Felices 140 (Happy 140, 2015)

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Directed by Gracia Querejeta

Written by Antonio Mercero and Gracia Querejeta

Starring: Maribel Verdú, Antonio de la Torre, Eduard Fernández

BY PABLO DE CASTRO

Spain may not be the most popular country in Scotland these days – in fact it hasn’t been for quite some time now: threats back in 2014 to veto any attempt for an independent Scotland to join the EU resulted among other things in occasional calls against the rights of the Spanish fishing fleet to work in Scottish waters. The recent events in Catalonia haven’t been helpful either to improve this image of a government prone to bullying their way around. Read More…

Hermosa juventud (Beautiful Youth, 2014)

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Directed by Jaime Rosales

Written by Jaime Rosales and Enric Rufas

Starring: Ingrid García Jonsson, Carlos Rodríguez, Inma Nieto

BY RAQUEL MARTÍNEZ

In December 2014, the Spanish Prime Minister  ̶  Mariano Rajoy  ̶  claimed that the economic crisis was ‘history’.[1] In the same year, Catalan director Jaime Rosales released Beautiful Youth, a bleak observation of the effects of such crisis on one of Spain’s most vulnerable sectors: young people. Read More…

El pastor (The Shepherd, 2016)

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Written and directed by Jonathan Cenzual Burley

Starring: Maribel Iglesias, Miguel Martín, Alfonso Mendiguchía

BY PABLO DE CASTRO

The 23rd edition of the extraordinary Spanish-speaking VIVA Festival Manchester took place just a couple of months ago. The film section is just one area of a much wider festival which addresses all means of artistic and cultural expression, including theatre, dance and visual arts. Once the festival was over, a few selected jewels started touring the country (same as the ‘Best of the IDFA’ tours The Netherlands: this will typically happen when cinema is seen as a cultural activity beyond business). These hidden gems have recently arrived to our own very Glasgow, and oh dear, the three selected pieces happen to arrive from Latin America. Read More…

Un perro andaluz (Un Chien Andalou, 1929)

Perro andaluz

Directed by Luis Buñuel

Written by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí

Starring: Pierre Batcheff, Simone Mareuil, Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí

Making sense of Buñuel’s Un chien andalou 

BY BEATRIZ CABALLERO RODRIGUEZ

Daring and irreverent, Un chien andalou sets out to break expectations and to shock viewers out of their bourgeois numbed comfort. Although a black and white, silent film only seventeen minutes long, it remains one of the most influential and celebrated short-films in the history of cinema. Read More…

Volver (2006)

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Written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Starring: Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo, Chus Lampreave

BY BEATRIZ CABALLERO RODRIGUEZ

From the outset, Pedro Almodóvar’s film Volver (2006) tackles the topics of memory and trauma across three generations of women. As the title Volver (meaning to return, to come back) indicates, this film is marked by a strong sense of disjointed time where the past refuses to stay in the past, ghosts refuse to stay buried, traumatic events refuse to be forgotten. Read More…

LOREAK (Flowers, 2014)

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Directed by José Mari Goenaga and Jon Garaño

Written by José Mari Goenaga, Jon Garaño and Aitor Arregui

Starring: Nagore Aranburu, Itziar Aizpuru, Itziar Ituño

BY R. MARTÍNEZ

Why do we give flowers to people? Are they a colourful allegory of youth and beauty? Or are they a tangible proof of feelings such as love or perhaps regret? Flowers are the main theme that binds the film Loreak’s female protagonists together. Loreak was filmed in the Basque language and is one of the strongest examples of 2015’s Basque cinema together with Asier Altuna’s enigmatic Amama. Read More…

Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens, 2000)

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Written and directed by Fabián Bielinsky

Starring: Ricardo Darín, Gastón Pauls, Leticia Brédice.

BY PAMELA McLEAN

Sometimes old stories are the best, and Nine Queens has one of the oldest there is: the con is on, and experienced professional Marco teams up with young gun Sebastian to pull off the biggest con of either of their careers. Read More…

La isla mínima (Marshland, 2014).

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Directed by Alberto Rodríguez

Written by Rafael Cobos and Alberto Rodríguez

Starring: Javier Gutiérrez, Raúl Arévalo, Antonio de la Torre.

BY R. MARTÍNEZ

2014 was an incomparable year for Spanish cinema. The Spanish film industry started to show signs of recovery from the harsh blow suffered as a result of the economic crisis and the VAT tax rise (from 8% to 21%) imposed by the Conservative Government. This rehabilitation was visible at this year’s Goya Awards where, for the first time in several years, there wasn’t just one clear favourite but a few strong contenders. Andalusian director Alberto Rodriguez achieved a considerable victory over the other nominees by taking home a total of 10 Goya awards for his film La isla mínima, including Best Film and Best Director. Read More…

Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales, 2014)

Relatos-Salvajes

Written and directed by Damián Szifrón

Starring: Ricardo Darín, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Óscar Martínez, Érica Rivas

BY LUIS EZPELETA

Director Damián Szifron’s last film Relatos salvajes (Wild Tales, 2014) has just arrived at Spanish billboards. After a successful trajectory at the Argentine box-office – where it has already been watched by more than two million people – this grim black-comedy has been selected as the entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards, to be held in February 2015. Despite its episodic structure, the six segments the film is composed of share such touchy and common topics as the dark and eerie motifs that lead the human mind to seek for vengeance, and the thin line that distinguishes it from justice. The most quick-witted spectators should be able to identify some references to celebrated American films such as Duel (Steven Spielberg, 1971) and Falling Down (Joel Schumacher, 1993). The film also goes deep into the consequences of madness, human greed, the usage of violence to solve problems, and jealousy. The characters (played by famous Argentine actors) cross the line between civility and brutality too easily. Szifron reaches high levels of narrative quality partly due to the audacious use of the mise-en scene and the soundtrack, both of which help to reinforce the obscure atmosphere surrounding the whole film. The segment entitled “Bombita” (Little Bomb) perfectly embodies the spirit and aim of the whole film. Starring Ricardo Darín, it deals with the story of an explosives expert whose life changes dramatically after getting a traffic fine. We are shown an ordinary citizen’s helplessness at tackling the intricate bureaucracy of corrupt states. As I mentioned before, the film is full of atrocious moments including plane crashes, physical aggression verbal violence and murder. It doesn’t seem strange that it has been labelled as a black comedy. Far from providing moral answers, we are invited to reflect on the essence of human nature. Read More…

Social realism in Spanish cinema: Fernando León de Aranoa

This article was originally published on Issue number 2 of literary magazine Thi Wurd.

No me importa que al morir no haya otra vida,

lo que me preocuparía es que si hubiera otra fuera igual que esta”

Well, the worst thing wouldn’t be if there was nothing after death.

The worst thing would be if there was another life, just like this one

Princesas (2005)

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Written by Raquel Martínez

When thinking about contemporary Spanish cinema, one name usually springs to mind: the highly talented and internationally celebrated director Pedro Almodóvar. However, to what extent does his cinema depict Spanish life and culture? Although not everyone outside Spain is aware of it, a more realistic film tradition has existed there since the early 1950s. It was born under the influence of Italian Neorealism and was mainly represented by the great directors Luis García Berlanga and Juan Antonio Bardem (uncle of actor Javier Bardem) in films such as Welcome Mr. Marshall (1953) and Death of a Cyclist (1955). Many more followed; those who continued capturing the complex socio-political situation of a confused country and its people during the post-war era and the subsequent decades until Franco’s death in 1975. Read More…