'La Vampira de Barcelona' sheds new light on urban legend

Raval-based film shares the untold story of Enriqueta Martí

Makeup artist and actor on 'La Vampira de Barcelona' film set (by Gemma Aleman)
Makeup artist and actor on 'La Vampira de Barcelona' film set (by Gemma Aleman) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 16, 2020 09:32 PM

The black myth of Enriqueta Martí or, the 'Vampira de Barcelona' (Vampire of Barcelona) has been a hot topic in Barcelona's pop culture for many years.

A woman who was once thought to have been one of the most notorious killers in the history of the city will be the subject of a new film directed by Lluís Danés, filmed in a warehouse in Martorell, northwest of Barcelona.

A Dark History

At the beginning of the 20th century, Enriqueta Martí shocked the country when she was arrested as the kidnapper of a young missing girl, Teresita Guitart. Following her arrest, police claimed to have found a lengthy history of human trafficking and murder in relation to the unsolved disappearances of dozens of children in Barcelona's Raval neighborhood.

Martí was accused of running a brothel for the wealthy classes of Barcelona to participate in pedophilic activity with her alleged victims and was also believed to have created witch-doctor tinctures for her clients with the remains of the children.

Shedding New Light

In recent years, various researchers have found evidence that shows Martí less as a serial killer and more of a mentally unwell victim of a media and police frenzy attempting to cover up a large pedophilia ring. 

Danés draws parallels between the warped story of Martí with modern life — "fake news was born then, not now."

Filling the Role

Nora Navas, the actress who plays the main character, expresses how Martí became a character she "ended up loving." 

A woman whose story has evolved through time, Navas says the role, "makes you want to take advantage [of it], to pay tribute to all the female victims."

Though Danés says that Martí was "not a saint," he is adamant that she ultimately was "a scapegoat," and hopes to reflect what he says is an ever-present power dynamic between the press and the authorities in the work.

Filming concludes this Saturday and is expected for release in the fall of 2020.