Spain has been firmly in the international spotlight since Alcarràs won the Golden Bear at last year’s Berlinale. Now 2023 is shaping up to be another strong year for the country’s filmmakers, with a new generation of female directors coming to the fore. 

Haunted Heart

Source: Berlinale

‘Haunted Heart’

There is a hopeful mood about the Spanish film industry, buoyed by a year that has seen many of the country’s films play at high-profile festivals — earning strong reviews and sales in the process.

After Carlota Pereda’s Piggy bowed at Sundance at the start of 2022, the Berlinale continued the fine start for the Spanish industry, with Alauda Ruiz de Azua’s Lullaby in Panorama and two films in Competition: Isaki Lacuesta’s One Year, One Night and Carla Simon’s Alcarràs, which scooped the Golden Bear.

Then came Cannes, which selected Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s The Beasts, Albert Serra’s Pacifiction and Elena Lopez Riera’s The Water. Carlos Vermut’s Manticore played in Toronto, while Pilar Palo­mero’s La Maternal premiered at San Sebastian and Juan Diego Botto’s On The Fringe at Venice.

Decent box-office performance has followed for many of these films. Considering it is an auteur film and that cinemagoing has still not recovered to pre-pandemic

levels, Alcarràs took a healthy $2.5m (€2.3m) in Spain. The Beasts has made $3.8m (€3.6m) at home and $7m internationally. Spanish productions racked up a total of $88.3m (€82.7m) locally in 2022. That is still below pre-pandemic levels, but a distinct improvement on 2021’s $45.2m (€42.3m).

Female talent

So what’s in store for 2023? Simon is back at the Berlinale, this time as a member of the official jury. But she is already at work on her next film, one of several upcoming titles that will keep the spotlight on the Spanish industry. Many of them showcase a new generation of Spanish filmmakers, and a significant number have women at the helm, directing and producing.

In Berlin, the debut feature of Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren, 20,000 Species Of Bees, is competing for the Golden Bear, Carla Subirana’s Sica has been selected for the Generation 14Plus, Alvaro Gago’s first feature Matria will premiere in Panorama and Lois Patino’s Samsara will show in Encounters.

Many seasoned filmmakers have new features too. There is a Pedro Almodovar western on the horizon: the short Strange Way Of Life, starring Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke. After a 40-year hiatus since his last fiction feature El Sur, Victor Erice (The Spirit Of The Beehive) returns with Close Your Eyes. All in all, another promising start. And that’s not all. Here are some of the Spanish titles in store over the coming year.

Dir. Dolores Fonzi
Argentinian actress Fonzi, who starred in Santiago Mitre’s Cannes Critics’ Week winner Paulina, makes her directorial debut with Blondi. The film is a coming-of-age story about a 40-something mother, who still behaves like a teenager, and her relationship with her grown-up son who is trying to find his way in life. The cast is led by Fonzi herself and includes Leo Sbaraglia and Rita Cortese. Fresh from its Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Argentina, 1985, La Union de los Rios produces in partnership with the US’s Gran Via Productions (Breaking Bad) and Fernanda del Nido’s Spanish Setembro Cine (A Fantastic Woman).
Contact: Film Factory Entertainment

Close Your Eyes
Dir. Victor Erice
Erice is one of Spain’s master filmmakers with just three fiction features to his name: San Sebastian Golden Shell-winning The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), El Sur (1983) and Cannes jury prize winner Dream Of Light (1992). Now he is back with a meditation on identity and memory, kicking off with the disappearance of an actor during a production. Spain’s Tandem Films and Pecado Films, and Argentina’s Pampa co-produce Erice’s highly anticipated return. The script is written by the director and Michel Gaztambide (Enrique Urbizu’s No Rest For The Wicked).
Contact: Film Factory Entertainment

Dir. Elena Martin
The producers of 2022 Golden Bear winner Alcarràs — Vilaüt Films, Avalon PC and Elastica Films — are behind this second feature from actress/director Martin (Julia Ist), a member of a new wave of women Catalan filmmakers. Creature will follow a journey of self-discovery for a young woman who reflects on her experiences from childhood and adolescence and realises her loss of sexual desire lies deep inside her. In development.
Contact: Lastor Media

Gentle Loves
Dir. Celia Rico
Rico took four Goya awards with her feature debut Journey To A Mother’s Room. In her second feature Gentle Loves, she explores the bonds of admiration and reproach between women of different generations. The story follows a 40-something woman who changes her holiday plans to spend the summer with her mother. It stars Maria Vazquez and Adriana Ozores and is produced by Arcadia (The Beasts) and France’s Noodles.
Contact: Arcadia

Half Of Ana
Dir. Marta Nieto
Actress Nieto (Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s Mother) has teamed with the producers of Alcarràs — Elastica Films and Avalon — to produce her directorial debut, which follows Ana, who discovers that her daughter is trans. But the more she becomes aware of the future that awaits her child, the more uncertain she becomes about what to do. Nieto also stars. In develop­ment.
Contact: Enrique Costa, Elastica Films

