Pilar Palomero (Zaragoza, 1980) has had an unstoppable streak since she made her big debut with Las niñas, that look at the transition from childhood to adolescence in Zaragoza in 1992, which swept the Goya awards last year and won with the Biznaga de Oro in Malaga, among other recognitions. Her second feature film, La maternal, was a thrill at the last San Sebastián Festival, where she competed in the official section narrating a story about unwanted pregnancies among adolescents from marginalized places.

The project came to her through the producer Valérie Delpierre, who has a social educator friend and told her about the close case of a pregnant teenager who had been referred to a center for teenage mothers. From there, Palomero wanted to document himself well on a subject that he was unaware of and that had aroused his interest, and he went to one of those houses to speak with the director, where he met Carol, a social educator who appears in the film.

She put him in touch with a lot of older women who had become mothers in their teens. “It was talking to these women and being fascinated by their experiences and their way of dealing with something like that,” she explains in conversation with La Vanguardia.

Some of them come out recounting their personal situations in front of the screen at the moment when a 14-year-old girl who is five months pregnant ends up at the center ‘La Maternity’. Her name is Carla and she is a rebellious and defiant girl who loves to dance and who goes from studying to ‘playing’ with her friend Efraín, the father of the child she is expecting, with whom she also plays soccer and watches porn on the mobile.

His mother (magnificent Ángela Cervantes), with whom he has strong arguments, also had it when he was younger and they both live in a roadside restaurant in a town in Los Monegros with which the woman from Zaragoza pays her particular tribute to Bigas Luna and his Ham , ham.

The film shows how Carla and her companions deal with a complicated situation, since in addition to being teenagers and mothers, they are immersed in economic precariousness and at risk of social exclusion. However, the filmmaker’s gaze does not seek to victimize them but rather to show the strength that they all achieve to be able to have a second chance, surrounded by the understanding and care of the center’s workers. “There are many prejudices with adolescent pregnancies,” says Palomero. “I would like the viewer not to judge Carla and think that she, whatever she does and whatever she decides, will be well done.” “It is already very difficult for a 14-year-old girl to be forced to become a mother in these circumstances to have to endure the judgment on our part.”

The weight of the story falls on the newcomer Carla Quílez, a third-year ESO student from Barcelona who was discovered by the casting director thanks to some videos on her Instagram in which she dances and which went viral. Her work convinced the jury in San Sebastián, winning the Silver Shell for best lead performance ex aequo with the young Frenchman Paul Kircher for Le lycéen.

“At first I did not believe it when they contacted me. My mother did not want to but we ended up calling the telephone number that they gave us to find out if it was true and when they told me that the project belonged to the director of Las niñas, well, we said that we had to trying it and getting this far is an honor”, assures this young woman with a maturity that is surprising for her age and who is not afraid of challenges, just like Carla in the film.

In order to play her character, which she filmed when she was 13, she didn’t know how she should deal with it and in the end “I took it as a game and after seeing the critics the film is getting I’m very happy”. Quílez, who loves babies, says that she was looking forward to the days when she held the child in her arms and that the whole process was very fun and that the most complex part was conveying “those sudden changes that my character undergoes.”

The maternal talks about those patterns that are repeated between a young mother and the youngest daughter who becomes pregnant. “In the end, they are wounds that you have not healed and that are inherited. There is a lot of pain. Although the film follows Carla, it also tells the mother’s story in a different way. And thanks to the fact that Carla passes through the center, my character It forces them to think about things differently and they end up finding themselves at a greater point of maturity,” says actress Ángela Cervantes.

For Palomero, it is evident that the lack of sexual education for children and young people is behind these dramas and he wants the film to help finance more centers like ‘La Maternal’, which works as a cooperative, with public funds. “I wish these things would be prioritized, because there are girls who, needing it, will not have the opportunity to enter a center like this. And how they will experience it is terrible,” she laments.