Belén Esteban and Sylvia Plath, together in the Spanish short of the year

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“I want the longevity of one and the bravery of the other.” The verse belongs to Sylvia Plath and, in its own way, it perfectly defines the vocation and meaning of the film presented by María Antón Cabot at the Cinema Jove Festival in Valencia. I’m upright, This is the title of the 40-minute short film, it takes the name (in Catalan, yes) of the poem in which the above verse appears. In it, the author laments that she is neither a tree with its roots sunk into the ground nor a flower that, with its striking colors, attracts exclamations of admiration. “I am upright. / But I would like to be horizontal», she reads herself at the beginning to later claim to desire, it has already been said, «the longevity of one and the courage of the other». The film raises the improbable encounter alien to the logic of time between the aforementioned American writer who ended up committing suicide in 1963 when she was barely 30 years old and Belén Esteban, ourbethlehem esteban. The two of them suddenly see each other in Benidorm right now, they recognize each other, they exchange their mutual misunderstanding, they get lost in the maze of a city with a ghostly and utopian air, they love each other and, happy and half drunk, they go into the sea with some fishermen. One presumes eternity and the other, courage. One is a tree; the other, flower. And so.

«When Sylvia Plath arrived in Benidorm in 1956, That same year the city’s urban plan was approved”, says María Antón about justifying the starting point. «It would be said that the dreams of then are the reality of now. Benidorm has a lot of utopia fulfilled and it has nothing to do with the fame of wild tourism that it drags », she continues. The city that was conceived and described so well by the sociologist and urban planner Mario Gaviria wanted a pleasant and sustainable environment for a model of tourism for everyone. Popular for what it had as a project designed with and for the inhabitants of the town and popular by vocation and destiny. And it was to this Benidorm, which was no longer a simple fishing village but a network of tall buildings that did not get in each other’s way, that Belén Esteban arrived one fine day with his family on vacation. Like so many others. And there he met a bullfighter. And she went to the bullfight that was being held and that was only reserved for women. And she had a daughter with him. Belén is from Madrid, but she spent her summers, which is another better way of life, in Benidorm.

In the film, Plath is played by Odette Galbally and Belén, a perfect Ruth Gabriel. “If you look closely, and despite what it may seem at first, the two share many things,” explains Antón. “Both carry a conflictive past with men, both have ended up being cultural icons and both have their dark and tragic vein, be it in the written diaries of one or in the other’s also daily television scuffle,” he says. . It would seem that the encounter so close to science fiction was really just a matter of, indeed, time. The director who until now had been seen by the previously radical film collective (by the root) that only experimented lacasinegra (Not in Geneva) and which made its solo debut with the detailed study of the passion on the grass of the Retiro park in Madrid, which is Pico 3, offers now a delicate study of characters where, together with the two leading women, the city of Benidorm itself is added as a dream and a perfect metaphor for almost everything: of solidarity between harassed women, of the devastated soul of cities, of the possibility of love, of the clash between reality and desire and, why not, of the improbable crossing of dreams of the past turned into brick on rock of the present. All of this is vertical Soc, as well as the completely irrefutable Spanish short film of the year.

The director says that her original idea was for Belén Esteban to play herself. «We sent him the script and we have sent him the finished film. We haven’t had an answer,” he says. She also recounts that she, as she was born and raised in Benidorm, knows what it is to go to school on a bus full of gray heads, those from El Inserso, and knows what a city designed and designed for pleasure is where love aspires to be long-lived and brave. Like Plath. Like Bethlehem.

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