Laurent Danielou’s Paris-based sales agent Loco Films has swooped on “Last Days of Spring” (“La Ultima Primavera”), a Spain-set first feature from Isabel Lamberti that will world premiere this September at San Sebastian Festival’s New Directors competition, the Festival confirmed Thursday.
The Spanish festival’s main sidebar, New Directors highlights first and second features from helmers in Europe and beyond that often go on to strong festival play and sometimes fulsome sales.
German-born, but raised in Spain and the Netherlands, Lamberti studied film and direction at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts and then the Netherlands Film Academy. She developed a love for what she calls “in-betweenness” — movies that inhabit the borderlands between fiction and documentary.
“Last Days of Spring” does so to a tee. Written by Lamberti and Lenina Ungari, and produced by Amsterdam-based IJswater Films (“The Polish Bride,” “The New World”) with Spain’s high-flying Tourmalet Films, it uses non-professional actors and a documentary aesthetic but fictionalized narratives, as Lamberti observes, to portray the emotional dislocation wrought on the sprawling Gabarre Mendoza family, by the news that they will soon be evicted from their shanty town community at Cañada Real, just outside Madrid.
The father, David, a hardworking scrap-metal dealer, reacts by denial, then tears, at the prospect of his family being broken up by the move. His wife, Agustina, falls into despondent despair. David Jr., 16, sets out to find a job cutting hair at a beauty salon in central Madrid.
“Each character has to say goodbye to an important part of themselves and therefore learn, sometimes in a harsh way, who she or he really is and how she or he relates to the world around them,” Lamberti wrote in a director’s statement.
Set in a broadly neo-realist tradition, she added, “Last Days of Spring” revolves around “the common theme in my work, the direct and indirect influence of a certain surrounding on the individual.”
“Loco Films is really proud to work with such a gifted director on her powerful and impressive first feature film,” Loco Films founder Danielou told Variety.
He added: “We are confident that distributors around the world will be mesmerized by the way Isabel Lamberti looks at her characters.”
“Last Days of Spring” is produced by Steven Rubinstein Malamud and Marc Bary for IJswater Films, co-produced by Tourmalet Films’ Omar Razzak and executive co-produced by Tourmalet’s Mayi Gutiérrez Cobo.
The film’s Benelux distributor, Cherry Pickers — whose prestige release slate encompasses Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s “Madre,” Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles’ “Bacurau” and Alice Winocour’s “Proxima” — plans a theatrical release for “Last Days of Spring” in the Netherlands, which looks set to take place this fall.
The San Sebastian Festival is scheduled to run Sept. 18-26, largely on site but with an online industry element as well.