Category Archives: Spanish Films

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.

With subtitles in English: El Cover

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.

Con subtítulos en español: Camila (1984)

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!

Con subtítulos en español: El cuerpo de la mujer sin sombra(The Body of the Woman without Shadow) 2021

[This trailer was actually made about 10 years ago, publicizing the project from which the short film arose. It gives you a flavour of what the film was like]

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.

Con subtítulos en español: Alma (2018)

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.

Con subtítulos en español: Snap (2018)

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.

Con subtítulos en español: Victor XX

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.

Con subtítulos en español: Después también (2019)

I’ve joined up for the short films presented by Instituto Cervantes during July for their LGBTQI short film festival.

‘Después también’ is short indeed at only 25 minutes. A young boy, Edu, learns that he has been exposed to HIV by a gay ex-lover and he now has to tell his new girlfriend. “I have something to tell you” he says. And then it ends. What did she say? Did they stay together? I guess I’ll never know. Unfortunately the trailer doesn’t have subtitles.

Con subtítulos en español: Una corriente salvaje (A Wild Stream)

Another Instituto Cervantes documentary.

Well, that’s seventy minutes of my life that I’m not going to get back again. I have no idea what this film was about, and I doubt if I would have understood it any better had I used the English subtitles instead of the Spanish ones. Two men, one living in a campervan, the other in a shack, are living beside a lake in the mountains. The scenery is magnificent, but they seem to be the only two men alive on earth. Each living in their own place, they get up each morning, they fish – sometimes alone, sometimes together – they fix nets, they burn their rubbish, they chop wood. At night they talk. Who are they? Where did they come from? Are they lovers? Where did one of them go in the end? I kept expecting a story, but there isn’t one. You may as well just watch the trailer.

Obviously someone got more from it than I did. Here’s a review in English