Pepa goes out to party, calls her boyfriend at dawn, takes drugs, drinks, dances, comes back in the morning with her face worn out from the night and her roommate kicks her out of the house. Her and her six-year-old daughter. Along the but (which opens on July 16), the Barcelona director Júlia de Paz shows that the protagonist “is not a bad mother”. “This definition is related to the imposition of a maternity built by a system that seeks that we are the caregivers, that we lose all identity and our personal space. It causes us to live in continuous frustration, even if we decide not to be mothers. For me, it is a concept that comes from this patriarchal and capitalist system “, criticizes the debutante, who at 26 years of age reflects the” feeling of guilt “that squeezes these women.
The role of Pepa is played by Tamara Casellas (Seville, 35 years old) with dyed red hair, fake tattoos and a cocky and impulsive attitude. Both, director and actress, sitting in a Madrid cafeteria, talk to this newspaper about the fact that some viewers reject the protagonist and fail to wonder where the father is. “These people should be asked why they judge their mother,” the actress proposes. “We are not used to seeing a mother like this, our models are very idealized mothers and here Pepa does not fulfill this stereotype, she does not wax and has a non-normative body,” says De Paz.
The theme and structure of but looks like a Roof and food, a film by Juan Miguel del Castillo that was one of De Paz’s inspirations. It differs, among other things, in that in but the mother shows that unruly and provocative spirit. “Roof and food it focuses more on external conflicts, on how difficult the system makes it, and here we focus on the relationship ”, he summarizes the comparison with the story with which Natalia de Molina won the Goya for best female lead in 2016.
Pepa looks for her way, learns to forgive herself, to accept herself and to break a family bond of misunderstanding that remained strong from generation to generation. “She doesn’t have a reference either. She does not know how to act until she is aware that she has felt abandoned. In the end, she realizes that the only one who has not left her is her daughter, ”says Casellas. Solitude surrounds Pepa as she walks through the city, Benidorm, a place that sells false entertainment and hides precarious working conditions. “It is a hostile place. In the job that she has [vende entradas de discoteca] a criticism of tourism is intrinsic: What profession can be chosen in such a situation? ”, wonders the Andalusian.
The oasis is the sea. “For her, water is purification”, defines the actress, and the director points out that she is one more character: “It is that personal space that women, when they are mothers, are required to lose.” The other reason is that the director is from the coast, that the research process began in a maritime city and they wanted to find a space that resembles it. “but It was born because I had to do my final degree project at the Escuela Superior de Cine y Audiovisuales (ESAC) and I sat down with Nuria Dunjó, the co-screenwriter. We wanted to do a process of healing and intimate exploration of regret and abandonment. I came across Orna Donath’s book called Repentant mothers, and we realized that it was linked to our two ideas ”. They spoke with psychologists, with social educators and with a man who was abandoned at seven years. From there a short came out, and at the Ibicine festival in Ibiza, it won an award for becoming a feature film.
While De Paz was preparing the script, he listened to the cañeros songs of the Cordovan rapper Gata Cattana, who died in 2017 at the age of 26 due to a shock anaphylactic. That company brought it to the screen: that music committed to social causes haunts Pepa when she goes from one place to another, with her daughter holding her arm. “Using Cattana’s themes is a political decision. She was exemplary: singer, poet, artist, militant. His mother helped, gave us that beautiful song, with love ”, he refers to The proof. Casellas also likes the rapper’s writings and encourages people to approach this poetry because it shows “one image after another.”
“The rich and the poor do not love in the same way / The poor love with their hands. / The poor love in the flesh and with gluttony, / in the worst pictures, / in famished conditions and with / everything against them “, writes the author Cattana (actually called Ana Isabel García Llorente) in her poem Hands. “In the film we talk about social classes, which influence the way of loving and facing motherhood,” says the director, and considers that there are things that are not chosen, that come from the base and we must learn to treat them: “We have done This is to tell our mothers that they have done well, that they do not have to take responsibility for the bad things that happen to us. It is to tell the moms that it is not their fault; we also decide ”.