Three or so years ago, a new generation of directors, many women, were beginning to break out in Catalonia. That was no flash in the pan.
Following on Nely Reguera’s “María (and Everybody Else)” and Carla Simón’s Berlinale Generation Kplus pic “Summer 1993,” first features by Diana Toucedo (“Thirty Souls”), Meritxell Colell (“Facing the Wind”), Neus Ballús (“The Plague”) and Celia Rico (“Journey to a Mother’s Room”) have set the film festival circuit alight, garnering bullish reviews and a slew of prizes. Many of these women are now on to their second or third features: Simón with “Alcarrás,” Ballús (“The Odd-Job Men”), Colell (“Duo,” “Transoceánicas,”), Rico (“The Little Loves”), Pilar Palomero (“La maternal”) and Reguera (“The Grandson”), among others.
Now, women producers are taking center stage: Belén Sánchez at Un Capricho Producciones (Lucía Alemeny’s “The Innocence”), Patricia Franquesa at Gadea Films (Laura Herrero’s “La Mami”) are succeeding. Many producers including Anna María Bofarull at KaBoGa (“Barcelona 1714”), Érika Sánchez at Antivaho Cinematográfico (“Panthers”), Alba Sotorra (“Isis Widows”) double up as directors.
Catalonia’s newest generation is now “landing in production,” says Mar Medir at Catalan Films.
The region has carved out a tradition in independent and documentary cinema. The new generation, male and female, ranges far wider in its work.
Of movies from women producers, “The Innocence” is an arthouse coming-of-age rural tale; “Barcelona 1714” has the production ambitions of historical drama; “La Mami” and “Isis Widows” are docs.
As for directors, “some, notably, are diversifying, nurturing their auteurist streak but also opening up to a more mainstream work with platforms and broadcasters,” Medir notes.
Carlos Marques Marcet, director of SXSW Special Jury Prize winner “10,000 Km.,” and Leticia Dolera, a CannesSeries double prize-winner for “A Perfect Life,” have both directed episodes of HBO confinement series “En casa,” along with Elena Martín, a writer on Atresmedia’s “Veneno.”
Many of this new generation hail from the documentary field, which has a strong tradition in Catalonia, bulwarked by schools such as Ramon Llull or Pompeu Fabra. Anna Giralt is directing “Robin Bank,” a personal crusade against the banking system. Among docs in the works, Ballús has comedic doc “Men”; Sotorra is working on “Isis Widows,” a psychological study of women in the West who have joined the organization; Miguel Ángel Blanca and Raúl Cuevas’ analyze low-cost tourism in “Magaluf Ghost Town”; and Patricia Franquesa develops “Olé mi coño,” about a woman’s riposte to cyber stalking.
In economic terms, documentaries lower the entry level for first features, while priming cooperation.
Other directors are readying movies with larger audience appeal, such as Rodrigo Cortés’ “Love Gets a Room” (for Nostromo), Lluís Quílez’ “Below Zero” (for Amorós Producciones), Cesc Gay’s “The People Upstairs,” (Imposible Films), David Victori’s “Cross the Line” (Filmax), Mar Targarona’s “The Cuckoo” (Rodar y Rodar), Kike Maíllo’s “A Perfect Enemy” (Sábado Películas) and Icíar Bollaín’s “Rosa’s Wedding” (Setembro Cine).
Talent is flourishing in Catalonia, most industry players agree. What they miss is robust support from Spain’s regional broadcasters. Some producers, nevertheless, underscore the need for a proactive pubcaster. Public-sector subsidies should be a complement, not the engine of film financing. We need a strong TV [component], one says.
A second challenge is the threat of talent leaving for Madrid. A few producers, directors and DPs have moved there. Spain’s main broadcasters have always been there. Now they’re being joined by the global platforms, another producer says.
What Madrid can’t match, at least for the moment, is the vigorous state support from Catalan film agency ICEC. Its $19.2 million budget this year is up 50% on 2019 when it lost revenues from a regional levy on local telecoms.