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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Spain / USA

Antonio Méndez Esparza shooting 2nd Judicial Court

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- The first non-fiction film by the director of Life and Nothing More is once again being produced by Aquí y Allí Films, like his previous works

Antonio Méndez Esparza shooting 2nd Judicial Court
Director Antonio Méndez Esparza and his DoP, Barbu Balasoiu, during the shoot for 2nd Judicial Court

Madrilenian helmer Antonio Méndez Esparza is currently shooting his third film, 2nd Judicial Court, a documentary about the Tallahassee Unified Family Court in Florida, USA, where he lives and works as a university professor. The film, like his two previous efforts – Aquí y allá: Here and There [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Pedro Hernández
film profile
]
(2012) and Life and Nothing More [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Antonio Méndez Esparza
film profile
]
– is being produced by Aquí y Allí Films. The latter title was the first Spanish production to obtain the John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards, in 2018. His new feature marks a real step forward for this filmmaker who has always hovered in between fiction and documentary, and who is forging a strong career hinging on social problems, as he demonstrated with his previous movies.

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Méndez Esparza now focuses on the cases being examined in the second chamber of this court, where topics related to minors and families are discussed, including delinquency, parents’ rights, adoptions and problems with drug addiction. This particular court is a good place to begin to understand the situation of the United States in the Trump era: it will paint an intimate portrait of this country but also of an entire society, attempting to make sense of the difficult decisions that are made there and showing how people are working to improve living conditions in the community.

"As it’s about a court that specialises in cases involving minors, obtaining exclusive permission to film has been a huge challenge and would not have been possible without the great work done by Antonio," stated producer Pedro Hernández Santos, of Aquí y Allí Films. “The judge himself, whom we met while shooting our previous movie, suggested we record those open and public trials,” he told Cineuropa.

For his part, Antonio Méndez Esparza assured us that his intention is to "film a documentary that will create a social conscience and thus try to give a silenced minority a voice. Although the movie takes place in Tallahassee, we believe that the topic is universal and has the potential to inspire change in various different communities. Through this court, we will tell anonymous stories of single mothers, families torn apart by drugs, teenagers trapped in a spiral of crime, and households where the children are suffering in the most impoverished areas of the United States. And it’s precisely the kids and their future that are the top priority for the court.”

With a 12-person crew and with their cameras cleverly concealed in order to allow for the most spontaneity possible from the people involved, the shoot for the documentary kicked off on 2 November this year and will continue until the end of December. The editing and post-production will begin in January, with the team eyeing international festivals such as Cannes and San Sebastián, where the filmmaker’s previous outings were premiered.

2nd Judicial Court is a production by Spanish outfit Aquí y Allí Films together with the USA’s 9AM MediaLab Pro, and it has secured backing from the ICAA, the Florida Council of Arts and Florida State University. Its international sales will be handled by sales agent Feel Sales, and it will be distributed in Spain by Wanda Visión.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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