That Was Life

La Vida Era Eso

Spain, 2020
107 minutes, Color
Official website

The first fiction feature by documentarist David Martín de los Santos is a coming-of-age tale about a woman in her seventies. The great Petra Martínez fills the screen with her presence. At age 76, she commands our attention and our curiosity as María, a Spanish woman living in Belgium with her taciturn husband in a nest long since emptied. When a heart attack sends her to the hospital, she meets a young patient, Verónica (Anna Castillo), who teaches her to smile a little, then to smoke, and finally to pay attention to her own desires. The quest takes her back to Spain—the source of her repression in the Franco years of her upbringing—and to the rough backwater that produced the rebel Verónica. On her own, with a backpack and little else, María is Agnes Varda's Vagabond in sensible shoes. You won't forget her soon.—Judy Bloch

The film won Best Actress (Petra Martínez) at the Sevilla Film Festival and Best Film in the Opera Prima competition at the Almería International Film Festival.

In Spanish with English subtitles

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