VALLADOLID, Spain — Jan Troell’s “Everlasting Moments” and Chus Gutierrez’s “Return to Hansala” were early competition standouts at the 53rd Seminci-Valladolid fest.
Though reviews won’t be in until Tuesday, there was also a positive reactions to Abel Garcia Roure’s “A Certain Truth,” the only documentary to make Valladolid’s competition cut, a harrowing portrait of three paranoid schizophrenics, who often deny their condition, at a Barcelona mental hospital.
Another early competish pic, Amos Gitai’s Berlin player, “One Day You’ll Understand,” starring Jeanne Moreau, was also appreciated by Spanish crix.
Kicking off Friday with “Captain Abu Raed,” Valladolid’s first weekend saw the immediate impact of new fest artistic director Javier Angulo, both in a slew of new Spanish films, and celebrations of some of Spain’s greatest modern film figures: Elias Querejeta, Gonzalo Suarez, Rafael Azcona and Jose Luis Borau.
Swedish vet Troell’s “Moments” topped early votes in a Spanish critics poll, published by local newspaper El Norte de Castilla.
“Hansala” reverses standard-issue films about Moroccan immigration to Spain, with what’s essentially a Spanish emigrant’s tale. Pic is about an Algeciras undertaker who agrees to repatriate the body of a Moroccan that washes up on a local beach.
Travelling with the dead Moroccan’s sister to a village in the remote Atlas Mountains, he discovers a new culture and new love.
While appreciated at Toronto, where it world preemed, “Hansala” still split Spanish crix.
Peter Sehr and Marie Noelle’s “The Anarchist’s Wife” met a similar reception.
Charting the star-crossed love affair of a noble anarchist who fights for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War and his upper-class wife, the pic’s most original element is to extend its story arc right down to 1968, setting it in a larger European context.
“Hansala” and “Wife,” which looks bound for a major international fest next year, underscore one major challenge facing Angulo as he seeks to hike homegrown films’ presence at Valladolid: the larger enthusiasm for Spanish films outside Spain than usually with Spanish auds or critics.
One irony is that Spaniards, at least at festivals, seem to like many Spanish films when persuaded to see them.
Set in a stunningly quaint Galician village on the wave-pummeled Atlantic seaboard, Angel de la Cruz’s “Lost in Galicia” saw a generally enthusiastic reception from auds for a Spanish take on the traditional Irish hamlet comedy, laced with eccentric tavern characters, a wake, folk music and a visitor from the modern world — here a fetching femme truck driver — who awakens the village from its slumber.
Another world preem of a Galician-set pic was first-time helmer Alfonso Zarauza’s “Spleen,” which takes placed in the rain-lashed Santiago de Compostela The pic proved a vehicle for the acting talents of the doe-eyed, graven-voiced Spaniard Luis Tosar, the drug kingpin in Michael Mann’s “Miami Vice” movie.
Querejeta, who broke through producing Carlos Saura’s “The Hunt” in 1965, received a Valladolid honorary Spike, and presented his latest production, Juan Manuel Chumilla Carbajosa’s “La Agua de la vida,” a fiction-docu feature portraying the different phases in a river, here Spain’s Segura, from hillside brook to stately estuary.
On Sunday, vet director-producer Jose Luis Borau officially launched the Madrid-based Borau Foundation, which will house his papers and offer study grants to young Spanish cineastes.
Fest runs Oct. 24-Nov. 1.