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)

Fernando_León_de_Aranoa_-_Seminci_2011

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…

El día de la bestia (The Day of the Beast, 1995)

Bestia1

Written and directed by Álex de la Iglesia

Starring: Álex Angulo, Santiago Segura, Armando de Razza

BY R. MARTÍNEZ

Spanish cinema lost one of its most talented and at the same time humble actors very recently. Álex Angulo, who passed away in a car accident at 61 years of age, received hundreds of condolences from fellow actors and artists right after the tragic news reached the net. He was really loved and respected in the profession, and also by the public. At this point, some non-Spanish readers might be wondering who this actor was and which films did he star in. He appeared in various Spanish TV series – Periodistas, for example – and several films. His international breakthrough came with Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy film Pan’s Labyrinth, in which he played the merciful and Republican supporter Dr Ferreiro. In Spain though, Angulo was remembered – and will always be – as Father Berriatúa, Álex de la Iglesia’s El Día de la Bestia’s popular anti-hero. 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)

I am still here_Kachqaniraqmi

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…

Calle Mayor (Main Street, 1953)

Calle Mayor

Written and directed by Juan Antonio Bardem

Starring: Betsy Blair, José Suárez, Manuel Alexandre

BY R. MARTÍNEZ

The Spanish Civil War has been considered one of the most horrendous events in the recent European history and has been depicted by a plethora of writers, philosophers and artists – Hemingway, Picasso and even Guillermo del Toro. But how much do we know about the thirty-five years General Franco ruled in Spain for? Under what conditions did Spaniards live in the 1940s and 50s, for example? This is a much obscure period, due mainly to Franco’s protectionist attitude towards international politics.

Read More…

Los amantes pasajeros (I’m So Excited, 2013)

Los amantes pasajeros

Written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Starring: Javier Cámara, Cecilia Roth, Carlos Areces, Antonio de la Torre

BY FIONA NOBLE

Pedro Almodóvar’s Los amantes pasajeros/I’m So Excited is, on the surface, a comedic, drug-fuelled romp of a film, that for Paul Julian Smith ‘marks a much heralded return to the transgressive and corrosive comedies of Almodóvar’s early period’. Like the director’s early films, produced in the aftermath of the Movida madrileña, Read More…

La lengua de las mariposas (Butterfly’s Tongue, 1999)

La-Lengua-De-Las-Mariposas

Directed by José Luis Cuerda

Written by Rafael Azcona, José Luis Cuerda and Manuel Rivas

Starring: Fernándo Fernán Gómez, Manuel Lozano, Guillermo Toledo.

BY R. MARTÍNEZ

How can a war shape a country and its people? To what extent may social pressure affect the behaviour and political ideas of individuals? And most importantly, can a conflict change dramatically the way a child perceives the world around him? La lengua de las mariposas takes place shortly before the start of the Spanish Civil War, Read More…

El sol del membrillo (The Quince Tree Sun, 1992)

Sol membrillo

Directed by Víctor Erice

Written by Víctor Erice and Antonio López

Starring: Antonio López, Marina Moreno, Enrique Gran

BY SERGIO ROMERO

Víctor Erice’s film El sol del membrillo (1992) introduces us to the difficult and complex world of art and more specifically that of painting. This is not the first time that Víctor Erice has used the artistic world as the basis for one of his films – allusions to painters such as Jan Vermeer, Velázquez, Rembrandt or Edward Hopper are Read More…