Neus Ballús wraps the shoot for Staff Only in Senegal
by Alfonso Rivera
- The director of The Plague has travelled to Africa to film her second feature, which stars Sergi López and Elena Andrada
Neus Ballús (Mollet del Vallès, Barcelona, 1980), who obtained excellent results from her partnership with screenwriter Pau Subirós on her feature-length directorial debut, The Plague [+see also:
film profile] (2013), is teaming up with the same writing partner for her second film, Staff Only, which was shot last spring and boasts a cast toplined by Sergi López, Elena Andrada and Ian Samsó. Principal photography, which lasted six weeks, began on 24 March and took place entirely in Saly Portudal, Senegal. The movie is now in post-production.
The synopsis introduces us to Marta, a 17-year-old girl, who is spending her Christmas holidays in Senegal with her father and her elder brother. Marta’s fascination with Khouma, a Senegalese cameraman whose job is to film tourist excursions, will exacerbate her already problematic relationship with her father. Khouma’s videos (a compendium of picture-postcard clichés that he shoots to gratify the tourists) will help Marta to discover the inner workings of the exotic holiday business. At the same time, she strikes up a friendship with Aissatou, a girl who cleans the hotel rooms – and this will end up being a more intense relationship than she had anticipated...
The director stated that she wishes to use this film to show the huge gulf that exists between the real Africa and the sugar-coated one that travellers tend to see. Her attention was drawn to the living conditions of the local people: “My movie will be a multi-faceted portrait of Western tourism in Africa and of our own perspective on that reality, narrated from the point of view of a girl who asks herself various questions for the first time as a result of that huge contrast.”
Staff Only, which features dialogue in Catalan and French, is being produced by Spanish outfits El Kinògraf, Ikiru Films, Turanga Films and La Terraza Films, together with France’s Les Films Hatarim, in cooperation with Televisió de Catalunya and with backing from the ICAA, ICEC and Eurimages.
(Translated from Spanish)
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