Olé! Your Spanish Film Festival primer!

Olé! Your Spanish Film Festival primer! By Jess Lomas.

Hola! No sooner has one film festival closed when another one opens, but you’ve got to be quick to catch some of the exciting and innovative films at the nationwide 14th Spanish Film Festival, especially if you live in Perth, Adelaide or Canberra.

The opening night film around the country was Alex De la Iglesia’s The Last Circus, a twisted and macabre tale involving two clowns, a trapeze artist they both love, a lot of bodily mutation, revenge, a face being melted by an iron, a scene that pays tribute to Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, lots of guns and a bit of sex. In other words, this is one of the strangest movies you’re likely to see all year, and it’s quite wonderful. Certainly not for everyone, this revenge story set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War is puzzling, beautiful and disturbing, and is a film that will linger long after you’ve watched it.

For a change of pace try the child friendly drama Colours of the Mountain, about three friends whose village is under threat from the impending battle between the guerrillas and the militia, slowly forcing the townspeople to abandon their homes. Cheeky Manuel – a brilliant performance by amateur Hernán Mauricio Ocampo – receives a new soccer ball for his birthday, but when it accidentally gets kicked into a landmine area it soon becomes his mission to retrieve the ball before they must evacuate the town. An innocent story set against a brutal political backdrop, Colours of the Mountain can, at times, drag, but the honest and beautiful friendship between these young boys creates a touching film.

For those who prefer a bit more song and dance in their films, An Hour in the Canaries is a Spanish musical from director David Serrano (The Other Side of the Bed). In what promises to be a fun melodrama, Claudia is adored by her husband and son but seeks the man she wants most of all, her love Pablo who has left her for another woman. With the help of her sister she devises a plan to win him back.

Winner of the Best Animated Film at the 2011 Goya Awards was Chico and Rita, a strictly ‘adults only’ animated film from directors Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba. Set in Havana in 1948, Piano player Chico meets and falls in love with the beautiful singer Rita. As Rita’s career blossoms and she finds fame in the US, her relationship with Chico suffers. Can they make it work? Combining a retro animated look with a toe tapping swinging jazz soundtrack, Chico and Rita is a festival highlight.

The big attraction at this year’s festival – namely because it won 9 Goya Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography – is Agusti Villaronga’s Black Bread. Based on Emili Teixidor’s novel, Black Bread is a family drama set during the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. After Andreu witnesses a murder and his father is suspected, he becomes an unlikely detective during a time of suspicion and unrest. Mixing a coming of age story during a time of political strife, with the gothic, supernatural folk tales the local children make up about the surrounding hills, Black Bread looks to be a dark and intriguing drama worth checking out.

The 14th Spanish Film Festival plays the following dates:

Sydney – May 11-22
Melbourne – May 12-22
Brisbane – May 18-29
Perth – May 25-29
Adelaide – May 26-29
Canberra – May 26-29

Check the official festival website for full details of films and screening times!

Discuss: Which films are you keen to check out?

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