“Alcarràs” and the threatened world of the small farmer moves the Berlinale

Berlin, Feb 15 Spanish director Carla Simón moved the Berlinale with “Alcarrás”, an immersion in the threatened world of the small farmer, who shared the festival’s penultimate day of competition with “Leonora Addio”, by Italian Paolo Taviani. “This film is like a family. Not only because I start from the memories of my own, but because all of us who work on it end up creating a new family,” explained the filmmaker, after the screening for the festival’s accredited media. Simón (Barcelona, ​​1986) returned to the Berlinale after having won the award for best first film in 2017 with “Estiu 1983” -“an even more familiar film than this one, because there they were his own memories, while here there is a script, it is fiction,” he explained. “Alcarràs” portrays the last summer of a family dedicated to picking peaches in that Catalan town. There will be no other harvest, since the owner of the land they cultivated for decades, by verbal contract, will now dedicate it to another more lucrative business: solar energy panels. “It is a dilemma or an irony that this is the case. Solar energy is a good idea, something that the world needs, but now it takes away the peach trees from their land,” explained Simón. Her fictional family is made up of Quimet -Jordi Pujol Dolcet, the father-, Dolors -Anna Otin, the mother-, Mariona -Xènia Roset, one of the daughters- and Roger -Albert Bosh, the teenage son-. All of them people from Alcarràs or surroundings, whom Simón recruited in a unique casting for popular festivals in the region. “Suddenly I stopped working in the field ten hours a day to make a film. And I have been able to show how hard this work is and how little valued it is,” explained Bosch, present at the Berlinale like most of the “family ” or leading team -including Montse Oró, who plays little Iris-. “Alcarràs” transmits not only the nostalgia of that last summer, between boxes of peaches and jams, some family quarrel and its collateral effects on Iris and her cousins. The farmer’s rage is also present, as he sees the basis of his existence disappear. That it is due to the installation of photovoltaic panels “is a coincidence”, explained Simón. There are many threats to the farmer, whom the mobilizations in the countryside will not prevent from seeing the trees he cultivated uprooted. The strength of the film is that Simon creates a real family dynamic. This behavior seems to have taken root in his team, who before the Berlinale continued to treat each other as in the film -Anna Otín, speaking to Pujol as “Quimet”, mimicked in the mother or wife who is in everything-. The screening of “Alcarràs” followed that of “One year, one night”, the film by Isaki Lacuesta that the previous day shook the Berlinale with its reconstruction of the horror of the jihadist attacks against the Parisian theater “Bataclan” and the emotional wounds left on a couple of survivors. It was a solid return of Spanish cinema to the Berlinale, after a few years in which either there were no representatives of that cinematography in the official section or they did not obtain the desired echo. Both represent a Spanish cinema outside of clichés, even idiomatic: Simón’s film is in Catalan, while Lacuesta’s is mostly in French. TAVIANI AND SANGSOO, FOR THE LAST ROUND The Berlinale jury, chaired by the American director M. Night Shyamalan, will present its Bears tomorrow among the 18 applicants included in this 72nd edition of the festival. Taviani shared the journey with Simón, with a film that accompanies the ashes of Nobel Prize winner for Literature Luigi Pirandello from Rome to Sicily, ten years after the writer’s death in 1936. The film is dedicated to his brother Vittorio, who died three years. With the film, the surname Taviani returns to the fight for the Bear, after having won it Gold in 2012 with “Cesare deve muertere”. Shot in black and white – which transforms into color when the ashes reach the immense blue of the Mediterranean – “Leonora addio” travels through post-war Italy through the Agrigento official in charge of transport. What was going to be a trip on a military plane hits the first obstacle when the rest of the passenger – and the American pilot – refuse to travel with a dead person. On the train she will run into other difficulties, as well as the misgivings of the Sicilian Catholic authority. The very last contender will be released tomorrow, hours before the awards. It is “The novelist’s film”, by the Korean Hong Sangsoo. This is the fifth time that this filmmaker has competed at the Berlinale, where last year he won the Silver Bear for best screenplay with the minimalist “Introduction.” Gemma Casadevall

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“Alcarràs” and the threatened world of the small farmer moves the Berlinale