Seville, 20 October 2014.-Spanish cinema will, once again, open the Seville European Film Festival (SEFF), when the inaugural gala is held on 7 November in the Lope de Vega Theatre. La ignorancia de la sangre, by Manuel Gómez Pereira, filmed in Seville last November and starring Juan Diego Botto, Alberto San Juan and Paz Vega, will set the tone for a programme that, again, has a Spanish presence in each of its sections. National productions of very differing character and nature, classic voices and narrative cinema mingle with very new proposals and experimental cinema in the competitive sections, from the Official Section to Europa Junior (dedicated to the infant and very young audiences) and including New Waves (which brings together the new values and most distinctive viewpoints in contemporary European cinema) or New Waves Non Fiction (which reflects the unlimited, multi-form possibilities of this cinema). But there will also be a strong national presence in the EFA Selection (European Film Academy), in Short Matters (short films) and in Special Screening.
Nevertheless, Spanish cinema, in its most combative and independent version, will have total protagonism in the Resistances section. This came into being last year as a result of SEFF’s need to act as a platform and loudspeaker for a whole creative movement that has grown up on the fringes of the industry; and it is being repeated this year as a showcase for the consolidation of the so-called New Spanish Cinema, and will have an award granted by a FIPRESCI jury.
After the success of the irreverent Tres bodas de más last year, SEFF, on its opening day, is presenting genre cinema thanks to the director Manuel Gómez Pereira (El amor prejudica seriamente la salud, Boca a Boca). La ignorancia de la sangre, which is having its premiere at the Festival out of competition, is an adaptation of the detective novel by the same name by Robert Wilson, in which the North American best-seller returns with his favourite character and setting, Inspector Falcón and the city of Seville.
In this film, with a fatalistic atmosphere, Juan Diego Botto plays Javier Falcón, the head of homicide in Seville, who is dealing with two cases at the same time: the kidnapping of the son of his mistress (Paz Vega) by a Russian mafia, and an espionage matter to do with an Islamic terrorist group. The cast of the film, produced by Gerardo Herrero and co-produced by Antonio Perez, is completed with the actors Alberto San Juan and Cuca Escribano.
This year, the Official Section will have only one Spanish film in competition: El camino más larga para volver a casa. The first feature film by Sergi Pérez is the result, in his own words, of “a long and not very orthodox creative process”, financed through Crowdfunding and filmed in a fragmented way in 16 days over the course of a year. The new project by the collective Niu ‘Indi stars Borja Espinosa, Miki Esparbé, Mireia Gubianas, Maria Ribera, Pol López, Sara Espígul and Silvia Esquivel. The film came about after those involved had passed through ESAC (Catalonia’s school of cinema and audiovisual studies).
In the section The New Waves, Pere Vila i Barceló will present his third feature film: La fosa “a risky visual and thematic gamble”, in the words of the director. The title alludes metaphorically to the mass grave which holds the still unfinished personal stories resulting from the Spanish Civil War. With a cast led by Lluis Homar, Vila recreates the journey of an old man who travels from his old people’s residence to the area where a mass grave has been found. It is also a journey through his past which will lead him to meet with the love of his life.
A film that defines the guiding philosophy of this festival, Las altas presiones confirms SEFF’s support for New Spanish Cinema, particularly the focus of creativity and innovation that has arisen in the independent Galician industry (as happened in previous years with productions such as Arrainanos or Costa De Morte). Films made and produced in Galicia have enormous international projection and receive awards at important festivals throughout Europe. This year it is represented by this film by Ángel Santos, starring Andrés Gertrudix, a friend of SEFF since his participation in 10.000 noches en ninguna parte, which was in the Official Section in 2013. Santos focuses on the story of a young man who goes back to his native Galicia on a business trip to search for locations for someone else’s film. Parties, concerts and flirtations at the wrong time are all mingled with the morriña (homesickness) for his terra galega (Galician land).
NEW WAVES NON FICTION
Several national titles have been programmed in this section, led by Equí y n’otru tiempu (2014), in which, with a rigorous structure and imperturbable sobriety, Ramón Lluis Bande brings to the screen the story of the resistance fighters who died in the mountains. This is a film that reaffirms cinema’s ability as a medium to make the invisible visible, with the filming today of the places where the leaders of the Asturian Guerrilla Group were murdered.
ReMine, el ultimo movimiento obrero, by Marcos M. Merino, is another combative film which also has to do with the vindication of the historic memory. It is set at the heart of the workers’ struggle in the north of Spain. The directorcaptures a last effort in the universal history of dignity by filming one of the most important recent miners’ strikes in the country. Over 4,000 miners took part and the director filmed them in their sit-in, on their protest march and on their journey to despair due to lack of aid. It is a film that offers the perfect counter-shot to the scant media coverage given to that heartrending summer of worker resistance.
Pablo Llorca, another director who doesn’t beat about the bush and one of those most faithful to the spirit of SEFF, returns to Seville with País de todo a 100, in which, with the excuse of showing the country to a visiting Finnish friend, he undertakes an exemplary journey along the trail of urban disasters scattered through the length and breadth of Spain. An adventure that also denounces the systematic destruction of the public space with outrageous architectural measures and their consequences.
