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Lucía Alemany’s ‘Innocence’ Rolls With Sergi López, Laia Marull (EXCLUSIVE)

Coming of age drama marks the awaited first feature from a rising star of Catalan cinema, and the first ECAM Incubator project to go into production

MADRID — Sergi López (“Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Harry, He’s Here to Help”) and Laia Marull (“Take My Eyes,” “Black Bread”) co-star in rites-of-passage drama “La Inocencia” (Innocence), the feature debut of Lucía Alemany, a key name in a generation of often very young women cineastes now energizing Catalan cinema.

Starring Carmen Arrufet in her first lead role, and Joel Bosqued (“Que baje dios y lo vea”), “Innocence” marks a follow-up to Alemany’s multi-prized short “14 Years and  a Day.” Produced by Morena Films, and a take on adolescent angst, budding sexuality and daughter-mother conflict set in a nosy Spanish village where privacy is near impossible, the short marked out Alemany, an alum of Barcelona’s Escac film school, as very much a director to track.

In production from Aug. 6 in Alemany’s home village of Traiguera, in the region of Castellón, central eastern Spain, “Innocence” comes with strong backing. Alemany has been championed by Iciar Bollaín, one of Spain’s most foremost women directors, for whom she worked on “The Olive Tree,” written by Ken Loach scribe Paul Laverty.

Alemany’s first feature also marks the first project to go into production from the ECAM Madrid Film School’s Incubator, an initiative launched this March which has sought in its first year of operations to further the development of five feature projects from first or second-time Spanish directors, chosen from 216 applications.

Penned by multi-prized novelist Laia Soler and Alemany, and drawing heavily on Alemany’s own experiences, “Innocence” has sparked buzz at screenplay stage for its knowing observance of adolescent angst. It turns on Lis, an adolescent in Traiguera, whose village population is swelled by the young returning home for the summer and its macro nightclub.

Lis has fun hanging out with her friends and carrying on in secret with her boyfriend, who is several years older than her, so her parents don’t find out. She also quarrels with her mother. But come the fall, the idyllic summer is over, colder weather tooling up, and Lis back at school and pregnant.

CREDIT: SOPHIE KOEHLER

Shooting for five weeks, “Innocence” is backed by Valencia’s Turanga Films, Barcelona’s Un Capricho de Producciones and Madrid’s Lagarto Films. Producers take in Lina Badenes (“Que baje Díos y lo vea”) and Belén Sánchez, an associate producer on Meritxell Colell’s Berlin Forum and Cannes Atelier-selected “Facing the Wind.”

Also producing is Juan Gordon, whose production credits at Morena Films include not only sizable European co-productions – “Wim Wenders’ “Submergence” and now Bollaín’s “Yuli,” in competition at San Sebastián – but co-production on first features from notable up-and-coming talent such as Basque Aritz Moreno’s upcoming “Advantages of Traveling by Train.”

Signaling the importance of regional funding for many first time directors in Spain, “Innocence” has gone into production backed by Valencia and Catalan funding – the Valencia Institute of Culture (IVC) and network À Punt, and Catalonia’s public broadcaster TV3 and Catalan Institute of Cultural Industries (ICEC) – as well as support from Telefonica pay TV division Movistar +.

CREDIT: SOPHIE KOEHLER

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