High-flying Spanish outfit Filmika Galaika has boarded Gabriel Azorín’s poetic, time-blending “Last Night I Conquered the City of Thebes”(“Anoche conquisté Tebas”), a buzz title at the Locarno Festival Match Me forum.
A networking platform for up-and-coming producers, and a few who have pretty much arrived, Match Me runs on-site at Switzerland’s Locarno Festival over Aug. 6-8.
Based out of A Coruña, Filmika Galaika’s “They Carry Death,” framing two stories, both set in 1492 and directed by Helena Girón and Samuel M. Delgado, has just been selected for Venice Critics’ Week. “Sycorax,” from Lois Patiño and Matías Piñeiro, won a Cannes Directors’ Fortnight berth.
Filmika Galaika joins Spain’s Dvein Films and Portugal’s Primeira Idade as a producer partner on the feature which will be presented in Locarno by Dvein’s Carlos Pardo Ros.
Written by Azorín and Spanish playwright and theater director Celso Giménez, “Last Night I Conquered the City of Thebes” begins with Antonio and best friend Jota, 16 or 17, who, one cold Winter afternoon, visit some Roman baths. At nightfall, when people have gone and there is no trace left of a contemporary world, Antonio confesses to Jota that he’s afraid they are no longer fronds.
It’s then that they discover there are other boys bathing: Roman soldiers who built the baths. And their age and concerns are not very different from those of the boys, the project’s synopsis says.
More than anything else, the film will turn on “friendship over and above the couple, family or work,” says Azorín.
“I am interested in portraying this kind of intimacy between men and showing masculinity in a fragile way. So the Roman soldiers will not be violent killers or brave warriors, as they’re often portrayed in films, but young, sensitive boys. In the film, both they and the boys share one fear: losing their friends forever.”
“Last Night I Conquered the City of Thebes” stems in part from a visit Azorín made while studying at San Sebastian’s Elías Querejeta Zine Ezkola to Roman thermal baths in Bande, Ourense, near Spain’s border with Portugal. He returned with with Pardo Ros and a special camera for night filming.
“On returning home and reviewing the material, we were struck by the fact that in the dark, the heat of the water and the rhythm of the steam made the bodies have a much calmer and cleaner gesture,” Pardo Ros recalled. “It was a magical sensation, as if these people did not belong to our time.”
At the film school, Azorín had become “obsessed” by the idea of filming different times in a single shot, their contiguity in “Last Night….” underscoring a similarity in human sentiment down the centuries.
Last Night has been developed at Ikusmira Berriak, fast consolidating as one of Spain’s preeminent development labs.
At last November’s Seville European Film Festival, the project won the RTP Award, consisting of the pre-buy of rights from the Portuguese public broadcaster. It is also the first feature title from Spain’s Dvein Films, established in 2017 and which, over the space of just four years, has carved out a reputation as one of Spain’s most adventurous indie film producers.
One hallmark is visual innovation: Óscar Vincentelli’s experimental doc short “La sangre es blanca,” films a bull fight with a thermal camera. Another is the slew of early prizes. María Antón Cabot’s “<3,” about a girl discovering love and sex in Madrid parks over summer, won the Deluxe Award at Seville, “La Sangre es Blanca” prizes at France’s FID Marseille and Spain’s Curtocircuito.
Dvein Films is also a collective. So Pardo Ros is in Locarno as a producer while he’s finishing “H,” his directorial debut.
“A very particular and radical look into the San Fermín bull runs in Pamplona based on a story from my family,” “H” was made with “a very experimental approach with a very strong idea of collective work. In it we all operated the camera and participated in long conversations during the editing,” Pardo Ros said. This film represents the essence of our way of making films.”