At the heart of the Spanish Screenings are its market premieres, new titles coming onto the market post-San Sebastian, sometimes with fest runs at other smaller festivals. Variety drills down on a score of titles at this year’s event, including a clutch of 2020 Malaga fest winners.
“Amateur,” (Martin Gutiérrez, Spain).
A 2020 Malaga WIP entry, where it won best production, Gutiérrez’s first doc feature marks a strong personal take on what home means to him. Knit by three different stories, Gutierrez, shoots vignettes of life in a small mountain village. Also an Abycine and Fidba Prize winner at Malaga.
“Antonio Machado, the Blue Days,” (Laura Hojman)
Seville-based Summer Films, which also produces “Once Again,” delivers one take on the life story of Spanish poet Antonio Machado. The second film from Hojman after 2018’s “Solar Lands,” about poet Ruben Darío’s escape from Paris to Andalusia.
“Boat Rower Girl” (“La Botera,” Sabrina Blanco, Argentina)
Blanco’s feature debut, a ultimately upbeat coming of age drama of female empowerment as Tati – 14, no friends, uncaring father, awkward about her body, bad marks at school – battles to become a first female professional boat rower in her local community ferrying passengers across the local river towards Buenos Aires. A best Ibero-American film and actress (Nicole Rivadero) winner at Malaga’s 2020 Zonazine major sidebar. SA: Compañía de Cine
“Black Stain” (“La Mancha Negra,” Enrique Garcia, Spain)
A bruising, brutal, on the nose slow-boiling social thriller building up to a memorable bloodbath, like a genre reworking of a Lorca play, as a matriarch’s death sparks a desperate battle for her hidden inheritance in a hamlet riddled by rancor and the desire for revenge. Ticking all the boxes of rural infamy in the 1971 Andalusia sticks – dirt poverty, women’s sexual frustration, the heinous machinations of a Catholic Church – the ambitious third feature from Garcia, whose “321 Days in Michigan” won the Audience Award at 2014’s Malaga Festival. SA: 34T Sales.
“Departure,” (“Partida,” Caco Ciocler, Brazil).
Awarded best documentary at 2020’s Málaga Festival. Three friends journey, after Jair Bolsonaro is elected president of Brazil, to meet his polar opposite, Pepe Mújica, the former president of Uruguay.
“Drowning Letters” (“Cartas Mojadas,” Paula Palacios, Spain)
Exec produced by “The Secret Life of Words” director Isabel Coixet, and playing 2020’s Malaga Documentaries where it won the Audience Award, shot by Palacios with a cinematographic flare – choice cutaway shots, letters from migrant mothers to their children, and a created voiceover narrative by a young girl who drowned at sea – the doc feature doesn’t skirt the ghastly fate of migrant and refugees returned to Libya, or the the role of European rescue boat NGOs, such as Spain’s Open Arms, a rare example of unequivocal real life on screen heroism. A moving testament to an urgent issue. SA: Agencia Freak, for festival distribution.
“The Invisible” (“Invisibles,” Gracia Querejeta, Spain)
Three longstanding women friends meet each Thursday morning in a local park and vent their frustrations and obsessions to one another in the most personal work to date from Gracia Querejeta (“Hector” “15 Years and One Day”), an ingenious open air chamber piece which exposes the women’s common horror at aging but bucks normal narrative by asking just how much they can really change. Emma Suárez (“Julieta” “April’s Daughter”) heads a strong cast. SA: Feel Content
“Malpaso” (Hector Valdez, Dominican Republic)
First seen at 2019’s Tallin Black Nights Film Festival, and 2020 New York Latino Fest winner, a black and white tale of orphan twins one black, the other albino, forced to move to Malpaso on the Dominican Republic-Haiti border, a hardscrabble shanty town awash in mud, poverty and crime. A Malaga Fest best music winner for composer Pascal Gaigne.
“Marceline, the Best Clown in the World,” (“Marcelino, el major payaso del mundo,” Germán Roda, Spain).
A doc portrait of Marceline, a clown who inspired Charles Chaplin, and an unknown artist who lived between London and New York in the early 20th century and was admired by Buster Keaton. Produced by Estación Cinema, which backed Roda’s 2013 documentary “Game of Spies,” about WW11 espionage in Spain.
“Mujereando, the Lament of a Goddess,” (“Mujereando, El quejío de una diosa,” Carmen Tamayo, Spain).
