Cinematic feast honors blue collar slice of life pic

MALAGA — First-time directors Jose Corbacho and Juan Cruz’s bittersweet, slice-of-life “Tapas” took home best film honors at the eighth Malaga Spanish Film Festival, a showcase for made-in-Spain cinema which concluded Saturday.

“Tapas” explores the hopes and fears of various habitants of a typical working-class neighborhood whose lives crisscross in a tapas bar. Corbacho and Cruz were long-time collaborators in La Cubana Theater Group in Madrid. Corbacho’s satirical “Homo Zapping” is Spanish TV’s surprise off-hour hit. “Tapas” was produced by Tusitala P.C., Castelao Productions. Buzz is film sold to Benelux and Greece at the Malaga market screenings.

Elvira Minguez won best actress for her perf in “Tapas.”

A marked difference in Spanish cinema’s cutting-edge new school and quality-conscious old school was on display.

The Critics’ Prize was awarded to Malaga native Ramon Salazar’s “20 centimeters,” a colorful musical romp which follows Monica Cervera as a pre-op transsexual narcoleptic who is 20 centimeters away from being a woman. Shot in high-def and with take-offs of various musical numbers including Madonna’s “True Love,” and Queen’s “I Want to Break Free,” film’s fresh approach is of the indie spirit of a younger Gus Van Sant or Pedro Almodovar.

Mariano Barroso’s Cuban-set thriller “Hormigas en la Boca” (Ants in the Mouth) won the Jury Special Prize.

Set in 1958 on the cusp of Castro’s revolution, the film is traditional noir, which depends on quality cinematography, screenplay and performances. Spain’s mini-Bardem Eduard Fernandez drew best actor nod for his perf in the pic.

Best director and best screenplay went to Gerardo Herrero and Angeles Gonzalez Sinde, respectively, for “Heroine.”

Spanish actress Veronica Forque, known for her off beat roles in Almodovar’s “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” and “Kika,” received the Malaga Prize lifetime achievement award and Spain’s most awarded filmmaker Carlos Saura was honored with a retrospective.

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