Paris-based La Fabrica Nocturna Cinéma, producer of Chema García Ibarra’s 2021 Locarno winner, “Sacred Spirit,” has embarked on Gabriel Azorin’s “Last Night I Conquered the City of Thebes,” a new funding milestone for its effervescent, poetic and time-mixing Spanish project.
A Locarno Match Me! touch. Passed through both the Ikusmira Berriak of San Sebastián and the ECAM Incubator in Madrid, “Thebe” is rapidly consolidating as Spain’s main development labs, each attracting approximately 270 applications per year.
La Fabrica Nocturna, whose credits also include “The Heiresses,” joins Madrid’s Dvein Films, A Coruña’s Filmika Galaika (“They Carry Death”) and Lisbon’s Primeira Idade (“The Metamorphosis of Birds”) as a producer partner for “Thebes.” ,” which won an RTP Award at the end of 2020, consisting of the pre-buy of rights from the Portuguese public broadcaster, at the Seville European Film Festival.
“We have known Gabriel for a long time and have always appreciated the originality and integrity of his work,” says Marina Perales of La Fabrica Nocturna.
She added: “’Last Night I Conquered the City of Thebes’ fits in perfectly with La Fabrica Nocturna Cinéma’s author-driven, international editorial line, and we’re excited to join the film as French producers. We look forward to working with Dvein Films, Filmika Galaika and Primeira Idade, and are very confident in the success of this promising film.”
Written by Azorín and Spanish playwright and theater director Celso Giménez, “Last Night…” begins with Antonio and best friend Jota, 16 or 17, visiting some Roman baths on a cold winter afternoon. At nightfall, when people are gone and there is no trace of a contemporary world, Antonio confesses to Jota that he is afraid they are no longer friends.
Just then, other boys appear and bathe in the baths: Roman soldiers who built them 2,000 years earlier. And their ages and concerns are not much different from Antonio and Jota’s.
Variety leading up to San Sebastian, Azorin and Dvein Films partner Carlos Pardo Ros, producer of “Thebes”, caught up:
There is a photo accompanying the entry of “Last Night I Conquered the City of Thebes” on the Incubator website that shows boys bathing. It almost seems inspired by paintings…
azorin: It’s a photo of Tamara de la Fuente, taken in January when we did a week of camera testing, working with the characters from the film, including the use of Latin. The hypothesis of the film is that you inhabit the same cinematic space twice. Cinema makes that possible.
This year’s testing is part of a much longer process….
azorin: Yes, there is a lot of work behind this. I first discovered the thermal baths in 2017. María, Carlos and I came back two years later with cameras specially equipped for shooting at night and the tests we did convinced us we could make the film. If you take away the swimsuits and towels, leave guys naked, it’s impossible to know where they come from.
So you have two pairs of friends from very distant times, modern Portugal, the Roman Empire – who share the same cinematic space, with certain parallels between them and the audience will follow both stories at the same time?
Excuse me Ros: They are not just twice, but establish a relationship between each other and show two ways in which the relationship can evolve….
And what state is the funding in?
Excuse me Ros: We are in a very good position. For the summer we have received selective support from the Spanish film institute ICAA, and we also have regional support from Galicia. With platform and distribution parts we have almost covered the Spanish part of the budget. We have Primeira Idade in Portugal and are waiting for the results of a Portuguese international co-production fund. But we covered 60% of the budget, which, a year without withdrawals, is going well.
And how do you position the film?
Excuse me Ros: Knowing what kind of movie it is, we know it has to work well in international festivals before it gets distributed. We also worked very hard during the two years of development to position the film in forums, markets, because Dvein Films was not that well known. This is our first feature film co-production. We have never worked so much on communication on any other project.
And what has the ECAM Incubator brought you as producer and director Gabriel?
azorin: We have learned a lot about production. I’m not sure there are many places in Spain where you can learn so much about independent production. As a director, I think I’ve greatly improved my way of communicating the film to others, both in terms of characters, story and stylistic aspects. I am much better now than when I came in.