Six characters meet in an old apartment in the city center of Barcelona.
Incest, homosexuality and adultery are intertwined in the life of these characters… whilst we witness the passing of time.
BARCELONA, A MAP
BARCELONA, A MAP
Six characters – contemporary archetypes of urban solitude – meet in an old apartment located in the city center of Barcelona.
An elderly married couple, her brother and three tenants: a blonde woman who gives French classes, a young security guard, an ex-football player and a young, pregnant South American girl.
The old man, who was formerly a doorman at the opera and who likes to dress up in women’s clothes, gets them all together and asks them to leave as he is going to die and wants to be alone for the last stage of his life. In this non-descript Barcelona flat, incest, homosexuality and adultery are intertwined in the life of these characters… whilst we simultaneously witness the passing of time in this Mediterranean city.
BARCELONA, A MAP
A very special map
I have been reading and following theatre whenever I can, particularly the prolific work of Lluisa Cuniillé, since the Teatro Fronterizo brought her to my attention more than fifteen years ago with their representation of her first play, which I believe was Rodeo in the 92-93 season at the Mercat de les Flors in Barcelona. I have always found her to be an extremely interesting author: disturbing and often hermetic yet very familiar. I feel that she has one of the most fascinating interior poetic worlds of any contemporary European author.
Three years ago opened and conquered at the Sala Becket – as far as I’m concerned, it constitutes the santa santorum, the cradle, the most important creative reference for contemporary Catalan playwriting: Bravo, bravo for the work of Sanchís Sinisterra and Toni Casares! - her great text, Barcelona, map of shadows, which was practically tucked away in the programming of observations on our city. I was both moved and excited and remained rooted to my seat wanting to watch the ritual of its representation all over again. A powerful world, a story full of darkness with incredibly well constructed characters. Later, thanks to Josep Maria Pou’s great sense of smell, the play was transferred to the CDN in Madrid and… well, great texts always travel far.
Six characters – contemporary archetypes of urban solitude are brought together in an old flat in the Eixamople, the center neighbourhood in Barcelona. A elderly married couple, her brother, and three tenants: a solitary blonde woman who gives French classes and only goes out at night; a young security guard, an ex football player whose wife has left him; and a young, pregnant South American woman. The elderly man, who used to work as the doorman at the Liceu, the city’s opera house and who likes to cross-dress, pays a visit to the two women to ask them to leave as he is about to die and wishes to be alone for the last stage of his life. His wife does the same with the security guard at the same time as she receives a visit from her brother, a doctor and homosexual and whom she doesn’t dare ask for a fake death certificate. At the climax of the plot we discover the couple’s motives in a tour-de-force, which is both extremely emotional and brilliant, and almost a “grand guignol”, yet a also cloaked in the most delicate poetry. And that’s what creates this microcosms, which is a paradigm of a former ruling class now in decline. Incest, homosexuality and adultery are intertwined in the lives of the characters. Meanwhile, we simultaneously witness the passing of time in this Mediterranean city.
I am very much in agreement with Marcos Ordóñez when he writes: There is neither excess nor anything lacking in this text. Everything is important, nothing is “symbolic” nor “meaningful”. There is nothing mannered. There is nothing opaque. Although her tone is unusual, she does not live up to her reputation as a difficult author. She is a clear author: what happens is that there is too much noise, too much fuss around her. And she is a vital author, who will remain when the labels and lazy reception fade away.
This terminal world of a society coming to its end, which tells lies and is disintegrating allows me once again to examine characters who could be related to other desperate solitary losers that I’ve had the opportunity to present in my previous work. I suppose that one of the reasons I was most attracted to adapting Cunillé’s text for film was precisely the great dramatic richness of the protagonists and the difficult moment that they are experiencing, and the tenderness that they bring out in me. I felt like they are old acquaintances, it’s as though they had stepped out of Carícies or La Rossa del bar or Amor Idiota… I’ve always been extremely fond of hopeless, lonely people who are no longer capable of fighting for a better world, since they no longer see any possibility in their own lives.
