The London Spanish Film Festival is back this Autumn for its 12th edition and a unique opportunity to watch some UK premieres at Ciné Lumière and the Regent Street Cinema. The season opens with La Novia, Paula Ortiz’s second film, based in Federico García Lorca’s classic Bodas de sangre and closes with, Endless Night (main picture) Isabel Coixet’s Berlinale 2015 title, which stars Juliette Binoche and Rinko Kikuchi, an intimate but rather portrayal of the relationship between two women from two opposite worlds.
This year’s festival includes a Catalan Window with the fresh but solid debut, Les amigues de l’Àgata, and a drama about the battle of the Spanish Civil War, Ebre, which will be presented by the historian and Hispanist Paul Preston. Possibly the standout film is Victor Erice’s El Sur, a masterpiece about loss and memory, which also forms part of the BFI’s Pedro Almodóvar’s retrospective. Films in competition are marked with a **.
Dir. Paula Ortiz, with Inma Cuesta, Alex García, Asier Etxeandia, Manuela Vellés, Leticia Dolera, Luisa Gavasa | Spain/Germany | 2015 | 96 min. | col | cert. 12 | In Spanish with English subtitles | UK premiere
Based on Federico García Lorca’s play Blood Wedding, which is considered one of his best works, La novia tells us the story of a tragic love triangle set in the deep South of Spain. Ortiz’s treatment of Lorca’s play is respectful and very close to the original poetic dialogue, while the photography of Miguel Amoedo enhances a fable-like atmosphere with nuances of a catastrophe. All performances are powerful but special mention deserves that of Luisa Gavasa, worth of a Greek tragedy, in the role of the cold-hearted widow, mother of the groom.
The film will be followed by a Q&A (tbc) with Prof. Maria Delgado (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama)
Thu 22 Sep | 8.40pm | £12, conc. £10 | Ciné Lumière
Dir. Lydia Zimmermann, with Blanca Portillo, Agustí Villaronga, Colm Tóibín | Spain | 2016 | 59 min. | col | doc | cert. PG | In Spanish with English subtitles | UK premiere
Blanca Portillo has one of Spain’s richest, unstoppable acting careers in film, TV and theatre. She won the Cannes Film Festival’s Palm Award for her work in Pedro Almodóvar’s film Volver and her work has been awarded several times.Zimmermann’s documentary follows the actress’s creative process as she prepares to incarnate María of Nazareth in Colm Tóibín’s play Mary’s Testament under the direction of Agustí Villaronga. A privileged and enriching insight into the work of one of the most interesting Spanish actresses of all times.
The film will be followed by an on-stage conversation between Blanca Portillo and Prof. Maria Delgado (The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama).
Fri 23 Sep | 6.30pm | £12, conc. £10 | Ciné Lumière
Dir. Ana Rodríguez Rosell, with Emma Suárez, Birol Ünel | Spain/Dominican Republic | 2015 | 89 min. | col | cert. 12 | In Spanish, English, German and Turkish with English subtitles | European premiere
Alma and Aslan, now separated, meet in the place where they spent their best years married. While they remember their shared dreams and try to figure out what went wrong, Aslan tries to change Alma’s memories and make sense of them for a new life. Shot with a very small crew in the dream setting of the Dominican Republic, Falling is a very intimate film where the enormous talent of the actors thrives under the perceptive and sensitive direction of Rodríguez Rosell, who visited us with her debut film, Buscando a Eimish, also featuring Suárez and Ünel, a few years ago.
Followed by a Q&A with Ana Rodríguez Rosell, Emma Suárez and Birol Ünel
Sat 24 Sep | 6.30pm | £12, conc. £11, University of Westminster students £8 | Regent Street Cinema
LA PUERTA ABIERTA**
Dir. Marina Seresesky, with Carmen Machi, Terele Pávez, Asier Etxeandia | Spain | 82 min. | col | cert. 12 | In Spanish with English subtitles | UK premiere
Through the years, we have programmed Marina Seresesky’s shorts (La boda and El cortejo) and are delighted now to show her first feature film, the moving, at times even poetic, story of Rosa, an embittered middle-aged prostitute living with her mother – who was a prostitute as well. When Rosa accepts to take Lyuba, an orphan little Russian girl, it seems that redemption might still be possible. Machi’s is a poignant, memorable performance. The humour is brought by a superb Etxeandia in the role of a foul-mouthed transvestite.
