Clara Roquet: “Libertad [Freedom] is like a flashback from the short film El adiós [The Goodbye]”.

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The Hall of Mirrors of Calderón Theatre this Saturday, 23rd October 2021, hosted the press conference led by Clara Roquet and actresses Vicky Peña, María Morera, Nicolle García and Carol Hurtado, who presented the opening film of the festival accompanied by producer Tono Folguera (Lastor Media). The film was screened during the opening day of the 66th Seminci in several sessions: at 11.30 am at Cervantes Theatre, at 7.00 pm at Calderón Theatre after the opening gala, and at 10.30 pm at Broadway Cinemas. These cinemas will host a last chance to see Libertad [Freedom] tomorrow Sunday at 7:45 pm.

Clara Roquet (Vic, Spain, 1988) explained how the idea for Libertad had emerged from her award-winning first short film, El adiós [The Goodbye] (2015), with which she won the Golden Spike at the 60th Seminci six years ago. The short film stars a Bolivian caregiver who says goodbye to the woman she took care of when she dies, during the funeral, and the feature film “actually came out of the casting process of El adiós, for which I interviewed a lot of Latin American caregivers, women who have had to leave their children in their countries of origin to come and take care of other families.” Thus, she pointed out that Libertad, in reality, is “like a flashback of El adiós, since it tells what happened before the funeral in which Rosana, the caregiver, says goodbye to Ángela, the old woman who died and for whom she had been caring for years.”

She also explained that the process of writing the film was slow. “I wrote the stories separately, Libertad and Rosana’s, her mother’s, but I needed Nora’s point of view to connect them.”

Vicky Peña (the elderly Ángela in the film) recalled that it had not taken her long to prepare for her role. “The script fascinated me as soon as I read it because of the characters, the chorality, the story of these women who leave their land to raise their families and the fact that it is a transgenerational film, told with a sensitivity as special as that of Clara’s, the director.”

Also, actresses María Morera and Nicolle García, the younger stars of the film, agreed that “living together during the shoot, getting to know each other and forging a friendship during that time” had helped them a lot to prepare their characters. “Clara gave us a lot of freedom and we also worked a lot with improvisation.”

In the case of Carol Hurtado (who plays the Colombian caregiver Rosana), she herself explained that preparing for her role led her to “observe Latin women, like me, who have left their countries, and a friend who has been a caregiver also taught me all about cleaning an old woman…” Carol also said that the process of building her character had been “very delicate, like Clara herself, the director.”

The film was shot in 2019, before the pandemic, with the goal of having it premiere at Cannes in 2020, but the festival was cancelled, so it had to wait until 2021. “I couldn’t attend the premiere because I had COVID, and I was a few days late. But it was a very good experience,” she confessed, seconded by the actresses who were able to attend the premiere.

When asked if there was any autobiography in the film, Roquet commented that, “although unfortunately there is no Freedom in my life,” there are small moments taken from her childhood summers with her family, as well as her personal experience with one of her grandmothers, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and also had a caregiver who had come from abroad.

“The house is a character in itself,” she also added, answering another of the questions she was asked. “We did a good casting of houses and this one in particular, in which all the spaces communicate, gives a lot of life to the film, it transmits the feeling that there are many things going on, that it’s a house in which there are always people.”

The film will hit Spanish screens on November 19th, and the director is hopeful. “I’d like to think that it will be seen by all kinds of audiences, regardless of labels (men, women). For me, this film opens up a question: whether friendship, empathy, love… can break down class structures and create bonds between people.” For Roquet, however, “Libertad portrays a journey and an awareness, and how this character is going to change at the end of the film.”

Producer Tono Folguera regretted that after the pandemic there is now an accumulation of stopped films, which are trying to get out with a lot of effort. “The novelty is that it’s so complicated for us even with a left-wing government.” He also pointed out that the film was shot in Spanish for several reasons, “so as not to have to dub it, to facilitate its screening and access, and because right now it’s impossible to finance a film in Catalan.” But also because, although it’s set on the Costa Brava, “it is a story that could happen anywhere else.”

Clara Roquet, who achieved prestige as a screenwriter in films like Petra (Jaime Rosales), La ofrenda (Ventura Durall), 10,000 km or Los días que vendrán (both by Carlos Marqués-Marcet) before directing her first two short films (El adiós and Les bones nenes) and debuting in feature films, also pointed out that she likes to combine both facets, that of screenwriter and director, and that when she finished shooting Libertad she had returned to writing. She also confessed that among the film professionals who inspire her is Jean-Claude Carrière, “a great screenwriter who wrote a lot for others, but also made his own films.”

Roquet also thanked Seminci for “the support I have received throughout my short career” and was very happy that her film opened the festival. “It’s the most natural place to present my first feature film, and after the two awards El adiós received, it makes perfect sense,” she added.

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