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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…

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…

La isla mínima (Marshland, 2014).

Isla minima

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…

Stockholm (2013)

Stockholm

Directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen

Written by Rodrigo Sorogoyen and Isabel Peña

Starring Aura Garrido, Javier Pereira, Jesús Caba

BY R. MARTÍNEZ

From time to time, one watches a film whose originality and inventiveness are able to surprise and excite even the most worn out audiences’ imaginations, always looking out for a true and special cinematic experience. Stockholm provides a lot of that and a little more. It is fresh and surprising, well-shot and better performed. It is new but has a very powerful cult element to it, borrowing from very interesting sources that should not be revealed, thus intending to optimise the artistic journey that is Stockholm. The less the spectator knows about it, the better. Read More…

El verano de los peces voladores (The Summer of Flying Fish, 2013)

Peces

Directed by Marcela Said

Written by Julio Rojas and Marcela Said

Starring Francisca Walker, Gregory Cohen, Carlos Cayuqueo, Guillermo Lorca, María Izquierdo

By ANA ZUMELZU

The Summer of Flying Fish is the first narrative film by Chilean director Marcela Said, who is known for her documentary works such as El Mocito and I Love Pinochet. It incorporates elements of a traditional coming-of-age tale, along with social and political commentary concerning the conflict between the indigenous southern Chilean Mapuche people and the state over land rights – the so-called “Mapuche movement”. Read More…

Todas las mujeres (2013)

Todas las mujeres

Director: Mariano Barroso

Written by: Alejandro Hernández and Mariano Barroso

Starring: Eduard Fernández, Michelle Jenner, Lucía Quintana, María Morales, Petra Martínez, Marta Larralde, Nathalie Poza.

BY REBECCA NAUGHTEN

Adapted from the TV series of the same name in which veterinarian Nacho (Eduard Fernández) interacted with a different woman in each episode, Mariano Barroso’s film compresses the story down into not much more than a 24 hour period wherein Nacho’s life implodes. I’m not going to say what the exact turn of events are, because it’s something that is revealed gradually, but ‘plot’ is also somewhat superfluous to the real point of the film: a study in character. Read More…

Sigo Siendo – Kachkaniraqmi (I am still here, 2012)

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Directed by Javier Corcuera

Written by Javier Corcuera and Ana de la Prada

Starring: Máximo Damián, Félix Quispe “Duco”, “Palomita”

BY ÚRSULA COX

In Quechua Chanka (from the Ayacucho province in the Peruvian Andes) when two dear old friends meet after a long time the chosen greeting is “¡Kachkaniraqmi!” to express that, despite everything, one still is, still exists, is still here or, in its plural version (Quechua in all its forms doesn’t differentiate between plural and singular), we are still here, we are still, despite the odds.  Read More…