Haunted Heart
Dir. Fernando Trueba
Oscar winner Trueba (Belle Epoque) directs Matt Dillon, Aida Folch and Juan Pablo Urrego in this romantic thriller set on a beautiful and remote Greek island. Alex, a new waitress at a beach bistro, quickly captures the affections of her colleague Enrico and their US manager Max. As her relationship with the reclusive boss develops, Enrico unearths Max’s dark past. The love-game trio slowly slide into a survival tale. It is produced by Fernando Trueba Producciones Cinematograficas and Colombia’s Caracol Inc.
Contact: Film Constellation

Jumping The Fence
Dir. Benito Zambrano
The next project from veteran director Zambrano (The Sleeping Voice) will follow a migrant from Guinea living in Madrid with his wife. Their lives are turned upside down when he is arrested for not having a residency permit. Ibrahim is deported, after which his only objective is to return to Spain and be with his wife and unborn daughter. Cine365, Castelao and Noodles co-produce.
Contact: Filmax

La Ermita
Dir. Carlota Pereda
Literally ‘The Hermitage’, La Ermita will be the second film from Pereda, after her debut Piggy, a Sundance and Sitges hit and a big winner at UK genre festival Grimmfest, where it won prizes for director, film and actress. Produced by genre specialists Filmax in co-production with Bixagu and with the participation of Netflix, La Ermita follows Emma, who wants to communicate with a female spirit with the help of a fake medium. If she can do so, she hopes to maintain contact with her sick mother when she dies.
Contact: Netflix


Source: Filmax


Dir. Patricia Ortega
The second feature of Venezuela-born Ortega premiered at Sundance where it was well-received by critics. Especially praised was the performance of actress Kiti Manver. She plays a religiously devout grandmother who starts to explore her sexuality having spent decades without ever experiencing an orgasm. Manver’s acting credits include Pedro Almodovar’s Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown. Mama­cruz is produced by Pecado Films and La Claqueta.
Contact: Filmax

The Movie Teller
Dir. Lone Scherfig
The latest film from Oscar and Bafta-nominated Danish director Scherfig (An Education) follows a woman who retells the stories of movies for people who cannot afford to buy a cinema ticket in a Chilean village. Based on a novel by Chilean writer and former mine worker Hernan Rivera Letelier, The Movie Teller stars Bérénice Bejo, Antonio de la Torre and Daniel Brühl. A co-production from A Contracorriente Films, France’s Selenium Films and Chile’s Altiro Films, Embankment Films handles worldwide sales, co-representing Latin America with Latido Films. The script is penned by Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles and Rafa Russo.
Contact: Mark Lane, Embankment Films; Oscar Alonso, Latido Films 

Dir. Carla Simon
The anticipated next movie from 2022 Golden Bear winner Simon, Romeria will follow teen Frida who sets out on a journey to meet her biological father’s family in Vigo, Spain. Adopted by her maternal uncle after her father died, Frida had lost contact with his family. But her need to know about the past cannot be satisfied through the memories of her relatives, and Frida finds an opportunity to connect with her mother through letters she wrote while living in Vigo. Elastica produces. In development.
Contact: Enrique Costa, Elastica Films

Something Is About To Happen
Dir. Antonio Mendez Esparza
The winner of Critics’ Week at Cannes 2012 with emigration drama Aqui y Alla, Mendez Esparza describes his third fiction feature as his most ambitious yet. A revenge thriller with comedic touches, the script for Something Is About To Happen is co-written by the director and Clara Roquet, and adapted from the novel by Juan Jose Millas. The film follows Lucia, who lives a quiet life, has a peculiar sense of humour and is a dreamer by nature. But her serene existence changes when she loses her job and needs to reinvent herself, working as a taxi driver. Wanda and Aqui y Alli Films produce, and Malena Alterio stars.
Contact: Film Factory Entertainment

Stormy Lola
Dir. Agusti Villaronga
The posthumous film of celebrated Spanish filmmaker Villaronga (The Sea, Black Bread), who died in January, is a bittersweet comedy drama about a grandmother experiencing early-stage dementia and taking care of her grandsons after their mother’s death. Susi Sanchez, Joel Galvez, Celso Bugallo, Mor Ngom and Meteora Fontana star in the co-production between the Basque Country’s Irusoin and Barcelona’s Vilaut Films.
Contact: Film Factory Entertainment

They Shot The Piano Player
Dir. Fernando Trueba
The second film from veteran filmmaker Trueba in this list, They Shot The Piano Player is an animation, co-directed with Spanish artist and designer Javier Mariscal. The film tracks a New York music journalist trying to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of young Brazilian piano virtuoso Tenorio Jr. A celebratory origin story of the Bossa Nova, They Shot The Piano Player captures a creative point in Latin American history in the 1960s and ’70s, just before the continent was engulfed by totalitarian regimes. Jeff Goldblum features in the voice cast.
Contact: Film Constellation

Tobacco Barns
Dir. Rocio Mesa
The San Sebastian 2022 premiere is next playing SXSW in March. It is the second feature from Los Angeles-based Mesa and is produced by La Claqueta. It tells a female generational story, combining a coming-of-age tale with elements of the traditional and the psychedelic — all set in the rural landscape of tobacco dryers. Seven-year-old Vera holidays in her grandparents’ town, where a magical creature will change the way everyone sees their reality.
Contact: Oscar Alonso, Latido Films