All this led me to approach the film as an opening of the acts of the text, which is of utmost importance when one is dealing with such a work where the content and action is so contained. However, instead of an easy opening to “exteriors” I sought to open with the very interior of the characters. I put together a script, which is, apart from the short introductory scenes of the characters at the beginning of each act, full of flashes, which are associated with the subconscious, and more focused upon the state of mind of these fragile creatures than their everyday reality. Once editing was complete and the screenplay was no longer in black and white but had finally been converted into one’s own vision of the story, the result is vaguely reminiscent of the narrative concept of my very first film, Ocaña, retrat intermitent, shot exactly thirty years ago, where I was also searching for the authenticity of a character based on fragments, through the provocation of memory which completes/constructs the portrait of the character. In the staging of Barcelona (a map) I have tried to separate the two opposing worlds; the real one is filmed in a very clean and serene way, and the flashes in a more dream-like manner, which I visualize to explain how the range of each of the inhabitants of this Eixample flat are greater than at first perceived.
I conclude with something with which I should have begun. Without the involvement of the great actors who agreed to create these characters, this film could not have been made. My most sincere gratitude to all of them and in particular to the leading duo, Núria Espert and Josep Maria Pou, who are the lynchpins in the entire narrative structure. I had only worked with each of them just once before, with Nuria in Actrius and with Pou in Amic/Amat and we have been lucky enough to come across some characters who have enabled us to join forces again and to take pleasure in and with our work. Both the rehearsals and the especially the shoot were days that are going to be difficult to forget; that special, intense pleasure which you perceive when you intuitively know that you are witnessing the creation of something unique that you will be able to share with the spectator. Hopefully, the luck we had with these two previous films will be with us on this occasion as well. At my side, are my beloved and long-time accomplice Rosa María Sardà and the magnificent Jordi Bosch, María Botto and Pablo Derqui.
Directors are always the figureheads of their projects, but the truth is that filmmaking is a collective art where the responsibilities, channelled by the director are diverse. It has been a pleasure to work with my crew again: Mario Montero in photography, Carles Cases composing the music, Pere Abadal as editor, Bel·lo Torras as production design, Maite Fontanet who was in charge of one of my productions for the first time.... A thousand thanks to all of them for their friendship and dedication. We have been through many battles together and we have always faced each one in the most coherent way possible. Ventura Pons
BARCELONA, A MAP
Screenplay, Direction and Production
BARCELONA, MAPA D'OMBRES by LLUÏSA CUNILLÉ
Director of Photography
IMAGE FILM, S.A.
AMADEUS POSTPRODUCCIÓN, S.L.
A ELS FILMS DE LA RAMBLA, S.A.
Production With the participation of
TELEVISIÓN ESPAÑOLA, S.A.
TELEVISIÓ DE CATALUNYA, S.A.
Distributed by FILMAX
BARCELONA, A MAP
JOSEP MARIA POU
ROSA MARIA SARDÀ
BARCELONA UN MAPA
Toronto & Montreal (Canada)
Rome & Torino (Italy)
New York (Lincoln Center)
Los Angeles (American Cinematheque)
Chicago, San Francisco, Jacksonville, Boston, Miami, Tiburon & Port Townsend, (US)
La Habana (Cuba)
Swansea (ACS Congress) (Walles, UK)
Lisbon and Lisbon (G&L) (Portugal)
Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Toulouse, Montpellier, Villeurbanne-Lyon & Nantes (France)
Mexico D.F. & Monterrey (Mexico)
Chicago, Washington & San Francisco (EUA)
Guatemala (Rep. Guatemala)
La Paz (Bolivia)
Freiburg ( Germany)
Guatemala, La Antigua Guatemala, Quetzaltenango & Escuintla (Guatemala)
Marseille ( France)
Ventura Pons: Idem Award 2008.
Ventura Pons: Respect Award 2008.
Josep Maria Pou: Zinegoak Award.
Lisboa (G&L) Festival: Josep Maria Pou (best actor) and Núria Espert (best actress).
Toulouse Festival: Ventura Pons (Best Screenplay).
Nominations Goya Award: Ventura Pons (Best Screenplay).
Nominations Barcelona Awards: Best Catalan Film and Carles Cases: Best music.
Nominations Butaca Awards: Best Film, Josep Maria Pou, Jordi Bosch & Pablo Derqui (Best Actor) and Núria Espert (Best Actress).