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Review: Andrómedas


- Clara Sanz’s first feature film is a French-Spanish documentary full of life, truth and love, shot in a city of La Mancha and revolving around a 90-year-old grandmother and her carer

Review: Andrómedas

Available within the Official Selection of the online festival known as Márgenes, the documentary Andrómedas [+see also:
film profile
- the first work by Clara Sanz, a filmmaker professionally linked with other festivals such as Seville, Tarifa and Curitiba, in Brazil – can be watched free of charge until 8 December, having previously participated in recent editions of the Gijón Film Festival (in the Esbilla section) and L'Alternativa - Barcelona Independent Film Festival. With intimacy as the central thread running through each and every scene, the film is dedicated to all those women who take care of themselves and of others, and stars as its protagonists the director’s grandmother - 90-year-old Rosita - and María, an Ecuadorian woman who has looked after her for a very long time, having left her own family behind in her homeland.

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From the very first frame, which shows hands sewing and teaching other hands how to sew, Andrómedas makes it clear that the transmission of knowledge and affection will be a common theme throughout the film: next, we see two women, separated in theory by their differing origins, their past, their age and their culture, who understand one another perfectly, as if they were sisters. They respect and, ultimately, love one another deeply. Whilst the younger of the two, Maria, takes care of the household tasks – making the beds, hanging out the washing or getting on with the cooking – the ever joyful Rosita, relaxed and happy thanks to the attentive presence of the former, is constantly singing, reading or helping out in the kitchen: she’s a young and active soul in a body which has lived nigh-on a century of life, and she hasn’t lost her sense of humour for it.

The two women in Andrómedas form a rather harmonious couple: they kiss one another goodnight and eat breakfast together, they share their secrets and listen to one another in the way that friends and partners do. All this within the walls of a house in a La Mancha-based city – the name of which is never mentioned – whilst, outside, the snow falls, festivals are celebrated and cats call. In this way, slowly and subtly, Sanz builds up an affectionate portrait - an homage, almost - of two women who end up thoroughly seducing the viewer: the youngest through her dedication, pragmatism, love for animals and attentiveness towards all those around her; the elder for her wisdom, her common sense and the flirtatiousness which still hasn’t left her and which exorcises any possible fear over the future.

When Maria announces that she will be travelling to Ecuador to attend a baptism, Rosita’s family realise that they will have to find a temporary replacement for her and this throws them into turmoil: at this point, the director herself, who has thus far remained off screen – although we have heard her voice, given that her grandmother talks to her directly, and politely, on various occasions – steps into the shoes of her grandmother’s carer, taking on a role which is slowly being lost and which is sadly undervalued in our society. Without compromising on its sense of humour (the scene where Rosita needs lifting is particularly amusing), and with a few hints at the drama suffered by migrants (without insisting too heavily on the subject), not to mention a temporal ellipsis which shows the passage of time through the beauty of the smaller and simpler things in life, Andrómedas successfully draws us in, allowing us to sympathise and feel complicit in this alternative interpretation of emotional ties, family and coexistence.

Andrómedas is produced by Les Films du Bilboquet (who are also in charge of distribution) and Mardi8, with the support of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur Region, the CNC, Procirep (the Society of Film and TV Producers) and ANGOA.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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