BARCELONA – A Netflix original produced by Spain’s Filmax, “Days of Christmas” marks the new series of Pau Freixas, one of the highest-profile creators on Spain’s vibrant drama series scene. A three-part miniseries, “Days” will be made available worldwide by Netflix on Dec. 6.
The story takes place over three different Christmas days, the first in 1949, the second twenty years later and the last one in current rimes more or less. The plot plumbs the secrets hidden and nurtured over these years by a family living in an isolated house in the mountains. The main characters are four women. Twelve actresses, among the best actors of their generations, play the role of four sisters at different times and stages of their lives. Victoria Abril (Pedro Almodóvar’s “High Heels”), Elena Anaya, (Almodóvar’s “The Skin I Live In”), Nerea Barros (Alberto Rodríguez’ “Marshland”) and Verónica Echegui (Simon Donald’s TV-series “Fortitude”) are some of them.
Freixas has been a creative force behind TV shows such as family drama “Welcome to the Family,” and “The Red Band Society” – which won big at New York’s 3rd Intl. Emmy Kids Awards, winning best series, and saw a U.S. Fox remake produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment and ABC studios– as well as thriller “I Know Who You Are.” Heading up TV series development at Filmax, Freixas is currently developing three new projects.
“Days of Christmas” was executive produced and written by Freixas. Lucas Vidal (Isabel Coixet’s “Endless Night) created the soundtrack and Gris Jordana (Laura Jou’s “Life Without Sara Amat”) served as DP. The miniseries is singular, weaving children’s fable, family drama and black comedy.
After “Welcome to the Family” you once more explore the microcosmos of the family….
Yes, and the family even featured in “I Know Who You Are.” Everyone has a family and it’s more or less the origin of all our traumas… all the stories we have in our heads come from the family. It’s a fairly universal thing that all creatives become interested in at one moment or another.
Literature is full of examples: Miller, Ibsen, Shakespeare… Why is the family such a space for secrecy, lies and drama?
Because the construction of personality starts in childhood and you are therefore conditioned by a family, one way or another. The family constructs a series of conflicts which we have little capacity to analyze as children. Emotionally, we are left with a mark that hasn’t been processed by reason and remains there. Families offer a framework in which a group of people theoretically have unified interests and ways of seeing the world, but later each individual personalizes them in their own way. Additionally, in all families— beyond members getting along or not, or differing from each other— there is something that unifies: Blood. And this means that even in conflict, the family maintains a structure. When bonds work in a positive fashion, it’s happiness itself. In a framework of such large openess, secrets become huge a huge issue and a profitable space for drama.
The boom in TV shows about family seems to be living its final years. Why?
At one point I came to believe that we all accepted that the model of the traditional family was officially changing everywhere, through adoption, homosexual couples, in-vitro fertilization… a whole list of improvements in our society that demand new social structures… Nowadays I think that this has been more assimilated. It’s not exceptional to make a series about one of these concepts. So you either dig deeper or add something… an exploration in different tones, this greatly enriches fiction. Now there are personalities, very particular tones.
And in this sense, what is the singularity offered by “Days”?
Our initial idea was to make three episodes in three completely different tones. It’s completely outlandish, because, of course, the first is a children’s tale, the second has a more appropriate tone corresponding to the age of the protagonists, and the conflict that erupts. And the third is at times darkly humorous, framed by the characters more advanced age.
This is the key vessel for the stories. As we’ve seen at early screenings, the series stirs emotions, perhaps because of its themes, because we discuss family, the passing of time, bonds forged… the series stirs emotions. But there’s something in the tones which awakens a sense of a journey.
The structure is indeed singular. How did you come to it?
When I spoke with Netflix and I mentioned the concept, what I really had was only the format: three episodes that occur on Christmas Day in three different moments in the lives of four sisters: At around the age of 15, 35 and 60. This is the vessel which served to explore the psychological structures of the family and the secrets bound up in them.
After Alex Pina’s success with “Money Heist” and Leticia Dolera’s Canneseries winner “Perfect Life” people are talking about a golden age for Spanish TV production? Would you agree?
Yes, definitely. With the arrival of the platforms and with the perception that Spanish-language series can be sold worldwide— not just in Latin America— and that in sales terms, the cost-quality relationship is very good, there’s been a great increase in production. In the last few years we’ve sensed that the industry can still grow a great deal… with new formats,lengths, budgets, and a broader vision of the audience. We’re going through a moment of large transformation. There’s a feeling among all creators of having a very high bar. It’s a magical moment.