The 16th Annual European Union Film Festival Welcomes: The Festival of New Spanish Cinema
- The 16th Annual European Union Film Festival Welcomes: The Festival of New Spanish Cinema
In a special collaboration with Pragda, the Gene Siskel Film Center is integrating Pragda’s Festival of New Spanish Cinema with this year’s European Union Film Festival in order to give our EU Festival access to some of the most exciting recent Spanish films. The two films in the Festival of New Spanish Cinema that have already premiered in Chicago, SLEEP TIGHT and THE DOUBLE STEPS, will be shown in the week following the EU Film Festival.
In its fifth consecutive year, the Festival of New Spanish Cinema consolidates itself as the most important itinerant festival of contemporary Spanish Cinema in North America. Once again, the festival will screen some of the riskiest and most innovative Spanish films of the year.
The festival opens on March 6 with Paco León’s CARMINA OR BLOW UP, the popular phenomenon that has been winning over audiences since its release. Other films selected include David Trueba’s MADRID, 1987, a sensual and intelligent encounter between two very different generations; Gabriel Velázquez’s ICEBERG, an insightful study of adolescence; WILAYA, a window into the lives of a Sahrawi family living in a Saharan refugee camp, directed by Pedro Pérez Rosado; THE DOUBLE STEPS, Isaki Lacuesta’s gorgeously shot award-winning film; and SLEEP TIGHT, the latest chiller by mastermind of suspense Jaume Balagueró.
The Festival of New Spanish Cinema was organized by Pragda in collaboration with Instituto Cervantes of Chicago. Supported by the Ministry of Culture of Spain-ICAA, the Embassy of Spain in Washington, and American Airlines.
- CARMINA OR BLOW UP
- (CARMINA O REVIENTA)
- 2012, Paco León, Spain, 71 min.
- With Carmina Barrios, María León
—Jonathan Holland, Variety
“Short, swift and lively as hell.”
—James van Maanen, TrustMovies
Comedy star León makes his directing debut with this unique film that has become a popular phenomenon in Spain. The subject is Carmina Barrios, played by the director’s mother and greatly resembling her, although the film plays slyly with the distinction between fact and fiction. Owner of a bar in Sevilla, saddled with a shiftless husband and a mountain of debts, she holds court in her kitchen, reminiscing and philosophizing as she tries to deal with a disastrous robbery of 80 hams. Compared by critics to a character out of Almodóvar, Carmina is funny, raunchy, outrageous, and never less than fascinating. In Spanish with English subtitles. DCP video. (MR)
- (aka TEARS OF SAND)
- 2012, Pedro Pérez Rosado, Spain, 97 min.
- With Nadhira Mohamed, Memona Mohamed
“WILAYA offers insight into a little-publicised world, and derives most of its dramatic pull from the charismatic presence of lead actress Nadhira Mohamed."
—Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily
This visually stunning drama offers a fascinating look at the culture of the Sahrawi people, a stateless ethnic group many of whom live in refugee camps in northwest Africa. After living sixteen years with a foster family in Spain, a young Sahrawi woman returns to her family at a refugee camp named Wilaya. Suspended between two cultures, she is stifled by her new home’s traditionalist ways, which she challenges by becoming the first female truck driver in the region. The widescreen desert vistas and Aziza Brahim’s haunting solo voice music cast a spell in this often wordless movie. In Spanish and Arabic with English subtitles. HDCAM video. (MR)
- MADRID, 1987
- 2011, David Trueba, Spain, 104 min.
- With José Sacristán, María Valverde
“A vibrant and compelling drama that’s always highly cinematic because Trueba’s primary objective is to make an entertaining movie.’
—Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald
Trueba’s tour de force ingeniously uses a sex-farce premise to launch an in-depth exploration of generational shift during the transitional period following Franco’s death. A famous if pompous political columnist (Sacristán) in his 70s meets with a pretty young journalism student (Valverde). She wants to do a story about him; he wants to get her into bed. His clumsy attempts manage to get the two of them locked naked in a small bathroom in the midst of a heat wave. There the two generations confront each other in an exhilarating talkfest (the old man’s aphorisms are especially quoteworthy) that critics have compared to MY DINNER WITH ANDRE and BEFORE SUNRISE. In Spanish with English subtitles. HDCAM video. (MR)
- 2011, Gabriel Velázquez, Spain, 84 min.
- With Jesús Nieto, Carolina Morocho
“Challenging but extremely rewarding...evoking with memorable power and compassion the enormous trauma that hides beneath the surface of its young protagonists’ lives.”
—Jonathan Holland, Variety
The title refers to the film’s wintry setting and, metaphorically, to the emotional depths that lie hidden beneath the visible surface of its teenage characters. Three plotlines intersect along the lonely banks of the Tormes river in Salamanca. Mauri, orphaned by a car crash, seeks to recover a ring that belonged to his late parents. Rebecca, dumped in a Catholic boarding school by her absent parents, thinks she’s pregnant. Simon and Jo live wild and free in an abandoned boathouse. Adults never appear in this spare, subtle, and intensely focused film. In Spanish with English subtitles. HDCAM video. (MR)
- THE DOUBLE STEPS
- (LOS PASOS DOBLES)
- 2011, Isaki Lacuesta, Spain, 86 min.
- With Bokar Dembele, Miguel Barceló
“A bedeviling, blithe Spanish meta-film...Sweet stuff.”
—Michael Atkinson, Village Voice
“Strange and wondrous.”
—Vanessa Martinez, Indiewire
The title refers to a method of eluding your pursuers by walking backwards over your own footprints. Lacuesta’s tantalizing mind-bender, winner of the top prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival, revolves around the elusive traces left by François Augiéras, an American-born artist (1925-71) who wandered through the Sahara and reputedly created a “Sistine Chapel of the desert” only to let it be covered over by the sands. This highly unusual film retraces Augiéras’s steps by means of two modern-day alter-egos: a young West African man who seems to re-live the artist’s life, and the well-known Spanish painter (and Augiéras admirer) Miguel Barceló, who leads a search party to find the lost frescoes. In French and Bambara with English subtitles. DigiBeta video. (MR)
- SLEEP TIGHT
- (MIENTRAS DUERMES)
- 2011, Jaume Balagueró, Spain, 102 min.
- With Luis Tosar, Marta Etura
“A nifty new Euro-horror film, with several wicked-cold Hitchcockian twists, that shows off the range and craft of terrific Spanish director Jaume Balagueró.”
—Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com
Best known as co-creator of the rough-and-ready [REC] franchise, director Balagueró goes for scares on a deeper level with this superbly crafted psychological thriller that drew critics’ comparisons to Hitchcock and Polanski. Tosar, one of Spain’s best actors, creates a creep par excellence in the form of César, an ever-so-helpful apartment-building concierge who secretly strives to make the tenants’ lives miserable. He focuses his malice on the radiantly beautiful Clara, invisibly invading and disrupting her life in ever more perverse and shocking ways. Enticing us to root for the bad guy, Balagueró creates a double-edged suspense that reaches heights of exquisite unbearability. In Spanish with English subtitles. HDCAM video. (MR)