CLOSING GALA: THE CHAPEL
Dir. Carlota Pereda | Spain | 2023 | 98 mins | International Premiere
Eight-year-old Emma’s life is in turmoil. Her mother is terminally ill and unable to care for her, and given Emma’s erratic behaviour, she may soon be taken into care. In addition to this, Emma is obsessed with a local chapel, which is steeped in legend about the so-called ‘bird men’ – nightmarish doctors who inhabited the area during a 17th century plague – and the spirit of a girl who has spent centuries trapped inside. Emma believes that if she can connect with this spirit, she’ll be able to utilise her own psychic gift to communicate with her mother after death. She seeks out the help of Carol, a local medium, who is sceptical and reluctant to assist. However, Carol doesn’t realise Emma’s gift is very real, and if she continues to try and use it on her own, the consequences could be disastrous. With Emma’s young life in danger, and her mother’s condition deteriorating, time is running out for both of them.
Director Carlota Pereda (PIGGY) returns with this exquisitely heart-wrenching, supernatural tale. Emma’s determination to secure a spiritual future with her mother creates a kind of ghost story to-be; a darkly whimsical film with poignantly observed themes of grief and death, portrayed through the eyes of a child. Her mother’s illness has eroded away their bond, but with the hope of a relationship beyond this life, it may not be too late for them. This moving mother-daughter dynamic is at the core of THE CHAPEL, a film that will chill your heart one moment, and break it the next.
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