Alcarràs, Carla Simón's Golden Bear winner, is a powerful and nostalgic portrait of a family of peach farmers in rural Catalonia
With only two feature films, Carla Simón has proven to be one of the most exciting voices in Spanish cinema today. Her deeply personal autobiographical debut, Summer 1993, showed extraordinary sensitivity, and her poignant Golden Bear winner, Alcarràs, follows a similar path by returning to the rural landscapes that shaped the filmmaker’s childhood, capturing them through a melancholic lens.
The film, based on her own family and named after the tiny village in Catalonia where it's set, focuses on the Solés, a clan of peach farmers facing their last harvest after decades of working the land. The territory will soon be taken from them, their beautiful peach orchards to be inexorably replaced by solar panels. Their lifestyle no longer has a place in a world of technology and mass production.
These changing times are filmed with incisive precision and nostalgia. The characters in Alcarràs, even when they rebel, know there’s nothing they can do: it’s the end of an era. Their frustration and anger are portrayed with subdued resignation. Everything flows slowly as the summer inevitably ends, and Simón follows each member of the family’s journey with great narrative ambition. There are many characters, yet every subplot is finely balanced and adds depth to the main storyline.
Alcarràs is a labour of love – a moving, delicate piece of intense observational power. Simón’s committed ode to the land, with its naturalistic style and depiction of a rural lifestyle, is also a warning: moving forward doesn’t necessarily mean leaving tradition behind.
Alcarràs screens 9 & 10 Oct at London Film Festival; following the closure of Filmhouse, check Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival socials for details of 13 Oct screening