Screen queens, stubborn soldiers and shots in a bar: Spanish Film Festival fare

The Bar copy

Eight people walk into a bar and then … a scene from El Bar (The Bar)

As one film festival closes (I’m talking about Australia’s French Film Festival), so another one begins. And this time, amigos, the featured language is Spanish. And it’s a landmark for the Spanish Film Festival – this will be its 20th edition, with some 34 films to show for it. Here is the schedule.

  • Sydney (April 18 to May 7)
  • Canberra (April 19 to May 7)
  • Melbourne (April 20 to May 7)
  • Adelaide (April 26 to May 14)
  • Perth (April 27 to May 17)
  • Brisbane (April 27 to May 14)
  • Hobart (May 11-18)

Some of my favourite Spanish actresses are featured, and I’m looking forward to seeing these in films in particular:

Penélope Cruz in La Reina De España (The Queen of Spain) 

The Queen of Spain

The film is set in the 1950s and Penélope plays an actress who returns from Hollywood to play Queen Isabella. It looks lavish.

Maribel Verdú in La Punta Del Iceberg (The Tip Of The Iceberg)

The tip of the iceberg

This film takes a look at corporate culture. When three employees of a multinational corporation commit suicide, Maribel plays an executive who is chosen by the company to investigate (and to do a good PR job for it), but the more she sees, the more aghast she becomes. She doesn’t look happy, does she?

 

For those who like war films or historical epics, 1898, Los Últimos De Filipinas (1898, Our Last Men In The Philippines) should do the trick.

 

1898 our last men of philippines

It certainly looks like movie making in a grand style.

 

Another one that looks interesting is El Bar, (The Bar, pictured at the top of this post). In it, people in a bar find themselves caught up in a terrifying episode.

Photographs courtesy of Palace Films. 

Colombian films shine at Spanish Film Festival

The Spanish Film Festival is in full swing in Australia and as usual it has been great to go along and catch some of the action. Sydney and Melbourne got the first bite at the olive this year and are in the “back by popular demand” stage, putting on extra sessions of the most popular films. But Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart still have a lot to look forward to. Here’s the official festival trailer.

One film I was very keen to see was Embrace of the Serpent (El Abrazo de la Serpiente), the first Colombian film to be nominated for an Oscar, in the Best Foreign Film category. If you ever get the chance to see it, go! It was fantastic, visually stunning and very thought-provoking. It’s a must-see film for anyone who wants to know about life on the Amazon river and in the jungle.

It is also a linguistic feast: English, Cubeo, Wanano, Tikuna, Huitoto, Okaina, Latin, Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese and German with English subtitles! I guess not many films can beat that.

Check out the trailer.

GREAT ARTICLES ABOUT THE FILM, DIRECTOR AND ACTORS 

Much as I like a good film, I also like a good review of it to match (there’s nothing more off-putting than a tedious review of a great film). The best review I have read of Embrace of the Serpent is this one by Jordan Hoffman in The Guardian.

There are also two interviews I found that are well worth reading:
  • one with the director Ciro Guerra – “I spent five years on this movie because I wanted to take a trip to the unknown. I was tired of the Western way of life, where humans are virtual avatars instead of people. I wanted to see if there was another way of living, and I found it.
  • and the other with a 30-year-old man of Cubeo origin who plays the younger version of the shaman Karamakate – Nilbio Torres had never been to the cinema before and had never heard of the Oscars, until he acted in a film that got nominated for one.

ANOTHER COLOMBIAN FILM TO LOOK OUT FOR 

While I was watching Embrace of the Serpent, a friend of mine who is the arts editor of a newspaper in Canberra was taking in Breathless Time (Tiempo Sin Aire) in the national capital. She texted me after to say it was “amazing”.

For information on all the films in this year’s festival and screening times, the Festival website is here.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

Palace cinemas are putting on Cine Latino: A New Festival of Latin American Cinema over a two-week period in August, plus there is the Sydney Latin American Film Festival in September.

Film festivals: now you see them, or – oops! – now you don’t

 

Some of the films in the 2015 French Film Festival

Some of the films in the 2015 French Film Festival

Quel imbécile je suis! About a month ago I saw adverts starting to appear in Sydney for the 26th annual Alliance Française French Film Festival, and I thought, “Oh great, it’s festival time again, I must see what’s on.”

Then what happened? I forgot about it. For a month. Today I remembered. So I go online and what do I find….?

2015 french film festival

The Sydney leg of the festival is past the halfway mark already, ditto for Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra. But people in Brisbane, Perth, Byron Bay and Hobart have a lot to look forward to. For the programs etc, go here.

You may be thinking, that Bernard, quel imbécile! Il est très oublieux... (very forgetful) but the truth is on top of my normal job I am editing an 180-page magazine (the 2015 edition of How Busy Women Get Rich, no less), it’s due to go to press just after Easter – on sale from April 27 – and I don’t have time to think about anything else apart from women’s finances! In my opinion, ladies, speaking as a finance guru now, any subscription to a foreign language film festival is a worthy investment. I doubt I will make it to even one French film in Sydney before the festival ends on March 22, but Hobart from April 16-21 looks tempting (I have never been to Tasmania).

So, what other film festivals am I in danger of missing?

Oh look at this….

spanish film festival

Tickets and programs for the Spanish Film Festival will be available on March 19 (that’s this coming Thursday) from Palace Cinemas.

The German Film Festival will follow shortly after…

german film festival

Look out for the Arab Film Festival too …

arab film festival

The Italian Film Festival and Windows On Europe Film Festival usually take place in the second half of the year, as does the Greek Film Festival. and the Latin American Film Festival.