Bowing at June’s Malaga Film Festival in Spain, where it swept three prizes in its edgier Zonacine sidebar – best film, actor (Jorge Motos) and its Audience Award – Spaniard Alex Montoya’s second feature “Lucas” has been picked up by Spain’s Filmin SVOD service, the country’s biggest streaming platform for art pics and upscale TV series.
International sale rights on “Lucas” are handled by Begin Again Films.
The acquisition continues a close relationship between the Spanish filmmaker and the Spanish streamer, with Montaya’s debut feature, “Asamblea,” become the most successful premiere on the platform during the COVID-19 pandemic. Montoya now returns with one of the buzz titles at this year’s Malaga Film festival.
Produced by Raw Pictures and Telespan 2000‚ “Lucas” turns on an adolescent who after the death of his father, an event that turns his life upside down, ends up selling photos of himself to an older man, Álvaro. His dubious intentions are rendered secondary for Lucas by the fact that Alvaro is the first person who truly listens to him. A strange and tender relationship develops between the two of them as Lucas still tries to pick up the pieces of his shattered life. Motos gives a touching performance of a young boy still figuring out life in a chaotic world.
Launched in 2008 with the backing of Spain’s main arthouse distributors, Filmin posted profits in 2018 positioning itself as a “cultural” complement to more mainstream streamers and a hallmark of quality. “Lucas’’” pickup underscores Filmin’s continued bet on more challenging arthouse fare from a new generation of filmmakers.
Variety talked with Montoya during the Spanish Screenings-Málaga de Cine.
The beginning of the film has a clearly dynamic feel that is built around highly-present hand held camerawork, which from time to time underscores narrative moments through small gestures. Can you walk us through the shooting style?
The basic idea was to always be with Lucas, near him, with optics always closer to wide angles. Rarely does the camera move away and discover things on its own. As always our gaol to deeply empathize with the protagonist.
In the same manner, the look of the film has a very palpable texture that breath life into the many beautiful shots throughout the film. Assuming that you shot on digital, how did you establish the look of the film? Which were your visual references? How were the conversations with the DoP and the post-production work?
Our references were clear: movies from the ‘70s like “Sorcerer“ or “Scarecrow“ that often used a 16mm, natural locations and delivered a highly realist portrait. We tried to recreate that flexibility with very light equipment; a hybrid camera photo/video (Panasonic GH5s) with Kowa anamorphic lenses. We tried many cameras but to my eyes the Panasonic was the one that better converted to a celluloid feel in post.
Around the hour mark, the film takes an unexpected twist that allows you to play with very different tones that grace the genre. What implications had that narrative twist for the visual language?
Those ’70s films that inspired us always had a very strong genre element but supported by a solid dramatic base with characters anchored in reality. We’ve tried to do the same while stylizing as little as possible. Our action scenes, for example, are dirty, clumsy, almost grotesque.
In the film there’s a wide palette of masculine characters and different dynamics that develop between them. You manage to point out both the unhealthiness and logic of relationships….
The film is populated by very damaged men. The only one that looks like a functional character is Lucas’ father and he’s just died. The core idea was to place this kid in the center of this “swamp” and see him cross it, always with the doubt about whether he can grow and come out of it.