Film Factory Entertainment has picked up international sales rights to Victor Erice’s highly anticipated “Cerrar los ojos,” which marks the fourth feature by the legendary Spanish filmmaker, writer-director of “The Spirit of the Beehive,” reuniting him with Ana Torrent, the wide-eyed very young star of that milestone film.
Now wrapping its shoot in Granada, Almería and Asturias before moving to Madrid, “Cerrar los Ojos” is set for 2023 Spanish theatrical release by “Alcarràs” distributor Avalon.
Erice’s fourth feature, following on 30 years after Cannes Festival Jury Prize winner “El sol del membrillo” (“Dream of Light”), “Cerrar los ojos” is written by Erice and Michel Gaztambide, a Spanish Academy best screenplay Goya Award winner for “No Rest for the Wicked.” The story of a disappearance, the film revolves “around issues such as identity and memory,” its producers announced Monday.
Producer Cristina Zumárraga lead produces the production through Tandem Films, the company she co-heads alongside Pablo E. Bossi, in co-production with José Alba’s Pecado Films, Erice’s outfit Nautilus Films, Argentina’s Pampa Films, also headed by Bossi, and tax vehicle La mirada del adiós, A.I.E.
Toplining Spanish thesps Manolo Solo (“The Good Boss,” “Marshland”) and José Coronado (“No Rest for the Wicked,” “Way Down”), “Cerrar los ojos” turns on a famous Spanish actor, Julio Arenas, who disappears while filming a movie.
Although his body is never found, the police conclude that he has suffered an accident at a cliff by the sea. Many years later, the mystery is brought up once more by a TV program that tries to evoke the actor, offering as a scoop images of the last scenes in which he participated, shot by his close friend, director Miguel Garay. The beginning and the end of an unfinished film.
Further cast members take in Torrent, María León (“The Sleeping Voice”), Petra Martínez (“La vida era eso”), Soledad Villamil (“The Secret in Their Eyes”), Mario Pardo (“El hoyo”), Elena Miquel (“No Rest for the Wicked”) and José María Pou (“The Sea Inside”).
Valentín Fernández, who shot Erice’s shorts “La Morte Rouge,” and “Broken Windows,” serves as DOP. “ Other key crew takes in “The Skin I Live In” and “The Good Boss” sound technician Iván Marín and “The Sea Inside’s” Juan Ferro for post-production sound.
“Intemperie’s” Curru Garabal serves as art director, Helena Sanchís (“La carta esférica”) as costume designer, Ascen Marchena (“La isla interior”) as editor. “The Secret in Their Eyes” Federico Jusid is composing the feature’s original soundtrack.
“Cerrar los ojos” is backed by Spanish nationwide public broadcaster RTVE, regional operators Canal Sur and EiTB, paybox/SVOD service Movistar+, Spain’s ICAA film agency and the Andalusia and Madrid regional governments.
Erice: A Quick Take
Erice’s first solo feature, “The Spirit of the Beehive,” a meticulously layered tale open to psychological, cinematic and historical readings, won San Sebastian’s Golden Shell in 1973. 1983’s “El Sur,” a reflection on myth – in love and creativity – was never finished, lacking its shorter second part set in Spain’s south. It nevertheless won the Golden Hugo prize at the Chicago Festival in 1983.
In terms of feature film direction, “Cerrar los ojos” follows on “El sol del membrillo” (“Dream of Light”), in which artist Antonio López talks the viewer through his painting a quince tree. It also won a Fipresci international critics’ prize at the 1992 Cannes Festival, among other awards.
Though Erice has not made a feature in 30 years, he has hardly remained idle, writing screenplay adaptations of Juan Marsé’s “El embrujo de Shanghai” and Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “Death and the Compass,” which went one better than the original, and directing shorts such as 2006’s “La Morte Rouge” and 2012’s “Broken Windows,” the latter part of the compilation film “Centro Historico,” “major achievements despite their half-hour running time,” wrote U.K. critic Geoff Andrew in his review of Erice’s 2020 “Stone and Sky,” a two-screen video installation.
Erice’s work has garnered extraordinary plaudits. “The Spirit of the Beehive” is regarded by many critics as one of the greatest Spanish films ever made. “Dream of Light” was voted by cinematheques and cultural centres around the world as the best film of the 1990s.
Part of the anthology feature “Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet,” Erice’s “mesmerizingly poetic” interlude “Lifeline,” represented “the most impressive 11 minutes of film unveiled in Cannes this year,” Variety announced in 2002.
Little wonder that “Cerrar los ojos” – which looks set to pick up on some of the reflections about the status of cinema explored in “The Spirit of the Beehive” where a young girl begins to open her eyes — already rates as one of the most awaited Spanish films of 2023.