Malaga Competition Title ‘Nina’ Goes International Via Filmax

Filmax has acquired international rights to Spanish thriller “Nina,” the new feature written and directed by Andrea Jaurrieta (“Ana by Day”) that bows at this week’s Málaga Film Festival as one of its higher profile titles in main competition.

Loosely based on the play of the same name by José Ramón Fernández, which borrows elements of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” “Nina” tells the story of a woman, an actress, who returns to her home town on Spain’s rugged northern coast seeking to take revenge on a celebrated writer. As she encounters past acquaintances, including a once close childhood friend, and faces dark memories, she begins to question whether vengeance is the only way forward.

More from Variety

“Nina” stars Goya-winning actress Patricia López Arnaiz (“Ane is Missing”) as the titular character and San Sebastián Silver Shell winner Darío Grandinetti, famed for his performance in Pedro Almodovar’s “Talk to Her,” as the writer, Pedro (inspired by “The Seagull” character of Boris Trigorin).

Speaking to Variety, Jaurrieta says she identified with the atmosphere of Fernández’s story — returning to the town and the broken dreams of the two lost characters.

“I read it when I was trying to make my first film ‘Ana By Day’ and I saw very clearly that there was the germ of my next story. However, being inspired by the original characters of Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull,’ there was something that I did not identify with: In both works Nina returned to her place of origin after having been systematically mistreated by Trigorin/Pedro in the city, and yet she expressed that she was still in love and that this suffering had made her a better actress. That was where I decided to give the story another twist and ask myself: What if Nina had really returned to take revenge?”

“’Nina’ is an ambitious film in terms of its mise en scène, where the balance is struck between realism and formal stylization,” Jaurrieta points out. “It takes its inspiration from classic movies and from Westerns, as well as from other, more poetic films in which the image speaks louder than words.”

She adds: “Without a doubt the biggest references in my film have been classic Westerns, especially ‘Johnny Guitar’ by Nicholas Ray and ‘Duel in the Sun’ by King Vidor. Both with a strong influence of melodrama and very strong female characters. Also Park Chan Wook and his ‘Lady Vengeance’. I could talk about Douglas Sirk in the use of colors and staging, about Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo,’ about Juan Antonio Bardem’s ‘Calle Mayor’… In short, ‘Nina’ is a film that supposedly looks towards the genre, purely cinematographic and especially classic cinema.”

“Nina” is produced by BTeam Prods. (“Schoolgirls”), Icónica Producciones (“The Motive”), Irusoin (“The Endless Trench”) and Lasai Producciones (“Ana By Day”) with participation from ETB, Movistar Plus+, Filmin, HBO Max and Vodafone TV and financing from ICAA, the Basque government, the autonomous region of Madrid and the government of Navarra.

“Jaurrieta’s stylish and exciting vengeance thriller is a rare blend of a very personal, remarkable voice voice and a gripping, very entertaining cinematic experience for a broad audience,” says BTeam’s Alex Lafuente. “We are thrilled to be presenting the film in Málaga for the first time and to be backed internationally by our colleagues at Filmax.”

Iván Díaz, Filmax’s head of international, added: “We’re thrilled to be back working with BTeam, a company that always brings us projects from very interesting directors, many of whom lately have been female. It is also a pleasure to work with the other production companies, all of whom are friends of ours and often behind much of the quality cinema that comes out of Spain.

“We believe ‘Nina’ to be a special project, especially for its highly unique and interesting aesthetic, a belief our clients shared after seeing the first promo at the EFM in Berlin. The actors really shine in this disturbing story, which we are sure will travel very well internationally.”

“Nina” is also screening as part of Malaga’s Spanish Screenings industry event.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.