Screened as part of NZIFF 2001

La Spagnola 2001

Directed by Steve Jacobs

90 minutes 35mm


Production Co

Wild Strawberries Productions


Anna-Maria Monticelli


Steve Arnold


Alexandre De Franceshi

Production Designer

Dee Molineaux

Costume Designer

Margot Wilson


Cezary Skubiszewski


Lola Marceli (Lola)
Alice Ansara (Lucia)
Lourdes Bartolome (Manola)
Alex Dimitriades (Stefano)
Simon Palomare (Ricardo)
Silvio Ofria (Bruno)
Gabrielle Marsella (Maria)
Helen Thomson (Wendy)
Armida Croccolo (Maria's mother)
Nino Lo Giudice (Renato)
Tony Barry (Dr Knuckey)
Antonietta Morgillo (Ada)
John Barresi (Antonio)


This bold, bittersweet comedy about growing up Australian with a stunningly beautiful, flamboyantly bad Spanish mother comes to us direct from its world première at the Sydney Film Festival. Writer/producer Anna-Maria Monticelli is already known in New Zealand as Anna Jamison, the actress who played the adulterous woman in Smash Palace. She was born in Morocco to an Italian-French father and Spanish mother, and did her growing up in Australia. Her fresh, irreverent approach to assimilation issues displays all the assurance of the extremely well-informed. The film is directed with appropriate gusto by her husband Steve Jacobs. — BG

1960s Australia, not the swinging city, but a dusty fibro surrounded by sun-browned grass with an oil refinery as a backdrop. Lola (Lola Marceli) is very much the exotic Spanish woman, defiantly serving chorizos in a land of roast lamb and veggies. But her husband, Ricardo, has had enough of her tempestuous ways. He heads for calmer waters with his all-Australian mistress, Wendy, and the family savings. Lola and her adolescent daughter, Lucia (Alice Ansara in her début feature), are left with a goat, a flock of pigeons and one very empty refrigerator.

The feisty Lola struggles on, but boy, is she angry – and plenty of that temper lands on Lucia, who like any good daughter adores her father and misses him terribly. When Lola’s eccentric sister arrives, Lucia has a taste of what family life could be, but it’s all too brief. Lola’s passionate lust for revenge, fuelled in part by Ricardo’s purchase of a shiny new automobile (not to mention blonde Wendy cruising by at the wheel), is driving a wedge between mother and daughter. Lola’s procession of lovers widens the rift, especially when the oh-so-sexy Stefano (Alex Dimitriades) seems just as interested in Lucia as in her mother. This comical tale of love and survival is laced with a liberal amount of Mediterranean locura. — Gayle Lake, Sydney Film Festival 2001.