EUROPA JUNIOR AND SPANISH 3D ANIMATION
In the infants’ and children’s section of SEFF, the Hispano-Cuban production Little Tom and the magic mirror, by Ernesto Padrón Blanco and Bruno López will be competing for the spectators’ votes. This film is another example of the solvency of animation made in Spain – and the first 3D animated film in the history of the Cuban film industry, from one of those responsible for El Cid: la leyenda and Copito de Nieve. This film, which will have its world premiere in Seville, has a soundtrack performed by the singer Roko and among the voices of the main characters are those of the Spanish actors Javier Rey and María Castro.
SEFF’s support for New Spanish Cinema takes shape in Resistances, where 11 titles will compete for the award given by a FIPRESCI jury. The Section is headed by the work by Ion de Sosa, a well-known filmmaker in Spanish experimental cinema whose work fits perfectly into the philosophy of Resistances. After the surprising, intimist True Love, Sosa moves into a new, disconcerting terrain with Sueñan los androides (2014). In this film, Sosa constructs a fascinating parallel world in a film that goes beyond genres (cine noir, science fiction, surrealist comedy, documentary and diary), in a free adaptation of the classic by Philip K. Dick which offers bursts of filmic beauty and profound intimacy.
Pablo Llorca must also be in this section. This is his second year (and he is doubling up in SEFF14), now with El gran salto adelante, the story of Andrés, a primary teacher played by Antonio Dechent who takes Fernando home after the man collapses in a bar. With this starting point, and always under Llorca’s prism of silent vindication, the film aims to show the progressive reduction in public health and education, and the consequences this has on people’s lives.
In África 815, the Cordoban filmmaker Pilar Monsell delves into the photographic archive and her father’s written memoirs about his experience doing military service in the Spanish colony of the Sahara in 1964. And how his attempts to return there in the 80s and 90s, after his family life fell apart, reveal a lot more about the starting point than the destination. It is a brave revision of the family biography which has the original texts and photographs by the director’s father, Manuel Monsell, from his journeys to the Maghreb.
The lacasinegra collective is behind Pas à Genève “we were invited to spend a few days in Geneva. Far away from all that mattered to us and thrown off balance by the situation we were in, we ended up imposing a titanic and perhaps absurd task on ourselves: to film everything. Absolutely everything. Pas à Genève is a crazed account of what we lived through those days”, they explain.
Bigotes, an institution in Seville’s boxing world, a real character who works to promote social insertion through sport, is the protagonist of 3 minutos, si luchas no hay derrota by Álvaro Torrellas Hurtado. It is a documentary work, but with intense dramatic force, that looks at the story of three youths who were delinquents in the past and reveals the human side of teaching a sport that has taught them not only to fight with their fists but to face up to the fight that is life with a new attitude.
The Andalusian director Gonzalo García Pelayo has also returned to the Seville Festival, where his full filmography was reviewed in 2012. With his camera on a level with the children, and in close contact with them, he delved into the mysterious world of (female) children, their stories and their games. Niñas is partly a family portrait and partly an allegory of the cycles of life and a hymn to motherhood.
A manuscript that was found (and then disappeared again) in a dividing wall in the director’s family home activated the mechanism of Cábala cannibal, in which Daniel V. Villamediana (De oculta philosphia, El brau blau) looks through the family memory and searches for the roots of occultism and the dark history of Spain through that book which was dismissed as “Jews’ stuff” and a possible remnant of the Inquisition.
In Jet lag, Eloy D. Serén offers a curious look at reality by going to the night shift at a petrol station, but ends up seeing that life doesn’t follow any established premise. A Galician resident in Sweden, Serén doubles up at SEFF14 with No novo ceio in which he shows the landscape of Stockholm, seen from all its angles, mutating from the point of view of the Ericsson Globe, the largest spherical building in the world.
Lunático, by Eduard Sola, begins as what could be a tribute by a grandson to his grandparents, Andalusian immigrants to Catalonia, with a tough past, filled with poverty but also love. The grandfather has a hobby: inventing all kinds of crazy objects. That is where the film changes course, when we learn that the grandfather is plotting something in secret: a rocket to go to the moon with his beloved.
Las más macabras de las vidas, by Kikol Grau, tackles the history of Eskorbuto, the punk group from Bilbao who revolutionized music at the start of the 80s and who have become a legend of the counterculture of the Spanish state. Using archive images and statements by members of the group, a portrait is drawn of the era, with the background of unemployment and police repression that created an atmosphere of apathy and pain which Eskorbuto’s rage turned into an emblem of rebellion.
SPANISH CINEMA OUT OF COMPETITION
Resistances ends with a film out of competition: Ouroboros, the third film by Carlos Rivero and Alonso Valbuena, students of Audiovisual Communication at the Faculty of Communication of Seville University, who for this work has such interesting collaborations as the participation on the film’s soundtrack of Mihály Víg, a close collaborator of the mythical Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr. A Spanish monk and a Portuguese friar were victims of a terrible fire in a monastery in the 16th century. Now they are both condemned to wander for eternity in the purgatory of a spectacular, harsh landscape.
Finally, the eclectic section Special Screening premieres the only Spanish film present at the last Locarno Festival: Antígona despierta, directed by Lupe Pérez García, co-produced by Juan Barrero (La jungle interior, the New Waves Award at the last edition). The second feature film by the Argentinian filmmaker, midway between cinema and experiment, delves into and investigates Sophocles’ classic myth but in the present, to show that feelings and behavior are still the same today.