By Gonzalo Sanchez
Venice, Italy, Sep 6 (EFE).- Spanish actress Penelope Cruz has portrayed many different types of mothers throughout her storied career, the latest of these roles being that of an eviction victim in “En los margenes” (On the Fringe), the directorial debut of her friend, Argentine actor Juan Diego Botto.
In an interview with Efe at the Venice Film Festival, where the film premiered on Monday, she spoke of the importance of reviving a necessary debate on a major societal issue in Spain.
“As part of our privilege to make movies, there’s also a responsibility that goes with it. Not all movies you make, unfortunately … can touch on themes like this one, or important issues that revive a much-needed debate in our society,” the 48-year-old said.
Some of the actress’ greatest successes have resulted from her collaboration with acclaimed Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, whose films are known, among other things, for their colorful, visually distinctive cinematography and stylish, modernist sets.
By contrast, “En los margenes,” a film competing in the Venice Film Festival’s “Orizzonti” (Horizons) section, is a hyper-realist, documentary-like drama centered on three individuals – an activist lawyer, a supermarket worker and an elderly woman – that explores the real-life suffering of economically vulnerable people.
Cruz’s character, Azucena, is under threat from a bank intent on repossessing her home and has 24 hours to prevent herself and her family from being evicted.
The film reminds viewers that more than 400,000 eviction orders have been served over the past decade in Spain and that at present the rate stands at around 100 per day.
Cinema should not try to manipulate people, Cruz said, though adding that when a story is told truthfully, as in the case of Botto’s film, it can have a genuine emotional impact on the audience.
“And even if it serves only to revive that very necessary debate, it’s very worthwhile.”
The actress said she and the rest of the cast, including Luis Tosar in the role of a heroic lawyer and activist, were fortunate to meet people who had experienced the pain of eviction.
“One (woman) really inspired me. The day I met her something clicked. I found a way even of walking and moving,” said Cruz, who in the film has the disheveled look and anguished, fearful expression of a person on the verge of losing everything.
Cruz, also the lead actress in “L’immensita,” which is competing in the festival’s main competition, said her performance is a “private tribute” to a woman who “has incredible strength and devotes her life to helping many other women who are in that situation.”
She said the project is very special to her because she is one of the film’s producers and also was the one who suggested the idea to Botto, her friend of more than three decades whom she first met at his mother’s acting academy.
“It was a really nice and moving process for me to see him on the other side of the camera … as if he’d done it his whole life. I wasn’t surprised to see that, but it was very moving,” she said while seated alongside the first-time director.
Cruz, winner of a best-supporting-actress Oscar for her performance in Woody Allen’s 2008 romantic comedy-drama “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” says she wants to continue to serve in the role of producer.
“I’d like to continue on that path, especially now that I have a small production company … and we’ll go little by little doing things, whatever we can, but without going insane,” she added.
But she joked that she will continue driving Botto crazy, bombarding him with “ideas and proposals” to bring to the big screen. EFE