Award-winning Spanish producer Agustín Almodóvar on Thursday tweeted a set photo from the first day of shooting for his brother Pedro Almodóvar’s upcoming short film adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s “The Human Voice,” starring Academy Award-winning actress Tilda Swinton.
— Agustín Almodóvar oficial (@AgustinAlmo) July 16, 2020
In the photo, taken in Madrid, Almodóvar is seen wearing a stylish black mask while Swinton employs a handheld face shield. Agustín Almodóvar comments in Spanish: “Pedro Almodóvar, Tilda Swinton, El Deseo (the brothers’ production company), #LaVozHumana . First day of shooting.”
After years as one of the world’s most-recognized auteurs — who was once offered the chance to direct 1992’s “Sister Act,” but ultimately passed — the short marks the 70-year-old filmmaker’s first English-language production.
When the short was announced in February, Almodóvar said he planned to start shooting in April in Madrid. Of course, in April, Madrid was one of the most heavily locked-down communities on the planet, and shooting would have been impossible, even if Swinton had been allowed to travel to the Spanish city.
The original Cocteau play, set in Paris, is delivered in one act, and turns on a woman’s final phone call with her lover of five years, who is scheduled to marry another woman the following day. The call triggers crippling depression in the protagonist. The play has long been an influential source for Almodóvar, who featured it in 1987’s “The Law of Desire,” where Carmen Maura appeared in a stage production. It also inspired 1988’s “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” his first Oscar-nominated feature.
At the time of the film’s announcement, Almodóvar explained that he and Swinton worked together to update certain aspects of the story and the woman’s behavior, which sometimes seems out of touch with modern sensibilities. He also confirmed a near-finished screenplay adaptation of Lucia Berlin’s “A Manual for Cleaning Women,” also to be filmed in English.