More than a century ago, but the Church never annulled marriage, so it could be considered the only approved religious lesbian union. On June 8, 1901, two Galician teachers, Marcela Gracia Ibeas and Elisa Sánchez Loriga, were married in the parish of Dumbría (A Coruña). Marcela and Elisa had met when they were students, had lived together as a couple, and to silence rumors turned Elisa into his late cousin Mario, which the priest of Dumbria thought married a man and a woman. But the gossip continued in Couso, the village where they taught, and they had to flee to Portugal. In Oporto they were arrested on August 16 and with Marcela pregnant they entered prison. Who was the father of the girl who was born on January 6, 1902? It is not known, nor is much more known about the life of the couple in Argentina, where they fled that same year without the baby.
It sounds like material for a great movie. The same thought Isabel Coixet more than ten years ago, when he learned the story on a trip to Galicia from Narciso de Gabriel, a scholar of the case, and author of Elisa and Marcela. Beyond men (Libros del Silencio), Coixet's guide for this trip. Or as the filmmaker assured yesterday at the press conference of Elisa and Marcela at the Berlinale: "I can only say that stories find me, and that I usually focus on strong women because it's the issue I control."
The trip of Elisa and Marcela It has not been easy nor will it be. Coixet carries the script under his arm for a decade. But I could not raise production. For several reasons. One, that on the first page of the booklet clarified that the drama would be shot in black and white: "All the images of the time are black and white, that stopped many producers. Today, however, Rome or Cold War they show that you can succeed in that format. "Second, because of the theme." To whom I told the story it seemed exotic but improbable. Even in France, where I met with some producers, they told me that in Galicia ... In short, my best capacity as a filmmaker lies in my stubbornness. I knew that some day I would film her, and that's how it was. "And Coixet's new drama is receiving attacks by who has paid for it: Netflix. "From the producer, Roder y Rodar, they asked me if they could take the project to Netflix, and they did not dislike the black and white or the theme." The Catalan insists that, at 58 years old, she knows of herself that she is a filmmaker "who works for him". "For me, it's a movie, I never thought about who would pay for it, especially when nobody was interested in it before."
In an open letter to the Berlin festival and to the German Minister of Culture, Several German exhibitors - grouping 160 theaters, most of them art and rehearsal - have asked that the Spanish film be removed from the competition because in Germany it will never be seen on the big screen: it is only guaranteed to be shown in cinemas in Spain (and there is no date yet). Coixet has been as forceful as hurt: "I make films for the big screen.A year before it was over we already knew that in Spain we would go out in cinemas.What is not fair is that the story of these girls, in name of the culture, be eliminated from the competition, I believe in respecting the author, and asking that he not be here is not respecting the author, what if the letter has hurt me, of course, that this is done on behalf of the culture ... Look, the exhibitors do business with what the authors create, so boycotting an author is incoherent, the future will go through coexistence in films on platforms and halls, and things will change with the triumph of Rome at the Oscars. But the letter is a disrespect to the festival, to the production and to me as the author. It hurts that they point us as if we had tried to deceive someone. "By this he meant that the exhibitors thought that in Germany they would also arrive in their halls, as they stress in their letter:" The Berlinale defends the big screen, while Netflix little".
The filmmaker has remembered that her grandmother sold tickets in a cinema. "I grew up in that room myself, and of course I do and the movies are made for big screen, when I see someone watching a film on a tablet, it hurts because I have done it for another place, because I belong to another generation. But at least he's seeing it, I know there were distributors from other countries interested in Elisa and Marcela, and I would like it to have been seen in cinemas in Brazil, where gay marriage is going to be banned. "On the other hand, he thanked the Berlinale for his support:" Here I have lived my worst and my best moments as a filmmaker. I make movies because it is a virus that owns me. In this edition, I thought that this time I had done well when I saw that along with me in the Official section there were other directors such as Lone Scherfig, Agnieszka Holland, whom I adore, or Agnès Varda, which is my vital objective ".
Back to Elisa and Marcela, who has run with very little budget and in just four weeks, his creator, who was accompanied at the press conference by the two actresses, Greta Fernandez and Natalia de Molina, explained: "What interested me most was exploring their relationship, how they discovered the sex between them in 1901, when there was no culture queer... "And as influences, he has recognized two paintings when filming the sexual sequences:" For the moment with the algae I was inspired by the portrait of Maruja Mallo in which she was photographed nude wrapped in seaweed ". the use of an octopus as a sensory element, he said between laughs: "I am a big fan of the octopus, although perhaps not in bed. I was looking for a sensual reference that was not masculine. And I remembered the illustrations of the Japanese Katsushika Hokusai. I just found it funny. "Do you think he has made a political movie?" I am against marriage, but I hope people do what they want. I think that Marcela's sentence is important to the priest, the doctor and the neighbor gossip: 'Why do not they let us live our lives?' All in all, I've never forgotten that this is a movie, not a manifesto. "