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PRODUCTION Spain / Czech Republic

La mujer ilegal being shot in Lleida

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- Helmed by Ramon Térmens, the film blows the whistle on the situation that immigrants are forced to endure in Europe, particularly freedom and rights violations

La mujer ilegal being shot in Lleida
The cast and crew of La mujer ilegal during the shoot

The fifth feature by Ramon Térmens (The Evil That Men Do [+see also:
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) is to be called La mujer ilegal (lit. “The Illegal Woman”) and is being shot over the next few days in the Catalonian city of Lleida. With it, the filmmaker intends to mount a protest against the inhumane treatment of immigrants across the entirety of Spain, and even broaden his damning complaint to Europe itself, raising viewers’ awareness of this relentless steamrolling of freedom and basic rights through a social drama with added thriller elements, starring Daniel Faraldo (who co-penned the screenplay with the director), Boris Ruiz, Raquel Camón, Adeline Flaun and Isak Férriz. As a reminder, we saw the latter one year ago playing one member of the group of friends who are the main protagonists in Elena Trapé’s Distances [+see also:
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]
 (Golden Biznaga at the Málaga Film Festival in 2018).

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According to the synopsis of La mujer ilegal, one of the city centres where many immigrants arrive in search of a new chance is Lleida, but when night falls, the less good-natured face of the city starts to reveal itself: in the brothels, the weak have no option but to submit to the tyranny of the strong. Fernando Vila (played by Faraldo) is a lawyer in the twilight years of his professional career, who devotes his time to helping immigrants obtain their residence permits.

The death of Zita Krasniqi (Klaudia Dudova), a young Kosovar girl, on the premises of a Foreigners’ Detention Centre marks a sea change. Fernando then decides to join forces with a Muslim activist to shed light on the circumstances surrounding this murky death, which the centre’s administrators have filed away as a “suicide”. In the process, he meets Juliet Okoro (Yolanda Sey), one of Zita’s friends forced into being a prostitute by the mafia. Fernando gets involved, and tries to free Juliet and straighten out her situation, but he comes face to face with a hard-nosed rival: police superintendent Oriol Cadenas (Férriz), a corrupt and racist man who has a soft spot for Juliet.

Térmens, who admits he drew inspiration from titles such as Lorna’s Silence [+see also:
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interview: Arta Dobroshi
interview: Arta Dobroshi
interview: Jean-Pierre et Luc Dardenne
interview: Olivier Bronckart
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]
 by the Dardenne brothers, Head-on [+see also:
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 by Fatih Akin and La haine by France’s Mathieu Kassovitz, among other movies, had this to say about La mujer ilegal: “Here we’re talking about some very tough human dramas. We will show the viewer the souls of the people who are portrayed on the news as nothing more than units in the victim figures. And that’s in the best-case scenario, when suddenly, for some unknown reason, we have to talk about the ‘drama of immigration’, solely from an ‘informative’ point of view – in other words, purely expository and without any kind of participation or commitment to change the situation. Sometimes (and, indeed, less and less often) there are films that claim they are trying to appeal to the viewer’s conscience, but you can stir something for a while (let’s say 90 minutes), and afterwards, it just goes back to its original place. I want to go beyond this: it’s all about changing consciences, transforming them from the seeds of humanity that we all have inside us, but which we perhaps haven’t allowed to grow big enough. Conscience and action are key. The film has to convey to the viewer how urgent it is to act: it’s not enough to get angry; let’s change ourselves in order to change society.”

La mujer ilegal is a co-production between Spanish outfit Segarra Films and the Czech Republic’s Mimesis, which boasts the involvement of Televisió de Catalunya.

(Translated from Spanish)

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