragedy stems from that.
Cruz: A few months ago, Julio gave me the script over lunch. I read it that night and was just bowled over. It’s one of the most complex, most beautiful characters I’ve ever been offered, the most difficult. Some films take years to come together, “Ma Ma” has come together very fast.

Why the move into production?
Cruz: I want to build what could be my future in cinema, not always being in front of the camera. I’d also like to direct a feature, maybe 10 years from now. For now, I’m directing commercial and video-clips; I love that. And it’s the best way to learn. I want to go slowly, step by step. I’m following the whole production process very closely, from the film’s inception.

Julio has suggested that Magda has certain things in common with you.
Cruz: Maybe, she battles for things because all sorts of things happen to her. She’s optimistic. But her pace and energy are different. Acting interests me a great deal more than playing someone very much like myself. The further away she is from me, the more possibilities that offers as an actress. That’s acting: the beauty of risk, facing up to the unknown, placing yourself in the skin of someone you invite into your life for a time, someone who isn’t you.

For ‘Ma Ma,’ you’ve reunited the team of ‘Sex and Lucia’: d.p. Kiko de la Rica, composer Alberto de la Iglesia, and art designer Montse Sanz. Will you also return to the style of ‘Sex and Lucia,’ whose second part offered a total immersion in Lucia’s life?
Medem: “Ma Ma” will be a luminous film, with somewhat overexposed and cold images, strong blues, cold reds and golds. The camera will be constantly at Magda’s side, we’ll sense her feelings and sensations, constantly accompany her. It’s a subjective film, beginning with tragedy, but it’s not about tragedy but rather how to react to tragedy, a film that creates a desire to live, to be happy.

More Film

  • RUDOLF NUREYEV 1961

    Film Review: 'Nureyev'

    It would be absurd to say that Rudolf Nureyev lived, or danced, in anyone’s shadow. He was a man who leapt and twirled and flew onstage, all muscle but light as a feather, with a freedom and force that reconfigured the human spirit. There’s no denying, though, that over the last few decades, and especially [...]

  • Die Kinder Der Toten review

    Film Review: 'Die Kinder Der Toten'

    The hills are alive (or rather, undead), with the sound of music (also mastication and the moaning of zombies) in Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska’s experimental, dialogue-free, home-movie-style riff on Elfriede Jelinek’s “Die Kinder Der Toten” (The Children of the Dead). A seminal text in Jelinek’s native Austria, the 1995 book has never been translated [...]

  • Idol review

    Film Review: 'Idol'

    How many twists can a plot undergo before it snaps? This, more than any of the many political, moral and personal conundrums that snake through “Idol,” seems to be the question writer-director Lee Su-jin is most interested in posing with his extravagantly incomprehensible sophomore feature. A seedy political thriller by way of grisly revenge movie [...]

  • The Last to See Them review

    Film Review: 'The Last to See Them'

    Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” stretches long as a late-evening shadow over Italian director Sara Summa’s feature debut “The Last to See Them.” The Italian title, “Gli Ultimi Viderli Vivere” which translates literally to “The Last to See Them Alive,” is also the heading of the opening chapter of Capote’s book. The setting is, similarly, [...]

  • Kalank

    Film Review: ‘Kalank’

    Events leading to the 1947 Partition of India serve as the forebodingly serious backdrop for the exhaustingly overextended razzmatazz of “Kalank,” writer-director Abhishek Varman’s lavish but ponderous Bollywood extravaganza, which opened in the U.S. on more than 300 screens the same day as its Indian release. Despite the preponderance of sets and costumes spectacular enough [...]

  • WGA Agency Packaging Fight Placeholder Writer

    WGA: 92 Percent of Writers Who Signed Statement of Support Have Fired Agents

    The Writers Guild of America estimated that over 92 percent of their members who support a new code of conduct for talent agencies have fired those representatives. Letters announcing formal termination will be delivered on Monday, the guild said in a late-hitting memo on Thursday, as most agencies will be closed tomorrow in observance of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content