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Isabel Lamberti Straddles Fiction, Non Fiction in ‘The Last Days of Spring’

Variety — Kaleem Aftab

There is a thin line between fact and fiction in German director Isabel Lamberti’s Dutch-Spanish co-production “La última Primavera” (“Last Days of Spring”) which, sold by Loco Films, is playing in the New Directors competition at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

Shot in La Cañada Real, a shantytown outside Madrid, tensions are running high between the municipality and the inhabitants. The residents are being forced to move from the homes they built with their own hands. The Gabarre-Mendoza family are waiting for an eviction letter.

Director Lamberti says, “I first met this family in 2014. I was researching my graduation film because I read a news article about two young boys living in this disadvantaged area, who had to walk home from school every day for almost three hours because of a lack of transportation.”

Her grandmother lives in Madrid and warned Lamberti that the area where she wanted to shoot was dangerous. “So, I contacted a lot of NGOs working there, and I even went there with a priest! After a while, I met the family.”

Every time she went to Spain to visit grandma, Lamberti would visit the Gabarre-Mendozas. “When I heard that they were going to demolish the whole place and they were being forced to move to flats, which would break up the family, we decided to make a film.”

Lamberti started writing her script. The family would play themselves enacting all the real events that happened to them, the meetings with officials, searching for jobs, and would also act out events likely to take place in the near future.

“I was a little bit worried when I started about whether the family would be able to recreate the emotions,” says the director. “But the emotions were still there.”

The action is filmed to look like a documentary, which adds to the sense of authenticity. The cameraman was told to follow the actors wherever they went. There was no blocking. The family of non-professional actors were not shown the script, but Lamberti guided them in what they had to relay in each scene and asked them to recreate moments as close to reality as possible.

“It’s the only way I can make a film because I studied documentary filmmaking in Amsterdam,’ says Lamberti. “When I studied documentary, I was always held back by the fact that you were told not to interfere or recreate scenes.”

“The Last Days of Spring” is fiction loaded with non-fiction.

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