Carla Simon, director of “Alcarràs”, is Catalan Lukas Dhont

Not that their movies have much in common, but just like our compatriot, Carla Simone follows up her solid debut with an adorable little animal. In karas, family ties and peach trees have to compete with solar panels.

Peaches or solar panels? In Alcaras, a Catalan village near Lleida, a case splits a large, close-knit family in two. Although it has already stabilized. For generations, the Quimet family has grown the prized fruits there, but when the owner of those lands dies, his son refuses to honor the gentlemen’s decades-old pact. The peach trees will be razed and replaced with a solar panel garden.

Alkarras Set in the summer of the last harvest, the end of an era, Carla Simone shows this with an extraordinary amount of naturalness, tenderness, and concern for three generations of family members. The fact that the film won the Golden Bear in Berlin last year wasn’t much of a surprise. The screenwriter and director was already talking about her first film Summer 1993, a biographical gem about a curly six-year-old who ends up with relatives in the countryside after the death of her parents. (Simone lost her parents to AIDS at the age of six and was later raised in her uncle’s house.)

Three or four generations living under one roof or close together, I think that’s great. And you see it less and less.

Just like Lukas Dhont, director girl And CloseThe young Spanish talent initially struggled with high expectations after her debut. But my particularly high expectations had a crippling effect. I haven’t started spinning yet but I already figured it out in my head Summer 1993 It was much better. Just because a script Alkarras which was more difficult to achieve. So stupid, Simone laughs as she leaves her five-month-old for someone else. “Fortunately, things got better once I really got to work and I decided to make the most of it.”

You have won the golden bear. Expectations met, I think.

Carla Simon:The party was very exciting! I almost couldn’t believe it. Chief Justice M. Nate Shyamalan (Manager sixth seance And age or oldeditor) He said he was particularly impressed by the scientist Alkarras calls. So you see that directors can appreciate very different kinds of cinema than the kind of movies they make themselves. Diversity lives. The jury was also apparently surprised when they saw in the credits that the actors were not related (Simon worked with non-professional actors from the region, ed.)..

Lukas Dhont had a great performance at Cannes last year with his second film Closein Venice, Alice Diop fell Saint Omar In the awards: Are there new winds blowing cinema?

Simon: I have a baby now, and I don’t have time to watch every movie, but there have already been some great movies in 2022. The harvest has been good. I get the impression that a new generation of film directors has emerged, yes. The same names are no longer always given. I wonder if that will continue.

Why peaches and not say tomatoes or apples?

Simon: Because my uncles in Karas are engaged in the cultivation of peaches. Fortunately, what happened to the family in the movie didn’t happen to them. The best reason is that peaches need to be picked at the right time. Wait too long and the fruit is wasted. So peach growers are always under heavy pressure at harvest time. You have to plan everything in advance and things can easily go wrong. This seemed very interesting to me. Kemit knows he has to leave the country, but he doesn’t have time to think about it because there is harvesting to do. With a different crop, the stress will be less.

If I understand correctly, many small and medium-sized family farms in Spain are forced to give up. Should action be taken?

Simon: It’s a very complicated matter, but I think you should regulate the price. Surely it is not possible for the cultivation cost price to be higher than what you get in the end? This has already happened more than once. It is hardly profitable. And also because big companies buy all the land and produce a lot so they can keep their prices very low. You need to be able to harvest a lot to survive. Despite the many advantages, small-scale farming is fierce competition.

Are you having difficulty with that?

Simon: yes. You automatically take better and more sustainable care of the piece of land that you inherited from your father and want to bequeath to your children and grandchildren than hectares and hectares of purchased land. It was considered a happy ending for the film. My uncles still grow peaches and I wanted some light and hope. But after many conversations with cultivators, it was obvious that that would be too naive. The way they talk about their work and their communications is heartbreaking. They have lost courage. Sometimes they still pretend, but no longer believe in a good outcome.

You don’t focus so much on Quimet but on the family as a whole.

Simon: Indeed. Alkarras It shows a form of cultivation that is on the verge of disappearing. It seems that the farm as a small family business has no future. I think that’s a shame. We are talking here about the oldest profession in the world. We have been working the earth since prehistoric times.

In this way of farming the way of life also vanishes, with three or four generations living under one roof or very close to each other. I think this is clean. I find that interesting. You learn a lot from the old or the young. You just see it less and less. Now that I’m a mother, it amazes me how motherhood feels even more lonely than it did before. A child in a small family or in a very large family: it makes all the difference.

Also in your first movie Summer 1993 Family ties indeed played an important role.

Simon: Other people have a dim view of family. I advocate for the family as a safe space. You can argue, you can make mistakes or have bad luck, but you will always be able to come back to your family and take care of them. In the movie, a fight ensues because some are willing to work on the solar park. It’s less work, on top of that easier and better paid. Hope you also understand this as a viewer. We deliberately chose solar panels in the story, which is a good and necessary thing in today’s world. Conflicts are not black and white.

The last question. Am I wrong or did you deliberately not focus on the beauty of the landscape?

Simon: That was already conscious. Located in the Catalan far west, Alcarràs is a very flat landscape similar to that of the West. We are trained not to be tempted by the landscape. I wanted an inside look. For that family, that environment is literally every day. Sometimes there were beautiful sunsets, but the camera focused mainly on faces. (Laughs) Almost a shame but it had to be. It’s about family. And a little about peaches.


Now in cinemas.

Carla Simon

Boy On December 22, 1986 in Barcelona.

Brings She spent her childhood in the village of Les Planes d’Hostoles and after the early death of her parents in Garrotxa.

studies in Barcelona, ​​University of California and the London Film School.

Collecting In 2017, she won award after award with her first biographical film Summer 1993.

Wins In 2022 b Alkarras Golden bear in Berlin.

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