Variety has been given exclusive access to MUBI’s newly cut trailer for writer-director Carla Simón’s “Alcarrás,” Spain’s Oscar entry, which is scheduled to open on Jan. 6 at the Lincoln Center and Quad Cinema in New York.
The 2022 Berlin Golden Bear winner was picked up by MUBI earlier in the year and is also opening in the U.K. on the same date.
Produced by Maria Zamora, Stefan Schmitz and Tono Folguera, Simon’s follow up to “Summer 1993,” which itself won Berlin’s 2017 best first feature award.
It tells the story of a hard-working peach-farming family in Lleida, Catalonia, in rural north east Spain, whose livelihood and way of life are condemned to oblivion when an old verbal Spanish Civil War pact on the land rental is ignored and they are faced with eviction.
Inspired in atmosphere and setting by the experience of writer-director Carla Simón’s own grandparents and uncle and aunt, the Catalan language film stars non-professional actors from the region in an ensemble cast with a shifting narrative perspective, as the family go about harvesting the last peach crop on the land with all the mixed emotions that entails, in what Carla Simón describes as “the chronicle of a death foretold.” The script was penned along with local scribe and debutant Arnau Vilaró, to ensure the authentic feel of the local atmosphere.
With almost €2.33 million ($2.47 million) in Spain to date, “Alcarrás” is the biggest sleeper of the year and currently ranks as the fifth highest-grossing Spanish film of 2022, where it is still playing in a couple of theatres after its Spring release. With 11 Spanish Academy Goya nominations to its name, pic looks well positioned to continue in theaters into the next year.
The ensemble piece has been described by Pedro Almódovar as a “masterpiece” and marks the third occasion where a Catalan-language film has been chosen by the Spanish Academy for the Oscars – highlighting once again Spain’s vibrant cultural diversity at a delicate moment for Catalonia and Spain relations.
Simón is seen by many as one of the leading figure of the so-called New Spanish Cinema along with friends and colleagues like Elena López-Riera, whose “The Water” played well at this year’s Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, and Locarno entry “The Scared Spirit” from director Chema Garcia Ibarra, along with others such as Pilar Palomero – a whole new generation of Spanish film-makers with a keen sense of place, identity and belonging.
Portraying a region typically underrepresented in Spanish cinema, Simón describes the celebrations in the town of Alcarràs in reaction to the film’s top prize at Berlin as like “winning the Champions League.”
In a further feel-good-factor, the film has led to some previously shuttered cinemas in small-town Spain reopening after the pandemic on the back of its incredible success and continuing to this day. “For me, it’s one of the most beautiful things about “Alcarràs”, said Simón, “people who wouldn’t normally get in the car and drive to the city to see the film have been able to see it in local cinemas.”
Extracting the elixir of the universal from her up close portrait of a particular time and place coming to an end, MUBI will be hoping the film makes similar connections with audiences stateside in the new year.
“Alcarrás” joins a long list of titles picked up in recent months by Efe Çakarel’s MUBI as part of its expansive drive, including most recently Park Chan-wook’s “Decision to Leave.”
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