Javier García Caballero, director of the Murcia European Fantastic Film Festival El Sombra, explains that he has had a close friendship with Óscar Martín and Elena Muñoz from the El Ojo Mecánico production company for some time. What the genre’s main contests have to kick in is eventually making friends (in the plural). And this phrase—in parentheses—is not trivial, for when we speak of them, Amigo (in the singular, italic, and capital ‘a’) implies something greater than the Murcian benefactor. That’s the name of the movie that put them on the map in 2019. Starring David Pareja and the much sought-after Javier Botet, the film, which is somewhere between (dark) comedy and (horror) thriller, showered those responsible with awards; Among the awards is, by the way, the film that recognizes the Best Film of the García Caballero festival in its 2020 edition.
“This is a film that has broken countless records at both national and international awards and has just been released in North America, which is extremely complex for a project like this,” says Murcian (referring to its independent status). cinema and limited facilities). The thing is, Sombra’s director has a flair for cinema – he amply proved it with his twelfth upcoming festival – and as such he has long known the potential of Martín and Muñoz. “They were finishing up Cheerleader and one day while they were eating they said, ‘So what are you going to do now?’ I said. They told me they didn’t know, and I invited them to shape a new project, and once they got it, we would sit down and see it together,” he recalls. After a while, they presented him with the first version of Upiro, and I—he’s in a hurry to tell it—I said: ‘This story is great. Let’s do this’.”
The project has won several international festival victories, already has the participation of Javier Botet and has already received minimal funding.
It’s clear: El Ojo Mecánico knew how to weave the fibers of producer García Caballero—not to be confused with his direction as director of Sombra—and it was inspired not only by a story set in the Zone, but also by a chilling legend of Calasparra. “They met him one day while filming a commercial there and were really impressed. It speaks of the existence of a creature of uncertain origin and characteristics that roamed around the Santuario de la Esperanza in the 18th century,” explains Murcian, deeply involved in this production thanks to a recently established entity, Fundación Sombra, with the goal of creating high-quality audio-visual products and developing with artists. That’s one of our first approaches,” he explains.
Although García Caballero prefers not to reveal too much about the plot, the title of the movie already gives some clues. And this Old Slavonic word comes from the Cyrillic term “upyr” (“leech”), which was phonetically confused with the Anglo-Saxon “vopyr” in the mid-17th century, giving rise to a much more familiar word. Word for 21st century audiences. : ‘Vampire’. In addition, we already have a brief but illuminating first official summary: «A young woman is confined to the convent in Calasparra, where she discovers that several apprentices appear to be bleeding. A Franciscan scholar in alchemical and esoteric studies investigates dark events, but his methods will clash with prevailing scientific thought in the Age of Enlightenment.
This cleric is none other than Father Antonio Rubís, whom many in the town still remember, according to Óscar Martín and Elena Muñoz; strange events about himself and his death. And there are writings supporting this Franciscan’s existence and his particular obsession with the “legend of bleeding and the dead resurrected by it” (according to an 1810 document). It seems that Rubís has done a slow job for years looking for a potion that can cure all sorts of ailments and prolong life. He found a vital source of pulse in human blood, some said it allowed him to attain eternal youth,” they detail in the Upiro file.
García Caballero details that the film will conceptually constitute a “confrontation between reason and folkloric myths” and cites a classic such as The Name of the Rose (Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1986). And the thing is, the premise convinced not only the director of the Shadow Foundation, but also international producers. «We shot a promotional film outside the sanctuary built over an ancient cave and showcased it in some of the main markets in the industry: at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival (Belgium), at the International Fantasy Film Festival in Bucheon (South Korea), Buenos Aires’ one at the (Argentina) Blood Window and of course in Sitges. We won the Best International Project award for the last two, and an honorable mention at the Blood Window”, says Murcian.
And this means, for example, that not only will Upiro be presented at Cannes, but it already has “about 70% of the funds”. And we’re talking about a project that expects to manage a budget of about one and a half million euros, which is almost never seen before in the Region: Joaquín Carmona’s movie with Fernando “The closest thing Últimas volunteers” Tejero as the hero has been in the community for the past few months. shooting. Because while the intention of Upiro’s staff, who will once again recruit Botet, is, of course, to shoot at the Sanctuary of Hope, the Foundation’s Stewardship, which runs the space, said, “Until now, no one has contacted us regarding this issue.” Fulgen Sánchez, the head of this institution, recalled in this post that they “had no problem” leaving their facilities to the Upiro team to develop the teaser in question, “because the registration was due in the coming days. tower and in some places and the hermitage will not go out ».
In this context, the producer of the film is clear: “Not only Calasparra, but the Region has a great opportunity to do something that raises it nationally and internationally as a cinematographic medium, because the first thing to sell this land is García Caballero, referring to the Murcian Film Commission’s recent presentation. says it’s about making movies on a movie set. In any case, the director of Fundación Sombra, for his part, assures that they are in talks with the city council to have the shooting here, which is estimated to take at least a month and will involve 150 people.
Even so, with that question still in the air, Upiro is upfront about his future: “The movie will be made, you can be sure of that.” In fact, Murcian announced that he was involved in the project of a major Belgian production company, which gave the team the definitive support they needed. “There are barely a few funding areas to finish identifying, but the projections are that we can start recording in November 2023,” said García Caballero. They just have to decide where to put their cameras. Of course – as shown earlier – their preferences are clear. “For now,” he adds, “we’ve been talking about Calasparra all over the world for six months.”
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