Followed by a Q&A with the director
Sat 24 Sep | 8.40pm | £12, conc. £10 | Ciné Lumière
Dir. Fernando León de Aranoa, with Benicio del Toro, Tim Robbins, Mélanie Thierry, Olga Kurylenko | Spain | 2015 | 106 min. | col | cert. 16 | In English, French, Serbian and Spanish with English subtitles
Fernando León de Aranoa’s film revolves around the efforts of a group of aid workers to remove a corpse from a well in an armed conflict zone in the Balkans. What initially seemed like a relatively simple task turns out to be a nearly impossible mission complicated by bureaucracy and the stubbornness of the population in conflict. The director achieves with remarkable skill, consistency between the different yearnings of the international, polyglot array of characters in a frustratingly complicated context. Like a Russian doll, the film is a drama inside a comedy, inside a road movie, inside a war movie…
Followed by a Q&A (tbc)
Sun 25 Sep | 6.30pm | £12, conc. £11, University of Westminster students £8 | Regent Street Cinema
Dir. Pablo Hernando, with Julián Génisson, Ingrid García Jonsson, Vicenc Miralles | Spain | 2015 | 100 min. | col | In Spanish with English subtitles | UK premiere
When Hugo Vartán, a struggling writer, finds out that someone he vaguely knows was connected to a murder, the next thing he does is to set out to investigate the facts and use the story to write his next book – which needs to be delivered in a few weeks. As his investigation progresses, Hugo finds himself entering an enigmatic, dangerous world that doesn’t belong to him. Will he go ahead with the investigation for his new book or will he stay away beware of any consequences it may have in this life? Hernando’s second feature film is an accomplished and compelling thriller balanced with graceful suspense.
Preceded by the short EL CORREDOR | The Runner
Dir. José Luis Montesinos, with Miguel Ángel Jenner, Lluís Altés | Spain | 2014 | 12 min. | col | In Spanish with English subtitles | UK premiere
Five years ago the boss closed the company and fired 300 workers. The first day that he goes out to run he meets one of them.
Followed by a Q&A with Pablo Hernando
Sun 25 Sep | 8.40pm | £12, conc. £11, University of Westminster students £8 | Regent Street Cinema
Dir. Simón Casal, with Marian Álvarez, Ricardo de Barreiro, Manuela Vellés | Spain | 2015 | 105 min. | col | In Spanish and German with English subtitles | UK premiere
Manuela and the poor population of her small village in Galicia work in the mines retrieving and processing wolfram for the Nazis, who need this rare metal for the Third Reich’s war machine. When some of the miners plan a revolt against Franco’s military men and the Nazis, while her sister is helping Jews cross the border into Portugal, she must decide if she can remain neutral in a time of war. Inspired by real events in the early 1940s, Casal manages nonetheless to infuse the Galician mountains, forests and wolves with a mysticism and magic very much in line with the mythology of that part of Spain. Marian Álvarez, as usual, delivers here a powerful and nuanced performance.
Preceded by the short ECO | Echo
Dir. Xacio Baño, with Xosé Barato, Rocío González | Spain | 2015 | 20 min. | col | In Spanish and Galician with English subtitles | UK premiere
Echo’s voice was stolen and she was sentenced to repeat what everyone else said. Trapped, she decides to take shelter in a cave and to distance herself from human touch.
Followed by a Q&A with Lobos sucios’s Executive Producer and Scriptwriter Paula Cons and Nir Cohen, Film Programmer at UK Jewish Film
Tue 27 Sep | 8.40pm | £12, conc. £11, University of Westminster students £8 | Regent Street Cinema
NACIDA PARA GANAR** | Not What It Looks Like
Dir. Vicente Villanueva, with Alexandra Jiménez, Victoria Abril, Cristina Castaño | Spain | 2016 | 95 min. | cert. PG | In Spanish with English subtitles | UK premiere
Encarna, a thirty something girl from Móstoles (Madrid) traumatised from childhood by a joke made by the most successful comedy duo in Spain in the national TV, is trapped in a monotonous life between her selling mattresses and her hiding from her mother that her life-long lover is her old Geography teacher. For Encarna it seems impossible to change anything in her life… until she meets an old school friend whose life seems to be one success after another. Ironic, and cruel at times, Villanueva’s is a comedy with tinges of surrealism and esperpento in its most realistic way, which includes Victoria Abril playing a fictitious Victoria Abril.
Preceded by the short DETOUR
Dir. César Espada, with Eulàlia Ramón | Australia/Spain | 2015 | 11 min. | col | cert. 16 | In Spanish and English with English subtitles | UK premiere
The adventures of a Spanish nymphomaniac smuggling drugs in Australia.
