Thursday, May 03, 2007

Spanish Film Festival

The 10th Spanish Film Festival opens in Melbourne with Crossing Borders on Wednesday May 16 at the Palace Como. Screening at the Como and Westgarth are 30 feature length films and a number of shorts from Spain as well as a section of Spanish/Latin American co-productions.

The festival
continues through to Sunday May 27 and includes films in various categories as detailed below. I've marked in purple the films I'm planning to see, though there's a number of others I'd like to squeeze in if possible. Unfortunately, some of my choices are based more on convenience (ie, the day, time and place) than content.

Contemporary Spanish Cinema
El camino de los ingleses (Summer Rain, Antonio Banderas, 2006) - drama
Vete de mí (Go Away from Me, Victor García León, 2006) - comedy
7 virgenes (Seven Virgins, Alberto Rodríguez, 2005) - comedy/drama
El próximo oriente (The Near East, Fernando Colomo, 2006) - comedy
Tu vida en 56 minutos (Your Life in 65 Minutes, Maria Ripoll, 2006) - comedy
Un franco, catorce pesetas (Crossing Borders, Carlos Iglesias, 2006) - drama/comedy
53 días de invierno (53 Winter Days, Judith Colell, 2006) - drama
La noche de los girasoles (Angosto, Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo, 2006) - thriller
Concursante (The Contestant, Rodrigo Cortés, 2007) - comedy

Short Films
Life is Too Short (Daniel Sánchez Arévalo, David Planell, Alauda Ruíz de Azúa, César Rodríguez-Moroy, Paco Cabezas, Eduardo Chapero-Jackson, Alberto González Vázquez & D. González Rudiez)
Shorts from Canary Islands (David Cánovas, Guillermo Rios, Coke RioBôo, J.F. Padrón, Andrés Koppel, Jaime Falero, José Víctor Fuentes)

For All Ages
Pérez, el ratoncito de tus sueños (The Hairy Tooth Fairy, Juan Pablo Buscarini, 2006) - animation

From Spain yet not in Spain (in regional languages)
Aupa Etxebeste! (Go Etxebeste, Asier Altuna & Telmo Esnal, 2005) - Basque, comedy
El taxista ful (The Taxi Thief, Jo Sol, 2005) - Catalán, drama
Ficcio (Fiction, Cesc Gay, 2006) - Catalán, drama

Elias Querejeta Retrospective
La caza (The Hunt, Carlos Saura, 1965) - drama
El Productor (The Producer, Fernando Méndez Leite, 2006) - documentary
Tasio (Montxo Armendáriz, 1984) - drama
Historias del Kronen (Stories of the Kronen, Montxo Armendáriz, 1995) - drama
La espalda del mundo (The Back of the World, Javier Corcuera, 2000) - documentary
El jardín de las delicias (The Garden of Delight, Carlos Saura, 1969) - drama
Familia (Fernando León de Aranoa, 1994) - comedy/drama
La prima Angélica (Cousin Angelica, Carlos Saura, 1973) - drama
Pascual Duarte (Ricardo Franco, 1976) - drama
27 horas (27 Hours, Montxo Armendáriz, 1986) - drama

Working with Latin America
La educación de las hadas (Education of Fairies, José Luis Cuerda, 2006) - drama
Elsa y Fred (Elsa & Fred, Marcos Carnavale, 2005) -romantic comedy
Derecho de familia (Family Law, Daniel Burman, 2006) - comedy/drama
Mariposa negra (Black Butterfly, Francisco Lombardi, 2006) - drama/thriller

Hecuba, un sueño de pasión (Hecuba: A Dream of Passion, Arantxa Aguirre & L. López Linares, 2006)
¿Que tienes debajo del sombrero? (What’s Under Your Hat?, Lola Barrera & Iñaki Peñafiel, 2006)
Invisibles (Mariano Barroso, Isabel Coixet, Javier Corcuera, Fernando León de Aranoa & Wim Wenders, 2007)
Vinicius de Moraes (Miguel Faria, 2006)

In general, I don't find Spanish cinema as outstanding as I do selective French cinema, yet it remains compelling. There's a style that country gravitates towards that appeals - a raw grittiness, naturalistic cinematography and with interesting and authentic characterisations. Even when there's a tendency to slip into hackneyed stereotypes, the cultural and other features can help to enhance the overall cinematic experience.

Like the French Film Festival, there seems to be a fair amount of comedies (which tend to be "middle-of-the-road" films) among the Contemporary Spanish section, but this seems to be compensated by films in the other sections, particularly the Elias Querejeta retrospective. That recalls La Mirada, in which I found the Almodóvar Presents section my favourite.

There are many films I'd like to see, but simply won't be able to fit them all in, particularly those produced by the prolific Querejeta. While I'm not big on documentaries on the big screen, I'd even like to see The Producer, which is a documentary about him. And even though I prefer to see feature length films, I think the Spanish produce excellent shorts.

Some points on some of the films:

  • Family Law has an M rating, so children see it at the festival, which is great.
  • The Hairy Tooth Fairy has a G rating, and is being screened for the benefit of families (which is why I'll be going). The title reminds me of Hui Buh - the Spooky Ghost which screened at the Festival of German Films.
  • Crossing Borders, the opening film in Melbourne, is also rated G.
  • None of the rated films has a confirmed theatrical release (the marketing people tell me Family Law has a release, but the festival director Natalia Ortiz says nothing is confirmed).
  • Carlos Saura's The Hunt, won the 1966 Silver Bear award at the Berlin Festival (and according to IMDB was Luis Buñuel's favourite director). I'm very keen to see this.
  • Carlos Saura's Cousin Angelica reputedly brought Buñuel to tears. Unfortunately I won't be able to fit this in my schedule.
Let me know your festival recommendations.

The festival is also screening in Sydney 9 - 20 May, Brisbane 23 - 27 May and Perth 24 - 31 May. Check the festival website for details.

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