Spain’s biggest ever box office hit Spanish Affair, seen by over two million people in the fortnight following its release in Spain, is the opening night film of this year’s Spanish Film Festival.
The Palace Byron Bay Cinema will be screening 12 films during the festival, which runs from Thursday April 30 to Thursday May 7.
Spanish Affair screens at 7 pm, followed by a Latin fiesta.
The comedic tale mischievously pokes fun at cultural differences as it tracks a young southerner who tenaciously seeks to win the heart of a Basque girl, making it a very Spanish affair indeed.
The mutual affection between Spain and Argentina lives on as two parallel love stories play out across the seas in Easy Sex, Sad Movies screening on Friday May 1. Marina and Víctor have everything that makes a beautiful love story: they are young, single, attractive and have a profound affection for one another. Very soon, they will realise they are soul mates. There is just one problem: Víctor and Marina are, in reality, fictional characters created by Pablo, a sentimental writer and director who has embarked on writing a romantic comedy. The question is: is it possible to write a love story when your own love is in the past?
Screening on Saturday May 2 are three films: Ismael, a tender drama about returning to one’s roots, centres on 10 year-old Ismael Tchou who heads for Barcelona in search of the father that he’s never met – his only clue the return address on a letter sent to his mother; Get Married If You Can is a Mexican rom-com which broke Mexican box office records, about the importance of staying true to oneself and the meaning of genuine love. And in Carmina and Amen, Paco León returned to directing his mother, cult figure and matriarchal tour-de-force Carmina Barrios, and his sister Maria León. His previous film Carmina or Blow Up, became an unexpected comedic hit throughout Spain (and at our festival in 2013) and now Carmina and Paco have re-teamed with a hysterical sequel that upgrades the low-budget original with a more mature, polished film that still feels fresh and very Spanish but takes Carmina’s outrageous, larger-than-life personality to the next level. This time Carmina works furiously to conceal the surprise death of her husband from family and friends in order to allow enough time for his bonus pay cheque to clear.
In the exciting world of cinema co-productions, unusual combinations of filmmaker and country are an excellent example of multi-cultural affinities. The 2014 Montreal Film Festival Audience Award winner Traces of Sandalwood is a perfect example, combining striking Bollywood musical sequences with picturesque vistas of Barcelona.
After her mother dies giving birth, young Mina vows to raise her newborn sister Sita in their small Indian village. However, destiny has a different fate in mind and after just a few years the two children are forcibly torn apart. Decades later, Mina is one of the most famous Bollywood stars in India, but the search for her long-lost sister remains her paramount mission in life. Meanwhile, Sita lives a life far-removed in Barcelona as a biologist, now called Paula and entirely unaware of her past heritage or her sister’s existence. When the two are finally reunited, Paula is faced with the challenge of coming to terms with this reality and in her attempts to accept her newfound identity, she will come to know more than one love she never knew she missed.
Traces of Sandalwood screens on Sunday May 3, along with the multi award winning Marshland and inspirational documentary Finding Gaston.
Marshland is an unmissable festival highlight reminiscent of the much-lauded TV series True Detective, which showcases brooding Spanish cinema at its very best. Set in 1980 during the civil unrest in the wake of Franco’s death, two teenage sisters have mysteriously disappeared under suspicious and brutal circumstances. Two detectives sent to the repressed southern marshland town of Villafranco del Guadalquivir to investigate discover that the missing girls are just the beginning of something far more sinister.
Peruvian cuisine’s global popularity has no more vocal champion than Gastón Acurio, restaurateur extraordinaire and subject of Finding Gaston. His first restaurant Astrid y Gastón was consistently rated among on the world’s top dining establishments. Acurio’s infectious passion for using local produce, supporting indigenous farmers and sourcing seafood from sustainable fishermen directly literally shines through the screen as he speaks to the camera, to his chefs, to his students… and, of course, in the delectable dishes he serves. Today, Acurio’s influences are far-reaching with top-rated franchises from Miami to London. Peruvian cuisine has become renowned for being arguably the best in the world – a reputation many attribute to Acurio himself. This film follows the stories, inspirations and dreams behind the man that has taken his cuisine outside his kitchen in a mission to change his country with his food.
The multi-cultural aspect of the festival continues on Monday May 4 with Blue Lips, in which six characters from six different cities around the world (Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Buenos Aires, Rome and Pamplona) experience an event in their lives that brings about an abrupt change in their routine. They each embark on a journey to Pamplona for the San Fermín Festival. As the characters intersect, they form relationships that will help them face and overcome their conflicts with renewed hope and energy. Blue Lips is a project by a group of young filmmakers who met while studying filmmaking. Each character is directed by a different director, resulting in a surprisingly cohesive and insightful film about self-discovery, and making the most out of new opportunities and unexpected encounters.
The biggest Mexican hit ever at the local box office and highest grossing Spanish-language film of all time in the US, Instructions Not Included screens on Tuesday May 5. Acapulco playboy Valentin’s life is turned upside down when his illegitimate daughter Maggie is left stranded on his doorstep. After trying unsuccessfully trying to find her mother Julie, Valentin eventually gives up and decides to embrace his circumstance, landing a successful and high-paying job as a Hollywood stuntman. However, when Julie returns intending to become part of Maggie’s life, things become more than complicated, as cover-ups are revealed and the question of what makes a real family is put to the test.
In Ciudad Delirio, reserved Spanish doctor Javier is attending a conference in Cali, Colombia when he falls madly in love with Angie, a dancer/choreographer who dreams of being part of the most famous salsa group in the world: Delirio. After returning to Madrid Javier finds he has lost interest in his work and his marriage – he cannot forget Angie, or the colourful energy of the Colombian city. Framed by the exotic and fascinating musical world of salsa and accompanied by lively choreography and a host of funny characters, Ciudad Delirio is a sassy salsa delight.
Closing the festival on Thursday May 7 is the multi award winning black comedy Wild Tales, a cinematic jewel which was nominated for best foreign-language film at the 2015 Academy Awards and described by Variety as ‘wickedly delightful’. Director Damián Szifrón has executed a wonderfully entertaining revenge film comprising six wild stories: a deadly case of road rage, a wedding gone wrong, accidental manslaughter… everyday situations that show how ordinary people can be pushed to their farthest limits. Wild Tales patrons will enjoy pre-film drinks, entertainment and ‘guilty treats’.
Tickets and program details available at Palace Byron Bay box office or www.spanishfilmfestival.com.au.