The novel La vida sense la Sara Amat (Life without Sara Amat) by Pep Puig has proved to be an inspiring story for Isona Passola (Barcelona, 1953). In 2015, she was part of the literary jury that awarded it the Sant Jordi novel award. In 2019, she produced its film adaptation, directed by Laura Jou, and on Monday March 28 TV3 premiered her first series ’Cucut’, which she created and produced and which continues the story. A year after leaving the presidency of the Catalan Film Academy, and taking over the Ateneu Barcelonès cultural organisation, Isona Passola has more time and energy to devote to audiovisual production.
What did you see in ‘Life Without Sara Amat’ to suggest Laura direct the film and to make it your first TV series?
I was on the jury of the Sant Jordi novel award; it was a time when the film budgets were low. I liked this story about teenagers, and as I had seen Laura Jou direct the kids in ’Pa negre’, I proposed it to her. She worked as a coach for young actors and she also did ’Un monstre em ve a veure’. She seemed to me the right person to do it.
The series is your original idea. How come you saw continuity in this story?
I took the movie to the Cannes television festival to show it to my regular French and German partners. They said there were some amazing actors and encouraged me to take the story further. I wondered how I could do that; since the girl ran away and the boy was in love with her, I thought he should chase after her. But I didn’t just want to do an entertainment series, I wanted to go deeper and show how a young girl can find herself at a certain moment when a series of problems overwhelm her. Everything that can happen to a disoriented young girl comes out in the series. Although it’s told as a thriller and is entertainment, it touches on background issues that really concern young people, such as suicide.
Do you think it might be of particular interest to young people?
It appeals to many audiences because it’s narrated as a thriller and because it’s not true that youth issues only interest young people. Just as it’s not true that adult issues are only of interest to adults. Well-explained stories interest everyone.
The series begins with the discovery of the body of an unidentified girl and the police investigation. Do you think that the popularity of ’Crims’ can help?
It’s a very fictional series. Photography, costumes, music... everything is from the eighties. It’s very different from ’Crims’. There’s a corpse in every detective movie and crime novel. It’s a fiction series like so many others are. In a way, it’s true the other way around, ’Crims’ has drawn on fiction to reconstruct real facts about crimes, and that’s why it’s so catchy.
What’s your life like after leaving the Catalan Film Academy and you are now the head of the Ateneu Barcelonès? Will you produce more?
Yes, I’m preparing a movie. The Academy was an experience at a very difficult time; I had to dedicate a lot of energy and time to it because the situation of Catalan cinema was disastrous. It looks like things are getting a little better and I’m very happy about that. The pandemic has shown the need for our own audiovisual content. There’s no nation without a powerful audiovisual sector. We have so much to offer, as we saw in the latest Gaudí awards, and now we need to make it work. If you look at the credits of Madrid productions, they are full of Catalans. The Ateneu is fantastic, not least its building and garden. But it’s about culture in general: literature, poetry, visual arts, philosophy... I’m delighted. Yet being head of the Ateneu doesn’t stop me from producing. I’d really like to produce films that will remain.
interview film & TV series