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:: Spotlight :: 2007 Spanish Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

The 2007 Spanish Film Festival in Australia will premiere new work by Spanish legends Antonio Banderas & Javier Bardem for the 10th anniversary celebrations.

Festival Director Natalia Ortiz said, “It is fantastic to see two of Spain’s most well-known actors in the role of filmmaker. After working all over the world, Antonio Banderas has returned to to Spain to direct his second feature film, to tell his story and explore his memories of Spain. Javier Bardem is using his profile to tell the stories of the forgotten people from all over the world – global stories which make a difference.”

Antonio Banderas (The Mask of Zorro, Take the Lead) directed his first feature film in America - Crazy in Alabama starring his wife Melanie Griffith. For his second feature film, SUMMER RAIN (EL CAMINO DE LOS INGLESES), Banderas has returned to his roots and has created a rich and emotionally powerful coming of age story set in the south of Spain in the 1970s.

Speaking about the film, Banderas said: “My dream was actually much smaller than what I am living. I simply wanted to be a stage actor, not a movie star. Fortunately, I haven’t lost the drive that led me to leave Malaga on August 3rd 1980. I can remember the exact moment that the train left the station, and the people who came to see me off. And what they brought: packs of cigarettes, food, even money. I left Malaga with 15,000 pesetas and when the train left the station I knew I had become someone else - that whatever happened, I would return to Malaga as a different person. And now I am back, 26 years later. In one way or another, I am taking the English Road in the opposite direction.”

“This is not just my second film, it's my return to Malaga, to the 70’s and the person I was then. And that is what I am trying to explore. That’s why the film goes into so many areas. It looks back to the 70’s, years of enormous political tension in Spain, although the film doesn’t show political events, or the teen parties of those days. The film isolates the characters in a bubble outside time.“

Summer Rain was selected to screen in Official Selection at the Sundance and the Berlin International Film Festival where it was awarded the Best European Film Prize. The film was nominated for Best New Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay in the 2007 Goya Awards and will have its Australian Premiere in the 10th Spanish Film Festival.

The 2007 Festival will open with the multi-award winning comedy Un franco, 14 pesetas (Crossing borders) written, directed by and starring Carlos Iglesias. Set in 1960 the film is the story of two friends who look for work in Switzerland leaving behind their roots in Spain. Semi autobiographical, Iglesias tells the story of how it is almost harder to come back than it was to leave!. Screening with a short film from the Canary Islands, Said´s Journey, winner of the 2007 Goya Award for Best Animation Short Film.

A highlight of the 2007 Festival is a Retrospective of the best work of acclaimed producer, writer and director Elias Querejeta, who made over 50 films in the last 40 years, and is the producer of the first works by directors such as Carlos Saura, Ricardo Franco and Fernando León de Aranoa. The Querejeta factory is responsible for such essential titles in Spanish cinema as La caza (The Hunt), LA Familia (Family), Historias del Kronen (Stories from the Kronen), La espalda del mundo (The Back of the World), Pascual Duarte, which are all included in this Retrospective. A rare opportunity to see some of Spain’s landmark films on the big screen.

SPANISH CINEMA TODAY is a program of feature films and documentaries produced in 2006 and early 2007 which reflect the most current Spanish filmmaking and includes the comedy Vete De Mi (Go Away From Me) for which Juan Diego won the 2007 Goya Best Actor Award for his performance and Silver Shell at San Sebastián International Film Festival, and the Goya-nominated documentary Hécuba, A Dream of Passion which interviews Javier Bardem, Antonio Banderas, Victoria Abril, Carmen Maura and many more actors about their craft.

CLOSING NIGHT is again an Argentinean celebration, featuring Derecho De Familia (Family Law), a co-production of Spain/Argentina/Italy/France about a young lawyer who still doesn’t know who he wants to be when he grows up!

This year's festival spans four states as follows:

Sydney - May 9-20, 2007 - Palace Academy Twin & Palace Norton Street Cinemas
Melbourne - May 16-27, 2007 - Cinema Como & Westgarth
Brisbane - May 23-27, 2007 - Palace Centro
Perth - May 24 to 31, 2007 - Cinema Paradiso