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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Spain / Chile

Belén Funes putting the finishing touches to her second feature, Los Tortuga

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- Chilean actress Antonia Zegers toplines the new film by the Catalonian director, who once again zeroes in on family roots, social determinants and the baggage we all carry around with us

Belén Funes putting the finishing touches to her second feature, Los Tortuga
Antonia Zegers and Elvira Lara in Los Tortuga

Belén Funes took everyone by surprise with her feature debut, A Thief’s Daughter [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Belén Funes
film profile
]
, with which she took part in the competition at San Sebastián, taking home the Silver Shell for Best Actress for Greta Fernández, as well as at other international gatherings of the likes of Les Arcs, Göteborg and Thessaloniki. It also earned her the Goya Award for Best New Director. Now, the Barcelona-born filmmaker has almost finished post-production on her second feature, Los Tortuga, which was presented this week at the ECAM Forum event (see the news) held in Madrid, with the aim of winning over both national and international festival programmers.

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“Family is a world that fascinates me – it’s very appealing to me, and it goes some way to explaining myself: who I am and where I come from,” Funes tells Cineuropa. “The film is inspired by the story of my parents, both of whom were immigrants, which is quite common in Catalonia, and so a part of my family and of what I am cannot be found where I live, but rather in Jaén. What’s more, I’m from the outskirts of Barcelona, and there, for many of us, the city was so far away,” she adds.

The main roles in Los Tortuga have been entrusted to Chilean actress Antonia Zegers (who collaborates regularly with Pablo Larraín, and was also glimpsed in Los perros [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and The Punishment) and young first-timer Elvira Lara, together with Lorena Aceituno, Mamen Camacho, Pedro Castellano and Pedro Romero. The helmer also made use of non-professional actors for this “story of a mother and daughter who are missing someone”, to quote Funes.

The screenplay, written by the director together with Marçal Cebrian, tells of how the lives of a mother (played by Antonia Zegers) and her daughter (Elvira Lara) have been marked by the recent death of the father. The daughter tries as best she can to cope with the pain and come to terms with the loss; on the other hand, the mother has simply been forging ahead and is burying the tragedy deep down through hours of work while holed up in the taxi she drives. However, when a letter threatening them with eviction arrives, it puts their already delicate finances in jeopardy, disrupts the grieving process and forces their affection for one another into the bleak background.

Producer Alba Bosch (of Oberón Media) tells us more: “We previously made A Thief’s Daughter together, and we thought that this voyage from Andalusia to Catalonia, on the general topic of immigration, seemed like a fantastic theme because the big European metropolises have been built with people who came from elsewhere. The film will be finished in under a month, ready for whoever wants to grab it.”

Los Tortuga – which was shot in Barcelona and Jaén in the autumn and winter of 2023 – is a production by Spanish outfits Oberón Media, La Claqueta PC and Los Tortuga La Película AIE, together with Chile’s Quijote Cine. Its Spanish distribution will be overseen by A Contracorriente Films (which has scheduled a release on 15 November), while its international sales have been entrusted to Film Factory Entertainment.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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