SPANISH FILM FESTIVAL 2009 - PREVIEW
THEY DO MENTION THE WAR
Popular Spanish actor Javier Cámara, a special guest of the Festival, will be
the subject of a sidebar at this year’s event, which also reminds us of the
Spanish Civil war that ended 70 years ago – but left eternal scars.
The 2009 Spanish Film Festival opens with the Spanish box office hit, Chef’s
Special, a laugh-out-loud comedy starring Javier Cámara, who will be in
Australia to present sessions in Sydney and Melbourne. Chef’s Special leads the
Javier Cámara In Focus section which features screenings of some of Cámara’s
finest work including Spain’s official entry for the Academy Awards, Blind
Sunflowers (nominated for 15 Goya Awards), the popular opening night film of the
2005 Festival, Torremolinos 73, and one of his early and best roles in Pedro
Almodóvar’s Talk To Her.
“This year’s program gives an exciting insight into contemporary Spain and
Spanish-speaking countries through the most powerful form of communication -
cinema. Most of these films will never be screened again in Australia, and the
Spanish Film Festival offers audiences around the country their only chance to
see these amazing films on the big screen,” said Spanish Film Festival Director
and Founder, Natalia Ortiz.
"Spain’s acclaimed and internationally-renowned
“Spain’s acclaimed and internationally-renowned filmmakers showcase their
work alongside the up-and-coming new directors – the internationally acclaimed
filmmakers of the future. We discover new talent, an insight into today’s Spain,
Mexico, Argentina, Puerto Rico and Cuba, and revisit, or discover, the father of
Spanish Cinema in the Retrospective of the work of Luis Buñuel,” Ortiz said.
And in recognition of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Spanish Civil War,
a program of features and documentaries give greater insight into this defining
period in Spain’s history. A War In Hollywood is an in-depth look at the impact
that the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship had on the North American
film industry. Hollywood used the Civil War as a subject in more than 50 films.
The defeat of democracy in Spain left an “open wound” in the heart of liberal
actors, directors and screenwriters in the US, who used affection towards
democratic Spain as a symbolic feature to define the romantic spirit of their
characters. This sympathy, however, was shaped according to the American
political tendencies of each period. This evolution is narrated through the
personal story of Alvah Bessie, a Hollywood screenwriter who fought as a member
of the International Brigade. Oriol Porta’s meticulous documentary includes
excerpts from Casablanca, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Way We Were among
others, and commentary by actress Susan Sarandon, screenwriters Arthur Laurents
and Walter Bernstein and cinema historians Román Gubern and Patrick McGilligan.
Viva La Musica is a celebration of music and film and features Old Man Bebo, a
documentary on legendary pianist Bebo Valdes who is one of the greatest living
Cuban musicians, now nearing 90. This joyful documentary celebrates the man who
was a key figure in the development of mambo and whose life reflects the
experiences of many Cubans since 1959.
Carlos Saura’s Fados is a music journey which explores the intricate
relationship between the music and the city of Lisbon, as the evolution of Fado,
the Portuguese national song of passion, sorrow and remembrance.
"a feel-great celebration of music and fervour"
La Mala is a comedy set in 1960s Puerto Rico which is a feel-great
celebration of music and fervour inspired by the story of Guadalupe Yoli Raymond
– La Lupe - the patron saint of Cuba's Latin soul movement, featuring Grammy
nominee Lena Burke in her first screen role.
Calixto Bieito’s famously controversial 2002 staged production of Mozart’s Don
Giovanni sets the action in the late 20th century (in a rough, middle-class,
neighbourhood replete with lager-louts, sex and drugs) and brings to life an
ancient story brilliantly re-told. Filmed on Bieito’s home stage of Barcelona,
the production boasts some fine singing, especially from Véronique Gens as
Elvira (once a problematic role, now every lyric soprano’s favourite).
Septembers is the story of Madrid’s Soto del Real penitentiary which, every
September, holds the “Festival of the Song,” a competition among the best
singers from selected prisons. This beautifully executed documentary follows the
stories of eight contestants, four men and four women, from one September’s
contest to the next, and journeys both within and outside the prison, travelling
from Buenos Aires to Lithuania, and Bolivia to Barcelona in order to track down
the people for whom the prisoners sing.