Followed by a Q&A with Eulàlia Ramón
Wed 28 Sep | 8.40pm | £12, conc. £10 | Ciné Lumière
Dir. Isabel Coixet, with Juliette Binoche, Gabriel Byrne, Rinko Kikuchi | Spain/France/Bulgaria | 2015 | 104 min. | col | cert. 12A | In English and Inuktitut with English subtitles | London premiere
Josephine Peary is trying to reach her husband, who is in a geographic quest to the North Pole. Upon the impending arrival of the Arctic winter, she finds herself stuck with an Inuit woman and trying to survive the impossible conditions of the harsh climate and the scarcity of food. Inspired by real events, the intimacy of the two women is superbly shown by the Catalan filmmaker and the two actresses are at their very best. The costumes by Clara Bilbao together with Jean-Claude Larrieu’s cinematography make for some really stunning images.
Followed by a Q&A (tbc)
Thu 29 Sep | 6.30pm | £12, conc. £10 | Ciné Lumière
B A S Q U E W I N D O W
ACANTILADO** | The Cliff
Dir. Helena Taberna, with Daniel Grao, Juana Acosta, Goya Toledo, Ingrid García Jonsson, Jon Kortajarena | Spain | 99 min. | col | cert. 12A | In Spanish with English subtitles | UK premiere
Gabriel has to put his promising political career on hold when a mass suicide of members of a sect takes place and his little sister, Cordelia, whom he hasn’t seen for years, seems to be involved. With the help of his sister’s former lover, Helena, and the police inspector, Santana, he’ll try to find Cordelia and the sect’s leader. The beautiful cinematography of Javier Agirre captures the extraordinary landscape of the Canary Islands, helping evidence the emotional state of the characters. The thriller is based on Lucía Etxebarría’s book El contenido del silencio.
Preceded by the short 36 HOURS, by Vincent Lacrocq and Kristell Chenut, with Jon Kortajarena, Clément Chabernaud | US/France | 9 min. | col | cert. PG | In Spanish and French with English subtitles
Against the stunning backdrop of Lanzarote, a poetic reflexion on life and unexpected encounters.
Followed by a Q&A with Jon Kortajarena
Fri 23 Sep | 8.45pm | £12, conc. £11, University of Westminster students £8 | Regent Street Cinema
AMAMA** | Grandma | Abuela
Dir. Asier Altuna, with Nagore Aramburu, Amparo Badiola, Klara Badiola | Spain | 2015 | 103 min. | col | cert. PG | In Basque with English subtitles | London premiere
Amaia grew up in a farm with her parents, brother and grandmother. A video-artist, she finds inspiration in the context in which she grew up and, particularly, in her amama (grandmother) and in the conflicting relationship with her father, who remains firm in his traditional farmer beliefs. A poetic homage to the Basque rural world and matriarchy, a world that is disappearing, Altuna’s Amama is a film with several layers, which, in the end, aims for reconciliation between tradition and modernity.
Preceded by the short LOST VILLAGE, by George Todria, with Kakkha Kobaladze, Lia Abuladze | Spain | 2015 | 15 min. | Without dialogues | UK premiere
A middle-aged man and a woman are the only people living in an abandoned village when lights start appearing in some of the empty houses. Their lives will never be the same again.
Followed by a Q&A with Asier Altuna
Mon 26 Sep | 6.30pm | £12, conc. £11, University of Westminster students £8 | Regent Street Cinema
Dir. Ben Sharrock, with Bárbara Goenaga, Lander Otaola, Joseba Usabiaga | Spain | 2015 | 98 min. | col | cert. 12 | In Basque with English subtitles | London premiere
The eyes of the Welsh filmmaker based in the Basque Country, Ben Sharrock, perfectly capture the mood among Basque youths caused by the economic crisis gripping Spain and making them unable to fly the parent’s nest. Penniless Gorka starts an unlikely relationship with Ane. Both broke, they try to consummate their relationship somewhere, in the car of Gorka’s friend Iñaki. The frustration in front of a hopeless future economic independence gets hold of Gorka, while Ane dreams of leaving for another country.
