More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)
4 September (revised 4 October)
Three years ago, leading up to the third season of Camera Catalonia at Cambridge Film Festival [then in its 34th season], the question was posed What is Catalan cinema ? - in answering which, some of the defining features seemed to be :
Catalan cinema : Does it fit descriptions such as Sassy / Sexy / Surreal / Sensuous / Subversively ritual, and bathed by the Mediterranean ?
— THE AGENT APSLEY (@THEAGENTAPSLEY) June 12, 2014
Yet, as well as all these things (which, along with the Catalan films from 2012 to that date, are considered in more detail in What is Catalan cinema ?), succeeding seasons of Camera Catalonia have shown that the autonomous region in Spain called Catalunya – which, as with Scotland, some would see have a greater, independent status [highly relevant at the time of revising this piece...] – gives us cinema that :
* Remembers its history, right back to when Spain took control of Catalunya, in Claudio Zulian's (claudiozulian1's) thoughtful Born (2014) (@Bornfilm), reconstructing a few connected lives at the time of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), with Vicky Luengo a most desirable mistress to Josep Julien and the sister of Marc Martínez (Julien’s wealthy debtor, until Julien proves to back the wrong side in the war…)
* In the Catalan people, presents ones as reserved as the British, who - in two films that star the radiant Nora Navas (Tots volem el millor per a ella (We All Want What’s Best for Her) (2013) and L’adopció (Awaiting) (2015)) – manage to avoid talking to each other, but try to make happen what they assume should happen. In doing so, do they seem to lose sight of who is getting hurt, and for what real reason... ?
Find it here, as it's written and posted, before #UCFF can tell you on 8 September more about Camera Catalonia... :https://t.co/98qnF063z9 pic.twitter.com/rVwmLw5R8m— THE AGENT APSLEY (@THEAGENTAPSLEY) September 5, 2017
* Looks to literature such as Shakespeare, either in the feel - in Barcelona Summer Night (Barcelona, nit d'estiu) (2013) - of A Midsummer Night's Dream...
Or, in Hammudi al-Rahmoun Font's shocking telling of a classic tragedy, in Otel.lo (Othello) (2012) : 'OTHELLO is a cinematographic essay about power, desire, jealousy and deceit ; a thought on the boundaries between fiction and real life' (from IMDb)
* Films as diverse as Ficció (Fiction) (2006), Fill de Caín (Son of Cain) (2013), and Menú degustació (Tasting Menu) (2013) are, in their quite different ways, further evidence² of flexibility in, and of creative thinking about, employing conventional elements of story-telling - and of both the expectations to which their nature gives rise and what writers and / or directors do to subvert them
Screened at #CamFF, films as diverse as Menú degustació (Tasting Menu) (2013), Fill de Caín (2013), Ficció (2006) :https://t.co/98qnF063z9 pic.twitter.com/X7zmtiEHQo— THE AGENT APSLEY (@THEAGENTAPSLEY) September 11, 2017
* Or they do not subvert them - but surprisingly please, in Traces of Sandalwood (Rastres de sàndal) (2014) [this link is to TAKE ONE’s (@ TakeOneCinema's) review], with its Bollywood-infused tale of the (in)credulity of a loved and lost young girl, who is adopted into a Catalan family, and cannot believe that an Indian film-star knew her as a child - because she is her sister !
* Those living at the extremes of experience, in both Tots els camins de Déu (All The Ways of God) (2014) and El camí més llarg per tornar a casa (The Long Way Home) (2014)
* Adapts stage-plays very cinematically, whether Sílvia Munt [interviewed here], making a film of Josep María Sagarra's classic work El Cafè de la Marina (2014), or Ventura Pons of a contemporary writer in El virus de la por (The Virus of Fear) (2015)
* Finally, documentaries by Catalan directors - although now listed in the Festival's main sequence (alphabetically with the others and the feature films) - tend to explore identity and connections to Catalan history, whether telling of the band-leader Xavier Cugat's career in film and music, during which he introduced Latin orchestration and rhythms to dance-music and Hollywood films and t.v. (although, which was probably little known, Cugat had been born in Catalunya, but had been an emigrée to Cuba with his family when young), in Diego Mas Trelles' Sexo, maracas y Chihuahuas (Sex, Maracas & Chihuahuas) (2016)
Or - in another realm of translocation - telling of how much better treated and regarded Americans of Afro-Caribbean descent were during their time in Spain (fighting the fascist forces of General Franco) than in the States - especially after going there. So #CamFF 2015 guest Jordi Torrent (with his co-writer / director Alfonso Domingo) showed in Héroes invisibles : Afroamericanos en la guerra de España (Invisible Heroes) (2015) [for which #UCFF interprets the sub-title as ‘The part played by Afro-Americans in The Spanish Civil War’], to the extent even that records that proved their participation hardly (were meant to) be available / survive
Fill de Caín (2013)) - by and courtesy of David Riley
¹ A deliberate nod to the inelegance of following up Analyze This (1999) with Analyze That (2002) (fairly criminally unwatchable, unless being very kind - for their other, better work - to Crystal and De Niro ?)... [Cristina Roures, pictured, is the Festival's Operations and Hospitality Manager (and, of course, is Catalan).]
² Camera Catalonia in 2012 (its first appearance at #CamFF) had included V.O.S. (2009), which is also – along with Ficció (2006) - the work of director Cesc Gay.
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Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)