Cine Contemporaneo is a program which showcases the cutting edge of contemporary
Spanish cinema, featuring some of the most exciting directors currently working
in Spain - both emerging new talent and celebrated established filmmakers.
The feature directorial debut from award-winning writer David Planell (Seven
Billiard Tables SPFF 2008), Shame is an audacious new drama about a couple
wanting to send back an adopted child.
José Antonio Quirós’ engaging new comic drama, Ashes From The Sky, examines the
compromises and consequences made over environmental concerns as they affect
people’s everyday lives. Make It Look Like An Accident is a wildly entertaining
film from Gerardo Herrero about conspiracies, a group of crazy friends, and an
obsessive mother played effortlessly by the always-superb Carmen Maura.
"stirring Spanish romance of mad love and doomed
A tenderhearted romantic fable and Moroccan co-production, A Fiancé For
Yasmina, charts the tangled imbroglio that arises when emotional dilemmas,
star-crossed relationships and the unpredictable effects of love bring mayhem
upon a group of friends who gather at an immigrants' centre.
The award-winning debut feature from writer-director José Manuel González, The
Sandman is a stirring Spanish romance of mad love and doomed passion, inspired
by the now extinct Spanish "Law for the Vagabonds and Delinquents" which existed
Insignificant Things is the debut feature from writer-director Andrea Martinez
Crowther, produced by Bertha Navarro and Guillermo del Toro - an emotive story
about a young girl who learns about people through what they leave behind.
From the writer-directors of Tapas (SPFF 2006), Cowards is a sensitive and
powerful treatment of bullying both in the school playground and in the wider
social landscape in which children and their families operate.
Spanish director Augustín Díaz Yanes follows up the most expensive film ever
made in Spain (Nobody Will Speak of Us When We’re Dead), by casting some of the
biggest stars of the Spanish-speaking world in Just Walking, a hugely
entertaining new femme thriller set in Mexico (starring Diego Luna, Victoria
Abril, Ariadna Gil, Pilar López De Ayala, Elena Anaya) about power, lust & money
that was nominated for 11 Goya awards.
Horn Of Plenty is the new screwball comedy from Juan Carlos Tabío (Strawberry
and Chocolate) which explores with corrosive wit the allure of wealth, as the
residents of a small Cuban town chase the possibility of an inherited overseas
Mothers (Madres) is the story of the group of Argentinean women who have banded
together since the 1970s when their children were kidnapped by the military
government. In this moving documentary, the mothers speak of their determination
to uncover what happened to their children through touching interviews. Archival
footage lets us witness the drift of a country from the idyllic Evita years to
state terrorism based on the forced disappearance of people.
"Spanish-language cinema from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto
Rico and Argentina"
The beauty, mastery and energy of the Spanish-speaking world is showcased
through Spanish-language cinema from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Argentina in
Cine En Español. Y Tu Mamá También co-stars Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna
are reunited on the big screen in Rudo Y Cursi from Mexico, a delightful romp of
a comedy drama from writer-director Carlos Cuarón (brother of Alfonso).
Life Is Too Short is the popular program of short films from Spain: The Hairy
Tooth Fairy, the world’s most famous sugar-tooth rodent, is back with the
animated sequel set to delight All Ages. Perez, the Hairy Tooth Fairy has been
kidnapped by the devious Penkoff – and it falls to 8-year-old Lucas and his
family to save the day!
Published April 23, 2009
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12TH SPANISH FILM FESTIVAL
Sydney: 6-18 May at Palace Academy Twin, Palace Norton Street & Chauvel
Canberra: 7-14 May at Dendy Canberra City
Canberra: 21 May – 7 June at ARC (National Film & Sound Archive)
Melbourne: 13-25 May at Palace Cinema Como & Kino Cinemas
Adelaide: 14-17 May at Palace Eastend Cinemas
Brisbane: 21-31 May at Palace Centro
Perth: 20-27 May at Cinema Paradiso
War in Hollywood