Southpaw story

Southpaw story

May 11, 2023


Spanish writer Rafael Cobos makes his directorial debut with El Hijo Zurdo (The Left-Handed Son), which was named best shortform series at Canneseries this year. He joins star María León and producer Fran Araujo to discuss the emotional thriller.

Spanish screenwriter Rafael Cobos took his first step into television with 2018 series La Peste (The Plague), a Movistar+ series that centres on a series of murders in 16th century Sevilla.

He has now returned to the Spanish streamer to make his directorial debut with El Hijo Zurdo (The Left-Handed Son), a series he also created and wrote, with Paco R Baños as co-director.

Once again set in Sevilla, Cobos’s hometown, the series focuses on themes of identity and maternity as it addresses the complicated relationship between a mother and her son, the unexpected friendship between two women from very different worlds and the search for a second chance.

María León stars as Lola, a high-class Sevillian mother who watches her youngest son Lorenzo (Hugo Welzel) drift towards a radical group. In an attempt to understand and bring him home, she grows close to Maru (Tamara Casellas), a mother from a different social class who faces a similar situation.

Produced by Movistar+ with Atípica Films, The Left-Handed Son is based on the novel by Rosario Izquierdo and distributed by Movistar+ International. The 6×30′ series debuted in Spain on April 27 after winning the shortform series prize at French television festival Canneseries.

Here, Cobos, star León and Movistar+ executive producer Fran Araujo tell DQ about making the show.

L-R: Rafael Cobos, María León and Fran Araujo at Canneseries

Fran, how did the project come together?
Araujo: It started with Rafael. After his last film, we asked him what he wanted to do and he told us he wanted to direct and be the creator of something. We talked about two or three things and this story was the most important thing for him, and that’s why we did it. The main thing for us was to work with him.

Rafael, why were you drawn to this story?
Cobos: In the end, almost every writer wants to talk about themselves. When you’re writing, you’re trying to search for yourself. And being a father is the perfect opportunity to know yourself, or the moment to doubt yourself. The Left-Handed Son talks about motherhood because it is a difficult process of knowing and discovering yourself.

Araujo: The theme of the series is really universal because it’s talking about something that is very real, modern and new, in a way, and very contemporary for Spain because we have this country where everything is very tense, and we have two sides, the left hand and the right hand. We thought this was the best way to talk about our country and the situation right now.

León plays Lola, whose son Lorenzo (Hugo Welzel) is drawn towards a radical group

How would you describe Lola, Lorenzo and their relationship?
Cobos: The mother and son are both left-handed – they are labelled with the stigma, the difference, of being left-handed. Teenagers are like nuclear power plants that are constantly boiling. And adults can be nuclear power plants too. So in the end they are the same, shooting in many directions without knowing where they are looking or what they have. It’s the story of a son who is absolutely lost and a mother who is absolutely lost as well. There’s a point where they meet together.

María, what were your first impressions of the project?
León: I wanted to play all the roles in the series, even the son! It was very intense – it’s an emotional thriller. For me, it was like being underwater and unable to breathe.

How did you work with Rafael during production?
León: It was very nice because I admired Rafa so much when I read the script. When I read it, I thought I understood him. It has been very good for me – we listened to each other very well and that has been important.

Cobos: It was really easy. María works a lot; she has a way of working that is peculiar, because she mixes something very technical with something very intuitive. It’s close to the way I like to write. There was a special connection in the communication. I could understand when she needed to do something very technical, and also when there was something more emotional coming from inside her.

Araujo: They are both from Sevilla. They know what they are talking about.

León in discussion with first-time director Cobos on set

Rafael, why did you want to step into directing?
Cobos: It was a process of growth. I am a screenwriter and I had always fantasised about directing. I have worked with many directors and it has been like a learning process where you kill your father – but here you kill the director – to take his place and grow.

The camera is often focused on Lola. What kind of visual style did you want to create?
Cobos: The fundamental decision was always to follow Lola with a moving camera and to always focus on her.

León: For me, it was like the heartbeat, the way the character breathes. The camera was always present.

Cobos: It was very difficult to portray the troubles of one character, and it made the job more complex. The camera should always have a close eye on the character’s journey and any gesture they make. But it was very difficult to measure the growth of a character when the camera is so close to them.

What challenges did you face during production?
Araujo: The main challenge was for [the cast and crew] because they had to shoot in Sevilla in August, which is very difficult. But for me, it was simple because I had air conditioning!
This was a special series because shortform is normally used for comedies. We were always aiming to make an emotional thriller in this short format because we wanted to do it differently, and part of the rhythm of the series [comes from] this format. We are looking for characters who have a specific point of view and if we need to tell a story in this way, we will make it in this way.

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