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Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodóvar will team once again on the Oscar-winning director’s upcoming feature “Madres paralelas,” (Parallel Mothers), as teased when the project was announced in June. Cruz will be joined on screen by former San Sebastián best actress winner Aitana Sánchez Gijón and newcomer Milena Smit (“No matarás”).

Additional casting announced includes Israel Elejalde (“Veneno”) and two long-time Almodóvar collaborators and “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” co-stars Julieta Serrano and Rossy de Palma.

Cruz’s involvement with the production was first announced over the summer, but nothing official had been signed at that time. Now, with filming scheduled for late March, her involvement has been officially announced by the Almodóvar brothers production outfit El Deseo.

Almodóvar has had “Madres paralelas” on the back burner for some time, but as the months of lockdown unspooled during Spain’s COVID-19 crisis, he was able to focus and finish the screenplay, which turns on two mothers who give birth the same day. The film follows their parallel lives over the first two years of their children’s lives, Almodóvar told Spanish press agency EFE, in June.

Directly or indirectly, since 1988’s Oscar-nominated “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” Almodóvar’s definitive international breakout, desire has given way to motherhood as a driving narrative force across many of his films, most notably in 1999’s Academy Award-winning “All About My Mother” and 2006’s Oscar-nominated “Volver,” also starring Cruz.

Almodóvar picked up on these themes once again in his 2020 Oscar-nominated feature “Pain and Glory,” the most directly autobiographical of his films, in which many of the most memorable scenes are inspired by memories of his own relationship with his mother.

“With ‘Madres paralelas’ I return to the female universe, to motherhood, to the family. I speak of the importance of ancestors and descendants. The inevitable presence of memory. There are many mothers in my filmography, the ones that are part of this story are very different,” Almodóvar said in the casting announcement.

“As a storyteller, imperfect mothers inspire me most at this time. Penélope Cruz, Aitana Sánchez Gijón and the young Milena Smit will play the three mothers in the film, accompanied by Israel Elejalde as the main male character. It is also a collaboration with my beloved Julieta Serrano and Rossy de Palma. ‘Parallel Mothers’ will be an intense drama. Or so I hope,” he finished.