In CATALONIA VS SPAIN (Cataluña Espanya), writer (with Joan Dolç) and director
Isona Passola (shown above) interviews a large and diverse bunch of talking heads to get at the problems of why, in the words of several of the interviewees, Catalonia keeps complaining so much and so often. Seems to this viewer, at least, that it have a lot to complain about -- including, as early members of a certain other nation once noted, "taxation without representation." Though in Catalunya, it seems to be more a matter of not enough representation.
ture, while Madrid does not. On that last point, I would have to agree: one of the few films in the current series to deal with Cata-
lunya (Little Indi) is set in the region and indeed seems to sport a culture so different it could be taking place in another country.
lems here and to have some hope that over time they'll be righted.
Another SCN series has drawn to a close, and after viewing 17 new films and one program of shorts, I'm sorry to see it go. If the ETA, which last year themed two of the series' better films, was present only as hostage bargaining chips in the terrific prison movie Cell 211, there was still plenty of ideas about Spain today to capture our attention. More than 30 years have passed since the death of fascist dictator Francisco Franco, and the country he ruled via torture and an iron fist is now yet another of the world's troubled democracies. Watching, via the SCN films, this country come to terms with continuing growth and change is, as usual, enlightening and disturbing, humorous and sad.
In terms of quality, this year proved one of, maybe the best I can recall: only two losers in the pack (The Dancer and the Thief and A Good Man, with the latter, according to another attendee I spoke with, "the best film in the festival." Go figure.) The remainder ranged from Don't-Miss status (Bloody May, Camino, Cell 211, Woman Without Piano) to plain excellent (The Good News, Gordos, Mediterranean Food, Paper Castles, The Shame, Stigmata) to very much worth seeing (Catalonia vs Spain, The Condemned, Hierro, Little Indi, V.O.S. and the shorts program).
Why, you may have asked, does TrustMovies spend so much time on a festival that can only be seen by New Yorkers (or those film buffs located in the tri-state are), the movies of which will likely not be shown again? It's partly because most of these movies, as good as they are, may not appear on these shores again. Yet they deserve to be seen, talked about and written about -- even if only as a record that, hey, they were here! Maybe, with any luck they will find their way to DVD or cable, and seeing their titles, you'll remember that you read about them, wanted to see them, and so will take a look.... Let's hope.