Female homeless, the victims of domestic violence, talk about their lives, perform in theater and are captured in natural surroundings posing as goddesses, in an act of empowerment and therapy. Produced by Cuenta3, a creative collective, for regional state TV CanalSur.
“Once Again” (“Una Vez Mas,” Guillermo Rojas, Spain)
Carried by the performance of Silvia Acosta (“Entreolivos”) as a London-based architect yearning for her native Seville and the boy friend she left behind, who suddenly has to return to attend her grandmother’s funeral. Winner of Andalusia Cinema Awards for best new director and new actress (Acosta), a debut feature which wears its heart on its sleeve, and in its music tracks, while dwelling on the diaspora of Spain’s recession-hit youth and its emotional toil. SA: KAF Films
“Portrait of White Woman with Gray Hair and Wrinkles,” (“Retrato de mujer blanca con pelo gris y arrugas” Iván Ruiz Flores, Spain)
Starring Blanca Portillo, a Malaga WIP entry produced by Spain’s Potenza Producciones, and an intimate family drama about the relationship between a just retired woman and her dependent mother.
“Pullman” (Toni Bestard, Spain)
A cliché-busting portrait of Majorca and tween social conscience movie as Ivana and Daren, on the cusp of a adolescence, set off in Palma de Mallorca to discover the source of a light on a tall tower in the city and encounter a world from which they’ve been sheltered: Prostitution, the homeless, drug abuse, xenophobia. The second fiction feature of three-time Goya short film nominee Bestard. SA: Feel Content.
“The Secret of Doctor Grinberg,” (“El secreto del Doctor Grinberg,” Ida Cuéllar, Spain)
Laced by conspiracy and theories, the story of the mysterious true-life disappearance in 1994 of Jacobo Grinberg, a Mexican physiologist who claimed to have proof of telepathy, from Spain’s Polar Star Films “Me llamo Violeta,” “Falciani’s List” in co-production with Primo.
“Segrelles, Universal Illustrator,” (“Segrelles, Ilustador Universal,” Ignacio Estrela Blanco)
Guillermo del Toro, among others, explains the creativity, beauty and legacy of Spanish fantasy painter José Segrelles (1885-1969). Produced by Estrela Audiovisual, which specializes in art-based documentaries.
“Son of Ox” (“Filho de Boi,” Haroldo Borges, Ernesto Molinero, Brazil)
A Malaga Zonacine Audience Award winner also playing Guadalajara, Sao Paulo and Busan festivals, and winner of the Connect Climaye World Bank Group & Laser Film and Film4Climate Post-Production Award, filmed on Bahia’s sertao drylands, as Lucas, 13, looks to escape a life herding cattle with his father. Then a circus comes to town. a critique of classical concepts of masculinity in modern Brazil.
“Teheran Blues” (“Un Blues para Teherán” Javier Tolentino Spain)
Playing in Malaga WIP this Spring and exec-produced by Luis Miñarro, a co-producer on Palme d’Or winner “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” a fresco of the often extraordinary singers, poets and musicians in Iran’s capital. Directed by reputed Spanish radio journalist Torentino.
“Things To Do Before You Die” (“Coses a fer abans de morir,” Cristina F. Pintado, Miguel Llorens, Spain)
Another Malaga WIP entry, the second production of Valencia-baed The Fly Hunter, written by actress-turned-scribe Cristina Fernández, turning on a group of 40something friends facing mid-life crisis carrying out the last will of one of them after his funeral.
“Trains Bound for the Sea” (“Trenes que van al mar,” Manuel Alvarez Diestro, Hugo Obregón, Spain)
Maybe the nearest that Spanish cinema has come to the stripped back exposition and predominance of space over character of Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao-Hsien. In three linked stories, the grandfather of 23-year-old Fa Bao travels to Seoul to find him a girlfriend. But Fao Bao is in London for medical tests where he looks up childhood friend Daniel. A third part and near epilogue switches to Fao Bao’s boyfriend in Hong Kong. In all, love goes unspoken or unfulfilled, and landscape – Seoul’s bustling streets, London’s rumbling trains, Hong Kong’s extraordinary high-rises – sets mood and dwarfs protagonists who are unable to control their destiny. A small but buzzed up Spanish Screenings title.
“Yesterday’s Two Nights,” (“Las dos noches de ayer” Gerard Vidal Barrena, Pau Cruanyes Garrell, Spain)
A feature debut backed by Catalan public broadcaster TV3 and produced by Xavier Atance’s Benecé Produccions, framing a in directors a personal story about the death of a friend and a trip to scatter his ashes.