Penélope Cruz takes on the role of producer for En los márgenes, the first feature film directed by comedian Juan Diego Botto, a social drama against the backdrop of abusive deportations in Spain.
At the origin ofIn los márgenes, there is a spark. Or rather a conversation between Juan Diego Botto and Penélope Cruzduring which the favorite actress of Pedro Almodóvar suggests to the long-term actor – more than 30 years of an international career having notably led him in front of the camera of John Malkovich (The Dancer Upstairs) or James Gunn (The Suicide Squad)-, also a playwright, to write for the cinema. What will emerge is what constitutes the first feature film as a director for one, the second experience as a producer for the other. A project they talked to us about together at the last Venice Film Festival, where it all started for the actress 30 years earlier with the presentation of Jamon, jamonfrom Bigas Luna: “I kept unforgettable memoriesshe lights up. The experience of the premiere alongside Bigas, of course, but also the fact of living incredible moments, like when we ran into Jack Lemmon, and we had to pinch ourselves to believe him, telling us: “It’s is Jack Lemmon, he worked with Marilyn Monroe, with Billy Wilder…” We were completely dazzled by the fact of meeting these people whom we had always admired. I was so to speak only a child, the Venice festival remains very special to me…”
If the Mostra was the launching pad for her career, Penélope Cruz gave it back to her, returning to a Lido on several occasions where she notably won the Volpi cup for best actress for madres paralelasby her friend Almodóvar, and where she presented no less than two films last year, The immensityby Emanuele Crialese, in addition to In los márgenes. A project that she obviously had at heart, taking one of the leading roles – a brave mother on whom the threat of eviction from her home hangs – in addition to being the producer. “This is the second film I produce after my myby Julio Medem, on breast cancer, where I already had my friend Luis Tosar as a partner. Juan Diego and I have known each other since we were 13, 14 years old. I’ve seen him do amazing things, both as a writer and as an actor, and I’ve been secretly hoping for a long time to get him to write a project that we could perform together and that he would direct. I found the script for In los márgenes amazing, and I was like, ‘Why don’t you stage it, this story is yours?’ Two days later, he accepted, and we began to put the pieces of the puzzle together, particularly financially.”
The need to share
In los márgenes against the backdrop of the mortgage crisis that hit Spain, and the resulting evictions of tens of thousands of homeowners unable to repay their loans. A subject of palpable urgency that Juan Diego Botto has chosen to treat in the form of a choral narrative involving various protagonists affected in the first place: a retired woman not knowing which saint to turn to in the face of her imminent homelessness; woman juggling between several jobs to the point of neglecting her young daughter; lawyer devoted to the cause to the point of forgetting his relatives, etc. The fruit of countless encounters between the director and his co-screenwriter, Olga Rodriguez: “We spent a lot of time with people facing this situation who told us their story, explains the filmmaker. And we’ve seen that it’s not just a few families, it’s hundreds or even thousands of Spanish families – it’s a nationwide problem. Every day, dozens of people are expelled, around a hundred. And once they have told you their story, you are part of it, and you feel the need to share it. We felt the need to write this screenplay, because we saw these women and these men, we spent time with them, and we had to tell this story.” “This film was born from an impulse that was both organic, honest and natural”, adds the actress. In fact, a drama inscribed in a precarious social fabric, In los márgenes combines the heart and the guts, affirming the virtues of a solidarity of the humble, without always escaping a certain Manichaeism. What does it matter in this case, the end sometimes justifying the means: “Of course, the impact of a film is limited. And we know it’s not going to change the world or act directly on reality, observes Juan Diego Botto. But audiences can be moved by a film, just as we can shine the spotlight on a hardly shown aspect of reality. If we don’t have the ambition to change the world, we can contribute to a debate that is more necessary than ever. In addition, we wanted to make a film that could also work as such, and capture your attention from the first minute…”
Our review ofIn los márgenes ***
Inscribed in today’s Madrid reality, In los márgenes
follows, the space of 24 hours, a gallery of characters under pressure: Teodora and German (Adelfa Calvo and Font García), a mother and her son whom a bankruptcy weighed down by unspoken words seems to have irremediably separated; Azucena (Penélope Cruz), a woman trying to cope with the threat of eviction from her apartment; and Rafa (Luis Tosar), a social affairs lawyer desperately trying to find the mother of a young girl who is in danger of being placed in care, even if it means neglecting her loved ones. The mortgage credit crisis having hit Spain as a backdrop – more than 400,000 foreclosures have been made in ten years -, Juan Diego Botto signs, under cover of a mosaic story, a social drama evoking the cinema of a Ken Loach . If he sometimes has a heavy hand, it is however to better reaffirm the virtues of solidarity, a statement to which the excellent Luis Tosar and Penélope Cruz (also producer) bring conviction and brilliance.