Say Hola to the 21st Spanish Film Festival

Hola Amigos!  The Spanish Film Festival is set to hit Palace Cinemas this month and with its all-star line up you’d be loco to miss it!

Headlining this year’s festival is Fernando Colomo’s, The Tribe, a female-driven story about families, love and dance! Carmen Machi is Virginia, a cleaning lady whose true passion is street dancing with her dance group, “The Mommies.” Her world is turned upside down when her estranged son (Paco Leon) reenters her life having lost his job and his memory in a recent car accident. The mother and son soon realise their shared enthusiasm for dance and the viewers are swept up in a 90 minute spectacular show. The Tribe will hit screens on the Festival’s official opening night on 17th April 2018.

Image via spanishfilmfestival.com

The Festival’s preview showcased another headlining film of this year’s program; Abracadabra. Director Pablo Berger is no stranger to good film making having directed Spanish Academy Award winning Blancanieves (Snow White 2012). His latest release follows housewife Carmen (Maribel Verdú), her alpha-male husband Carlos (Antonio de la Torre), their daughter Tori and the family’s life in Madrid. From the opening scenes Carlos is painted as the villain – the football fanatic, unfocused and forgettable husband who leaves Carmen craving attention. The family attends a relative’s wedding where Carlos volunteers to be subject to Carmen’s cousin Pepe and, his amateur hypnotism. The trick takes a turn for the worst and Carlos becomes possessed by the spirit of a deceased waiter. The audience follows Carmen’s journey to get her husband back and uncover the truth about the spirits through a sequence of often comedic and occasionally uncomfortable scenes. 

Now wait up! I know I may have lost you it what seems like a ridiculously unbelievable plot line, confused genres and poor portrayal of ‘the spirit world”. However, do not be fooled because this movie is quite the opposite with its enduring execution of retro-pop cinema and deep character personalities. You feel Carmen’s pain, her confusion and struggle but the quick one liners and witty dialogue keeps it comedic. Even in scenes which evoke unease, the up-beat music and accompanying humour had the audience laughing out loud. 

Abracadabra was nominated for numerous Spanish Academy Awards (Goya), including Best Production Design and Best Costume Design. One look at Carmen’s bold coloured dress in the opening scene and you can see why it’s deserving. The sets reflect a retro glamour contrasted by some fab modern skyline shots of Madrid.

It’s a film of conflicts. Carmen and Carlos, Carlos and Pepe, violence and affection, reality and imagination. The movie does have an underlying social commentary which I believed focused on feminism and women’s values, whilst my guest insisted it tapped into issues of schizophrenia. Perhaps it was both, or neither but it allows room for interpretation (and great after-movie conversation). Sure, it’s not your average Hollywood film but that makes it interesting right?

Image via nerdspam.com

The event is catered by Ola Lola, serving up some authentic Spanish tapas including Empanadas and cheesey, cheesey Croquettes’. Torres Wines supplies the reds, whites and pinks before the show. Be sure to book ahead if this sounds like your kind of fiesta!

The Festival is a celebration of Spanish culture with the new stars of cinema performing alongside Spanish icons. The program will showcase infamous Spanish director, Bigas Luna, with his classic Jamon Jamon a part of the program. Women are also taking centre-stage this year with an entire category dedicated to female directors, including Carla Simón’s deeply affecting autobiographical feature, Summer 1993.

Jamon Jamon Image via spansihfilmfestival.com

Summer 1993 Image via spansihfilmfestival.com

So go on… tap into your inner Penelope Cruz, scrub up on your Spanish with a red wine in hand and Hola Espana!

Check out the Festival dates, Palace Cinemas and full program here