Well, it had subtitles in Spanish because I put them there. The soundtrack was actually in German and English, even though it was directed by a Spanish director. I almost gave up after 10 minutes of looking close up – VERY close up!- at a woman with heavily mascaraed eyes and a slash of red lipstick, with a halo of blonde curls in what looked like a shawl. It’s strange that after all this time on Zoom, we are accustomed to staring at faces in a way that we probably would not do in real life, but nonetheless, staring at this woman felt very intrusive. She is in jail for murder, but she is also in her own rather ethereal performance of her own life. I’m glad that I stayed with it, but I’m also glad that it only went for an hour. Being in the presence of such a strong ego, so intimately, is confronting.
It was available through Instituto Cervantes for 48 hours.
It’s always a bit of a problem when you’re watching a movie that is referencing a movie you haven’t seen. This recent Spanish film is a remake of ‘Hannah Takes the Stairs’ a mumblecore film that starred Greta Gerwig. Actually, looking at the English trailer for ‘Hannah Takes the Stairs’, the two are very similar.
Nothing much happens in this film, set during summer in Spain, when a young girl is an intern at a publishing house. She shares an office with two men, both of whom are in love with her. Which is she going to choose?
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.
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.
Instituto Cervantes is currently running its Pelikula Film Festival during the first week of October. The movies are spoken in Spanish with only English subtitles available. It is running in Australia, The Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia. The tickets are free.
El Cover (2021) is set in Benidorm, on the Spanish coast. Remind me not to go there: full of high rise buildings and British tourists. Dani works in a restaurant as a waiter/short order cook, part of the resident workforce catering for tourists who come for a good time frequenting bars and ‘tribute’ shows. He meets two girls, Adele and Amy who are impersonators (of Adele and Amy Winehouse) and tentatively launches on his own career which has been overshadowed by the influence of his own, now deceased, entertainer parents. There’s a lot of music in this film- it threatened to turn into a musical- and the plot line was a bit thin. Perhaps I’m too old. Though not as old as some of the washed-up Rod Stewart and Lisa Minnelli impersonators.
This film (available through YouTube) is based on the true story of Camila O’Gorman, the daughter of an upper-class family in Buenos Aires who was executed at the age of 23 for an affair with a Roman Catholic priest, Father Ladislao Gutiérrez. They were both executed under the orders of the tyranical governor Juan Manuel de Rosas, and with the encouragement of her own father. The film is a bit dated and the auto-generated subtitles are appalling, but the Spanish wasn’t too fast and I could follow it. In fact, I even had a little tear in my eye when it finished!
I’m not really sure if I know what this short film was about, but it wasn’t a problem of language! It was a homage to Alicia D’Amico, the Argentinian photographer who died in 2001. Her father owned a commercial photography store in Buenos Aires, but when she became a photographer in her own right, she concentrated more on ethnographic and political photography. She was a prominent feminist and lesbian activist. You can read more about her here (in English!)
The film was very arty, with lots of long lingering shots, and the use of D’Amico’s own films and photographs from Buenos Aires, Paris and Switzerland, interviews and fragments of written letters. It was very beautifully filmed and after reading (in English) more about her, I guess that I understood more than I thought I had. The film was part of the Instituto Cervantes series of LGBTI short films.
Another short film offering from Instituto Cervantes in their LGBTQI theme for July, this time from Colombia.
Alma has transitioned and has started at a new school. A boy is attracted to her, but unsure of herself and still only part-way through her transition, she rebuffs him. She really doesn’t seem very happy. Things seem a bit more optimistic at the end. It must be so hard to be so young, so nervous about a new body and having to negotiate a new life.
Continuing on with the series of LGBTQI films from Instituto Cervantes in July, Snap is an 18-minute Chilean film.
Actually, this trailer is almost as long as the movie was! The directors saved postings from Snap Chat, which usually disappear after a day or so, and chose three to form the narrative of this small documentary. (I assume with the permission of the poster? Interesting question- if you put something on Snap Chat does that mean you’re alright with a documentary being made of it?) The first is of a teenager who is haranguing his mother into buying him an i-phone; the second is of a drag queen; and the third is of a young man undergoing genital surgery to become a woman. I felt rather voyeuristic watching this, and the self-absorption, particularly of the drag queen, I found quite off-putting. I finished it, feeling very old.
A young transgender girl, Mari is experimenting with her identity as Victor. She is in a gay relationship with another young girl, who doesn’t know about her illicit excursions as Victor. It’s really well acted, with Alba Martinez as Mari/Victor. For a film only 19 minutes long, it’s sad and beautiful.
I watched it through Instituto Cervantes, who have a number of short LGBTI films available during July. I choose to watch them with Spanish subtitles, but English subtitles are available too. Each film is only available for 48 hours.