Latido Swoops on Goya Winner Arantxa Echevarria’s Coming-Of-Age Drama ‘Chinas’ (EXCLUSIVE)

“Chinas,” the third feature from Spanish writer-director Arantxa Echevarria, who won the Goya for best new director in 2018 for her Debut, “Carmen & Lola,” has been acquired for international sales by Latido Films (“Cinco Lobitos”).

Filmed in Madrid’s Chinatown, the narrative follows two disparate families with ties to China, navigating the weighty segregation of a city that for better or worse, they call home.

“These neighborhoods allow immigrants to weave networks of solidarity and community. They cling to them as part of their own identity away from home, but they also become spaces that distance them from the true reality of where they live” Echevarria told Variety

Yun is nine, a second-generation immigrant whose family lives in the neighborhood, she calls herself Lucía and oscillates between a strict and traditional homelife and an assimilated Spanish life at school. While Claudia, her 17-year-old sister, rebels fully, coming into her own while met with prejudice from peers and increasing self-doubt.

“Adolescence is an extremely fragile time. We want to rebel, to find our own place. And in that moment of fragility, we’re also hyper-exposed to the world, to the gaze of friends, the boy we like. At that moment where we’re in a feverish search, life can be cut short,” Echevarria noted.  

“Claudia hates what she is, where she comes from, because it makes her different. She hates and loves being Chinese. Being like the others means betraying her own reality. That journey was so interesting to me that her character began to take more shape and presence in the film. After all, Lucía’s light and smile, with time, will become the grim and serious nature of her sister” she added.

Across town, the plot introduces Xiang, Lucia’s new schoolmate adopted from China raised by  parents who stop at nothing to include her heritage in her upbringing, even when she abhors it, while showering her with the best of their fortunate social status, a life Lucía covets. 

Both girls, young and the product of their fragile surroundings, take on their parents’ struggles while simply seeking a carefree childhood in a world that seems to have pre-determined their fate, a theme that persists throughout the film.

“I’m afraid that the education and love received from our family creates who we become. School can shape us, help us to escape from the internalized education of childhood, but the customs, the rigor, the good and bad are determined for us by our parents,” Echevarria noted.“Our inner desires, longings, and dreams are easily buried under the incessant trickle of what’s expected of us.”

Produced by Lazona Producciones (“Spanish Affair”), Hojalata Films and TVTEC Servicios Audiovisuales, the film is set for release this year with a cast comprised of non-professional actors who provide richness to the script, a heartfelt rendering of the demoralizing way in which self-imposed and societal prejudice clings to a psyche.

“I usually write about sensations and feelings that I know, even if they take place in a space that’s foreign to me, ” Echevarria said. “The search for identity, the heartbreak of not knowing where you come from and knowing that you’re not the same as the people around you, is a feeling that I’ve experienced and felt on my own skin.”

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