‘La Maternal’, by Pilar Palomero, a courageous mother of today

Pilar Palomero never deceives the viewer. Her latest work practically begins with her protagonist, a 14-year-old girl, between infancy and adolescence, cycling downhill. The easiest way to cross any barrier that arises with the necessary momentum. Everything seems simple and attainable at that age. Carla is the new generation that wants to impose itself: empowered, fearless and wanting to take on the world.

Carla will soon find out that the route is full of accidents. Of course, the most serious, or in any case, those that leave more sequels, are those that occur at an early age. You have to drag them and assume them for the rest of your life.

The protagonist is in an adolescence, which she will lose in a matter of months, by becoming a single mother, at the age of 14. Based on the conversations and encounters that the filmmaker has kept from the situations of many women in the same case as hers, Pilar Palomero writes a choral, realistic and summary story of all of them. There is not a single film, several coexist inside it. Just like in that center for minors where she welcomes her, already several months pregnant.

The debut filmmaker has also disappeared. There is no longer any doubt about the staging and directing of Pilar Palomero’s actresses. The camera moves when agitation is necessary, and it also freezes to become a witness to a reality that, although hidden from a society that looks at it with contempt, is more than necessary to tell. It is fiction and documentary. It is unpredictable, like life itself.

‘The Maternal’

The cast of actresses, all of them (Carla Quílez, Àngela Cervantes, Olga Hueso, Gal-la Sabaté and Neus Pàmies), convey such honesty and truthfulness to their characters that they seem to jump off the screen. With her interpretations, not only does she talk about today’s women, but also the relationships between them and their mothers, or the role of the man (in which the absence says much more than the presence of him).

At this point, having seen more than half of the official selection in competition, the possibilities of a very Iberian list of winners are increasing. There are many possibilities that Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese will be heard next Saturday night. We couldn’t be happier.

Pilar Palomero never deceives the viewer. ‘La Maternal’ closes with Carla, after losing her adolescence to go straight to middle age, riding an uphill bike. With enough energy and courage to climb it. With a lot of effort, but without difficulty.

Official Section 70th San Sebastian Film Festival

Original title: The Maternal. Direction and script: Pilar Palomero. Photography: Julian Elizalde. Distribution: Carla Quílez, Àngela Cervantes, Jordan Dumes, Pepe Lorente, Olga Hueso, Rubén Martínez, Gal-la Sabaté, Neus Pàmies. Duration: 100 min. Country: Spain (2022). Distributor: BTeam Films.

Synopsis: Carla is 14 years old and is a defiant and rebellious young woman. She lives in an old roadside restaurant on the outskirts of a town with her young single mother while she skips class and spends the hours with her friend Efraín de Ella. When the social worker realizes that she is five months pregnant, Carla enters ‘La Maternal’, a center for underage mothers where she shares her daily life with other young women like her. Together with their babies, they will face this new world of adults for which they have not had time to prepare.


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