Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival: 2019 preview
The Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival is back with a tasty menu of award-winning Spanish cinema as well as a literal tasty menu with Scottish chef Michael Innes
Don’t let that title fool you. The Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival, which returns for its sixth edition, doesn’t just cater to Hispanophiles living in the Scottish capital. As well as a lively programme planned at Filmhouse and the University of Edinburgh, ESFF will also be taking films to Stirling, Manchester, Aberdeen and Glasgow throughout October.
Some of the titles in this year's ESFF programme are coming to us on a wave of acclaim from back home, such as opener The Candidate, Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s sinuous slow-burn thriller about a politician who finds himself tangled in a web of corruption. It’s no fun at all watching the lies and schemes of our real-life politicians play out on the news, but watching the world crumble around one on the big screen should prove a cathartic experience.
The Candidate won seven Goya Awards (Spain’s equivalent of the Oscars), including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay. The film that pipped it to the post for Best Film, Champions, also screens at ESFF and demonstrates the eclecticism of the festival’s programming. The kind of feel-good comedy that would melt the heart of even the most hardened of cynics, Champions follows an arrogant basketball coach who finds himself swapping the big leagues for coaching a ramshackle team made up of people with disabilities as community service. This heartwarming comedy has been a huge hit in Spanish cinemas – see the original before the inevitable Holywood remake.
The strand 80 Years of Exile! features a series of films marking eight decades since the devastation of the Spanish Civil War, and explores how that conflict threw people from Spain to all corners of the world. The strand includes older films like Soldiers of Salamina, Broken Silence and Mexican Suitcase as well as the UK premiere of The Accordionist’s Son, Fernando Bernués’ adaptation of the classic Basque novel of the same name. An exhibition in Filmhouse’s Café Bar of Spanish film posters related to the Spanish Civil War and exile will complement the strand.
Among the other film highlights is Icíar Bollaín’s vibrant biography Yuli, which shows how the great dancer Carlos Acosta went from being a football-mad tearaway on the streets of Havana to the first black lead dancer at the Royal Ballet. Also be sure to make time for exquisite Galician film Fire Will Come from the talented Oliver Laxe. Soaked in the atmosphere and landscape of the region, this drama about a man returning to his secluded childhood home after a spell incarcerated for arson won the Un Certain Regard jury prize at Cannes this year.
You should also seek out ESFF’s two films from the Americas: The Eternal Feminine from Mexico, a biopic about the hugely influential Mexican feminist writer Rosario Castellanos; and from Argentina comes The Angel, a wry thriller inspired by the true-life crime spree of the baby-faced Carlos Robledo Puch, the country’s most notorious killer.
It's not just films that ESFF have on offer though. As with seemingly every film festival nowadays, there’s some TV in the mix. The first two episodes of the Paco León-directed series Madrid on Fire will screen – we’re told the show is concerned with Hollywood star Ava Gardner and the time she spent living in the Spanish capital in the early 60s. There's an event dedicated to Spanish gastronomy too. A screening of Chef’s Diaries: Scotland – a doc exploring the culture, landscape, people and products from Scotland fronted by the Roca brothers, the celebrated chefs of famed Catalonian restaurant El Celler de Can Roca – will be followed by a selection of the finest Spanish wines and tapas by the Scottish chef Michael Innes, who has worked with the Rocas.
It's quite a menu of Spanish cinema and culture. Buen provecho!
Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival runs 4-12 Oct in Edinburgh, and tours to Manchester, Stirling, Aberdeen and Glasgow from 3 Oct-14 Nov