San Sebastian: Last Days of Spring
26 September 2020
Last Days of Spring (Última Primavera) by Isabel Lamberti, produced by IJswater Films, has won the Kutxabank-New Directors Award at the 68th San Sebastian International Film Festival.
The largest monetary prize given in any festival, this 50,000 Euros is shared by the winning film's director and the Spanish distributor.
Last Days of Spring
INTERVIEW WITH ISABEL LAMBERTI
16 September 2020
After its selection for Cannes ACID, Isabel Lamberti's La Última Primavera, a tale of life in a Madrid slum, will world premiere at San Sebastian 2020 in New Directors Competition.
Five years ago Dutch director Isabel Lamberti graduated from the Netherlands Film Academy with her short film Volando Voy, about two Spanish boys navigating their way along the margins of society. In getting to know the adolescents, she also got to know their family, the Mendozas, who lived on the Cañada Real shanty town in southern Madrid, 20 minutes by car from the centre. "They are this very big loud group, so I felt totally at home there," says Lamberti.
But in 2016 the family was served with an eviction notice. The authorities decided that the slums had to be torn down, at which point Lamberti decided to chronicle the enfolding story. All of which, of course, makes for great documentary.
But La Última Primavera, supported by the Netherlands Film Fund, is not a documentary, rather a fully scripted and complex fictional work which, while referencing the lives and circumstances of the family, tells instead a highly realist, fascinating yet fabricated tale. "The film is a work of fiction, that for me is very clear," Lamberti underlines. "They are improvising, they are lending their personalities and their situation for a constructed film."
At the core of the story is David. He is determined to be a hairdresser, but gets involved with a pair of local hoodlums who accelerate through the slum streets in their highly desirable souped-up motor. Older brother Angelo has a two-year-old boy with partner Maria, whose mother thinks her life could be lived a lot better away from the slum. Sister Isabel is Maria's closest ally and is heavily pregnant. Meanwhile father/grandfather David tries to hold everything together with the support of his wife, the matriarchal Agustina, whom one can see is the real boss of the family.
All the time the spectre of eviction looms, as well as the potential demolition of the family home built by hand. But while life on the slum is tough and stressful, there remains a core of familial love at the root of everything, and an inseparable bond between all of its inhabitants.
"They really depend on one another, a real microcosm where they really share their lives with each other, really help each other," explains Lamberti of the slum dwellers. "When the electricity breaks down, you have to fix it together. The sense of community is very strong there and if somebody leaves its very heart-breaking. In Amsterdam, if my neighbour moves out, I wouldn't even know."
"For me this area was one of the last places in Europe which is non-uniform," she adds. "It was one of the alternative lifestyle places where people still lived in a particular way. The whole notion that they were going to demolish it, to erase it was interesting. And I knew I wanted to make one last film to capture the essence of this place through the eyes of this particular family that I came to know so well."
Lamberti herself is of Spanish descent and therefore finds herself caught between two distinctive European identities, she claims, feeling that she doesn't fully belong to either. "It is a complex situation, so that's also a question for me, how do my surroundings influence me as a person, so I think I apply this feeling to the people that I film. I feel that empathy with surroundings is an important aspect in my films."
"And I fall in love with anti-heroes," she admits. "Not victims, but people who are struggling, people who have to fight for something, who have to work for something, who may not be powerful but are very human. I think I relate to them because I am also struggling. I am also an anti-hero. I also fuck things up."
Watch the Last Days of Spring trailer: https://vimeo.com/showcase/7530449
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