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Spain’s Gadea Films Primes Afghan Women Taxi Driver Doc ‘Sara’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Spain’s Gadea Films is initiating early production on “Sara,” a docu-feature chronicle of the journey of a filmmaker, Spain’s Patricia Franquesa, to encounter Sara Bahai, the first female taxi driver in Afghanistan.

Produced by Laia Zanon and Franquesa at Gadea, who teamed for development with Alice Tillet and Kristian Mosvold at Substans Film, both in Norway, “Sara” won a Norwegian Cultiva Ekspress Artist Fund development award. In December. it also snagged a development award from the Catalan Institute of Cultural Enterprises (ICEC).

It will now be introduced to the international market from Aug. 9 at Locarno’s Match Me! networking forum.

“Sara” represents Franquesa’s documentary directorial debut and the first lead feature production at Gadea Films, which Zanon and Franquesa launched in late 2016, having worked together producing projects since 2010.

Bahai is gradually achieving public recognition, which she’s been seeking for a long time, said Franquesa. Her biggest challenge, however, comes from her own home, where her mother is sick, and Sara is expected to look after her.

While Sara battles entrenched tradition, the encounter also challenges Franquesa’s “preconceived ideas I had about her and her society through my research before getting there, [discovering] the actual reality of her real life. In a taxi-set interview, Sara tells her own life, her daily challenges and intimate events and thoughts, in what Franquesa describes as “filmed self-storytelling.”

First broached in 2015, “Sara” has seen Franquesa shoot twice in Afghanistan, together with Bahai and Afghan photo-journalist Mariam Alimi.

Based out of Barcelona, Gadea sits at the intersection of various forces now forging cinema. One is an international reach.

“Gadea aims to produce honest and intimate stories to approach different realities with the intention to touch the audience’s heart and mind, said Franquesa. But those stories don’t have to unspool in Spain.

Gadea’s first feature production, as a minority producer, is “La Mami,” directed by Spain’s Laura Herrero Garvin and lead-produced by Laura Imperiale at Mexico City’s Cacerola Films, who presented it at the San Sebastian’s 2016 Co-production Forum, and won the Impulso Award at Morelia International Film Festival 2018. Also written by Herrero Garvin, the docu-feature portrays “La Mami,” who looks after the wash rooms and the women who work at Mexico City’s legendary Cabaret Barba Azul.

A second front for Gadea is “emerging technological ways of exploring reality. Technology and data storytelling,” said Franquesa. Zanon is collaborating as a creative producer at Wildbytes, an interactive experiential agency that crafts never-before-seen experiences through cutting-edge technology. “We are aiming to produce projects that explore the new language between documentary and experimental-technology,” Franquesa added.

Barcelona-based, Gadea also forms part of the rising swell of young female filmmakers no energizing Spanish cinema at large. Three of the seven Spanish titles in San Sebastian’s Official Selection or New Directors, its biggest sidebar, are directed by women based out of or who studied in Barcelona. San Sebastian will also screen “Perfect Life,” by the Barcelona-based Leticia Dolera,  which won this year’s Canneseries. “Female voices in Barcelona are starting to resonate over the rest of the world,” said Franquesa. “Statistically, women are still really under-represented, but at Gadea, we are happy our voices are being heard.”

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