A year of filming in Catalonia


With all the major film award ceremonies like the Gaudís and the Goyas over, now is a good time to look back and review the films and TV series filmed in Catalonia and released in 2022.

It was probably the best year for film in Catalonia for over a decade. Some 38 feature films and 16 TV series were released in cinemas and on digital platforms, a significant enough figure in itself, but if we look at it from the point of view of revenue made or awards obtained, it is even more spectacular.

Of the 20 Catalan and Spanish films that grossed the most in cinemas, six were shot in Catalonia. In third place we find Los renglones torcidos de Dios, the adaptation of the novel of the same name by Torcuato Luca de Tena, without doubt the Spanish thriller of the year. Included in the film’s great achievements are the two locations that make the psychiatric hospital of Nuestra Señora de Fuentecilla a suffocating yet elegant and attractive space. The imposing Tabacalera building in Tarragona was the location chosen to set the hospital’s exteriors, and for the interiors it was the old Mercedes Benz factory in the Bon Pastor neighbourhood of Barcelona (closed since 2007).

Another production in the box office top ten and which, in addition, has already won 24 awards, including five Goyas, is Modelo 77, a prison drama inspired by the real escape of 45 inmates from the now closed Barcelona prison in 1977. Although the interior shots of the prison (cells, galleries and basement) were recreated in a disused artillery factory in Seville, the real Model prison appears in many of the sequences, including the infamous riot with inmates protesting on one of the roofs.

And what can we say about the phenomenon of the year, Alcarràs, winner of the prestigious Golden Bear of Berlin, Spanish Film Academy candidate for the Oscars 2023 and winner of many Gaudí awards? Carla Simón’s film meant that a production in the Catalan language was among the 10 highest-grossing Spanish films of the year, something which has not occurred since 2011, with Pa negre by the deceased Agustí Villaronga. As many as nine Lleida towns appear in the film: Massalcoreig – where the Solé family farmhouse is located – Alcarràs and Aitona, Soses, Maials, Sucs, Bellvís, Montoliu de Lleida and Fraga.

Other feature films enjoying success in cinemas were Malnazidos, a comedy directed by Javier Ruiz Caldera and Alberto de Toro, shot in Catalan towns, including Cardona and Tavertet, and 42 segundos, the film that revives the history of the Spanish water polo team during the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. The Olympic facilities on Montjuïc, especially the Bernat Picornell swimming pools, shine with their own light in this epic and emotional film. In addition, Barcelona was also the main stage for two comedies, Historias para no contar and Un novio para mi mujer, directed by Cesc Gay and Laura Mañá, respectively.

Other films released last year included La maternal and La voluntaria, shot in Barcelona and other towns in the metropolitan area; Girasoles silvestres, the latest production by Jaime Rosales, shot in Barcelona, Vallès and Maresme; Un año, una noche, the brilliant true drama by Isaki Lacuesta, where Barcelona is transformed into sequences in Paris, and Mikel Gurrea’s debut film, Suro, a tense couples drama shot in Empordà.

As for feature films released on platforms, it is worth highlighting A través de mi ventana, a youthful romantic comedy, which was the fourth ranking non-English-speaking film of the year in terms of hours of Netflix viewings worldwide. Shot in Barcelona and Maresme, its success led to a sequel, already filmed, which will premiere in 2023. Another Netflix hit was Centauro. Barcelona and the MotorLand Aragón circuit, in the Aragonese town of Alcañiz, are the main settings for this action film.

Breaking local records, the US production Uncharted had a budget of 120 million dollars and a worldwide gross of nearly 402 million dollars, ranking 13th worldwide. It is an action-adventure film based on the video games of the same name, and stars Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali and Antonio Banderas. The film revolves around the search for a unique treasure, in which Barcelona plays a major role. The central part of the film is set in the city, with well-known settings such as Montjuïc mountain, Plaça Sant Felip Neri, the basilica of Santa Maria del Pi and the Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria. It is worth noting that Lloret de Mar is also one of the settings of the film. Specifically, Sa Boadella beach was transformed to become a beach in the Philippines.


As for series, 16 fictional series shot in Catalonia were released in 2022. Without a doubt, the most high-profile was House of the Dragon, the new HBO Max production, a prequel to Game of Thrones. The first season has Lloret de Mar among its locations, the majestic Santa Clotilde Gardens providing the perfect setting for medieval fantasy.

Netflix produced several series shot in Catalonia, including Los herederos de la tierra, a stimulating sequel to the successful Cathedral of the Sea. A wide range of Catalan towns appear in the eight episodes, from Barcelona to Girona, passing through the regions of Vallès, Maresme, Empordà and Penedès, among others. And in December, Netflix released Smiley, one of the most interesting and engaging series of the year. This romantic comedy, created by Guillem Clua, depicts the unexpected relationship between Alex and Bruno, convincingly interpreted by Carlos Cuevas and Miki Esparbé, with Barcelona as its setting.

Finally, in early 2022 Netflix premiered the series Feria: la luz más oscura, a thriller set in 1990s Andalusia. However, the interior of the church, where several key moments of the series take place, is not shot in the Cádiz village of Zahara de la Sierra, but in the monastery of Santes Creus. Another key location in the series is the Riotinto mines in Huelva, but the interiors are actually the mines of Cercs, located in La Berguedà, and the mines of Bellmunt, in El Priorat. And a third space that transports us from Andalusia to Catalonia are the sequences of the Zahara-El Gastor reservoir, which are in fact shots of the Darnius Boadella reservoir in the Alt Empordà.


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