Directed by: Carlota Pereda
Written by: Carlota Pereda
Starring: Laura Galán, Carmen Machi, Claudia Salas, Pilar Castro, Mabel del Pozo, Camille Aguilar, José Pasto, Julián Valcárcel
Grimmfest Feature by: Darren Tilby
Synopsis: With the summer sun beating down on her rural Spanish town, Sara hides away in her parent’s butcher shop. A teenager whose excess weight makes her the target of incessant bullying, she flees a clique of capricious girls who torment her at the town pool, only to stumble upon them being brutally kidnapped by a stranger, who drives off with them in his van. When the police begin asking questions, Sara keeps quiet. Intrigued by the stranger — an interest that’s mutual — she’s torn between revealing the truth and protecting the man who saved her.
Grimmfest say: Imagine you are a victim of constant, cruel bullying, which is escalating, getting worse by the day. And then imagine that, on the day of your greatest humiliation at your bullies’ hands, you are offered a sudden, unlooked-for opportunity for revenge, without even having to lift a finger. Would you take it? And could you live with yourself afterwards? Developing and expanding on her queasily uncomfortable and morally troubling 2018 short of the same name (which forms the basis of the opening act here), Writer-Director Carlotta Pereda offers a complex and compassionate exploration of female body image and self-loathing, moral complicity and guilt, and the evils of bullying and the monsters it can create, all played out under the sweltering, pitiless Summer sun. Beautifully shot, and grounded in a strong sense of environment, with an almost tactile sense of location, and a detailed, nuanced sense of rural Spanish small town life and community, and anchored by a truly fearless, heartrending performance from the remarkable Laura Galán, bolstered by a strong supporting cast, headed by Almodovar regular Carmen Machi, this is a film unafraid to probe the darker impulses which can afflict us all in moments of crisis or trauma, how quickly the desire for release can become a desire for revenge, and how rocky and strewn with regret is the road to any kind of redemption.
What I’m expecting: Does anyone remember the anthology film, The Willies? Namely, the section entitled “Bad Apples”… It’s about a young boy who discovers a monster in his school bathroom and decides to make life easier for himself by feeding his bullies and overbearing teacher to it. It’s a great little flick that had a profound effect on me as a youth; not for any technical or artistic merit, but more for the moral dilemma it proposes. Do you stay silent as the creature continues to kill unpleasant people? Or do you do something about it? Carlota Pereda’s Piggy is giving me serious Bad Apples vibes! Both films will surely reverse traditional good guy/bad guy roles; this is where the moral dilemma comes from after all. The location also seems to feature heavily in both instances: Bad Apples has a small and claustrophobic setting (like many films of its kind), whereas Piggy has the open expanse of rural Spain. This change in setting type gives Piggy a distinct advantage, as it allows Pereda to explore a wider range of themes. Female body image, moral complicity, guilt and the evils of bullying are all relevant contemporary issues more than deserving of exploration. I’m excited to see where Pereda takes this: to what ethical conundrums she explores; what questions she poses to her audience, and I’m excited to see on which side of the moral coin Pereda’s piece eventually lands.