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Madrid’s ECAM Incubator Selects ‘Last Night I Conquered the City of Thebes,’ ‘Disposable,’ ‘Macrame’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Gabriel Azorin, Carlos Villafaina, Barbara Magdalena,
Gabriel Azorin, Carlos Villafaina, Barbara Magdalena, Elena Tara and Carlos Gomez /Credit: ECAM

Rapidly emerging as one of Spain’s foremost hothouses for new producer and creative talent, the ECAM Madrid Film School’s Incubator program has chosen five titles for its 2022 program:

Last Night I Conquered the City of Thebes,” “Disposable,” “Macrame,” “Festina Lente” and “Ripli.”

Launched to connect early career talent in Spain with Europe’s film industry, the 5th Incubator runs from Feb. 23 through July.

The program will be overseen by writer-director Rafa Alberola, who serves as the new manager of  The Screen, ECAM’s industry initiative umbrella.

This year’s lineup announcements comes as one Incubator project, Alauda Ruiz de Azúa’s “Lullaby,” is set to world premiere in Berlin’s Panorama section later this week.

Chema García Ibarra’s “Sacred Spirit” proved a standout at August’s Locarno Festival, another Incubator debut, Javier Marco’s Javier Marco’s “Josefina” was for many the most notable Spanish feature debut at September’s San Sebastian Festival. Bowing Jan. 7 on Netflix, David Casademunt’s “The Wasteland” topped the streaming service’s world rankings for movies, according to streaming analytics firm FlixPatrol.

A drill down on the five projects:

“Last Night I Conquered the City of Thebes”

Produced by Spain’s Dvein Films and Filmika Galaika in partnership with Portugal’s Primeira Idade, “Last Night” is directed by Gabriel Azorín, part of creative collective lacasinegra which scored a Locarno’s Golden Pardino award for best short for  “Those Who Lust,” by Elena López Riera. A standout at the Locarno Festival’s 2021 Match Me! forum, it begins in the present as two teenagers, one winter afternoon, visit Roman baths in Galicia, North-West Spain. At nightfall, one confesses to the other that he senses they are no longer close friends.

It’s then that they discover there are other young men bathing: Roman soldiers who built the baths. “I want to recount the encounter between these two groups of men who are of a similar age but separated in time by more than 2,000 years. The main theme of the film is friendship,” Azorín said.

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Last Night I Conquered the City of Thebes Credit: ECAM

“Disposable” 

The Incubator’s first animation project, directed by Carlos Gómez Salamanca and produced by Spain’s Jaibo Films and Colombia’s Nocroma. The project “tackles human beings’ structural realities: Revenge, violence, corruption and repression. It’s an animated feature that reflects the rawness of the facts without artifice, showing a brutal panorama of social decay in Bogotá,” Goméz said. A 2D/3D work, it follows a biochemist who is kidnapped in the jungle by a paramilitary group to manufacture drugs. There, he creates a synthetic drug that allows him to kill his captors. He end up a homeless drug addict.

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Disposable Credit: ECAM

“Festina Lente”

Directed by Carlos Villafaina, the project turns on a bachelor in his forties who suddenly receives news of his mother’s death. This will force him to face his past and to meet up his estranged twin brother Alejandro, who has cerebral paralysis. “‘Festina Lente’ targets those people who think they lack caregiver’ skills but are forced to assume the complete care for somebody,” the director explained. Mayo Films produces.

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Festina Lente Credit: ECAM

“Macramé”

Bárbara Magdalena direct a Lasai Producciones production which turns on the well-off Simona (75) living in a large flat full of her macramé work, who hires Clara, a young Latin America maid. Discovered stealing, Clara ties up Simona with her macramé work. “My intention is to show the power relationship that will fluctuate in this disparate pair from an unpleasant point of view, far from what’s expected of them,” Magdalena said.

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Macrame Credit: ECAM

“Ripli”

In Elena Tara’s proposed feature debut, Ángeles lives in a flat with the only company of her own mental disorder and a Western video game she’s hooked on. The appearance of Ripli, a mysterious character in the video game, drives Angeles to live an emotional adventure between the two worlds. “Ripli” aim at de-stigmatizing mental disorders and showing the difficulties that neuro-divergent people face in their daily lives in our society,” the director said. Not Alone Productions produces.

Incubator projects receive a €10,000 ($11,300) grant for development. Tutors take in Enrique Urbizu (“Libertad”), Helena Girón (“They Carry Death”), Carlos Marqués-Marcet (“10,000 Km”) and Pilar Palomero (“Schoolgirls”) as well as producers Marisa Fernández Armenteros (BuenaPinta Media), Merry Colomer (Morena Films), Alex Lafuente (Bteam Pictures) and José Alayón (El Viaje Films).

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Ripli Credit: ECAM

John Hopewell contributed to this article.