Catalan film industry hails ‘historic turning point’ of success of Alcarràs

Sector calls for more funding for large-scale projects in the Catalan language

Main characters of the movie 'Alcarràs,' winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival (by Avalon)
Main characters of the movie 'Alcarràs,' winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival (by Avalon) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 17, 2022 05:24 PM

The Catalan film industry views Carla Simón's victory at the Berlinale International Film Festival with 'Alcarràs' as an unprecedented historic turning point for Catalan cinema. 

The film, focussing on a family in rural western Catalonia during their last harvest on a farm before the owners install solar panels on the land, picked up the Golden Bear in the esteemed film festival in the German capital. 

Many voices in the Catalan film sector have for years pointed out that Catalan talent exists but is not being sufficiently supported. 

The president of the Catalan Film Academy, Judith Colell, delighted in the "very, very big" success that a film shot in the Catalan language has won the Golden Bear award in Berlin. “I really liked the film, but winning at festivals is very tricky,” she added.

Colell also highlights the fact that, despite being a "small and intimate" film, it is "very ambitious" in terms of production. In this sense, she wants to see not only “commercial” productions get significant financial backing, but "more authorial" ones as well. 

For the president of the Catalan Film Academy, it's often the case that the directors want to shoot in Catalan but feel "they can't" and Colell believes they should have the authority to choose. She points at the success of Korean productions lately, with 'Parasite' and ‘Squid Game' winning international acclaim. 

Neus Ballús: “Historic milestone”

Film director Neus Ballús believes that 'Alcarràs' winning at Berlinale will have a massive impact on Catalan cinema. 

"It is a historic milestone for Catalan and Catalan cinema. We have been saying for many years that there is a lot of talent and that it is not necessary to make cinema in another language or in another country,” she said. 

“It is not necessary to adjust to certain parameters of globalized content," she believes. "We just need to look at it well and effectively, as Carla Simón has done," he said.

The filmmaker explained that Simón's award is the "climax" of Catalan cinema after several productions that have come close at international festivals. “It’s a brilliant moment as a team,” she noted.

Award “takes us where we should have been a long time ago”

Producer, screenwriter, and director Isona Passola added her praises in the aftermath of the award. 

She says that the award takes over from the success of 'Black Bread' achieved a decade ago. "It takes us where we should have been a long time ago. There is great talent in Catalan cinema," she said. The producer also praised 'Alcarràs' as a "simple but very creative" idea.

Passola predicts that the success of "Alcarràs," coupled with the fact that the culture ministry will back the audiovisual sector financially again, will lead to a huge boost in the sector. "I hope we can get the train back on track after ten years of suffering."

The former president of the Catalan Film Academy also believes that a film like 'Alcarràs', which wins an award of this nature, "has a very powerful life". "It's a fantastic brand image for Catalonia," she added.

REC director sends congratulations

Jaume Balagueró, director of such blockbuster films like the 'Rec' saga, also sent his congratulations to Carla Simón for winning the award.

Seeing such talent on such a big international stage makes him believe that Catalan cinema "is in luck". In his opinion, the victory in Berlin sends a message to the world from Catalonia, that it can make "very interesting" cinema.