Holy Mother

Spain | 2024 | 122 min. | Antonio Chavarrías

In this stark historical drama set during the Early Middle Ages, Emma of Barcelona is a Catalan nun who defied the odds—both against her country’s enemies and her own clergy—in her God-granted mission to repopulate Spain’s embattled border territories.

Director Antonio Chavarrias scheduled to attend.

In the 9th century, Emma, who was raised from a young age to be a nun, becomes an abbess at the age of 17. She is given the task of repopulating and Christianizing the border territories in conflict with the Moors. Upon arriving at the abbey, Emma faces mistrust and misunderstandings from everyone in her surroundings, as her determination and will to fulfill her mission challenge the idea she was actually there only to pray and obey. But Emma’s increasing religious, economic, and political power arouse suspicions: first in her brother, then in the nobility and ultimately in the mighty Church itself. Aided by a visceral performance by Daniela Brown as Emma, Director Antonio Chavarrías (Dictado, Volverás) addresses universal and current themes, such as women's struggle to find their place in a masculine world, territorial and religious conflicts, and the clash between dogmatic ideologies and other more open and tolerant ones. Chavarrías masterfully recreates the atmosphere and aesthetics of medieval times with the use of natural lighting and candles capturing the gloomy and austere atmosphere of a Catalan convent in the Middle Ages. In Holy Mother, Emma’s story from an almost forgotten past becomes a painful reminder of the challenges women still face in the world a thousand years later.

—Hebe Tabachnik

  • Original Language Title: La Abadesa
  • Director: Antonio Chavarrías
  • Principal Cast: Daniela Brown, Blanca Romero, Carlos Cuevas, Ernest Villegas, Berta Sánchez, Oriol Genís
  • Premiere Status: North American
  • Country: Spain, Belgium
  • Year: 2024
  • Running Time: 122 min.
  • Producer: Antonio Chavarrías, José Maria Morales, Miguel Morales, Mónica Lozano
  • Screenplay: Antonio Chavarrías
  • Cinematographers: Julián Elizalde
  • Editors: Clara Martínez Malagelada
  • Music: Ivan Georgiev
  • Filmography: The Chosen (2016), Childish Games (2012), Las vidas de Celia (2006), Volverás (2002)
  • Language: Spanish
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • International Sales: Film Constellation