After receiving national acclaim for its "wide-ranging emotional appeal", the 2019 Spanish epic The Endless Trench has been selected to represent Spain in the race for best international feature film at the 2021 Oscars due to be held in Los Angeles, on 25 April.
Directed by the Basque-Andalusian trio of Aitor Arregi, Jon Garaño, and Jose Mari Geonaga, this film premiered at San Sebastián last year and has since received six Asecan Andalusian Film Awards, including best film, and 15 Goya nominations (Spain’s national cinema awards) with two wins: best actress for Belén Cuesta and Best Sound.
Netflix then swooped on the scene to secure global rights, launching on 6 November for US audiences, and paving the way for a potential Oscar.
The Endless Trench is told through the eyes of left wing political activist Higinio (Malaga's Antonio de la Torre) who, in the wake of Spanish Civil War and consequent Fascist occupation, went into hiding in fear of political persecution. He (among many other so-called "topos"' - literally meaning “moles”) becomes trapped within the walls of his home with his seamstress wife Rosa (Belén Cuesta, also from Malaga), subjected to a “grim” and “agonising” period of seclusion spanning for over three decades.
Luiso Berdejo’s screenplay brings the hidden history, despair and vulnerability of the "moles" to the forefront as we see the psychological and physical effects of Higinio’s seclusion gradually unfold. In a statement to SUR, Arregi comments on its large-scale emotional appeal commenting, "It is a very local story, very Andalusian, but at the same time it handles more universal elements such as the theme of love, the relationship, the fear of changing situations."
Such familiarity in both its setting and moving story heightens not only the tedium of such prolonged seemingly indefinite imprisonment, but also the excruciating pain in watching, not just a relationship, but a man’s composure slowly deteriorate over time.
It is an intense survival drama that certainly left its mark on the national crowd. And after being acquired by the lucrative streaming platform Netflix, this film will hopefully gain more global attention ready to boost its publicity in time for Oscar season.
A shortlist of 10 films for the international feature film category will be unveiled on 9 February 2021, and the five official nominees will be announced on 15 March. The 93rd annual Academy Awards will take place on 25 April.