This is perhaps veteran director Valerie Buhagiar’s most joyous film outing yet. Set in a sun-dappled village in Malta in the 1980s, Natascha McElhone gives what is perhaps a career-best performance as a 50-year-old woman who finds a new start in life through romance. Through a set of odd circumstances, she finds herself hearing confessions in a local church, to the delight of many parishioners and the horror of the authorities. McElhone is simply radiant in the lead role, and you will long to visit Malta after you see this one.
In Malta, it is tradition for the younger sister to devote her life to the church when an older brother enters the priesthood. Loosely based on the director’s own life, Carmen lives a life of servitude from the age of 16 until 50, when her brother dies. Realizing her own mortality, it’s time to leave the church and make up for lost time! Through a set of odd circumstances, she finds herself hearing confessions in her late brother’s local church, to the delight of many parishioners and the horror of the authorities.
This is Buhagiar’s third feature film as a director. She first burst on the scene as a performer in such classic Canadian films as ROADKILL (1989) and HIGHWAY 61 (1991). Other indelible feature performances include EXPECTING (2002), A WINTER TALE (2007) and ADRIATICO MY LOVE (2011). Natascha McElhone is a major acting talent in studio-level features, such as THE TRUMAN SHOW (1998), RONIN (1998), MRS DALLOWAY (1997), and SOLARIS (2002). She is simply radiant in the lead role in CARMEN, as a late-middle-aged woman who embraces her newfound freedom with contagious enthusiasm. You will long to visit Malta after you see this one.
Cast - Natascha McElhone, Steven Love, Michaela Farrugia
Writer/Director - Valerie Buhagiar
Exec Producers - Daniel Bekerman, Dorothy Coetzee, José Luis Escolar, Mark Gingras
Producers - Pierre Ellul, Coral Aiken, Anika Psaila Savona
Director of Photography - Diego Guijarro
Editors - Matt Lyon, Peter Strauss
Production Designer - Sandra Smirle
Sound Designer - Joe Mancuso
Composer - Richard Feren
TIFF Industry Selects 2021; Whistler Film Festival 2021; Canadian Film Fest 2022; Female Eye Film Festival 2022; Kingston Canadian Film Fest 2022; Blue Mountain Film Festival 2022; Cinequest Film Festival 2022; Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival 2022; Sonoma International Film Festival 2022; Brasilia International Film Festival 2022.
Best Cinematography in a Borsos Competition Film, Whistler Film Fest 2021
Best Feature, Canadian Film Fest 2022
Best of Show, Female Eye Film Fest 2022 (dir. Valerie Buhagiar also received the Best in the Biz tribute and Honorary Director award)