Mirrors between cultures: This year’s Película/Pelikula focuses on ‘green’ films and the oeuvre of Carlos Saura

ECOLOGICAL films and the works of a master director are the highlights of this year’s Película/Pelikula Spanish Film Festival.

The film festival will be held from Oct. 5 to 15 at the Shangri-La Plaza’s Red Carpet Theater in Mandaluyong, while sharing an online component from Oct. 11 to 15.

Twenty-seven films will be screened this year, but of note are the films under the “Pelicula en Verde” (Movies in Green) initiative. This initiative is conducted in partnership with Haribon Foundation and is sponsored by Acciona, one of the top Spanish infrastructure companies whose headquarters for Asia are in Manila. According to the Facebook page of Instituto Cervantes de Manila, for every person who watches the films under the initiative, Acciona will fund the planting of a tree in Tanay, Rizal.

These films are Alcarràs (Carla Simón, 2023), As bestas (Rodrigo Sorogoyen, 2022), El Olivo (Icíar Bollaín, 2016), Fonos (Gabriela Badillo Sánchez, 2021), and Tierra (Julio Medem,1996), whose themes are mainly about nature and environmental issues. Alcarràs is about a family facing eviction from their beloved orchard due to solar panels, while As bestas is about an elderly couple’s opposition to a wind farm project. El Olivo is about a young woman’s quest to recover her grandfather’s beloved olive tree, while Fonos is another story about a young woman and her grandfather, this time, they bond through sound. Finally, Tierra is a love story set in a landscape of fiery red hills.

Speaking to BusinessWorld during a press conference on Sept. 26 at the Red Carpet Theater about the reason behind the “Pelicula en Verde” initiative, Javier Galvan, Director of the Instituto Cervantes de Manila which is organizing the Spanish-language film festival, said “this is a matter for everyone. It is the challenge of humanity to preserve the planet. Otherwise, life in the planet can disappear in a few generations from now.”

FOCUS ON DIRECTOR CARLOS SAURAAnother highlight of this year’s festival, its 22nd edition since its 2002 debut, are the works of director Carlos Saura, who passed away this year in February. Three of his films will be shown this year: Embrujo, Goya en Burdeos, and El Rey de todo el mundo.

Embrujo shows the obsession of a man with a flamenco dancer whose career ascends as he slowly sinks into alcoholism. Goya en Burdeos is about the artist Francisco de Goya, while El Rey de todo el mundo is about a theater producer who is working with his ex-wife to stage a musical, all this drama set to the accompaniment of Mexican music.

Mr. Galvan, while discussing Saura’s relevance, recounted what cinema was like in the years of the fascist Franco regime which reigned over Spain from 1939 to 1975. “Spanish cinema hardly got out in Spain,” he said. “Carlos Saura, even during Franco’s time, he was able to export Spanish cinema abroad.” Saura was able to achieve international fame after his 1960 film, Los Golfos, premiered at that year’s Cannes Film Festival — the film was not screened in Spain until three years later due to the tight screws of censorship in Spain at that time. “He was able to make some kind of cinema; very Spanish — but at the same time, something that is well-understood abroad.”

Mr. Galvan made a note about how cinema can bridge cultures together. “It shows what worries their societies,” he said. “Societies can see a mirror in the other society.”

Entrance to all Película/Pelikula 2023 screenings are free on a first come, first served basis. All the movies are in Spanish or their original language with English subtitles. For a complete list of films and a film showing schedule, visit the festival’s website (https://pelikula.org) or the Facebook page of Instituto Cervantes de Manila: www.facebook.com/InstitutoCervantesManila and on Instagram @institutocervantesmanila. — Joseph L. Garcia

Joseph Emmanuel Garcia

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