January 28, 2023


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Estebaliz Uresola’s Cannes Critics’ Week Hit ‘Cuerdas’: New Extract

3 min read

After a hearty rally in 2022 that saw Spanish cinema punch nearly €75 million ($79.5 million) in its domestic market, after just €35 million ($37.1 million) in 2021, how will 2023 shape up for Spanish cinema? One hopes for more standout feature debuts following this year’s “Lullaby” and “Piggy.” One of the most anticipated debut fiction titles here is “20,000 Species of Bees,” a Berlin co-production Market and Madrid Incubator title from Basque director Estíbaliz Uresola (“Polvo Somos”). He just shared with diversity The most notable sample of his latest short, “Cuerdas,” won a Cannes Critics’ Week Rele d’Or in May and won the Forcu Prize for Best Short this month.

Now bound for Clermont Ferrand, Europe’s premier short film festival, “Cuardas” introduces a local women’s choir to a town engulfed in pollution from a local refinery.

When their municipal subsidies run out, they must decide whether or not to take sponsorship from corporations that have the most to lose. Personal struggles tear apart the friendships that once held the group together, and a simple enough decision on the surface seems complicated when morality and ethics are brought into consideration.

“The seeds of this project were germinated at a conference where Sara Ibanez, a retired gynecologist, spoke about the toxic effects of living a few meters away from a huge refinery. Thanks to this doctor, I interviewed many people with different experiences and thoughts in the company. It was clear that the debate touched the whole community,” said Uresola, part of the Basque Country New Talent Center.

Bringing together seasoned actors with local theater and choral groups, the Grupo de Teatro de Damas and the Grupo Corral de Mujeres de San Fuentes, the film captures the struggle between form and form with vividness and an accelerating urgency.

Courtesy of Doble Sentido

“The arguments and reflections of the people I interviewed were so emotional, deep-rooted and true that I found it very tempting to have them, mostly women over 70, tell this fictional story,” Uresola said..

“It was a huge challenge, but it ended up being one of the project’s differential values. If it weren’t for that, we would have run the risk of becoming detached from the reality that the story was born from. They are the people who give the story all its power and authenticity, and I Very happy to have them because, in addition, I feel that “Cuardas” contributes to rethinking the archetype of the “old woman” that we are used to in the cinema.”

A Spanish production directed by Marvin & Wayne Short Films, backed by Uresola’s Sirimiri Films, Gariza Films (“Nora”) and Katz Estudio (“Prioridades”), handling distribution rights, the project packs a hefty storyline into half an hour, the film’s Spools. The message is complete and adding to the global discussion on the catastrophic effects that descend on Earth from every ever-present smog.

“Using the short film format and not simplifying the complex reality was one of the biggest challenges of this project. History, landscape and interviews could have led me to a documentary story, but I felt fiction could help me tell more in less time if I was able to create ad hoc characters that allowed me to portray several layers. I have to deal with things like family, caregiving, work conditions, crowdfunding, the deterioration of friendships,” Uresola relayed.

Lending a writer’s voice to the human aspects of the subject, she performs an intimate, poignant account of the people on the other side of these suppressed news-cycle narratives, writing them in an eloquent way that cannot be ignored.

“This documentation work, which allowed me to meet many people with different reflections, naturally led me to a fairly choral form of storytelling, where diversity of opinions or ways of living in the world find their place. That space allows for different voices. Giving is a way to honor all the stories and experiences of my life,” Uresola says. “In ‘Cuardas’ and ‘20,000 Species of Bees,’ this dialectic between the individual and the collective [creates] A story of interdependence where we must find our own voice within the group.”

Courtesy of Doble Sentido

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