Recent Spanish cinema, Los Angeles, October 13-16


This year’s selection of recent Spanish cinema highlights everything from the most exuberant genre pieces to dramas notable for their restrained subtlety. Selections include Daniel Sanchez Arevalo’s comedy COUSINHOOD, about a trio of cousins on a pilgrimage back to the pueblo; Montxo Armendariz’s DON’T BE AFRAID starring Belen Rueda, which looks with intense yet wrenching care at the long-term effects of a young woman’s abusive upbringing; the nuanced and subversive ANYTHING YOU WANT from director Achero Manas and starring Juan Diego Botto, a gender-questioning family drama about a widowed man raising his young daughter; Pau Frexias’ FOREVER YOUNG, about a group of pre-teens facing the trials of growing up one summer in the 1980s; TORRENTE 4: LETHAL CRISIS, the fourth installment in writer-director-star Santiago Segura’s cult franchise about iconic lowlife cop Jose Luis Torrente; and Fernando Gonzalez Molina’s THREE STEPS ABOVE HEAVEN, starring Mario Casas as a short-fuse biker who falls for a girl from the other side of the tracks. Additionally, the winning entry of the New Filmmakers from Spain short film contest, Sergio Abuja’s “Waterline,” about two strangers who survive the sinking of a cruise ship, will screen.
 Also, joining the festival in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Goya Awards, the Academy of Arts and Cinematographic Sciences of Spain’s annual award ceremony that has unquestionably become the cinema festival par excellence in the country. An array of famous names have several of the statuettes adorning their shelves, from Pedro Almodovar to Penelope Cruz, as well as Javier Bardem, Alejandro Amenabar, Javier Aguirresarobe and Alberto Iglesias. Very fittingly, Agusti Villaronga’s BLACK BREAD, Spain’s official 2011 submission for the Foreign-Language Oscar which swept the Goyas this year with 9 wins – including Best Picture, Director, Actress and Supporting Actress – is a prominent selection of 17th Annual Recent Spanish Cinema series.
With the support of La Academia de la Artes y de las Ciencias Cinematograficas de Espana, Embassy of Spain in Washington, Spain USA Foundation, Consulate General of Spain in Los Angeles, Iberia, Tourist Office of Spain in Los Angeles, Filmotech, E.L.M.A. (European Languages and Movies in America), Bacardi, Anna de Codorniu, Raimat, Vina Zaco, Lladro and Valor Chocolates.

EGYPTIAN THEATRE – HOLLYWOOD6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028
All films are in Spanish with English subtitles.

Thursday, October 13 – 7:00 PM – Opening Night! – Egyptian Theatre
Los Angeles Premiere!
2010, 108 min.
Spain’s Official Oscar Submission!
Winner of Nine Goya Awards!
In Spain in 1944, 11-year-old Andreu (Francesc Colomer) witnesses the brutal murder of a man and his son in a forested ravine, and quickly runs home to tell his mother, Florencia (Nora Navas). Soon after, Andreu is sent to live with his extended family in the countryside, where he befriends his jaded cousin Nuria (Marina Comas) who has lost her fingers to a grenade, and a consumptive boy who imagines he has angel wings.

Loosely based on Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations with the bleak fantastical soul of PAN’S LABYRINTH, subversive filmmaker Agusti Villaronga’s harrowing and richly textured depiction of Spanish rural life during wartime is both challenging and rewarding. Winner of a whopping nine Goya Awards, including Best Film, Director, Actress (Navas), New Actor (Colomer), New Actress (Comas) and Supporting Actress (Laia Marull). In Spanish with English subtitles.

Discussion following with actress Nora Navas and producer Isona Passola, with a complimentary reception to follow for all ticket holders.

Preceding the feature, the short film contest winner
2011, 16 min.
Winning Entry of the New Filmmakers from Spain Short Film Contest!
In Sergio Abuja’s short film, strangers Val and Mary Cybele survive the sinking of a cruise ship, and, over the course of that fateful day, get to know one another in the most dire of circumstances as they reach land and try to save themselves.

