©Getty Images_by Vittorio Zunino Celotto

María Valverde

María Valverde started acting when she was fifteen, which is when she did her first film as a lead actress and she hasn’t stopped since. In fact, she won the Goya for Best Newcomer for her debut in Manuel Cuenca’s 2003 film “The Weakness of the Bolshevik” (“La flaqueza del Bolchevique”) and has since worked on various films both at home and abroad. Her first English role was in Jordan Scott’s “Cracks” and in 2014, she starred as Moses’ wife in Ridley Scott’s “Exodus”.

As one of this year’s European Shooting Stars at the Berlinale, she talks to Tara Karajica about her career, being a Shooting Stars and her next projects. 


The Weakness of the Bolshevik was your first breakthrough film and you won the Goya for Best New Actress in 2003. Can you talk about this experience?

M.V.: Sometimes it’s quite hard when you win an award so young and for your first role. For me, it’s the best thing that could have happened because it changed my life completely. But, to be real after that is very hard. So, I was so pleased and all the experience was great, but for a teenager to understand how it’s going to work afterwards, it’s something quite interesting to work on. I think that without the Goya, it wouldn’t be the same.

You had roles in Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings and Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Broken Horses last year. Your career has taken quite an international turn. Can you comment on that?

M.V.: The good thing about my career is that I have been going everywhere they have called me. So, I’ve been working in Mexico, Venezuela, and Italy. And, I’ve been very curious about new things, new experiences and new languages. For me, doing big films and very small ones, has been quite interesting to learn how to work. For example, in Exodus, it was a dream and you never, as an actor, think that you are going to be able to do something like that. It’s too big for a person. And, you never get used to it, I think. So, the best thing that I can do is just like live it as a tourist. And just live the experience as if I were watching the television.

 So, according to you, what is the most famous film in Spain you’ve been in?

M.V.: Three Steps Above Heaven (Tres metros sobre el cielo). That’s the biggest one because that film has also been travelling all over the world. It’s quite funny how, if you are in Mexico or South America or Russia or Azerbaijan – where I was last year – people can recognize you because of that film.

But that was a remake! It’s interesting how a remake can become bigger and more famous than the original film…

M.V.: Because I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with Riccardo Scamarcio, who did the first movie, and the first thing that he told me when we first met was: “Look, why your film is more famous than mine?” and I was like: “I have no idea! I don’t know; it’s different… I can’t tell…” and he was angry in a good way – he was joking, of course! I don’t know. It’s just that things happened and you never know when they’re going to happen…

The good thing about my career is that I have been going everywhere they have called me.

What are your expectations of the European Shooting Stars?

M.V.: Honestly, I don’t expect anything. I just want to live this experience and to meet these actors. I am a fan of some of them so I’m just curious. I think it’s a very big opportunity just to meet all these people and have the opportunity to talk with them. And also, to meet so many casting directors. Sometimes, I have done tapes for them and I never had the chance to talk to them. I think it’s a nice thing to just be yourself talking to them, not as a character in a certain role because sometimes it’s quite weird. So, I just want to remember this experience as something interesting.

What are your next projects? I understand you have recently filmed Guernika by Koldo Serra. Is that right?

M.V.: Guernika is a film I did in Spain last year and I’m so excited about this film because, for me, to work in Spain is very important and to work on this movie also – a very big thing and a very horrible moment of the Spanish civil war –. It’s been quite hard to do it and also it’s been an enriching experience. So, I can’t wait to show it to the Spanish audience.

Apart from that, is there anything else?

M.V.: Well, I did a film called Ali and Nino that showed in Sundance that Asif Kapadia directed. And then, before the New Year, I did a film called The Limehouse Golem in England with Olivia Cooke, Douglas Booth and Bill Nighy. So, I have things that are going to come out.

You also mentioned you wanted to meet new people and discover new cultures. So, can you talk about that? How is Shooting Stars helping you do that here in Berlin?

M.V.: Well, so much because I think it’s the first time that I’ve met an actress from Greece, for example. And, I’ve had the chance to talk with Lou from France. I think there can be some of them that I can keep in touch with. Also, I am going to be in Paris in the next months so I think just knowing that they are going to be there makes me feel more comfortable. I think it can be the beginning of something…

 …“The beginning of a beautiful friendship”…?

M.V.: Hahaha! Maybe…


This interview was conducted at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival. 

Tara Karajica

Tara Karajica is a Belgrade-based film critic and journalist. Her writings have appeared in "Indiewire," "Screen International," "Variety," "Little White Lies" and "Film New Europe," among many other media outlets, including the European Film Academy’s online magazine, "Close-up" and Eurimages. She is a member of the European Film Academy, the Online Film Critics Society and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists as well as the recipient of the 2014 Best Critic Award at the Altcine Action! Film Festival. In September 2016, she founded "Yellow Bread," a magazine dedicated entirely to short films, ranked among the 25 Top Short Film Blogs and Websites on the Planet in 2017. In February 2018, she launched "Fade to Her," a magazine about successful women working in Film and TV and in 2019, she was a member of the Jury of the European Shooting Stars (European Film Promotion). She is currently a programmer for live action shorts at PÖFF Shorts, Head of the Short Film Program and Live Action Shorts programmer at SEEFest and Narrative Features Programmer at the Durban International Film Festival. Tara is a regular at film festivals as a film critic, moderator and/or jury member.

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