Culture, Globe, Screen, United Kingdom

“Julia”: rural memories and identity

The vindication of rural life and its inhabitants, their everyday life and love for their roots, as well as a thought-provoking warning about the future of the British countryside, are all part of the nostalgic journey that is “Julia”, the film that will premiere in Bristol on 7 March.


Jacobo Lagüela Castro spent eight years talking to and filming Julia Barrio, an 87-year-old woman born in Galicia, whose words, experiences and reflections are an encounter with rural life, its extinction and abandonment and, at the same time, the hope of saving it.

From this work a 71-minute film (“Julia”) was made, which has received several nominations and awards: Best Film at the 44º Lugo Film Week, Best Photography, Best Message, Documentary Highlight at the Austral Film Festival (Argentina), Official Selection Lift-Off Global Network – First time session Filmmaker (UK) and Jagran Film Festival (India), among others. This year it was preselected to the Goya Award in the categories of the Best Film, Best Documentary, Best Novel Director, Best editor, Best Photography y Best Original Script.

These 71 minutes are Lagüela’s first feature-length documentary, and by choosing Julia, his grandmother, as the protagonist, he seeks to take the audience on a journey through the Galician countryside, exploring Julia’s final years, offering a profound meditation on family, heritage and the passing of time.

Shot during Jacobo’s holidays and visits to Galicia while living in the UK, “Julia” is a tribute to a bygone era that weaves together historical archives and shows the essence of the protagonist’s life against the changing landscapes and lifestyles of Galicia.

In this work lies the protagonist’s genuine and sincere desire to preserve and pass on the cherished ways of living from her generation to the ones that follow. Through intimate moments, candid reflections, and the wisdom that can only be gained from a life well-lived, Julia imparts a legacy that transcends time.

Lagüela – who lives in Bristol (UK) and has worked for the BBC, National Geographic or Discovery – says that while the film is deeply personal, rooted in his grandmother’s experiences, it also serves as a cautionary tale about the potential consequences of neglecting the unique character and identity of rural landscapes. “The British countryside could be at risk of facing similar challenges if we don’t cherish and preserve our traditions, communities, and natural environments”, he warns. Following the premiere,   Lagüela Castro will engage in a Q&A session, providing audiences with the opportunity to delve deeper into the making of ‘ “Julia” and the personal inspiration behind this tribute, as well as discussing the film’s broader themes and its relevance to the challenges faced by rural communities in the UK.

Date and venue: 7 March, 6pm. Cultural Cinema Watershed, Watershed, 1 Canons Road, Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5TX. For more information and to get tickets, click here.

(Photos provided by Jacobo Lagüela Castro and authorised for publishing)

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