IberoDocs' 8th edition celebrates Art as a Need

IberoDocs returns with an online edition of the festival celebrating Ibero-American culture, with a programme of over twenty documentaries, filmmaker Q&As and a virtual exhibition

Feature by Jamie Dunn | 30 Mar 2021
  • Light Sensitive Ages

If the last 12 months have taught us anything, it’s that we need art. With everyone’s lives shrunken to the few rooms of your home and the streets and parks of your surrounding neighbourhood, art's ability to transport us to different places and enrich our inner lives has never been more apparent. The pandemic has also highlighted the precarious nature of our creative arts sectors. It’s been a stressful year for many of the art venues we love and their staff, with revenue streams cut off and government funding slow to be distributed and often insufficient to keep the lights on.

IberoDocs’ programming team clearly has this all in mind as they assemble the 8th edition of the festival, which aims to celebrate Ibero-American culture through the best of recent Spanish, Portuguese and Latin-American documentary. This year, the main programme will explore the notion of "Art as a Need", with ten feature-length docs that challenge stereotypes surrounding society's notions of art and artists.

Many of the documentaries focus in on the work of creative people. Take Alberto Arvelo’s Free Colour, which takes as its subject Carlos Cruz-Diez, the late, great Venezuelan kinetic artist famed for his dazzling use of colour in paintings, installations and sculptures. Free Colour follows Cruz-Diez in the last years of his life as he attempts his most ambitious project: an artwork of pure colour that requires no visible light source. Crus-Diez describes it as “a chromatic event that would be ephemeral". As well as following the nonagenarian as he works with CalTech scientists to achieve his vision, Arvelo’s film also acts as a capsule biography and an overview of this artist's extraordinary career.

The IberoDocs’ main slate also features two films centred on music and musicians. Marta Figueras and Susana Guardiola’s Discovering José Padilla delves into the eponymous Spanish pianist's life, best known in the English-speaking world for his deeply romantic composition La Violetera, which Charlie Chaplin used as the main theme in City Lights. When You Listen from Sergi Cameron, meanwhile, follows flamenco singer El Niño de Elche as he goes on an ambitious journey in search of the “nature of the artistic creation”, in which he delves into the roots of music through sound and experimentation.

Artistic creativity is also the subject of Pedro Sara and Violeta Pagán’s Light Sensitive Ages, a revealing portrait of a group of young people studying film who decide to shoot a movie, with the light of each shot appearing to reveal different aspects of their lives, like they were photograph negatives.

In addition to the film programme, the festival will include a series of free filmmaker Q&As – all BSL interpreted – and a masterclass in collaboration with the Scottish Documentary Institue by Lupe Perez Diaz, who's fresh from winning the New Waves best director award at the 2020 Seville Film Festival for her film Never Look Back, which screens in the IberoDocs programme. There’s also a virtual exhibition of Martin Weber’s photography to his road movie Map of Latin American Dreams, which sees him retrace his footsteps, looking for people he photographed while travelling the length of Central and South America, asking them the question: “Did you live your dream?”

IberoDocs runs online 19 Apr to 2 May. Individual tickets for features and shorts programmes are £5/£3 (concession); full access to all of IberoDocs via a festival pass is £15/£10 (concession)

The full festival programme is available at iberodocs.org