Elle Driver Swoops on ‘La Maternal,’ From Goya Best Picture Winner Pilar Palomero (EXCLUSIVE)

La Maternal
Credit: Laura Sipan

Paris-based Elle Driver has acquired world sales rights outside Spain and France to “La Maternal,” the second film from Pilar Palomero whose 2019’s “Schoolgirls” (“Las niñas”) made her only the fifth first feature director to win a Spanish Academy Best Picture Goya.

BTeam Pictures is handling distribution in Spain. 

“Schoolgirls” also won Goyas for director, original screenplay and cinematography (Daniela Cajías), establishing Palomero as a leading light of Catalonia’s newest – and often female – generation of cineastes, making movies which are grounded in authentic local realities, but alert to broader social trends. 

Produced like “Schoolgirls” by Spain’s Inicia Films, whose credits also include Carla Simon’s “Summer 1993,” and BTeam Productions, “La Maternal” sees Palomero once more explore the borders between child and adulthood.

“What does it mean to be mother, what does it mean to be a child ? At 14 years old, Carla is both…” runs the film’s logline. 

Billed as a “sensitive and heartbreaking journey into teenage parenthood,” the film tracks Carla as, pregnant, fleeing social ostracism, arrives pregnant at La Maternal shelter. 

There, she’ll learn to live with her teen classmates (Raki, Estel, Claudia, Jamila and Sheila) and prepare as a future mother. That vital challenge involves self-knowledge and understanding the world around her, including the unstable and destructive relationship with her mother.

The film stars Carla Quílez, in her first film, as well as Ángela Cervantes, Rubén Martínez, Jordan Dumes, Pepe Lorente, Olga Hueso, Galla Sabaté and Neus Pàmies. Supporting roles are played by non-professional actors.

“We were very impressed with Pilar’s first feature and were utterly convinced when we read the script for ‘La Maternal’: So well written and authentic, profoundly touching while never overdoing it,” said Elle Driver’s Adeline Fontan Tessaur.

She added: “The subject of teenager motherhood requires a deep understanding and is a reality that deserves a prejudice-free approach. Pilar is a true cinematic talent and does this brilliantly.”

“’La Maternal’ marks the director’s singular take on a universe whose themes of maternity and love are found in complex circumstances. The adolescent protagonists have to face extreme but highly vital emotions and experiences,” added Valérie Delpierre at Inicia Films.

“The approach to adolescent maternity has to be prejudice-free,” said director Palomero. “It’s not a case of blaming nor victimizing, but being faithful to reality and reflecting on how, when it comes to maternity, beyond a primary instinct of protection and care, emotional tools are necessary as well.”