Director Elena Tara, Not Alone Producers, Talk ‘Ripli’

In an apartment, Ángeles keeps solemn company with her despair. Neurodivergent and in search of sanctuary, she finally escapes into a western video game and embarks on an emotional adventure between reality and the virtual world that seduces her.

Ripli marks the feature film debut of Madrid-based director Elena Tara, whose tender debut short Ella Muerta De Frio. Yo Calada Hasta Los Huesos” secured her the Best Director award at the 2020 New York International Film Festival’s Revolution Me for New Directors.

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An ECAM graduate, she took part in this year’s Incubator, Madrid’s prestigious development program that nurtures emerging Spanish talent. Goya Prize-winning Spanish director Enrique Urbizu (“No Rest For The Wicked”) acted as a mentor, and with that helpful nudge, Tara crafted a version of the screenplay that she’s keen to develop further.

The final narrative incorporates a slant towards genre filmmaking, with the video game element taking center stage, but Tara emphasized, “My suggestion from the start was to do something much more naïve, more innocent on a formal level.” She added: “The genre aspect is a vehicle to tell this story, but only that; just as the western motif appears, but it is not a western.”

The film attempts to destigmatize mental illness, and as the protagonist finds herself attracted to the game’s odd title character, the weighty discourse unravels.

“It’s the story of someone who needs to accept themselves and stop judging. I continue to discuss what I’ve discussed in all of my short films: how to naturalize and integrate the violence of the system in such a way that we use it against ourselves in a way that hasn’t been talked about in the way it should be,” explained Tara.

Produced by Eva Moreno and Cristina Urgel, the founders of Not Alone Productions from Spain, the project is currently in the fundraising phase.

“We are trying to find a co-producer for the project. Our idea would be to start development and support next year, with a view to funding and filming through 2024,” Moreno said

The pair doesn’t just focus on the filmmaking, they focus on the overall development, guiding the directors through the concept.

“It’s like we have two lines of business: we are development experts and we advise on projects. On the other hand, we produce. Our contribution to co-production is that we take care of the development, which is an important and forgotten part of the projects,” said Urgel

“When you cut a cake into pieces, the production is that little piece and the development is huge, it’s always the biggest piece,” Moreno added.

Selected from 270 projects, “Ripli” should attract worldwide attention and cause a stir on the film market.

“Thanks to the ECAM incubator, we were selected for the Focus Copro in Cannes. We were also able to experience the Cannes Festival there for the first time. We sense that ‘Ripl’ is also of international interest,” says Urgel.

Moreno concluded: “Everything since then has been further confirmation that the project is interesting and that we need to keep working on it.”

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