About This Project
Marta (Elena Andrada), 17, spends Christmas holidays in Senegal with his father, Manel (Sergi López) and his brother Bruno (Ian Samsó). Maybe I would enjoy trip if it were not because his father does not leave him a pinch of freedom and imposes a frantic Senegalese folklore and safari plan with the group of retirees that fill the resort.
On the trip Marta meets Khouma, a Senegalese somewhat older than her, who works in the hotel filming the excursions of tourists, and to Aissatou, a girl who cleans rooms, and that will lead her to enter the world of “STAFF ONLY”, of the staff of the hotel.
|Neus Ballús / Pau Subirós
|Ikiru Films / El Kinògraf / Turanga Films / La Terraza Films
|Elena Andrada, Sergi López, Diomayne Augustin Ngom, Ian Samsó, Madeleine Codou Ndong, Mody Fall
|El viaje de Marta (Staff Only)
|Genre of the movie
Beatriz Martínez FOTOGRAMAS
“Neús Ballús has already proved his worth in ‘La plaga’, one of those works bordering between documentary and fiction endowed with a special sensibility. A certain sense of strangeness was already beating in him and posed an interesting clash between totally different universes that ended up converging. These are some of the elements on which the magnificent ‘Staff Only’, which focuses on both the intimate and cultural shock experienced by a Spanish teenager who goes on vacation with her father and her little brother to a resort in Senegal, also swings.
The director turns a learning movie into something more than an exotic coming-of-age. The observational look with which he films serves to capture all the contradictions of the environment. Thus, Marta’s character (debutant Elena Andrada) will rebel against her status as a tourist and the supposed class superiority that this gives her to try to integrate herself into the environment in a healthier and more prejudiced, cleaner and more tolerant way. Along the way you will discover love, disappointment, experiment with limits and maintain a tense relationship with your parent.
‘Staff Only’ speaks of many things in a subtle and at the same time forceful way. It leaves in the air some questions that go directly to the viewer’s consciousness about the way in which the First World looks towards Africa, how the white man continues to establish an economic and social supremacy over the black. But he does it without a sobering or moralistic desire, integrating it in a prodigious way with the protagonist’s learning history. The director is at eye level, still innocent, and from there she is pulling the thread of all the paradoxes that will be found along the way. Perhaps, most surprising, is that within this device that speaks of very delicate issues, suddenly, unexpectedly, pure emotion sneaks into a really beautiful ending.”
Paula Arantzazu Ruiz, CINEMANÍA
“As was the case with his debut La plague (2013), a hybrid between the documentary and the fiction about four lives crossed by a mysterious plague that hit a border space in the province of Barcelona, Neus Ballús also bets on Marta’s trip for a proposal of several levels based on a minimum argument but of wide relevance in which the story of initiation, the neo-colonial view or the distorted perception of personal learning is mixed because of the mediation of our experiences. Not bad for a film that has as its premise an innocent family trip in an African resort, probably the least intended place to explain a story of such ambition and depth. Appearances should not deceive us, we will end up remembering with exceptional subtlety Ballús, who uses this scenario of prefabricated tourism to confront us, from the eyes of the protagonist (debutant Elena Andrada), to the lies recorded by the video camera from the guide of the resort where they stay, capable of transforming the images of a mediocre holiday into falsely joyful memories. About to turn 18, Marta intends to flee from those tourist postcards that provoke someone else’s shame, but she can’t help but fall into the trap of her own escapist fantasies. From the hand of that childish attitude, we discover that it is very difficult to be a good tourist.”