Monday, 7 February 2011

An introduction:

     I should introduce myself so that you know where I’m coming from and what I intend to do with this blog. I have an academic background but I’m not currently working in academia; I got my PhD almost a year ago and I completely stopped writing at that point (for a variety of reasons). The first purpose of this blog (from my point of view) is to make me start writing again because I have discovered in the past year that I’m someone who does their thinking through writing –my brain has been turning to mush through inactivity. So I decided to try writing in a different way, and gave myself a New Year’s resolution of starting a blog about Spanish cinema. Which brings me to the second purpose of this blog: to get a conversation going (in English) about Spanish cinema.

      Spanish cinema doesn’t really get ‘sold’ in the UK. I don’t meet many people here who know that much about Spanish cinema, and what (and who) they do know tends to be skewed through the ‘art-house cinema’ lens –people who like ‘art-house’ films know who Pedro Almodóvar is, and maybe Carlos Saura and Julio Medem, but few others. This is partly an issue of distribution –if Spanish films don’t get distributed here, how will people know about them? This blog takes its name from Nadie conoce a nadie / Nobody Knows Anybody (Mateo Gil, 1999) in part because it seemed an appropriate title for UK-based blog about Spanish cinema. An interesting anomaly in this general lack of awareness is the success of Spanish genre cinema (specifically horror) in the UK, probably starting with The Others (Alejandro Amenábar, 2001) (yes, I know it’s in English –but it is counted as a Spanish film by the Spanish film industry), but more recently films like El Orfanato / The Orphanage (J.A. Bayona, 2007) and [*]Rec (Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza, 2007) also seem to have found an audience here (either that or I just know a lot of horror enthusiasts –certainly possible). In terms of actors, Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz are household names, and more people know who Javier Bardem is since No Country for Old Men (Joel & Ethan Coen, 2007), but that’s about it. Much like the British in relation to British cinema, the Spanish often seem quite dismissive of their own cinema, but I think that it has an incredibly rich and diverse collection of storytellers, directors, and actors –and hopefully this blog can start some conversations about that.
      The other side of ‘spreading the word’ about Spanish cinema is that although the number of English-language books discussing Spanish cinema has increased dramatically in the last ten years, there are still few web-based resources in English that focus on Spanish cinema. I would like this blog to try to bring together different resources, or at least act as a starting place for people wanting to find out more. So I will highlight links to interesting sites, projects, and articles, and there will probably be some book reviews in the future as well. I will include links to things in Spanish too. But this isn’t going to be a news site, and it won’t be updated daily (although I expect the posts to be fairly frequent while I get started) –if there’s a topical issue relating to cinema in Spain then I may well write something about it (I’ll avoid the Ley Sinde for the time being, if you don’t mind), but I’m not just going to translate news articles. I will also draw attention to places where Spanish films are available on DVD or (legally) online –or, indeed, if one is receiving a cinema release in the UK. Anyway, now that I’ve introduced myself, I look forward to meeting other Spanish cinema enthusiasts at ‘Nobody Knows Anybody’ –hasta luego.