Carla Simón barely has physical memories of her mother. As she counted on Summer 1993, her wonderful feature debut, when she was just a girl her parents died of AIDS and she grew up with her uncles. Among the objects that she keeps as a treasure there are a few photos of her naked mother, pregnant with her. A body about to give birth that shows itself beautiful, without shame. He has been filling in the rest of the gaps, or perhaps imagining them. The family memory that every child possesses together with hers and her parents, she has been recomposing it thanks to art. With her films, somehow, she returns to that absent mother.
‘Alcarràs’, an intimate and political masterpiece that is already the history of our cinema
It was noticeable in all his previous works, but it becomes evident in the short film that he presented at the Authors’ Day at the Venice Festival. Letter to my mother for my son It is a beautiful story that Carla Simón gives to her newborn son. She does it to explain who was the grandmother that she will not meet. She didn’t know her very well either, and that’s why in this poetic work she reconstructs her with what she knows and completes her with what she wants. Now, she is that mother.
When the proposal came to her, framed within the shorts produced by the Miu Miu brand and in which directors such as Agnes Varda or Lucrecia Martel, whom Carla Simón admires, have worked, she was pregnant with her first child. She accepted the challenge and decided to write a delicate reflection on motherhood and her absence. She resorts for the first time to the symbolic, but always with that look that characterizes her and that moves. A story to the rhythm of Lole and Manuel that begins with her posing nude, taking the same photographs she has of her mother. Simón gives her son some souvenirs invented by her, because “that family memory that is missing, when you don’t have it, you have to invent it to tell it to yourself,” says Simón from Venice with little Manel a few meters away.
A sentence in the short sums up the director’s cinema. “I make films to imagine you, or to imagine myself”, a certainty and a doubt that “has always been there”. “I think my need to tell stories comes because there are many stories in my family, but also because of my childhood, because that story is missing,” he says and recalls that in the short that phrase is completed by saying that perhaps he makes movies because he doesn’t want to die: “That is something that I realized later. I think about it and I realize that I am very afraid of death, and she sees that I have had to experience it up close. I think that many times we artists do or create because of that fear we have of dying, that leaving a mark may seem very self-centered, but well, there is something there”.
A half-hour short film in which Ángela Molina becomes that imagined mother who even chats with the real Carla, pregnant and realizing that “pregnancy is a very beastly thing, very wild, very strong, very primitive”, something that pushed her to take those photos and shoot them in Super 8.
Now it’s time to think about the future. First you have to seei Alcarràs She is the one chosen by the Film Academy to represent Spain at the Oscars. If so, there is a time to promote the film in the face of a possible nomination in Hollywood. Then focus on a third project that is already written and in which he continues to investigate her family memory. What it seems is that she will have to wait a bit, she does not want to give up enjoying her motherhood, and she says that soon she will meet with her producer, María Zamora, to talk about dates.
“Now I realize that giving birth was only the first thing. I want to see him grow up, take care of him, educate him, and I want to do it well too, do it calmly. We had the idea of shooting next summer, and now it seems a bit early because, well, basically because I don’t sleep, and suddenly the idea of finding that space seems far away. Let’s go see. For me Alcarràs It showed us that it’s okay to do things slowly, because nobody is waiting for your film and it turns out better, so we’ll see if we delay it a bit. I don’t know if it’s a whole year, but a few months for sure, because it really is going to give us the option to do better and also because the first few months with a baby the brain only works halfway”, she has that shyness that characterizes her.