May 19, 2024

Barcelona-born director Sara Gutiérrez Galve is following up her 2018 Malaga award-winning debut effort, “Yo La Busco,” with forthcoming dramedy “Mala Gent” (“Bad People”), a wry depiction of the disparate stories of three protagonists living in the town of Gironès, who attend the same wedding.

Among five projects selected at Madrid’s 5th ECAM Incubator, the project follows each of its leads 10 days prior to the nuptials as they navigate their inner turmoil, all eventually forced to grin and bear the festivities, their lives intersecting momentarily throughout. 

Guitiérrez Galve, a UCLA alum, is teaming once more with co-scribe Núria Roura on the script that’s billed as “a collage that speaks of themes such as childhood, loneliness and work.”

Inés Massa (“Farrucas”) and Nadine Rothschild (“The Permanent Picture”), founders at nascent production house Materia Cinema, are producing the project and are currently utilizing their extensive industry ties to build on international co-productions while seeking to offer their expertise to foreign projects aiming to shoot in the region.

Apart from ECAM, “Mala Gent” was selected for the Faberllull residency in 2021 and participated in the 2022-2023 MFI Script 2 Film Workshop and this year’s D’A Lab a Desarrollo. In October, the team heads to Rome’s MIA Market, with Spanish Screenings on Tour, to cement further financing, co-production and distribution for the title. 

Massa spoke with Variety about Galve’s burgeoning talent and the humor implicit in quotidian affairs.

What attracted you to producing this project?

I’ve known Sara since she was filming her debut “Yo la Busca.” In some way, I closely followed the production process, especially her creative process. Sara was very young and embarking on a big challenge. I was surprised by the way she approached the production, the sensitivity of her gaze. I saw that she was a girl who had to be given space to grow as a creator.

Sara represents a promising voice of the new generation of Catalan filmmakers who’re committed to sharp humor that shines a light on the shadows in all of us. The tone she uses to address such everyday human issues is extremely interesting.

The concept brings together different characters at a wedding. Why is a wedding the ultimate setting for a dramedy?

Precisely because it seems like a terrible place to go when you’re having a bad day. A wedding is still a great party, a great social event which is often corseted and produced. In these conventional spaces many things can happen that destabilize that composure and in that clash there’s incongruity and comedy.

Being complicit in the dramas of people, who’re in the midst of many others who are apparently having a great time, generates discomfort and tension, which leads to humor.

Can you talk a little about the unique aspects of the script?

It’s a very constructed script, very character-based, where we explore the light and miseries of the most common people. It’s a complex structure at the script level. Sara seeks the complexity of human behavior through this seemingly simple, everyday behavior.

How important are international co-productions for Materia?

All our films have international potential, that’s partly why we like to add international partners for each of them. We think about the films we back for international audiences and adding co-producers helps us reach them. Our first film, “The Permanent Picture,” in co-production with France, is an example of the type of structures we want to continue working on. We currently have a documentary in co-production with France and it’s working very well for us. In the same way that we’re co-producing a short film with Serbia. 

We like to work with other countries for the sake of reaching larger audiences, being able to add energy and resources and to make projects grow creatively with professionals that we trust from other countries who provide unique perspectives.

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