Spain Submits San Sebastian Standout ‘The Endless Trench’ for 2021 International Feature Film Oscar Race
The Spanish Cinema Academy has selected Basque feature “The Endless Trench” to represent Spain in the race for best international feature film at the 2021 Oscars.
A multi-award-winning feature from the trio of Aitor Arregi, Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga, “The Endless Trench,” if nominated, would follow Spain’s 2020 submission, Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory.” Antonio Banderas also scored his first best actor nod for his portrayal of fading film director Salvador Mallo.
Global rights to “The Endless Trench” were picked up shortly after its premiere by Netflix, who held off on releasing the film in the U.S. in hopes that today’s announcement was forthcoming. Now, the film will be available to American audiences for the first time on Nov. 6. An Oct. 28 French theatrical premiere was also planned, but forced to cancel as COVID-19 shut down cinemas in the country once again. Distributor Epicentre Films still plans a theatrical run once movie theaters reopen.
“The Endless Trench” is produced by Xabier Berzosa at Irusion and Moriarti Produkzioak in the Basque Country, Olmo Figueredo at Andalusian outfit La Claqueta and Paris-based Manny Films.
The film unspools over several decades in a small Spanish village, starting at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. There, newlyweds Higinio and Rosa are forced to make a temporary living space beneath the floor of their living room where Higinio, an outspoken opponent of Franco’s right-wing army and their Republican village councillor, can avoid the general’s soldiers.
An unceasing fear of execution forces Higinio to live full-time, first beneath the floor of their home and later behind a wall in his father’s home, for what ends up being 33 years, supported by Rosa’s home tailoring business. The narrative in “The Endless Trench” is fictional, but after amnesty was granted in the late 1960s, hundreds of so-called “topos” (moles) resurfaced.
“At a time when cinemas are closed and many people are gaining firsthand knowledge of what confinement is, we believe that ‘The Endless Trench’ has found new significance. We are very curious to learn how audiences in the U.S. react to a film about such extreme confinement,” Figueredo said to Variety after the announcement was made.
A hit with audiences and critics alike, the film pulled some of the longest lines at San Sebastian in 2019 and scored the highest marks in an El Diario Vasco Spanish critics’ poll. It eventually won six of the eight awards for which it was nominated at the festival before notching a record-tying 15 Spanish Academy Goya nominations including best picture, which eventually went to Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory.”
A shortlist of 10 films for the international feature film category will be unveiled on Feb. 9, and the five official nominees will be announced on March 15. The 93rd annual Academy Awards will take place on April 25.