Spanish films make their Berlinale comeback, while the market features buzzy new projects from first-timers and veteran filmmakers. 

'God’s Crooked Lines'

Source: Nostromo Pictures

‘God’s Crooked Lines’

Spanish productions make a strong Berlinale comeback this year, with two films in the main Competition: Alcarras, the second feature by Carla Simon who attracted international attention at Berlin 2017 for her acclaimed debut Summer 1993, which won the first feature prize, and One Year, One Night, a Spain-France co-production directed by Isaki Lacuesta. Lullaby, by first-time feature director Alauda Ruiz de Azua, is screening in Panorama, and there is a diverse slate of up‑and-coming and veteran filmmakers with new productions at the EFM to tempt buyers and the festival circuit.

20,000 Species Of Bees

Dir. Estibaliz Urresola
Selected for this year’s Berlinale Co‑­production Market, this project by Basque director Urresola explores the story of a six-year-old, born a boy, who wants to be a girl. The director’s first fiction feature was inspired by the true story of an adolescent trans person who died by suicide and the heartbreaking letter their father published weeks later. The film is produced by Gariza Films (Akelarre) in co-production with Inicia Films (Summer 1993). Contact: Gariza Films

Amazing Elisa

Dir. Sadrac Gonzalez-Perellon
This thriller focuses on Elisa, a 12-year-old girl who tries to convince her father that she has been gifted the same superpowers as the heroine from her favourite comic book. She thinks she can use them to take revenge on whoever was responsible for the fatal accident that ended her mother’s life. Written and directed by Gonzalez-Perellon (Black Hollow Cage), it stars Asier Etxeandia (Pain & Glory), Ivan Massague (The Platform) and Silvia Abascal. Contact: Filmax

The Communion Girl

Dir. Victor Garcia
In the long tradition of Spanish horror films, Film Factory Entertainment is handling international sales on this story about the ghost of a girl dressed in her first communion outfit, ready to shed the blood of whoever crosses her path. Atresmedia Cine (The Wedding Unplanner), Ikiru Films (Tad The Lost Explorer And The Secret Of King Midas) and Warner Bros Entertainment Spain are backing the film, which is in post-production. New promotional material is available at the EFM. Contact: Film Factory Entertainment 

God’s Crooked Lines

Dir. Oriol Paulo 
Paulo (The Invisible Guest, The Occupant) has adapted the novel of the same name by Spanish author Torcuato Luca de Tena, set in a psychiatric ward in the 1970s. In a similar vein to Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, the main character (played by Barbara Lennie) enters a psychiatric ward voluntarily, thinking she is a private detective investigating a murder. The film is currently in post‑production. Contact: Nostromo Pictures


Dir. Alauda Ruiz de Azua
Panorama entry Lullaby (Cinco Lobitos) is by first-time director Ruiz de Azua and tells the story of a new mother who comes to the realisation she is not properly prepared to be one. When her partner goes away for work for several weeks, she moves back to her parents’ house, struggling to play the roles of both mother and daughter. Laia Costa (Victoria) and Susi Sanchez (Pain & Glory, Sunday’s Illness) star. Contact: Latido Films

On The Fringe

Dir. Juan Diego Botto
Penelope Cruz (who is also acting as producer with Alvaro Longoria from Morena Films) stars with Luis Tosar (Maixabel) in this social drama, which is the feature-directing debut of actor Botto (White Lines). The screenplay, written by Botto and Olga Rodriguez, focuses on 24 hours in the lives of three characters: a mother who tries to stop her eviction from her home; a lawyer and activist fighting for the rights of the victims of the economic crisis; and a grandmother searching for her long-lost son. Contact: Bankside Films

Prison 77

Dir. Alberto Rodriguez
With this penitentiary thriller, director Rodriguez (Marshland, Smoke & Mirrors) delves into the years of Spain’s transition to democracy after decades of Franco’s dictatorship. Set in 1977, it follows a group of prisoners determined to fight for their rights while isolated from the fast-paced changes taking place outside the prison walls. Miguel Herran (Money Heist) and Javier Gutierrez (Below Zero) star in this Atipica Films and Movistar + production. Contact: Film Factory Entertainment 

Robot Dreams

Dir. Pablo Berger
Berger’s first venture into animation is an adaptation of the titular graphic novel by Sara Varon. Set in New York City in the 1980s, it is the story of the friendship between a dog and a robot. Barcelona-based Arcadia Motion Pictures, behind previous features by Berger such as Blancanieves and Abracadabra, is producing alongside Spain’s Lokiz Films and France’s Noodles Production and Les Films du Worso. Contact: Elle Driver

What Lucia Saw

Dir. Imanol Uribe
Veteran Spanish director Uribe (Running Out Of Time) is behind this thriller based on true events: the assassination of six Jesuit priests and two women (a cook and her teenage daughter), who were shot at their lodgings at the Central American University in El Salvador in 1989. One of the priests murdered was Ignacio Ellacuria (played by Karra Elejalde), rector of the university and advocate for the cause of Liberation Theo­logy. The film focuses on Lucia (Juana Acosta), a key witness to the murders who knows who is responsible for the deaths: the Salvadorean army, despite official attempts to make it look like the work of the guerrillas. Her testimony reveals the truth, but also changes her life. Contact: Latido Films


Dir. Avelina Prat
A debut feature by experienced script editor and short-film director Prat, this intimate drama uses chess to bring together two characters who have little else in common. Ivan Barnev plays Vasil, a homeless Bulgarian immigrant trying to build a new life in Spain, opposite Karra Elejalde (Spanish Affair, While At War) as a retired man who agrees to put him up. The story is inspired by the director’s father, who announced out of the blue that he had invited a Bulgarian immigrant into his home. Distinto Films (The Odd-Job Men) is producing. Contact: Filmax

The Water

Dir. Elena Lopez Riera
Lopez Riera was one of Screen International’s inaug­ural Spain Stars of Tomorrow in 2021. Her debut feature is set in a village dominated by a legend that claims women are predestined to disappear with each flood; the mother of lead character Ana was lost in the last such event. Barbara Lennie (Sunday’s Illness) features in a cast that mixes professional and amateur actors. Lopez Riera — whose inspiration for The Water came from stories told by the women in her family — has shorts credits including Pueblo, which played Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2015, and Those Who Desire, which won Locarno’s Golden Leopard for best Swiss short film in 2018. SUICAfilms (Spain), Alina Film (Switzerland) and Les Films du Worso (France) are producing. Contact: Elle Driver