Followed a Q&A with actress Bárbara Goenaga
Mon 26 Sep | 8.40pm | £12, conc. £10 | Ciné Lumière
LEJOS DEL MAR** | Far From the Sea
Dir. Imanol Uribe, with Elena Anaya, Eduard Fernández | Spain | 2015 | 105 min. | col | In Spanish with English subtitles
When Marina, a doctor living in Almería, leaves her work place one day, the last thing she expects is to see Santi, with whom she had a terrible encounter when she was a child. Recently released, Santi, who has been in prison since then, has come to visit an old cell mate, who is terminally ill and whom Marina is taking care of. One of the most established filmmakers in Spain, with unforgettable films like La muerte de Mikel (1983), Días contados (1994) or El viaje de Carol (2002), Uribe offers us here a wonderful meditation on love, loss and absence with the support of the superb performances of two of Spain’s best actors, Fernández and Anaya.
Followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker
Tue 27 Sep | 6.30pm | £12, conc. £11, University of Westminster students £8 | Regent Street Cinema
UN OTOÑO SIN BERLÍN** | An Autumn Without Berlin
Dir. Lara Izaguirre, with Irene Escolar, Tamar Novas | Spain | 2015 | 95 min. | col | cert. 12 | In Spanish with English subtitles | UK premiere
June comes back to her hometown after some time spent abroad, but her family and her first love are not the same. Like the southern autumn wind, June is going to change everything, getting back her place in the family and the dream shared with Diego of going together to Berlin. Izaguirre’s first feature film is, in a fresh and elegant way, a story about love and personal growth. Irene Escolar, sixth generation of one of the most established actors sagas in Spain, the Gutiérrez Caba, received a special mention for her work at San Sebastian Film Festival last year as well as the Best New Actress Goya Award. Tamar Novas, best known to British audiences for his work in The Sea Inside or Broken Embraces, delivers as well a strong and nuanced performance.
The film will be followed by a Q&A with the director
Wed 28 Sep | 6.30pm | £12, conc. £10 | Ciné Lumière
C A T A L A N W I N D O W
EBRE DEL BRESSOL A LA BATALLA** | Ebre. From the Cradle to the Battle | Ebro. De la cuna a la batalla
Dir. Román Parrado, with Oriol Plà, Roser Tapias, Àlex Monner | Spain | 2015 | 80 min. | In Catalan and Spanish with English subtitles | UK premiere
The Spanish Civil War as a war of attrition. In 1938 the War had already worn out both armies and the spirits of the whole population. The National army however had the support provided by Hitler and Mussolini whereas the Republican army was ignored by the rest of Europe as these countries were more worried about a possible world war. It is in these conditions that, in an effort to stop the National army from crossing the river Ebre, the Republic calls to arms thousands of youths aged 17 and 18. The story of some of these youngsters is narrated by Parrado with fresh enthusiasm and passion, all the while staying true to the facts.
Preceded by an introduction by Hispanist Prof. Paul Preston (London School of Economics)
Sat 24 Sep | 4.30pm | £12, conc. £11, University of Westminster students £8 | Regent Street Cinema
LES AMIGUES DE L’ÀGATA** | Àgata’s Friends | Las amigas de Àgata
Dir. Laia Alabart, Alba Cros, Laura Rius, Marta Verheyen, with Marta Cañas, Carla Linares, Elena Martín, Victoria Serra | Spain | 2015 | 70 min. | col | cert. 12 | In Catalan and Spanish with English subtitles | UK premiere
Les amigues de l’Àgata is a thoughtful and delicate portrait of four young friends through the eyes of Àgata, now in her first university year, who sees how the relationship with her school friends is transformed in their lives in Barcelona as well as during a trip to the Costa Brava. An exceptional final thesis in which all four directors have shared all tasks, the film establishes itself as their opera prima, with the assistance and tutorials of, among others, Isaki Lacuesta and Elías León Siminiani.
The film will be followed by a Q&A with one of the directors
Sun 25 Sep | 4.15pm | £12, conc. £10 | Ciné Lumière)
Dir. Víctor Erice, with Omero Antonutti, Sonsoles Aranguren, Icíar Bollaín | Spain/France | 1983 | 95 min. | col | cert. PG | In Spanish with English subtitles
In collaboration with the BFI, as it is part of Pedro Almodovar’s carte blanche for their full retrospective about him and upon their re-release of this timeless masterpiece, we are proud to programme Victor Erice’s melancholic reflexion on the passing of time and loss. He does so through the eyes of Estrella, a little girl who grows up in a town in the North of Spain, fascinated by the secrets and the past of her beloved father, who was raised in the South.
The film will be introduced by Geoff Andrew, film critic and programmer
Thu 22 Sep | 6.30pm | £12, conc. £10 | Ciné Lumière
THE 12 LONDON SPANISH FILM FESTIVAL 22 -29 SEPTEMBER 2016