Holy Camp!: Sing, go with the flow and be happy
by Alfonso Rivera
- SAN SEBASTIÁN 2017: Javier Calvo and Javier Ambrossi present a faithful big-screen adaptation of their cult stage musical, brimming with youthful rebellion and the compulsion to forge one’s own path
La llamada [+see also:
interview: Javier Calvo and Javier Amb…
film profile], as it’s known to Spanish-speaking theatre goers, is a stage production written by actors Javier Calvo and Javier Ambrossi. Starting out with performances in a single small venue, the musical’s rapidly snowballing success soon led to glitzier environs, as it took up residence in one of Madrid’s most prestigious theatres. Four years later, after spawning replicas in cities across Europe and Latin America, La Llamada is taking on the big screen — and it’s lost none of its bounce or eagerness to get audiences laughing, singing and dancing in the aisles. The first screening of the film version, entitled Holy Camp! in English, will take place as part of the TVE Gala section of the San Sebastián International Film Festival.
It was Enrique López Lavigne, that savvy producer equally happy to take on a period piece like Oro (see the news) as to leap headfirst into the unique world of Carlos Vermut (see news), who, tickled with La llamada, approached the pair of then-directorial virgins urging them to adapt it for the big screen. Meanwhile, los Javis (as the pair are known in Spanish showbiz circles) were busy filming Paquita Salas — an online series for a TV network, featuring Brays Efe as a temperamental talent agent for actors. Fortune smiled upon them once again, and the show soon became a hit.
Lo hacemos y ya vemos [let’s just do it and see what happens] is the spirited motto of Holy Camp! and a mantra uttered repeatedly by its two lead characters: María (Macarena García, Ambrossi’s sister) and Susana (a splendid Anna Castillo), two girls spending a summer break in a camp run by nuns. Seized by an adolescent urge to disobey, the pair escape in search of nocturnal thrills, steamy rhythms and a producer to help them hit the big time as a musical duo – look out for a cameo from López Lavigne himself.
All of this follows the well-travelled path of female friendship, with outbursts of affection followed by seething rows, until each has a sudden revelation: something is about to happen that will take their lives in a whole new direction. There’s no ostentatious plot here or any particular shows of daring in the mise en scène, but Holy Camp! has no shortage of bravura and is propelled by a fervent desire to leave audiences on a high. A story about the confusion of growing up and the need to find one’s own unique path, the core message relayed by the film’s youthful directors is the importance of respect for different inclinations and ideologies: all choices are open, because, despite any pitfalls along the way, everything is going to be OK. “When we were lost, we realised that you have to go with the flow, and hang on to what you have, because that’s what makes you unique and special,” say los Javis on the origins of a stage production/film that has no desire to preach, despite being chock-full of nuns.
Inevitably, the film will evoke comparisons with films like Sister Act, Sister Citroen or Sister Ye, as well as a wide range of others, from Grease (the staircase by which we see a certain character descent will be very familiar) and Hedwig and the Angry Inch to Disney classics, tales of eternal friendship like Stand by Me and feel-good comedies like Little Miss Sunshine. Not to mention, of course, the inimitable Almodóvar and his Dark Habits.
Holy Camp! was produced by Apache Films, Sábado Películas and Lo hacemos y ya vemos AIE, with support from RTVE and TV3. DeAPlaneta will be distributing the film in Spanish cinemas from 29 September. Film Factory Entertainment is in charge of international sales.
(Translated from Spanish)
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