Also written by the director, the road movie marks return to filmmaking of Sénchez Arévalo, one of Spain’s foremost young crossover cineasts, after his first novel, “Alice’s Island” – soon to be released in the U.S. – was selected as a finalist for Spain’s Premio Planeta, one of its most coveted literary awards.
To be shot almost entirely on location in the breathtaking Cantabria, in the North of Spain, a countryside of stunning verdant valleys and abrupt limestone buffs, “Seventeen” tells the story of Hector, aged 17, who’s has been in a youth detention center for two years, and as part of reintegration therapy, is sent to an animal rescue center, where he encounters a dog as shy and elusive as him.
When Oveja, the dog, is found a home, Hector determines to run away to find him, accompanied by his unwilling elder brother Ismael, who is determined that he doesn’t get in trouble because Hector, the synopsis states, is two days from turning 18. From then on, any crime he commits will not send him back to the reformatory, but straight to jail.
“Seventeen” stars Nacho Sanchez – the youngest actor to receive a prestigious Premio Mex stage award in Spain in the role of Ismael; Biel Montoro plays Hector.
Sánchez Arévalo commented: “I decided that the best way to move forward was by taking a step back. I discovered my need to go back to the beginning, to the point of departure, but with the experience and baggage gathered along the way. Back to the little things, which are the ones that interest me. Those small but great everyday stories.”
He added: “And that is when I realized that I felt a very intimate connection with this story of abandoned dogs lacking an emotional leg, with an imperative need to have a home… to find their place in the world.”
Netflix’s new Spanish original is produced by José Antonio Félez’s Atipica Films, which has backed all of Sanchez Arevalo’s features as well as Alberto Rodriguez’s “Marshland” and drama series “The Plague.” The film will simultaneously debut in the 190 countries Netflix is present in.
Sánchez Arévalo broke through in 2007 with feature debut “DarkBlueAlmostBlack,” an off-beat rights-of-passage tragicomedy whose visual flair and psychological percipience marked him out immediately.
After 2009’s acid “Fat,” Sanchez Arevalo directed two movies – 2011’s bachelor farce “Cousinhood” and 2013’s wedding-set “Family United” – which ewon him respect as an adept writer-director of fun comedy-dramas with, however, had enough social point, contemporary reference and psychological point to appeal to mainstream and more demanding audiences at home and foreign-language movie aficionados abroad. “Cousinhood” grossed $5.2 million inSpain, “Family United” $4.2 million.