Friday, October 14 – 7:30 PM – Double Feature – Egyptian Theatre
Los Angeles Premiere!
2010, 101 min.
Recently widowed Leo (Juan Diego Botto) finds himself leading a dazed and lonely life with his 4-year-old daughter. After frequent requests from the toddler for a “fake mother,” and Leo’s date with an ex-girlfriend to a transvestite cabaret, the newly single father begins toying with – and committing to – the idea of cross-dressing. A striking drama from filmmaker Achero Manas that subversively examines parental gender roles and issues of complex masculine identity. Official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival 2010 and the Palm Springs International Film Festival 2011. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Los Angeles Premiere!
2011, 90 min.
An authentically disturbing sequence early in director Montxo Armendariz’s haunting drama about the long-term effects of child abuse arrestingly sets the tone for a thoughtful tale following Silvia (an excellent Michelle Jenner) through life as she copes with a traumatic childhood relationship with her father. Belen Rueda is equally excellent as Silvia’s mother, who refuses to see the damage occurring in her own home, and blames her daughter for the rising household tensions. With Cristina Plazas as Silvia’s psychologist. Official selection of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival 2011. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Discussion between films with director Achero Manas (ANYTHING YOU WANT).

Saturday, October 15 – 7:30 PM – Double Feature – Egyptian Theatre
Los Angeles Premiere!
2011, 98 min.
When Diego (Quim Gutierrez) is jilted at the altar, his cousins, playboy Julian (Raul Arevalo) and depressed, eyepatch-wearing Miguel (Adrian Lastra), convince him to join them on a trip to northern coastal Spain, where they think Diego can re-ignite the spark with ex-girlfriend Martina (Inma Cuesta). Upon arrival at Martina’s pueblo, Diego finds his old flame now to be a single mother, complicating the men’s plans for a swift, simple reunion. A very funny and surprisingly edgy comedy about male insecurity and weakness (the Spanish title PRIMOS niftily translates as both “Cousins” and “Suckers”) from filmmaker Daniel Sanchez Arevalo. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Los Angeles Premiere!
2011, 93 min.
The fourth installment in writer-director-star Santiago Segura’s franchise about iconic lowlife cop-turned-private eye Jose Luis Torrente finds the titular character contracted to kill the father of the bride whose wedding he has just turned upside down. Yet Torrente’s contractor betrays him, and the balding detective winds up in jail, where he meets a slew of colorful characters (including 87-year-old Tony Leblanc, who has appeared throughout the series as Torrente’s uncle Gregorio) who help him scheme a hairbrained strategy for busting out of prison. With Enrique Villen and Kiko Rivera. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Discussion between films with writer-director-actor Santiago Segura (TORRENTE 4: LETHAL CRISIS).

Sunday, October 16 – 7:30 PM – Double Feature – Egyptian Theatre
Los Angeles Premiere!
2010, 118 min. Dir. Fernando Gonzalez Molina.
Based on Federico Moccia’s cult novel and recalling the winningly improbable romances of ’80s Brat Pack films, Barcelona teen Hache (Mario Casas), a brawny biker with a short fuse, and wealthy if sometimes rebellious Babi (Maria Valverde) meet cute at a traffic light and again shortly thereafter at a party. The couple’s instant attraction is insatiable and genuine, but their romance is complicated by them being from very economically disparate sides of the tracks, and Hache’s violent streak that keeps him constantly at odds with the law. With Alvaro Cervantes as Hache’s goofy, fun-loving sidekick Pollo. Nominated for Best Screenplay at the Goya Awards 2011. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Los Angeles Premiere!
2010, 105 min.
In Pau Freixas’ sun-dappled gem of ’80s nostalgia, pre-teen Xavi (Ferran Rull) spends his summer vacation with his usual group of friends – Cristo (Mireia Vilapuig), who has a crush on Xavi, nerdy yet hilarious Colo (Marc Balaguer), Roth (Joan Sorribes), who has Down syndrome, and the beautiful Helena (Nerea Camacho), whom Xavi flirts with in hopes of getting the mysterious “butterflies” his older brother has told him about. The summer progresses and the motley crew of middle schoolers are harrassed by an older group of bullies, while Xavi struggles with his relationship with his step-father, but when a tragedy occurs suddenly, the young teens must face their first real trial of growing up. Winner of the Audience Award at the 2010 Malaga Film Festival. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Discussion between film with actor Alvaro Cervantes (THREE STEPS ABOVE HEAVEN).


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