Mar Coll, keeping promises

Mar Coll

© Carles Rodríguez
Mar Coll

Her letter of introduction to the world of the silver screen, Tres dies amb la família (Three Days with the Family), came out in 2010 and positioned her as one of the most promising new directors in Catalan cinema. It was a magnificent opera prima with which film-maker Mar Coll (born in Barcelona in 1981) became accustomed to outstanding reviews and awards: the Gaudí Award for best director, the Goya Award for best new director and the Silver Biznaga for best director at the Malaga Film Festival… Her love of cinema began at an early age although, rather than directing, what she really wanted then was to be in front of the camera as an actress. “It wasn’t until a few years later that I seriously thought about working in film in one way or another” she says. “I saw it as a job with no routine, where every day would be different and I would get to meet new people all the time. A lifestyle that would satisfy me much more than working nine to five in an office.”

She emerged from that boundless cinematographic talent factory, ESCAC (the School of Cinema and Audiovisual Studies of Catalonia), and as she finished the final year of her degree, she decided to write a script. By pure coincidence, at the same time ESCAC was setting up an Opera Prima project so that novice directors could shoot their first feature film. Mar Coll left for Mexico and worked on the plot for one year. She was selected. “I was so lucky. I was in just the right place at the right time. If I hadn’t been at the school and the Opera Prima project hadn’t come about, it would have been so much harder for me to make the film. Shooting a film can be a bit of an odyssey, but in my case all I had to do was present the script.”

The film is about lack of communication within the family and is based on a personal experience: “When I was starting to look for a subject, my grandfather died. I realised this could be a good beginning, because it gave structure to the story. The plot wasn’t too elaborate and it was easy to develop because I just had to focus on the events experienced by the family over the three days of the wake. It’s nothing new; there are thousands of films with a plot based on a wedding or a funeral.” But, as she points out, although there are certain echoes of her own life, the characters and situations in the film are not real. “I might have stolen a detail here and there, but the purpose was not to portray my family, although they were curious, and even nervous, to see what it was about.”

Mar Coll is currently working on her second feature film, Geni, starring actress Nora Navas, winner of a Goya for her role in Pa negre (Black Bread) alongside other familiar faces from Catalan stage and screen, such as Clara Segura and Àgata Roca. The film tells the story of a married woman who faces changes in her life that alter her relationships with her family and friends.

Oriol Rodríguez


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