Spanish filmfest returns with over 20 movies, in-person screenings

Charmie Joy Pagulong - The Philippine Star
Spanish filmfest returns with over 20 movies, in-person screenings
The 21st edition of PELÍCULA kicks off with El buen patrón (The Good Boss) starring Javier Bardem.
STAR / File

The 21st edition of PELÍCULA-Spanish Film Festival officially started last Wednesday night with the special screening of comedy film El buen patrón (The Good Boss) at the Shangri-La Plaza Cinemas in Mandaluyong City.

The 2021 movie was written and helmed by Fernando León de Aranoa with Javier Bardem as the lead actor.

Penelope Cruz in a scene from Competencia oficial (Official Competition), a 2021 Spanish-Argentinean comedy.

Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Miguel Utray Delgado, Instituto Cervantes de Manila director Javier Galván, Film Development Council of the Philippines’ David Fabros, Colombian Ambassador to the Philippines Marcela Ordonez, Instituto Cervantes de Manila Cultural Affairs Coordinator Jose Maria Fons Guardiola and Shang Properties, Inc. executive vice president for Commercial and Retail Joy Polloso graced the opening ceremony.

A las mujeres de España. María Lejárraga is a documentary by Laura Hojman.

“We hope that this edition of PELÍCULA continues to nourish the interests of Filipinos in Spanish culture. We hope that in the near future, we can see Filipino movies in Madrid and the Spanish films in the Philippines, as well as co-production and co-creation between filmmakers of the two countries,” said Delgado in his opening speech.

This year’s film festival marked the return of the in-person screenings after holding it virtually for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 20 movies in three venues in Metro Manila will be screened on a first-come, first-serve free admission basis. Aside from the Philippines, PELÍCULA will also conduct online screenings in Malaysia and Australia.

Executive director of Instituto Cervantes de Manila Javier Galvan (left) and Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines H.E. Miguel Utray Delgado.

“The PELÍCULA Spanish Film Festival is one of the most successful film festivals of Instituto Cervantes globally, showcasing a variety of acclaimed Spanish films while fostering better communication between cultures through the art of filmmaking, cinema and cultural exchange. Its goal is to connect both Spanish and Filipino cultures and audiences through a choice selection of award-winning films,” the press statement read.

The PELÍCULA-Spanish Film Festival was founded in 2022 by Instituto Cervantes de Manila.

The films that are included in the film festivals are: Comedies in the Official Selection, such as, El test by Dani de la Orden, Con quién viajas by Martín Cuervo; documentaries, namely, A las mujeres de España. María Lejárraga by Laura Hojman; dramas such as Maixabel by Icíar Bollaín; and thrillers like La hija by Manuel Martín Cuenca.

PELÍCULA will also feature Latin American films, such as, the Colombian Jinetes del Paraíso by Talia Osorio Cardona and El olvido que seremos by Fernando Trueba, the Panamanian comedy Algo azul by Mariel García Spooner, and Competencia oficial (Official Competition), a 2021 Spanish-Argentinean comedy directed by Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn, featuring Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martínez.

There will also be various Special Sections to be presented: Ventana vasca, a series of four movies coming from the Basque Country (featuring Handia, and Oreina, among others), plus a special selection of Classic Spanish films, to be shown online. These are Esa pareja feliz by Juan Antonio Bardem and Luis García Berlanga, Muerte de un ciclista also by Bardem, Mamá cumple cien años by Carlos Saura and El sur by Víctor Erice.

Walang Tsismis, a special section highlighting three insightful documentaries on various historical episodes in Spain, will also be featured.

In addition, PELíCULA will introduce En corto: Short films from the Philippines and Spain, an activity featuring recent short films from both countries.

“Philippine cinema was born in the Spanish language and almost all film-related terms in Filipino are in Spanish (such as pelikula, sine, direktor, aktor, kontrabida, etc.), proof of the strong cultural relations shared between Spain and the Philippines.

“With this in mind, since its first editions, PELíCULA has had activities that served as a space for meeting and interacting with Spanish and Filipino filmmakers,” the media statement added.

The movies will be shown at EDSA Shangri-La Plaza (ongoing until Oct. 9, Oct. 14-16), Instituto Cervantes Intramuros branch (Oct. 10-12), Cine Adarna at University of the Philippines Diliman (Oct. 13), and online screening (Oct. 11 - 14), through its website https://pelikula.org.

Viewers will have the chance to vote for their favorite films in the Audience Choice Awards and the winning film will be screened again during the closing ceremony on Oct. 16 at the Shangri-La Plaza Cinemas.

“Our goal in Instituto Cervantes is to promote, make the diffusion of the Spanish language and our country Spain,” said Galván during a press conference ahead of the opening night.

“If you want to know what is going on in Spanish cinema right now, in the recent one to two years, the best (option) is to come to Manila. Even to someone from Spain, I would say in just one week, or 10 days, (in order) to have a real idea (of) what was going on in Spanish cinema, come to Manila,” added Galván. “Because I tell you, it’s not possible anywhere in the world, even in Spain, to have 10 days (to watch) the most recent Spanish movies.”

Galván started PELÍCULA 21 years ago and he has been living in the Philippines for almost 30 years.

“The cinema in the Philippines (is in) very good health,” he noted and cited the activities organized by the FDCP, one of their event partners.

“We see how Filipinos are winning awards in all the international festivals and we are very happy for that,” he furthered.

Instituto Cervantes de Manila previously brought Spanish filmmakers and actors to the festival. They are keen on doing it again in the future. Galván told The STAR, “To bring in actors or actresses from Spain, we have done it (before) and we will do it in the future. Because of the pandemic, it’s gonna be impossible. But we will bring (them in some time). For next year, we are thinking of (creating) a section in the festival devoted to a filmmaker and bring him or her and show three, four, or five movies of that filmmaker.” He also hoped to stage workshops and “extend connection (from) people to people” in the upcoming editions.

Meanwhile, when asked about his thoughts on the unexpected global success of Spanish crime drama series Money Heist, Galván told this paper, “People from all over the world got (hooked) on the series. (Maybe because of the characters who) go against the system somehow… And maybe (there is an) awakening (with) some universal feelings, universal thoughts (and) wishes that everybody has to become rich… Maybe it’s because of that.

“But anyone could have their (own opinion) but you’ll never know. Maybe (it was) not successful in the beginning… But suddenly something happened. You’ll never know. You have to try always.”

(For updates on the festival, visit https://pelikula.org or the Facebook page of Instituto Cervantes de Manila at www.facebook.com/InstitutoCervantesManila.)


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