By John Hopewell
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In the run-up to February’s Berlin Film Festival, Madrid-based Latido Films has pounced on “Sica,” the fiction feature debut of Carla Subirana, one of a hard-to-miss vibrant new generation of Barcelona-based women directors and producers now galvanizing the Catalan film scene.
In a frequent alignment between the two companies, Spanish distribution will be handled by Adolfo Blanco’s A Contracorriente Films, one of Spain’s top indie distributors.
Also written by Subirana, the film is produced by another new Catalan generation leading-light: Director-producer Alba Sotorra whose latest outing behind the cameras, “The Return: Life After ISIS,” which world premiered at SXSX, was nominated for a 2022 Intl. Emmy Award and was described by Variety as a “compassionate, essential glimpse into the aftermath of radicalization.”
A triple winner at 2022’s Malaga Festival work in progress,
“Sica” encapsulates many of the currents now coursing through cutting-edge fiction in Spain: a redolent sense of place; a story told with large naturalism; yet far larger universal themes lending the local tale a sense of urgency.
Also produced by Andrea Vázquez and Xavi Font at Galicia-based Miramemira, behind Oliver Laxe’s 2019 Cannes Un Certain Regard Jury Prize winner “Fire Will Come,” “Sica” in set on Galicia’s treacherous Costa da Morte, renown for its cliffs, green pastures and ghastly history of shipwrecks which reaches down to the modern day, caused by a violent Atlantic Ocean smashing into half-hidden rock shelves just off the coast.
The latest has taken the life of Sica’s father, captain of a small fishing vessel. though she still holds out hope that the sea will dredge up his body and visits everyday the Furna das Grallas, a dark cavern on a cliff which bottoms out in the churning ocean below, where seamen’s souls go to rest, or so folk lore has it.
As Sica begins to take a confused interest in boys, she discovers there is more to her father’s death than meets the eye as Suso, 15, a neighbor who measures wind speeds predicts the arrival of Ophelia, the mother of al storms.
A classic coming of age grounded in a redolent setting, “Sica” acquires depth as the portrait of a region ravaged by the end to its economic mainstay, fishing, and escalating climate change.
“‘Sica’ combines documentary and fiction techniques,” Subirana noted to Variety at last year’s Málaga Festival.
“With the magic that comes from the landscape – full of traditions and legends of its own,” she added, “Sica” presents the fishermen and fisherwomen’s hard world seen through the eyes of a girl who faces the challenge of leaving behind her childhood fantasies, with the disenchantment that goes with it.
“Sica” mix of authentic local detail and larger universal issues – psychological, social, environmental – relates it to titles by. News generation of filmmakers with a large sense of place such as Carla Simón’s Berlin Golden Bear winner “Alcarrás” and Alauda Ruiz De Azua’s “Lullaby,” another Latido pick-up which swept last March’s Málaga Festival being described by Pedro Almodóvar as undoubtedly the best debut in Spanish cinema for years.”
“Sica” is “a brilliant debut film, pure poetry, and a great opportunity for us to work for the first time with outstanding producers Alba Sotorra and Xavi Font, who are definitively among the great producers to track in Spain right now,” said Latido Films head Antonio Saura.
“Their sensibility as to what makes a good film, and know-how applied to help an extremely talented director is what makes working with them such a pleasure. So not only the film is delightful; also to have the chance of this collaboration makes Latido really proud.”