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A Look at ECAM Incubator Documentary Project ‘The Garcias’

A mix of found footage and a modern-day family reunion will look to answer questions asked by filmmaker Paco Nicolás

SAN SEBASTIAN — Part of The Screen’s Incubator – a new initiative from Madrid-based film school ECAM intended to promote the production of feature films and develop emerging talent – Paco Nicolás’ “The Garcias” received a €10,000 ($11,800 USD) grant to be used in the production of the family reunion-themed documentary.

In Spain series like “The Middle” and “The Goldbergs” dominate the daytime airwaves, with “The Simpsons” occupying an arguably larger part of modern Spanish culture than it does in the States – for decades “Los Simpson” has been on every day, year round during Spain’s famous siesta hour.

That penchant for family entertainment representing a bygone era is something that Nicolás will look to tap into with his found-footage documentary “Los Garcia.” That and the ever-present meme of recreated family photos mixed with last year’s Goya and Karlovy Vary winner for best documentary, the similarly-Spanish “Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle.”

The film will feature old Super 8 tapes found by the filmmaker’s grandmother Finita, now remarried to a German man she spent years talking to on the phone, which she shared with Nicolás. In them, Nicolás sees his family as something different than he remembers. The tapes are from a birthday party in 1980, and everyone in them seems happy.

Today his family is fractured from what it once was, and older members have long since passed away. But, seeing that video sparked in Nicolás the desire to recreate, as best he can, the events on those tapes from nearly 40 years ago, and reflect on the changes his family has been through since.

Nicolás discussed with Variety his ambitions for the project, the reality of pulling it off and what he personally hopes to take from the project.

How will you mix the old footage and what you shoot now?

The audience will see the found footage of the family reunion that we are going to recreate now, 40 years later. Together with my grandmother, we are going to gather our relatives, all of them who appear in the footage from the ‘80s. We will see how they have changed in the last almost 40 years. Some of them are no longer technically in my family, but for the movie my grandmother and I will look for them.

Are there any questions you want to answer with your movie? Or is it just to reflect on another era?

The movie wants to explain why everyone seemed so happy in the ‘80s, and what happened so that my family is no longer together today. Is it possible that they were pretending that happiness? Can we interpret our past selves 40 years later? Can a family be happy like that again?

Are there other things which you have, or you would like to learn about your family and its story?

I would like to see how time changes people. How, in the same space and with the same people, their relationships have changed so much. And also the theme of love in old age; how my grandmother married a German man and at 80 years old and they talk every day by phone. It is nice how when we run out of family, like when my grandfather died, we look for something in others, even if it is thousands of kilometers away.

What state is the project in today?

We are looking for financing. The project has generated a lot of interest at festivals like Cannes, but we still don’t have the money to shoot. We have the prize of €10,000 from ECAM, but we need something more to be able to make the film under the best conditions.

When do you want to finish?

The ideal situation would be to shoot before the summer of 2019. And present the film around September 2019.

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