Madrid’s ECAM Incubator Project ‘Macramé’ Explores the Limits of Class and Sex

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One of the five projects at the 5th ECAM Madrid Film School’s Incubator, a six-month producer mentorship initiative, “Macramé” explores the politics of sex in the story of a bourgeoise 70-year-old woman with a passion for macramé.

Her life shifts radically when her 64-year-old Ecuadorian housekeeper makes her feel the knots in her skin, sparking a mutual exploration of the Japanese art of erotic bondage.

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The Spanish romantic drama is written and directed by Barbara Magdalena and produced by Iván Luis and Andrea Jaurrieta of Lasai Producciones.

Given Magdalena’s background in design, the project in development is expected to have a compelling visual aesthetic. Magdalena and her producers spoke to Variety to discuss the development process and the challenges ahead.

Andrea, Have you directed “Ana by Day” and are you already doing another feature film “Niña” with Bteam, Irusoin and Lasai. At the same time, however, you are producing Barbara’s film with Iván Luis. Is the idea for you to both produce and direct? 

Jaurrieta: I mainly consider myself a director, but Iván and I produced “Ana by Day” together and now on “Nina” we are also co-producing. So we built this production company to support my own films and projects from other emerging directors that seemed interesting to us. We wanted to support them because we know for the new generation, if you make a slightly different cinema, it is difficult to get it made within the system. We believe that we could bet on new voices so that’s why we decided to produce Barbara’s project at the same time.

Luis: I would add thatBarbara’s “Macramé” film is our first project where Andrea is neither the director nor the co-producer. We have produced the short films of others but this is our first feature film.

When you say that the new generations make cinema a little differently, I think there is a much more serious social conscience than in the ‘90s generation. And it seems to sum up a cinema that has more to do with cinema from the 1970s, from the transition, until the Balmaseda Law in the 1990s, which prioritized box office success and makes Spanish cinema one of the most mainstream in Europe. I have this impression with the new subsidy system, this means that you need to co-produce with other companies to gather enough points for a project.

Jaurrieta: It’s precisely because of this points system that we are going to San Sebastian because we are looking to co-produce with a larger Spanish company that will help us earn these points. The system is a bit tricky in that sense, but we do believe that there is a new generation of producers like Irusoin, who are pushing and betting on new talent.

Luis: When you bet on a film that a priori is not a blockbuster, I think it is important to establish synergies with other production companies precisely to set up the financing structure that would otherwise be complicated. We need to forge alliances to make bigger but not necessarily mainstream films.

Barbara, Your film is about marginalized people, not just as characters, but in their traditional importance as characters in films. Immigrant domestic workers, when they appear in a movie, with some exceptions, normally have two lines. “Yes ma’am” or something like that. Your film is a vindication of this and of pleasure. It’s radical and taboo-breaking.

Barbara Magdalena Yes. Well, I totally agree. A key point is to take these characters who are not usually protagonists and to put them in the foreground, create complete, genuine characters, with particular and concrete desires that are out of the norm. We are in a private sphere and each one develops her sexuality in a particular way. For me, in some way, it has been with the characters, a kind of socially prohibited alliance between two women to claim a type of pleasure that has been denied them because of their situation. Simona, being raised in Spain after Franco, has suffered sexual repression all her life. And Lara for the same reason in her country. This is a film that moves a lot in dualities, between light and shadow, the upper class and the lower class, and which somehow presents the two sides of the same coin. The film has several layers: Sexual, psychological and social.

In what phase is the project in? 

Magdalena: We are finishing the script so it’s in an early phase.

Jaurrieta: We have a new script version that we’ll use to seek co-producers. We hope to start with development aid and financing and then go into production by 2024. What Iván and I learned with “Ana de día” and “Nina” is that you really don’t have to be in a hurry but should rather take your time to find the best possible travel companions for the project.

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