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The San Sebastian festival follows its course with its multiple sections like Zabaltegi-Tabakalera. The director Elena López Riera, a regular at Tabakalera since she teaches at the film school and has already presented her short films there, came to present her first feature film, El agua.

From our special correspondent in San Sebastian,

A group of young teenagers end the night around a packet of cigarettes, on the edge of a river on which passes the swollen body of a dead goat… The setting is extremely gloomy, moreover all dream of leaving, of leave the village. We laugh stupidly, we flirt, the dialogues are lively, the language is that of young people today. The narration, on a ridge between fiction and documentary, focuses more particularly on the love story between Ana and José. She is the daughter of a young woman who runs a bar by the side of a road where cars and trucks raise dust.

Women on one side, Ana (Luna Pamies), her mother played by Barbara Lennie, and the grandmother, played by Nieve de Medina. These last two are the only professional actresses in this choral film. On the other, José (Alberto Olmo) and his tribe of men: his father, his friends and the agricultural workers who work on the plantation. And in the middle flows a river… An old legend circulates about this watercourse, lined with rushes and which has become an open sewer. Water sometimes falls in love with a young girl and claims her… A young future bride thus disappeared one day on her wedding day, tell the women of the village, facing the camera. And if the young girl refuses the river, the water gets angry and causes storms and floods. We are in the Valencia region, in Orihuelawhere weather phenomena regularly cause such disasters.

The script, co-written by Ana López and French journalist Philippe Azoury, who also makes a brief appearance in the film, weaves together the legend and the daily life of young people, their parties, their work and their boredom. At home, we like to tell stories, explains the director. They make those long, hot afternoons pass when you can’t do anything else. The young actors, who did not know each other before the shooting, are impressive in their naturalness and spontaneity, the fruit of a long preparatory work, according to Ana López. The fruit also of a perfect knowledge of the soil and its young shoots, since she is a child of the region, of Orihuela, and that she always returns to film there, “with her tribe”. She, to whom her family had told one day that the cinema was not for her, has since endeavored to prove the contrary. This first feature film, selected for the Fortnight in Cannes, recalls by its freedom of tone, its poetry and its documentary side also the gypsy cinema by Isaki Lacuesta. The film is announced on the screens at the end of October in Spain and we bet that it will also pass the Pyrenees.


Ana López Riera was told that cinema was not for her.  The director, who presented her first feature film, El agua, in San Sebastian, has since endeavored to prove the opposite.

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