Saturday, December 6, 2008

The FSLC's Spanish Cinema Now: an Energetic Morning at Instituto Cervantes

Javier Cámara, right, with Lola Dueñas, in the new Chef's Special

What a lovely spot is Instituto Cervantes, New York City's home to all things Spanish. This unusual building, with its courtyard garden (located at 211 East 49th Street, between Second and Third Avenues), is the place to go should you want anything from Spanish lessons to a hard-to-find Spanish-language movie (last year's Goya winner for Best Spanish film, La Soledad, still unreleased in the USA, is one of these) or just to delve into the Institute's marvelous library or see and hear an interesting program in its comfortable auditorium. The latter room is where press members found themselves yesterday morning for a meet/greet/listen session with directors and actors of some of the many films currently being shown as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Spanish Cinema Now series.

Present -- among others -- were the FSLC's program director Richard Peña, actors Javier Cámara and Mar Flores, and directors F. Javier Gutièrrez, Dunia Ayaso, Félix Sabroso and Nacho Vigalondo, plus some pleasantly talkative, no-axe-to-grind guests -- and so the press conference warmed up fast. Questions popped from almost all comers concerning everything from Spanish cinema of the past year to the criticism of same (from home and abroad), Hollywood's lock on the international box-office, Spanish guilt, lack of Spanish marketing skills (brought to our attention by the artists themsleves), the possibility of Spanish film stars having a successful international career, the upsurge of genre filmmaking in Spain and the increasing success of Spanish film both at home and abroad.

All of these were courteously, even courageously fielded by everyone on parade here, often with humor, grace or something extra: a bit of history, the odd reminiscence, even a question aimed back at the audience. Genre directors Gutièrrez (Before the Fall) Vigalondo (TimeCrimes) were a delight, offering interesting observations about the state of things at home, while Sabroso and Ayaso (co-directors of Rated- R) shared their feelings an ideas of with the audience. The glamorous Ms Flores answered question about the possibility of an international career and moving to L.A. (she probably would not). As the star of the moment and the subject of this year's SCN retrospective, Javier Cámara received the most attention, which he paid off handsomely with some wonderful tales about the industry and himself.

TrustMovies has noticed over the past two or three years, that Spaniards who visit here for the festival seem among the most open, happy, friendly, and eager to communicate of all the movie-makers he's encountered so far. It is always such a pleasure to deal with them. After the group press conference, many of us had the opportunity to speak with the actors or directors one-on-one. I managed to talk, briefly at least, with all of them. A short interview with Mr. Cámara will follow tomorrow. Today, a link to my second post on SCN for GreenCine can be found here.

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