Preview: La Película film fest
Films from across the Spanish-speaking world
Posted: February 13, 2013
By Hana Gomoláková
FOR THE POST
From documentary to blockbuster, La Película is bringing a wide range of films in Spanish for the eighth time. From Feb. 19 to 28, the festival will present some of the best works from Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and other Spanish-speaking countries in Prague, Brno, Ostrava and Hradec Králové.
This year's highlight is definitely the silent film Blancanieves, an unusual take on the Snow White story full of references to 1920s Spanish life and culture. Director Pablo Berger had worked on the black-and-white film for eight full years, only to release it at the same time as The Artist, a clear tribute to the silent cinema and the winner of five Academy Awards including Best Picture in 2012. On top of this bad luck, two Hollywood adaptations of the famous Brothers Grimm fairy tale were also released: the lighter feel-good comedy Mirror, Mirror and the darker action drama Snow White and the Huntsman.
When: Feb. 19-28
Where: Kino Světozor
What differentiates Blancanieves from the other three films is that it neither seeks to easily entertain the audience with expensive production and easy glitter nor to pay clear tribute to the silent era. In Blancanieves, the heroine's father is a famous toreador, a craft the young girl begins to later learn after she joins a company of dwarf bullfighters. Pedro Almodóvar called the film the best of 2012, and, indeed, next to The Artist, Blancanieves stands proudly and boldly as an example of honest and beautiful retro filmmaking.
David Čeněk, the festival's programmer, noted that in spite of the Iberian debt mess, "Spanish filmmaking creativity definitely hasn't experienced any crisis."
As usual, the festival showcases films reflecting historical facts. Manuel H. Martín's animated documentary 30 años de oscuridad (30 Years of Darkness) tells with honesty the story of the former mayor Manuel Cortés, forced after the Spanish Civil War to hide from the Franco dictatorship in a small space between the walls in his house. The film proves again the deep impact animated documentaries can have on the viewer.
Carmina o revienta (Carmina), last year's discovery and Paco Perón's directorial debut, also plays with documentary themes. Based on the director's mother's experience, the film tells a story of a shop owner finding another way of making money after insurance companies refuse to cover the costs of several robberies at her business. The film bursts with typical Spanish dark humor.
Thrillers from well-known directors also look back at Spanish history. Gerardo Herrero's Silencio en la nieve (Frozen Silence) follows an investigation that unfolds after a Spanish soldier is murdered and accused of collaboration with the Soviets during World War II. Alberto Rodriguez's Grupo 7 (Unit 7) is, on the other hand, a hidden criticism of events that followed after Expo '92 in Seville. A drug trafficking investigation gets out of hand when an ambitions cop crosses the bounds of law.
The Pelayos (Winning Streak), by Eduard Cortés, a Spanish blockbuster also based on a true story, has already been bought for Czech distribution. The action crowd-pleaser tells the story of a family's luck at cheating casinos and enjoying it before the luck runs dry. The director's latest black comedy, ¡Atraco! (Holdup!), will also screen. Set in 1955, the film depicts the planning of a heist to steal jewelry from Eva Perón - a scheme hatched by an assistant of her husband's, the overthrown and exiled Argentine dictator Juan Domingo Perón.
The economic crisis is reflected in a crazy surreal comedy circling around a bank-robbery gone wrong in Alfonsó Sanchez's El mundo es nuestro (The World Is Ours). This crowd-funded film was spotted by the programmers and added at the last minute.
A special section titled "Tango Argentino" is devoted to the dance and will show four films, including two documentaries, that put a lens on the country's modern history and, especially, its capital, Buenos Aires.
"Last year, we began to show lesser-known Latin American productions to show the less common side of Spain and South America, and this year we're following up on that," Čeněk said, citing as a personal favorite the documentary Tango Mío, a 1985 film by the Argentina-based director Jana Boková that takes a closer look at the history of tango.
For those passionate about another traditional dance, the festival will screen the European premiere of Flamenco Hoy, Carlos Saura's explosive, hypnotic and colorful direction of his first live performance.
Hana Gomoláková can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org