COSTA BRAVA (1995)
Desi del Valle, Marta Balletbò-Coll
Marta Balletbó-Coll (b. 1960) exemplifies independent guerrilla film-making. She is a one-woman writing, filming, producing, directing, and promoting army. Perpetually at the mercy of small budget constraints, Balletbó-Coll stars in her own films and gets them made on the proverbial shoestring --she famously filmed Sevigné (2004) in two weeks--, but despite (or because of) this, she has managed to produce three highly personal, inventive, and exciting films. Her protagonists are always good people, trying to get by in a world that was not quite made for them. And one feels that the same may be true of Marta Balletbó-Coll’s unmercenary, honest movies. For this season, we have selecting her wonderful first film, Costa Brava (1995).
Her second film was titled Honey, I Just Sent Men to the Moon (1996). As soon as Balletbó-Coll landed into filmmaking, it was obvious that she came from Planet Marta (and we’ll have you know that Mart is ‘Mars’ in Catalan). She has a unique take on life – on the social challenges, the hard work in relationships, and the restlessness of mind that comes with being a driven but sensitive person. Also, her films show a very untrendy determination to exuberantly embrace a local/national context: from the patios and eateries of Barcelona city, to the spiritual retreat of the weekend-Masias and the cleansing pine-strewn Mediterranean coastline, she is a Catalonian filmmaker, working within her culture for a cosmopolitan audience – without concessions. Her use of three languages in Sevigné, each aligned to a sexual choice, shows her mastery of cultural connotation.
The genre of Drama has been the staple of lesbian films since the 1930s closed the door on bubbly gender-bending farce. Against the grain, Marta Balletbó-Coll’s hilarious tragi-comedies about contemporary clueless lesbianhood have been a wonder to behold, much like a small fleet of shinny spaceships. The fact is that Balletbó-Coll comes to us like an alien ambassador, bringing her intergalactic message of peace: the proof of intelligent life is self-deprecating humor, she tells us. It works a charm, and she always gets the girl. In this sense, Marta Balletbó-Coll is the lesbian Woody Allen (the early, pre-Purple Rose of Cairo Allen), and Costa Brava is her Manhattan. This is a tale of flourishing margins, cultural erotics, and domestic misalignments, protagonised by a noble antihero, perpetually baffled, armed only with a Giggle-ray gun.
Marta Balletbó-Coll’s last film was produced in 2004. It has been far too long. From our little Dublin Film Qlub corner, we would like to humbly beg her to take up the camera again. Three films is not enough. We want more. Three, two, one, Fire!
Dublin Film Qlub 2014
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