By Katie King
As Humphrey Bogart said to Claude Rains in the closing scene of Casablanca, “…I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” The Seattle Latino Film Festival (SLFF) teamed up with the UW Department Spanish and Portuguese Studies (SPS) on October 11, 2018 to offer an on-campus screening of the award-winning Spanish indie film Marisa en los bosques, the story of a young Spanish playwright in Madrid searching for her own identity amid joblessness and personal loss. Writer, director and producer Antonio Morales was on hand to introduce his film to students, faculty and community members in a packed auditorium and answer questions after the screening. The event was a unique opportunity for the UW community to learn about what it takes to produce an indie movie and learn from the director himself about the challenges and joys of going it alone to create a feature film.
SPS Associate Professor Leigh Mercer and SLFF Founder Jorge Enrique González Pacheco praised this new partnership and said they hoped it would continue and grow.
"Partnering with the SLFF offered the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies a unique opportunity to have students interact with community members in conversation about cutting-edge cinema from Spain. And having director Antonio Morales present really gave the audience great insight into the challenges and occasional freedoms that a first-time director encounters when making a film."
Gonzaléz Pacheco praised the event and, in an interview, said he hoped to do more with SPS in the future. “Leigh did an amazing job connecting us with the perfect audience for this film, which tells a story that resonates with the millennial generation who are experiencing career drama and are searching and questioning. We would love to continue working with the Spanish and Portuguese Department, giving students the opportunity to meet and work with Spanish filmmakers.” He said the mission of SLFF, which he founded nine years ago, is to connect filmmakers and audiences for entertainment for also for educational benefit.
In his conversation with the audience after the screening, Marisa director Antonio Morales described the intense effort and passion that drove his first attempt at making a full-length feature film after his early career in writing theater scripts and developing short-form films. He rounded up the money for the Marisa project on his own, partly through a crowd-funding project, and the final budget was 28,000 euros/$32,000 according to Spanish press reports. His protagonist, Madrid theater actress Patricia Jordá, is a friend and, Morales said, the driving force of the film which spotlights a feminine perspective. The film’s feminist focus has reviewers comparing Morales to Spanish filmmakers Pedro Almodóvar and French director Eric Rohmer both of whom are known for strong female characters.
The film won awards at the Alicante Film Festival, the Avanca Film Festival and the International Film and Comic Festival of Vilagarcía de Arousa, and opened in theaters in Spain in September, 2018.