Spain, 2013 - 85'
Halfway between documentary and fiction, it shows us the stories of five people from the outskirts of Barcelona who struggle to survive.
Raul, a farmer who wants to grow organic food, hires Iurie to help him in the fields. Iurie is a Moldavian wrestler, who earns a living in whatever comes his way. Slowly, their personal stories intertwine with those of three solitary women: Maria, an elderly lady forced to leave her countryside house for a retirement home; Rose, a Philippine nurse who has just arrived in the country; and Maribel, a prostitute who has less and less clients. The destinies of all these characters become entwined as the summer goes on.
The Plague is a film of interwoven stories, that offers a moving portrait of life on the outskirts of Barcelona. The main characters are not actors. They play themselves after four years of working with the director. This long process has permitted Ballús to reveal the uncertainty and rebel spirit that underlies contemporary crisis-hit Spain.
Full Cast and Crew
Neus Ballús (Spain, 1980) is a film director and scriptwriter. She has a degree in Audiovisual Communication from Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra University and later specialized in non-fiction filmmaking with a Masters Degree in Creative Documentary from the same university.
From the very beginning, Ballús’ work has grown out of the fertile soils of genre hybrids. With a free and constantly evolving language, she uses documentary, fiction and experimental tools to center her narratives around some of the most relevant contemporary issues, such as racism, gender, post-Colonialism and social inequalities.
Neus Ballús has been considered by The Hollywood Reporter and Variety to be among the filmmakers that are changing the face of Spanish cinema and one of the leading filmmakers of Catalonia’s New Wave.
Her short films, such as Immersion and Granddad With a Movie Camera, received great acclaim on the international festival circuit, racking up a long list of awards. John Berger, the renowned art critic and writer, said of her film Immersió: “Wonderful film, of an enormous tenderness, humour and accuracy. Have not seen anything comparable for decades.”
Her first feature-length film, The Plague, which premiered at the 63rd Berlinale Film Festival (Forum), was nominated for the “European Discovery-Fipresci Prize” at the European Film Awards and the European Parliament’s LUX Prize Awards, as well as receiving a Best First Film nomination at the Spanish Academy Awards, the Goyas. She has received over 20 awards at film festivals around the world, as well as multiple first feature prizes on Spain’s festival circuit.
In 2019, she explored the subject of international tourism in developing countries, in the comingo-of-age fictional feature, Staff Only. The film, which was shot on location in Senegal, had a cast that included Sergi López (Best Actor in EFA and Cesar Awards) and non-professional actors. Staff Only premiered at the 69th Berlinale Film Festival (Panorama) and was commercially released in almost 100 theaters throughout Spain and France.
Neus Ballús has just released her latest offering, the docu-fiction comedy The Odd-Job Men, in which she spends six days following the often surrealist everyday work of a peculiar, three-man team of real-life plumbers. The Odd-Job Men won the Best Actor’s Award and the European Cinema Label Award at Locarno Film Festival, the Silver Spike and Audience Award at SEMINCI and the 5 main Gaudi Awards.
Alongside her work as an independent filmmaker, Ballús regularly gives seminars, courses and masterclasses at several universities, film schools, cultural institutions, film archives and museums.