Category Archives: Spanish Film Festival 2021

With subtitles in English: Antonio Machado. Los días azules

I just loved this documentary. I had never heard of the Spanish poet Antonio Machado, which probably speaks volumes about my ignorance of Spanish literature. He was part of the generation of ’98 and was forced into exile in Franco’s Spain. The documentary is beautifully filmed, and it features a range of ‘talking heads’ including academics, writers and biographers. He ended up being buried in France, and there has been talk of exhuming his body to return it to France, but it has become a place of pilgrimage for many whose parents and grandparents were Civil War refugees and whose burial places are unknown. It was part of the Instituto Cervantes Pelikula festival.

With subtitles in English: Oscuro y Lucientes

Continuing on with Instituto Cervantes’ Pelikula Film Festival, I watched this documentary about Goya’s head. You might have thought that it was safely ensconced with the rest of his body, but no. When they exhumed 30 years after his burial in 1828 in France in order to repatriate his remains to Spain, the body was there, but not the head! This documentary traces some various theories for what happened to it, but it has never been resolved. Nor found, either for that matter. Here’s a short review of the documentary in English.

Spanish Film Festival 2021: The Island of Lies

I know that the Spanish Film Festival has finished for this year, but this is mainly to remind me of the films that I watched as part of it.

This film is set on a rugged island off the coast of Galacia in 1921. The men have left to go to the mainland, leaving only the women, the local school teacher and lighthouse keeper and the cruel overseer. A storm hits the island, and a passing ship with 260 emigrants bound for Buenos Aires sinks. In the turmoil of the storm, we see three women murder the overseer but it’s not really clear what is going on. The three women then take a lifeboat and are responsible for saving the lives of the few survivors. They are feted on the mainland, but then the news story changes and their act of mercy comes under suspicion.

To be honest, I’m not really quite sure what was true, although I think that might have been the purpose of the film-makers, who have based this film loosely on a true story. I was struck by the primitive conditions on the island, and the primal wildness of the women. I hadn’t really thought of links across islands transcending national boundaries, but it reminded me of islands off the Scottish and Irish coasts.

My rating: 8/10

Spanish Film Festival 2021: While at War

Based on true events, this is the story of the Spanish writer Miguel de Unamuno, rector of the University of Salamanca during the first months of Franco’s Nationalist government. Although previously left-leaning, he was disillusioned by the disorder of the Republican government, and he gives increasingly luke-warm support to the Nationalists. But when his friends fall victim to the Nationalists, he changes his mind and takes a stance. Franco is depicted as a rather diffident leader who nonetheless is playing a long game while the war hero Millán-Astray is seen to be driving events and whipping up passions. It made me think about how support for a political party of any persuasion can take you to places and stances beyond your comfort zone, and the line between inconsistency and a considered change of position. I’d never heard of Miguel de Unamuno, or this event – but then again, I’m constantly being confronted with things that I know nothing about!

Although the Spanish Film Festival has now finished in Melbourne, there’s an extra showing of While at War on 16th May at the Kino.

My rating: 8/10

Spanish Film Festival 2021: Rosa’s Wedding

I enjoyed this SO much: it’s a light, feel-good movie that leaves you feeling such affection for all the characters. Rosa is turning 45 and is feeling – and dammit, she IS – put upon by her father, daughter and especially her siblings who all find themselves too busy to consider her. She finally decides to do something for herself. It’s Spanish and the Spanish was much too fast for me to follow. A certain suspension of disbelief is required, but it’s a really happy film.

My rating: 9/10 !!