‘Madres Paralelas’ Has One of the Most ‘Difficult Characters I’ve Ever Played’

  • “Madres Paralelas,” starring Penelope Cruz,” opened the Venice Film Festival Wednesday.
  • “It was an honor to be part of something so important,” Cruz told Insider along with other journalists. 
  • “Madres Paralelas,” along with other films this week, could be big awards season contenders.

The 78th Venice Film Festival opened Wednesday with a new film from one of European cinema’s stalwarts: Pedro Almodóvar. “Madres Paralelas,” starring Oscar-winner Penelope Cruz, debuted on the lido following the opening ceremony.

The Spanish master’s 23rd feature film follows the story of two women whose lives become fiercely connected after a chance meeting at a hospital where they are both due to give birth. 

“I think this is one of the most difficult characters I’ve ever played but it has allowed me to learn a lot about myself,” Cruz told journalists during a press conference before the film’s premiere. 

“‘Madres Paralelas’ was an overwhelming journey, and a gift,” she added. “It was an honor to be part of something so important.”

A picture of the cast of "Madres Paralelas" at Venice Film Festival.

The cast of “Madres Paralelas” at Venice Film Festival.

Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

Almodóvar — who made his debut at Venice in 1983 with “The Indiscreet Charm of Sin” — will compete for the festival’s prestigious Golden Lion against a mix of old and new Hollywood talent.

The veteran US writer-director Paul Schrader debuts his new film “The Card Counter,” starring Oscar Isaac and Tiffany Haddish, on the Lido later this week and New Zealand director Jane Campion has brought “The Power of the Dog,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst, her first film in over a decade, to the festival.

Chilean director Pablo Larrain’s new film “Spencer,” starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana will premiere alongside actor-turned-director Maggie Gyllenhaal’s star-studded adaption of Elena Ferrante’s “The Lost Daughter,” featuring Olivia Colman and Dakota Johnson.

Many of these films will likely feature heavily in the upcoming awards season since three of the last four best picture Oscar winners won the top prize at Venice.

Although the festival has become Hollywood’s unofficial European launchpad, these films will also face a film industry in deep flux due to the effects of COVID-19. Denis Villeneuve’s highly anticipated “Dune” remake, starring Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet, which debuts out of competition in Venice on Friday, will be given a controversial simultaneous release on HBO and in theaters later this year. 

A picture of Bong Joon Ho and Chloe Zhao.

Bong Joon Ho and fellow jury member Chloe Zhao.

Ernesto Ruscio / Getty Images

Venice Film Festival proved that cinema is still being largely impacted by COVID-19

“Parasite” filmmaker Bong Joon Ho, who is this year’s jury president in charge of awarding the Golden Lion, said the lingering pandemic be hard on creatives.

“Filmmakers had a tough year because of the pandemic, but looking back it was a test for cinema,” he told journalists at the festival’s launch. “As a filmmaker, I don’t think cinema can be stopped so easily: cinema will always survive.”

While the festival has largely launched without much COVID-19 related disruption, there were signs of a changing festival circuit throughout the first day on the Lido.

Early on the first day of festival-going, Deadline reported that a screening of “Madres Paralelas” began without its full complement of ticket holders, who were stuck in long lines due to COVID-19 and security checks.

A picture of queues at the Venice Film Festival.

Queues at the Venice Film Festival.

Zac Ntim/Insider.

The festival requires all attendees to display either a negative COVID-19 test 48 hours prior to their visit or a European Green Card (Vaccine passport) or its international equivalent.

When Insider arrived on the Lido hours later, lines to enter the festival were still long with very little social distancing in practice although mask-wearing in festival venues is mandatory.

Insider will be on the ground at Venice Film Festival all week. Have a tip? Email zntim@insider.com.

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