One of five projects on the 5e ECAM Madrid Film School’s Incubator, a six-month mentorship initiative for producers, “Macramé”, explores the politics of sex in the story of a bourgeois 70-year-old woman with a passion for macramé.
Her life changes radically when her 64-year-old Ecuadorian housekeeper lets her feel the knots in her skin, leading to a mutual exploration of the Japanese art of erotic bondage.
The Spanish romantic drama is written and directed by Barbara Magdalena and produced by Iván Luis and Andrea Jaurrieta of Lasai Producciones.
Given Magdalena’s background in design, the project in development is expected to have a compelling visual aesthetic. Magdalena and her producers spoke to Variety to discuss the development process and the challenges ahead.
Andrea, have you directed “Ana by Day” and are you already working on another feature film “Niña” with Bteam, Irusoin and Lasai. At the same time, however, you are producing Barbara’s film with Iván Luis. Is the idea for you to both produce and direct?
Jaurrieta: I consider myself primarily a director, but Iván and I produced “Ana by Day” together and now we are co-producing “Nina” as well. So we built this production company to support my own films and projects from other emerging directors that seemed interesting to us. We wanted to support them because we know that for the new generation, if you make a slightly different cinema, it’s hard to get it made within the system. We believe we can bet on new voices, so we decided to produce Barbara’s project at the same time.
louse: I would add that Barbara’s ‘Macramé’ film is our first project where Andrea is neither the director nor the co-producer. We have produced the short films of others, but this is our first feature film.
When you say that the new generations are making cinema a little bit different, I think there is a much more serious social conscience than in the generation of the 90s. And it seems to sum up a cinema that has more to do with cinema from the 1970s, from its transition, to the Balmaseda Act in the 1990s, which prioritized the box office success and made Spanish cinema one of the most mainstream in Europe. I have this impression with the new subsidy system, which means that you have to co-produce with other companies to collect enough points for a project.
Jaurrieta: It is precisely because of this points system that we are going to San Sebastian because we want to co-produce with a bigger Spanish company that will help us earn these points. The system is a bit tricky in that sense, but we do believe that there is a new generation of producers like Irusoin, who are pushing and betting on new talent.
louse: If you bet on a film that a priori isn’t a blockbuster, I think it’s important to create synergies with other production companies, precisely to set up the financing structure that would otherwise be complicated. We need to forge alliances to make bigger, but not necessarily mainstream, movies.
Barbara, Your film is about marginalized people, not just as characters, but in their traditional importance as characters in movies. Immigrants who work in the household, with few exceptions, normally have two rules when appearing in a movie. “Yes ma’am” or something like that. Your film is proof of this and of fun. It is radical and taboo-breaking.
Barbara Magdalena Yes. Well, I totally agree. An important point is to bring these characters, who are normally not protagonists, to the fore and create complete, real characters, with special and concrete desires that are outside the norm. We are in a private sphere and everyone develops their sexuality in a certain way. For me it was somehow with the characters, a kind of socially forbidden alliance between two women to claim some kind of pleasure that they have been denied because of their situation. Simona, who grew up in Spain after Franco, has suffered from sexual repression all her life. And Lara in her country for the same reason. This is a movie that moves a lot in dualities, between light and shadow, the upper class and the lower class, and that somehow shows the two sides of the same coin. The film has different layers: sexual, psychological and social.
What stage is the project in?
Magdalene: We’re in the process of finalizing the script, so it’s in the early stages.
Jaurrieta: We have a new script version that we will use to find co-producers. We hope to start with development aid and financing and then go into production in 2024. What Iván and I learned from “Ana de día” and “Nina” is that you really don’t need to be in a rush, but rather take your time to find the best possible travel companions for the project.