Director Elena Tara, Not Alone Producers, Talk ‘Ripli’

Eva Moreno, lElena Tara and Cristina
Credit: ECAM

In a flat, Ángeles keeps solemn company with her despair. Neurodivergent and seeking refuge, she eventually escapes into a Western-themed video game, embarking on an emotional adventure between reality and the virtual world that entices her.

“Ripli” marks the debut feature effort for Madrid-based director Elena Tara, whose delicate first short “Ella Muerta De Frio. Yo Calada Hasta Los Huesos” snagged her the best director award at the New York International Film Festival’s Revolution Me for new directors in 2020.

An ECAM alum, she participated in this year’s Incubator, Madrid’s prestigious development program that catapults emergent Spanish talent. Spain’s Goya Award-Winning director Enrique Urbizu (“No Rest For The Wicked”) acted as mentor, and with that helpful nudge, Tara finalized a version of the script she’s happy to advance.

The final narrative includes a genre filmmaking bent, with the videogame element central to the plot, yet, Tara insisted, “My proposal from the beginning has always been to do something much more naive, innocent on a formal level.” She added: “The genre aspect is a vehicle to tell this story, but only that; just as the Western motif appears, but it’s not a Western.”

The film seeks to destigmatize mental illness and as the protagonist finds herself drawn to the curious title character within the game, the weighty discourse unspools. 

“It’s the story of someone who needs to accept themselves and stop judging, I continue discussing what I’ve been discussing in all of my short films: How the violence of the system is so naturalized and integrated, that we exercise it against ourselves in a way that’s not been talked about as it should be,” Tara explained.

Produced by Eva Moreno and Cristina Urgel, founders of Spain’s Not Alone Productions, the project is currently in its fundraising stage.

“We’re trying to find a co-producer to embark on the project. Our idea would be to start development and support next year, with a view to financing and shooting by 2024,” said Moreno

The pair not only focus on filmmaking but the whole of development, ushering directors along through concept.

“It’s like we have two lines of business, we’re experts in development and we advise on projects. On the other hand, we produce. Our contribution to co-production is that we take charge of the development, which is an important and forgotten part of the projects,” said Urgel

“If you cut a cake into pieces, the production is this small piece and the development is enormous, it’s always the largest piece,” Moreno added.

Selected from 270 projects, “Ripli” looks set to garner global attention and is creating a stir in the film market.

“Thanks to the ECAM Incubator we were selected for the Focus Copro in Cannes. We were also able to experience the Cannes Festival there, which was the first time. We feel that ‘Ripl’ is of interest, even internationally,” Urgel stated.

Moreno concluded, “Everything since has been further confirmation that the project’s interesting and that we have to continue working on it.”