Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle

Perhaps, all of us know a person like that: Someone who seems to possess the life energy of ten people, an energy that is contagious and makes us believe in the meaning of life or - depending on the perspective - in the delights of its absurdities. In most instances, however, it is rather the task of the arts to teach us these things. This is why such a person inevitably raises questions: What is art? What constitutes an artist? How to lead one’s life?

Gustavo Salmerón’s film, which received the prestigious “Premio Goya” for best documentary in 2018, is a portrait of such an individual: His mother Julita. Even as a young girl, she had clear expectations for the future: Lots of kids, a monkey and a castle. And in the end, she got exactly what she wanted.

As trained actor, Salmerón knows how important each stage element is for the creation of great theatre and he considers them all: everything, the sometimes Beckett-like despair of Julita’s children, the ironic, yet loving stoicism of her husband, all the objects - dolls, teeth, bones, broken umbrellas - are essential and autonomous parts of the stage on which this unforgettable diva performs. And just like in great theatre, much more happens than the immediate visible may suggest. This way, the film almost incidentally and with a fleeting gesture recounts the history of 20th century Spain; from Julita’s point of view, naturally!

Salmerón’s delightful film portrait achieves a lot. It touches on philosophical and societal questions, on questions about art and life, and above all, it convinces us that the burnt crust of a piece of toast is no less than a culinary miracle. In other words, it makes astoundingly happy!

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Gustavo Salmerón

Gustavo Salmerón, actor and director, (Madrid, Spain, 1970) has worked as an actor in over thirty films by internationally renowned directors like Julio Medem, Agustín Villaronga, Manuel Gómez Pereira, J. Luis García Berlanga, Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón and Mario Camus, among others.
In 2001 he directed the short film Desaliñada (Salad Days) which won the Spanish Film Academy’s Goya for Best Short Film. It also won numerous international awards including: Best Short Film at the Los Angeles International Film Festival, the Gold Plaque at the Chicago International Film Festival, Best Short Award (Brest) of Canal+ France. From 2002-2016 he directed the documentary "Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle".