Sunday, December 5, 2010

SPANISH CINEMA NOW takes over the Walter Reade--starting Friday, Dec.10

Each December TrustMovies' heart beats a little faster, and this ain't due to the approach of Santa. Rather it's the Film Society of Lincoln Center's annual, always worthwhile and often terrific series Spanish Cinema Now -- presented in collaboration with Instituto de la Cinematografia y de las Artes Audiovisuales (ICAA) of the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Instituto Cervantes of New York. Imagine: you've got the chance here to see 23 Spanish films -- 19 of them new, three older (from this year's retrospective target, Agustí Villaronga, shown below) and one rediscovered classic that (I suspect) few of us have previously viewed.

The joy and edification that can be found in seeing so many films from a single foreign country in quick succession surpasses -- for me, at least -- even the excitement of seeing one or two films from 15 or 20 countries in an event such as the popular New York Film Festival (also courtesy of the FSLC).  After 23 movies over two weeks (it used to be three weeks but, hey, budget cuts are epidemic), you emerge understanding the particular foreign language a bit better, not to mention the culture and zeitgeist of that country over the past year. This is no small thing. And because of the scheduling of the films -- all showing at a single venue -- you can see each of them, rather than having to pick and choose, as is the case with most film fests (Tribeca or Toronto, anyone?).

Is the level of movie-making as high as that seen in the more noted film fests? In some cases, yes; in others, no. But considering that we are getting what are arguably among the best movies produced by the country in question over the past year, most of what we see is pretty damned good.  (Annually, The Film Society of Lincoln Center fetes the films of three European countries: France, Italy and Spain. Someday we'll hope to see more countries included in the society's yearly programs. And with the opening of the FSLC's two new, smaller theaters scheduled for 2011, this might take place sooner than later.)

Last year at least two of the SCN films went on see successful VOD runs and DVD releases via IFC Films: Cell 211 and 3Some (formerly Castillos de papel), while zombie sequel [REC 2] saw a limited theatrical release. This year the series offers films in varied genres -- from kidnap thriller to a subtle new fright film by the folk who gave us The Orphanage, from heartwarmer (above) to animation (two photos above), historical pageant (below) to cinema that tackles the Spanish Civil War.

Included in the mix -- the opening night choice, in fact -- is Spain's submission for Best Foreign Language Film: Even the Rain from Icíar Bollaín. Having already locked into U.S. distribution via Vitagraph Films, the film's second screening (most of the SCN features screen twice) on Dec. 15 at 1pm  was suddenly cancelled and replaced with a screening of Agustí Villaronga's Black Bread (Pa Negre). So if you've already purchased a ticket (or had planned to), do take note of this change.

You can discover all the delights in this year's series by clicking here. TrustMovies will cover every film in Spanish Cinema Now indivi-dually, as soon after viewing it as possible. He'll begin with the films screened for the press prior to the opening of this series (Even the Rain, The Last Circus (below) and Aro Tokbukhin: The Mind of a Killer) plus two from the Villaronga retrospective seen earlier on video -- In a Glass Cage (Tras el cristal) and El Mar (The Sea).

If you've an interest in Spanish cinema or in current foreign films of quality, check in regularly on this site over the next few weeks....

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