This October, the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival (ESFF) returns once again to the Scottish capital, bigger and better than ever before. Now into its third year, the ever-growing profile of the university-born festival has resulted in the team taking the celebrations to Glasgow, with three days of Hispanic culture being enjoyed at the Glasgow Film Theatre.
Over the course of 13 days, with 27 films being shown (from full-length features to an afternoon exclusively comprised of short-films), the ESFF plans to shed light on the multiculturalism within the Spanish-speaking world, debuting films from both Spain and Latin America. The tie that binds these films together is the way in which film carefully and creative expresses just some of the myriad of societies and cultures found within the Spanish-speaking community. As well as some Latin-American films, the ESFF also is exhibiting a number of Basque and Catalan films, not limiting the festival to the main Iberian Peninsula.
Another Spanish tour de force exhibited in this year’s selection of films is its literature, as two of the greatest writers in Spain’s history are welcomed onto the silver screen. Proving the festival is for all ages, Donkey Xote is an animated reimagining of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quijote de la Mancha. Paula Ortiz’s La Novia is an impeccable interpretation of Federico García Lorca’s Andalusian tragedy, Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding). This was also the first film to be presented at this year’s edition of the ESFF; with its exquisite cinematography, and carefully though-out portrayal of the Spanish classic, La Novia certainly suggests that this year’s festival is going to raise the bar even further for its predecessors.
Another highlight of the festival is the screening of the recently recovered film El Mundo Sigue (The World Goes On). Originally filmed in 1963, the film was subject to heavy censorship during Franco’s dictatorship for its heavy criticism towards the regime and its effect on the Spanish public. Over 50 years later, the film has been restored, rejuvenated and offered to the public once more. Staying true to the festival’s academic roots, a round table took place last Friday at the university, discussing the film and its portrayal of women and violence, and its reflections of posguerra Spain.
Again demonstrating the festival’s variety is the Gastronomical evening, or ‘Foody Film’, taking place on the 12th October. The night combines film and food in a delicious set-up, with a number of food-related short films will be followed by wine tasting and tapas, prepared by Ondine restaurant. Behind the entertainment and delicacies of this evening is an awareness of the importance of sustainable fishing and monitoring food production; the evening is an innovative way to combine politics with pleasure.
The success of the ESFF is demonstrated not only in the remarkable quality of the films on show, but also where the festival has taken its curator since its conception. In her welcoming speech on Thursday night, Marian A. Aréchaga revealed that this year she was invited as a cultural ambassador to not one but two highly-commended Spanish Film Festivals: Málaga and San Sebastián. Indeed, the respect that this festival has received within the academic and directorial circles of Spanish culture is evident in the wave of Spanish directors, actresses and academics making their way to Edinburgh’s Filmhouse.
Already the atmosphere in the Filmhouse is electric, as volunteers, filmgoers and directors all come together to revel in the intensity, vitality and richness of Spanish film and culture. The team who have worked long and hard to make this dream a reality should be applauded every step of the way. It’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.
The Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival takes place between the 6th-20th October, spanning from the East to West Coast:
6-15th October – Filmhouse, Edinburgh
17-20th October – Glasgow Film Theatre, Glasgow
Image: Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival