Jan Naszewski’s Warsaw-based New Europe Film Sales has picked up international sales rights to “Matria,” the awaited feature debut of Spain’s Alvaro Gago, a Grand Jury Prize winner at Sundance in 2018 for his same-titled short.

Produced by Galicia’s Matriuska and Madrid’s Avalon, in co-production with Catalonia’s Ringo Media, “Matria” has been selected for the official lineup at next week’s Berlinale Co-Production Market.

Expanding on the short, the feature further develops its central character, Ramona, who in the short hardly exchanges a word with her husband, but manages her household and her job – a punishing daily routine – and yet still manages to have a life . afforded by her relationship with her daughter and grandchild which endow her with some emotional dignity.

Just how the character is developed in the feature remains to be seen.

“At its core ’Matria’ has a strong and nuanced female lead that will carry the entire film. The script has a simple premise, but its characters are rich and relatable,” Naszewski told Variety, adding: “It’s in New Europe’s DNA to discover new talent and support them early on in making their first feature film. We’re very excited about this one.”

A director selected by Variety as a Spanish talent to track, Gago explained: “I think it’s important to get this story on the screen because we need people like Ramona to step up.

He added: “We must look in the mirror, question everything that is established and rethink our most immediate reality. I think it is essential to maintain an innovative attitude and to hope that, if not the engine of direct change, a movie can be the seed of something positive. ‘Matria’ carries an implicit desire for liberation.”

An essential element of the movie is comedy, due to Ramona’s affinity for storytelling and her ability to laugh at her own miseries, Gago argued.

The three production companies behind “Matria” are all pushing young, independent, arthouse talent in Spain. Avalon is producing “Alcarrás,” by Carla Simón and co-producing Liliana Torres’ “What Went Wrong?” with Matriuska; Ringo Media is preparing Zeltia Ouiteriño’s “Patarinos.”

“We’ve witnessed Álvaro’s talent grow through his previous works. It especially shines in his short ‘Matria’, where real depth can be felt, both in the character and in the universe of the Rías Baixas in Galicia. Both elements are very conducive to building a feature film.” Mireia Graell at Ringo Media said.

“Matria” is currently casting— it will combine professional and non-professional actors— and scouting locations. The film is backed by Spain’s national film body, the ICAA, as well as Galicia’s Agency of Cultural Industries (Agadic), and Galician regional pubcaster CRTVG.

Director Gago studied theater in Chicago and cinema at the London Film School— where he met Spanish cineastes such as Graell, Carla Simón and Mikel Gurrea, the last of whom is about to shoot his feature debut “Suro.” Gago’s latest short “16 de decembro” (“December 16th”) premiered at Locarno Fest in 2019.

New Europe Film Sales’ titles, past and present, take in Hlynur Pálmason’s D’A Talent Award winning “A White, White Day,” Carla Simón’s 2017 Berlin’s Generation Kplus winner “Summer 1993” and 2020 Chicago Gold Hugo awarded “Sweat,” directed by Magnus von Horn.