As the Spanish Film Festival gets underway in Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane tonight, and other cities from tomorrow, Palace Cinemas Chief Executive Benjamin Zeccola is urging Australians to embrace it with gusto.
“Immerse yourself in the glorious language of Spanish, don’t miss the special events for a deep dive into wine, tequila, tapas and the joy of hearing Spanish all round you,” he says. “It’s the best staycation and might even inspire an overseas trip, romance or hobby.”
The special events include:
- the Opening Night Reception, with drinks and tapas followed by the hit comedy Two Many Chefs/La Vida Padre.
- a Mexican Fiesta where you can enjoy “a taste of Mexico with an Espolòn Tequila cocktail and Mexican snacks on arrival”, followed by the hilarious romantic comedy My Father’s Mexican Wedding/La Novia De América.
- an Argentinian Night with Argentinian Zuccardi wines and empanadas before the screening of Let the Dance Begin/Empieza El Baile.
- The Closing Night, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Carlos Saura’s biggest international box office success, Carmen. Guests will be given a drink on arrival and be treated to a live flamenco performance before the film.
- In addition, in Canberra there will be a three extra events, held in conjunction with the Spanish, Uruguayan and Colombian embassies, and naturally there will be wine and tapas before the screenings. Details here.
Homage to Carlos Saura
The festival’s Retrospective segment is dedicated to Carlos Saura (1932-2023) and comprises five feature films and one short film. (The image at top is from his film J: Beyond Flamenco/Jota de Saura.) “Carlos Saura passed away this year, sadly, ” says Zeccola. “As one of Spain’s most renowned filmmakers, alongside Pedro Almodóvar, it was appropriate to honour his legacy by closing the festival with his Academy Award-winning Carmen and screening his other works throughout. He was passionate about music and dance.”
Encylopaedia Britannica’s entry on Saura notes that he “analyzed the spirit of Spain in tragedies and flamenco-dance dramas”, and that many of his films from the mid-1960s onwards were indictments of Spanish society under Francisco Franco and were heavily censored by the authorities. The way Saura saw it, “the three monsters of Spain” were “perversion of religiosity, repressed sexuality, and the authoritarian spirit”.
The themes of 2023
Asked if there’s a prevalent theme or mood among the 32 films chosen for the 2023 SpanishFilmFest, Zeccola says: “Themes do emerge naturally, and this year there’s been a reflection on Spain, Argentina and Chile’s relatively recent struggles with dictatorships.
“Those struggles can are reflected in the thrillers, love stories and dramas unfolding against the backdrop of government corruption, police interference and pressure put on individuals to comply with the official line. Those influences can be seen in History of the Occult/Histora de la Oculto, A Singular Crime/Un Crimen Argentino, Prison 77/Modelo 77 and the film about ageing tango performers on a road trip, Let the Dance Begin/Empieza El Baile.
SpanishFilmFest where and when
Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane, 14 June – 5 July.
Melbourne, Perth and Byron Bay, 15 June-5 July.
Sydney, 20 June – 12 July. M5R
Photos courtesy of Palace Cinemas/Spanish Film Festival