The Spanish Film Festival is about to sashay into town once more, lighting up Sydney’s Palace Cinemas with 20 features from across the length and breadth of Spain, plus Latin America, from April 20 until May 9.
Incurable romantics will swoon for opening night movie Rosa’s Wedding, starring the irrepressible Candela Peña. She plays a 45-year-old woman working in the wardrobe department of a movie studio who is bombarded by family demands, including from her divorced brother Armando (an on-form Sergi López) as well as constant neighbourly requests. When she decides to put herself at the centre of the action for once, retreating to her childhood home in the stunning coastal town of Benicàssim, the scene is set for self-empowerment. Written and directed by Icíar Bollaín, the film even has a long bow connection to Australian cinema. Peña also starred in previous Spanish film fest hit Kiki, Love to Love, which was a glorious re-do of Josh Lawson’s ensemble piece The Little Death.
In a more direct connection to home, Australian comic and filmmaker and former Acropolis Now star Simon Palomares took himself off to sun-kissed Cuba (pre-lockdown) to find out why the comedy scene there is going off, in spite of US sanctions. Cute doco Latigo is the result, and Palomares will be doing a Q&A in Sydney on April 28.
If the current clime has you wanting to hear more from women taking control, then also check out Thelma and Louise-style road trip movie Wishlist, starring the spectacular triumvirate of Silvia Alonzo, María León and Victoria Abril. Expect lush scenery and emotional journeys as each woman writes up a bucket list of must sees.
Actual Oscar-winning writer/director Alejandro Amenábar won all the Goyas (the Spanish Oscars) for While at War, a gripping historical drama that portrays the slide into Civil War and four decades of fascism under Franco. And Catalan filmmaker Lucía Alemany’s The Innocence delivers a breakout role for newcomer Carmen Arrufat as 15-year-old determined to escape small-town life by running away to a circus school in Barcelona.
We also love the sound of the Mexico City-set Go Youth! which also features an ensemble of young debut stars in this upbeat film that’s all about rebelling against the stifling nature of adulthood. And you have to see Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín’s electric Ema, pairing dreamy Gael García Bernal with scene-stealing newcomer Mariana Di Girolamo in an incendiary film about separated parents trying to reunite their family after surrendering their adopted 12-year-old son, while still living for the art of dance.
Just in time for cooler weather, the Spanish Film Festival is exactly what you need to fire up your spirits.