The Visit and A Secret Garden

(La visita y un jardín secreto)
Irene M. Borrego | Documentary

2022 | 64 minutes | Spain, Portugal

This award-winning portrait of forgotten Spanish painter Isabel Santaló reflects on memory, oblivion, and creating while pondering female artmaking.


This recent, award-winning portrait of elderly, forgotten Spanish painter Isabel Santaló astutely reflects on memory, oblivion, and the creative process while posing the question of what it means to be both an artist and a woman. Santaló, whose abstract work was well regarded during the 1960s, is also the filmmaker’s aunt. Their strained relationship brings with it an examination of ethical documentary film creation. For all those with a relative who has chosen their own path in life, away from the norm or the expected, The Visit and a Secret Garden offers both insight and grace.

Through her niece's visits and the voice of artist Antonio López ("The Quince Tree Sun", Víctor Erice), the only painter who remembers her, we shape a multifaceted portrait film that takes a surprising turn.


"The Visit and A Secret Garden” is without any doubts viscerally mesmerizing (...) just beautiful, a non-fiction film even full of suspense. Among the magnificent squad of Spanish female directors a new star is born: Irene M. Borrego." — Carlos Loureda, FilmAnd

"The quintessential definition of what for
decades we have referred to as non-fiction cinema: that is using narrative dispositives of fiction cinema to stories deeply rooted in reality." — Matías G. Rebolledo, La Razón

"A documentary that challenges the
expectations of the audience, a film
that defies all the norms of biopic films and with a protagonist that has not the slightest intention to be vindicated." — José A. Cano, Cine con Ñ

"The brightest moments of the film come through the interventions of Santaló, whose description of the creative process -based on the search for the accident- creates an emotional turmoil you cannot escape." — Laura Carneros, Otros Cines Europa

"A brutally honest film." — Enric Alberó, El Cultural

"One of the most significant and exciting surprises of Bergamo Film Meeting 2023 is without any doubt the pungent, generous, and hyper personal film by Irene M. Borrego, “The Visit and A Secret Garden." — Stefano Coccia, CineClandestino

"Irene M. Borrego’s ‘The Visit and A Secret Garden’ Rescues Spanish Painter Isabel Santaló from Oblivion." — John Hopeweel, Variety

Main credits

Borrego, Irene M. (film director)
Borrego, Irene M. (screenwriter)
Muñoz Rivas, Manuel (screenwriter)
Mondolo-Burghard, Mariangela (film producer)
Sancho, Renata (film producer)

Other credits

Cinematography, Rita Noriega, Javier Calvo; editing, Manuel Muñoz Rivas, Irene M. Borrego; music, Frederic Mompou.

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Málaga Film Festival - Biznaga de Plata Best Directing Award, Biznaga de Plata Audience Award; Documenta Madrid - Best Spanish Film Audience Award; IBAFF Murcia - Best Feature Film Award; Alcances - Official Jury's Special Mention, CIMA Jury's Special Mention; Doclisboa - 'HBO Max' Best Film Award, Schools Award - ETIC Youth Jury Best Film Award; Panorama Internacional Coisa de Cinema - Official Jury's Special Mention; L'Alternativa Barcelona - National Film Prize; Bergamo Film Meeting - Best Documentary Film Award; FEROZ Awards - Best Non Fiction Film Award

DIRECTOR: Irene M. Borrego

NATIONALITY: Spain, Portugal

YEAR: 2022

GENRE: Documentary


COLOR / B&W: Color

GRADE LEVEL: High School, College, Adult



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