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PRODUCTION Spain

Isabel Coixet stands up for lesbian love in Elisa y Marcela

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- The big winner at the most recent Goya Awards has been shooting a film about Spain’s first lesbian marriage (in disguise) for Netflix

Isabel Coixet stands up for lesbian love in Elisa y Marcela
Actors Natalia de Molina, Ramón de España and Greta Fernández during the shoot for Elisa y Marcela (© Isabel Coixet)

The director of Nobody Wants the Night [+see also:
film review
trailer
making of
interview: Isabel Coixet
film profile
]
 and The Bookshop [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
 (with which she scooped three Goyas at the most recent edition of the Spanish Film Academy’s awards), Isabel Coixet, has been working on the project Elisa y Marcela for years now. It tells the astonishing story of the first lesbian wedding to take place in Spain, at the start of the 20th century, when two women successfully got married – through a church service – thanks to one of them passing themselves off as a man. With backing from Netflix, the Catalan filmmaker was finally able to shoot it in May and is currently in the post-production phase.

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Although the names of María Valverde and Natalia de Molina had initially been touted to breathe life into these girls who were forced to bury their deepest emotions, in the end the former was replaced by Greta Fernández, who performed recently in Sunday’s Illness [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ramón Salazar
film profile
]
. The cast of the film is rounded off by Tamar Novas (Broken Embraces [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Pedro Almodóvar
film profile
]
), Sara Casasnovas, María Pujalte, Francesc Orella, Lluís Homar, Jorge Suquet and Manolo Solo, the winner of the Goya Award for Best Supporting Actor last year for The Fury of a Patient Man [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Raúl Arévalo
film profile
]
.

According to the producers of the movie, the plot – written by Coixet and based on the book Elisa y Marcela: más allá de los hombres (lit. “Elisa and Marcela: Beyond Men”) by Narciso de Gabriel – recounts how, on her first day at school in A Coruña in 1885, Marcela meets Elisa, with whom she strikes up a strong friendship. However, over time, Marcela’s parents begin to frown upon this friendship, and they send her to study elsewhere in order to lay their suspicions to rest. The years go by, but the girls’ feelings do not die. Now back in Galicia, Marcela decides to go off in search of Elisa so that they can live a shared life of happiness. But people in the town begin to speak ill of them, and the couple comes up with a plan: Elisa will leave the town for a while and return after being “transformed” into Mario. In this way, she will be able to marry Marcela.

“For me, Elisa y Marcela is a project I’ve dreamed about, envisioned and wanted to make for a long, long time. When I stumbled upon the real-life case of these two women who defied society, the Church and conventionalisms at that time, with such incredible bravery, courage and passion, I knew it was a story I wanted to, and had to, tell,” stated the director.

Elisa y Marcela, which was filmed in black and white in Catalonia and Galicia for just over a month, is being produced by Rodar y Rodar, Zenit TV and La Nube Películas, in cooperation with TV3, Televisión de GaliciaCanal Sur, Televisión Canaria, Televisión Castilla La Mancha and Aragón Televisión. In addition, it has secured backing from ICEC and AGADIC. Netflix will be in charge of its distribution and plans to release it simultaneously in 190 countries next year. Its international sales are being handled by Film Factory Entertainment.

(Translated from Spanish)

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