Luis Navarrete makes his debut with this feature film starring, among others, Néstor Goenaga, Martín Spíndola, Antonia San Juan, Pablo Linares and Javier Hernández
‘The phantom of the sauna’, the title of the film that debutante Luis Navarrete is filming in Madrid these days, inexorably recalls ‘The phantom of the opera’. That is one of the keys to Navarrete’s film, a gay musical, zarzuelero and cinephile starring Néstor Goenaga, Martín Spíndola, Antonia San Juan, Pablo Linares, Javier Hernández, Goizalde Núñez, Fernando Albizu, Alberto Carbajo, Julia Monje, Pupi Poisson, Supremme de Luxe and Tavi Gallart, names looking to make a name for themselves in Spanish cinema
The synopsis of the film tells how Javi (Néstor Goenaga, in his first leading role after a small role in the series ‘The invisible line’, by Mariano Barroso) arrives at the Popular Sauna, a famous gay place, looking for work to fulfill his dream of be a singer. The business is in low hours and Asun (Antonia San Juan), the owner, decides to take him in in exchange for help. Soon the boy will realize that everyone there hides dark secrets: the oldest of them, a mysterious subject who lives in the ventilation ducts of the premises and who ends up falling in love with the young man.
Although initially it might seem like a sordid story, it is not, since it is about showing a homosexual love story, without the prejudices, conditions or feelings of guilt that are usually linked to this type of film. Luis Navarrete explains that the film is “the result of years and years of love for cinema. It is a project that touches almost all the genres that have made me dream, get excited and finally give everything for art: musical, drama, comedy … In that sense, it has a mixture of genres under the same style, which makes it into something eye-catching and fresh. This story is carved from a very personal place, and its special stamp will earn you your own place in the cinema. According to the director and co-screenwriter, this film “focuses on a love story between two misunderstood characters, with a bittersweet ending, from the cutting of great stories like ‘Moulin Rouge’, ‘West Side Story’ or ‘La La Land’ with the that viewers enjoy falling in love and getting excited.
‘The ghost of the sauna’ seeks to become one of the first great homosexual romantic stories: «In most cases, love in LGTBI-themed cinema is expressed from a political-social prism or from a realism that does not give so much foot to dream. In this case, this project wants to tell a story without limits in its romanticism, making it as great and idealistic as all those mentioned above, regardless of the sexual orientation of its protagonists. In short, the film-musical ‘The ghost of the sauna’ is a universal love story, written from the heart, which will make the viewer dream again, and in a big way, ”continues the filmmaker.
Much of the filming of this film has taken place in the emblematic Sauna Paraíso, a meeting place for part of the homosexual community in the Spanish capital. The spaces in this establishment, as well as in other locations in the historic center of the city, are “very unique and characteristic of Madrid’s classical architecture and give the film an air of mystery and intimacy that perfectly accompanies the story”, according to its director. Because this film “is a tribute to love and dreams, no matter who you love or what you want,” declares Navarrete.
A fundamental aspect of the film is in its soundtrack: The music, composed of seven songs and an extensive soundtrack “helps the viewer to immerse themselves in this magical world, revealing the unconscious of the characters”, in the words of Ramón Grau, the composer of the film: “it shows influences from the great modern classics of Hollywood, such as ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ or ‘Moulin Rouge’, as well as the operatic and post-romantic language, musical theater, zarzuela and other styles, such as pop, disco and electro ”, he concludes. And yet, “despite all the literary, musical and cinematographic references, this film is unlike anything we have seen before: it is a classic but unpublished musical, sensitive and delicate, and at the same time deeply provocative” , says Martín Spínola, who gives life to the character of Eric and is the co-writer of this feature film together with its director.
The film is a completely independent production by Sophia Network Productions that will hit Spanish screens in 2022.