International buyers were shown another preview of director Marta Lallana’s sophomore feature, “Muyeres,” at the Malaga Spanish Screenings this week. The project will also feature in IDFA in Amsterdam next week, as part of an Upcoming Catalan Docs showcase.
Set to go into production next year, the black and white documentary that explores song preservation in the northern Asturian region of Spain, the work-in-progress received its first festival outing this spring, taking part in Malaga’s virtual WIP showcase.
Last year’s winners included Spanish horror movie “The Platform,” which went on to become the most-watched movie on Netflix in the U.S. for some days. This year saw “Muyeres” share the Buenos Aires Intl. Documentary Festival Award at the showcase, along with overall WIP winner – Martin Gutiérrez’s “Amateur.”
“Muyeres” is being produced by Oriol Maymo – whose credits include the “REC” horror franchise – through the Catalan production company Corte y Confección de Películas.
The 90-minute documentary is based around a collection of songs, romances and legends, passed down from the generations, by communities of elderly women living in the Asturian valley of Cangas de Narcea.
It focuses on the last guardians of this cultural canon, whose traditions are in danger of dying out due to migration and a change in values.
As one of the subjects who features in the film’s nine-minute teaser laments, no one sings anymore: “Nowadays if you walk along a path you don’t hear anyone. You don’t see anyone.”
The feature is inspired by the 2019 album “Manual de Cortejo,” an attempt by musicians Raül Refree and Rodrigo Cuevas to preserve some of these songs.
“Throughout the film, Raül will get to know and soak up more of these songs from these women – and, after the filming process, he will create compositions that update the tradition,” Maymo explained.
Lallana – whose first feature, “Ojos Negros” took the Silver Biznaga for best Spanish film at Málaga last year – explained in her production notes that the project speaks of “the value and loss of collective memory about our roots, our culture and ultimately about our identity.”
She added: “The film is built on a very small idea, the desire to be able to capture and embalm in time a footprint that is about to disappear.”
Speaking about his involvement in the project, Maymo – whose diverse range of credits include Ryan Reynolds-fronted thriller “Buried” and smash hit Catalan children’s ward series “Red Band Society” – said he is interested in cinema “with the capacity not just to entertain but also surprise, to open up new windows of emotion and knowledge.”
Justifying the production’s choice of black and white film stock he added: “We believe that the format choice is risky but it makes sense given the subject of the film. It is a film that talks about the fragility of memory, the weight of the past in our present, which are facts that share with the film material itself.“
So far the project has gathered €360,000 ($430,000) in funding, including support from the ICAA, toward an estimated overall budget of €600,000 ($714,000).
According to Maymo, the production is still looking for partners or a TV channel to complete financing and the producer added that the film is hoping to close on distribution and sales deals “in the next few weeks.”