Madrid-based Pecado Films will produce “A la cara,” the second feature from director Javier Marco and screenwriter Belén Sánchez-Arévalo whose debut, “Josephine,” world premiered to acclaim at San Sebastian this week.
Written by Marco and Sánchez-Arévalo and to be directed by Marco, the duo’s sophomore outing will continue the action of their same-titled 13-minute film which won a 2021 Spanish Academy Goya for best fiction short.
The feature project has been selected for a Spanish Academy 2021-22 residency, and will be presented at the CineHorizontes Marseilles Spanish Film Festival.
Written by Sánchez-Arévalo and directed by Marco, the short “A la cara” begins with Pedro opening the door of his humble flat to Lina, a famous writer and TV host, who said over the phone that she was interested in buying his home. But the real reason for her coming is for Pedro to read out aloud to her face one of her recent tweets: “You deserve what happened to you. I hope you kill yourself too, f***ing bitch. If you want, I’ll help you.”
The short makes a devastating comment on the unaccountability of internet trolling. Lina has to goad Pedro for minutes to get him to fulfill her demand in her presence.
But it leave a lot of loose ends. “Would you really?” Lina asks, when Pedro finally pronounces “If you want, I’ll help you.”
In the short, it seems a taunt. But we never learn what has happened to Lina. And maybe her question was one of genuine interest: That she is indeed looking for someone who can help her die.
The feature promises to move the action on, capitalizing on the short’s ambiguities. “Two days later, it’s the police who knock at Pedro’s door. Lina’s car has been found with her mobile. Pedro was the last person to see her alive,” the synopsis reads.
News of Marco and Sánchez Arévalo’s second feature comes after “Josephine” bowed to a bullish reaction from many of the critics who caught it at San Sebastian, El Blog de Cine Español hailing it as “one of the films of the year.”
Pecado Films producer Odile Antonio Baez line produced the short. “A la cara,” the long-feature, will maintain the discretion of “Josephine” encouraging audiences to deduce characters’ sentiments from gesture, action, even clothing or mise-en-scène, said Pecado Films’ producer José Alba.
“We defend a style which is subtle and where everything is relative. As a spectator you then do the work of deciding what’s really happening and the characters’ feelings,” Alba told Variety.
The short may be included in the feature to provide its set-up.
Alba said he hoped that its leads – Manolo Solo, seen in “Josephine,” and Sonia Almarcha (“La Soledad”) – will star in the feature whose “most evident path” to financing would be via the traditional route of a theatrical release and broadcaster pre-buy.