María Zamora is the executive producer of the Spanish AVALON PC. Spanish delegate of EAVE, Ms Zamora has produced or coproduced some of the latest most refreshing films by emerging Spanish directors. After just having premiered Carlos Marqués-Marcet’s third feature The Days to Come in Rotterdam, she is in the pre-production team of writer Clara Roquet’s feature film debut Libertad.
María Zamora is also developing Paula Ortiz’s third feature The Red Virgin and Carla Simon’s second film Alcarrás. The latest won The Eurimages Co-Production Development Award in the last Berlinale Co-Production Market. It also made Clara Simon’s return to Berlin where her Summer 1993 won the Best First Film Award in 2017.
EWA interviews Maria Zamora on the eve of the Berlinale
By Kristina Zorita
You were one of the producers of Summer 1993. Did you foresee such a success?
Not in such a way. I was very confident since the beginning. When I first heard about the project while mentoring Carla Simon, I knew I wanted to be part of it. There was such an emotion and truth in it. And when we saw the first cuts and discussed them with Berlin and even Cannes festivals, I was confident. Carla (Simon) was a little more humble; she didn’t believe it could go to a big festival. I was surprised though by the public’s reception. I thought its audience was the one of author cinema. So I couldn’t believe when my aunt or the public, having very different tastes, spoke of the film with emotion. It was also surprising to make over €1 million at the Spanish box office.
As you mentioned, you met Carla Simon in a mentoring programme, why are those programmes so important?
First of all, they not only provide you with specialized mentors, they also give you the right place to write your script. Our project Alcarrás has already been in three programmes. Carla has spent four months in Paris locked up in an apartment writing the script thanks to Cannes Cinema Foundation. Those programmes help you with the mentoring of specialists in author cinema and they give visibility to the project. Being awarded at the Torino Film Lab, as we were, beefed up the project.
In what sense and why is it so important for a producer?
Programmers of all the most important festivals, Nordic funders, leaders of Eurimages, sales agents, and distributors … everybody who has a say is in Turin. The programmers of film festivals are there and they follow the thread of a film afterwards. So when we won the CNC development prize in Turin, we had several calls by French producers willing to see our project. Never in my life have I had so many offers to coproduce. It’s a little bit more focused on my field like in the Co-Production Market.
What is Alcarrás about ?
It starts with a family who has harvested peaches during generations, loses their way of life because the heir of the land has decided to plant solar waffles instead. The film is a nostalgic glance to traditional farming; it’s a battle between tradition and change. It talks about the strength of the family, the roles that have been done through generations but above all, it is a familiar, choral film.
You have been recently producing films by female directors. Is it a reasoned choice ?
In a way, it is. I work on projects that move me. Due to personal sensitivity, I am more drawn to projects with a female angle. The way those stories are narrated touches me more. But it’s also true that when I started 18 years ago, I could not find projects by female filmmakers.
What helped turn the tide ?
First we are more known right now and we receive proposals from both female and male filmmakers. Then thanks to being a mentor in CIMA (Spanish Filmmakers association) I had the opportunity to meet wonderful treatments. Or taking part as a jury in female-centered festivals has broadened my options. It’s also true that this kind of mentoring and the success of female filmmakers (such as Clara Roquet, Carla Simon, Nely Reguera) have pushed a new generation of filmmakers to give a try sending their proposals. Twelve or fifteen years ago it was very difficult.
Is it a female producers duty to shed light on the work of female filmmakers?
They should because we are the first filters. We, the female producers, and them, the male producers too. We have to invite them to work with us listening to the proposals by female filmmakers. But it is true that we are the first filters and it is our duty to make them visible. If we don’t support them…
How about in other male-biased jobs?
Such as technicians, for instance. I try it. For example, we have made a short film by Carla Simon in summer and almost every team leader was a woman. But I have to say that occasionally it is quite hard. I haven’t heard about a woman working in special effects until Laura Pedro won a Goya two days ago.
What do you think about Berlinale signing the pledge 50/50x2020?
It is awesome, as it was in Cannes and in San Sebastian. But we have to work towards parity within the roots. In places like the Torino Film Lab, when programmers of festivals try to find proposals they might select in future editions. We have to work from the producers supporting those projects to the committees that chose proposals for mentoring and then climb that ladder of responsibility.