A priori Sylvia Platt and Belen Esteban have nothing in common. These two women are almost antagonistic. One example of a recognized writer whose work has survived the passage of time. Second, famous for telling his life on television and making other people’s lives. If one abandons superstitions, one can find more than one similarity between them, not only because they were both seduced by Benidorm, but because they may even be two sides of the same coin. The two women had toxic relationships that buried them until they couldn’t take it anymore. Platt killed himself. Esteban divorced and exposed the shame of her ex-husband, a celebrity at the time who seemed untouchable in the gossip magazines.
They are two fighters, each in their own way. Each at a different time and in a different social status. Belen Esteban was always looked down upon, as if she had to apologize for being famous in the neighborhood, while Isabelle Preisler was never questioned. A meeting between the two was imagined by director Marian Anton Cabot in Soc vertical pero m’agraria ser horizontal, a short film of just under 40 minutes that was presented at the Seville Film Festival in the New Waves section. Antón Cabot is part of the collective ‘lacasinegra’, whose member is Elena López Riera, who recently surprised with his first feature film, El Agua.
The idea of their union arose when they discovered a common element that is Benidorm, an element that also unites them with the director born in the city of Alicante. In 2007, a professor at Marian Anton University conducted a study on Silvia Plath’s stay in Benidorm. It was news and everyone bought the book. This led him to unite in his mind with Belen Esteban, who was not born there either, but who always had a very close relationship with the city and always said so on any set. “He came all his life, from adolescence. I met Jesuline there, her mother lives there and over the years she has always been very protective of Benidorm and she talks about Benidorm in her biography, ambitions and reflections. For example, one day he said in Save Me that he threw the ashes on the cross, which you see in the short film, and suddenly everyone went to throw the ashes on the cross and the city council had to say, “Hey, stop. It’s not a cemetery, it’s a cross that’s here. It was like a fantasy for me to bring together two completely different people,” says the director from Seville.
Once she had the idea, the question was obvious: who could bring to life the “people’s princess”, the image that we all have in our heads and that is constantly circulating on television and in magazines. The choice is surprisingly unexpected. Ruth Gabriel (Days Are Numbered), dyes her hair blonde and dons a yellow swimsuit to stroll the beaches of Benidorm, which has been transformed into La Esteban. He doesn’t imitate him, that would be suicide, but he tries to capture his essence and strip him of his mask so that people can see the person behind him. The idea is to see how these women shed their characters in front of a stranger, in which they portray themselves, and finally show themselves as they really are, in a cityscape full of neon lights, urban nonsense and motorized carts.
The actor remembers a call from his representative in the middle of the pandemic: “I’m sending you an email, please read it with an open mind.” In the mail was a proposal for a short film. “Obviously it had to be done, it had to be tried and, above all, it was a challenge, but Maria knows that I was very scared, because at the end of the day she is a woman that everyone knows. There are those who adore him. Some people can’t stand it. There are those who aren’t even and those who aren’t… But there’s a very human part that we worked on that was very attractive to me, which is a person who always shows a mask to the world. We wanted to show that moment where you don’t have to explain yourself to someone and be much more authentic. It is a story of complicity between two women who look at each other and feel at home, comfortable,” explains the actress.
The director and the translator recognize that both are two sides of the same coin. Two women escape the shadow of a man who is suffocating them, and they do so with the resources they have. “The resources that Sylvia Platt had are not the same as Belen Esteban now. Both are very open with their feelings, both are very open, but in Belen’s case there is an anger to live and fight for her place and her place, which I think is also what she did that she did. It’s such an admirable character because somehow it’s contagious. It seemed that he would be thrown away the most, because he was thrown away by separation, and he creates his own character, his own history, his ways of life. And that’s why it was very interesting for me to do this woman and from this point of view. The proposal turned out to be very attractive on an acting level, it was sweet for me,” adds Ruth Gabriel.
Anton Cabot adds that both broke barriers because “they were both very clearly used.” But I also wanted to show a meeting between two people where there was no interest or power relationship, “just meeting the other, how wonderful it is to be able to meet someone without being sexually attracted or anything, just without desire. To meet a person, to be there and see the wonder that occurs.” “I really like two people coming together, the worlds created by that. When you see Pedro Sánchez with Macron, I think, but that’s great, I want to see what they’re doing, what they’re talking about…” he laughs.
He met Belen in Benidorm because he is a customer of his brother’s store and knows about the project. They initially contacted and passed on the script, but have not heard back since, although they are looking forward to seeing it. A short that is also a love letter to his city, usually abused, and with which he wants to “collaborate a little with the imagination of the city and show another Benidorm without clichés”. Something that unites him with filmmakers of his generation, such as López Riera or Chema García Ibarra, for whom accents and cities mark the personality of their proposals, personal and far from the clichés that now mark platforms.
Source: El Diario