Thursday, 10 February 2011

Resources: where to buy / watch / read about Spanish cinema

Films and DVDs –
      The UK distribution of Spanish films on DVD has improved in the last few years, and there are a number of options in terms of buying them within the UK. Amazon UK currently has quite a lot of Spanish DVDs for under £5 (go into DVD > World Cinema > Spanish) and Moviemail also often have good offers on foreign language cinema. However there are a lot of Spanish films that don’t get released over here but are released in Spain with optional English subtitles (this is more true of contemporary films than older classics, but there is nonetheless a wide range available with subtitle options). If you’re unsure about ordering from Spain, there are quite a lot of Spanish sellers selling Spanish DVDs on ebay UK (DVDs > Foreign Language > Spanish) –the prices sometimes seem a little steep but consider that they quite often offer free postage and have factored that into their asking price (standard postage for one DVD being sent from Spain to the UK seems to be around 12€). I have ordered DVDs through ebay in this way and have never had any problem.

       If you’re feeling more adventurous and / or speak Spanish, there are a number of online Spanish DVD stores (although sadly no version of Amazon as yet UPDATE (25th Sept 2011): the Spanish Amazon site has recently opened, but I haven't used it yet. I will post a further update when I have tried it out. FURTHER UPDATE: I have now used Spanish Amazon several times and it is as reliable as the UK version but they do seem to have quite low levels of stock -you sometimes have to wait a few weeks for something to come back into stock. The postage is far more reasonable than any of the other sites I have used). Fnac would seem the obvious place to start, but you need to have a bank card issued in Spain in order to use it. I’m not sure if that is also the case for El Corte Inglés but the last time I attempted to order from them they wanted my passport number, which seemed a bit excessive for the sake of the 1st series of 7 vidas (don’t ask). The site that I have used most often is DVDgo -if you’re not confident in Spanish, click on the Union Jack in the top right-hand corner and the menus switch to English (although you still need to search for titles in Spanish). They have really good reductions when they have a sale, although be warned that the postage costs can be quite expensive. The other DVD site that I’ve used is Stars Cafe and likewise there is another Union Jack on the right-hand side to switch the menus into English. Both stores do deliveries by courier, so once they are despatched they arrive very quickly.
      In terms of films being streamed online, I can vouch for Filmin and Filmotech. Filmin is entirely in Spanish and there are no English subtitle options on the films, so it’s one for people who speak Spanish or who want to improve their Spanish. It mainly streams contemporary Spanish films with an emphasis on the indie / arthouse end of the market. If you’re from the UK (or anywhere outside of Spain) you have to buy the premium package (15€ per month –you can use paypal to pay UPDATE (5th May 2011): When I bought my original subscription, I must have slipped through a glitch in the matrix because when I attempted to renew it recently I discovered that you can't buy a subscription outside of Spain. You can watch films on Filmin in the UK, but you will need to find an amenable Spaniard to pay on your behalf (or to buy you a gift subscription)) but that allows you to watch an unlimited number of films and more or less anything on the site. Filmotech generally has older films than Filmin, and they’re also restricted depending on where in the world you are (for example, only certain Berlanga films are accessible from the UK). The plus side is that some of them do have English subtitle options and you pay on a film-by-film basis  UPDATE (March 2012): I have discovered that Filmotech have also now gone to monthly subscription (9 euros for a month), with some premium titles available for an extra payment (again through paypal).

Books and articles–
The two online bookshops that I have used in the past are Casa del Libro and Ocho y Medio. Casa del Libro can be switched into English by clicking on the drop down menu next to the Spanish flag at the top of the page and likewise Ocho y Medio also has an English option by clicking on the Union Jack –but if you’re after Spanish-language books, you can probably cope with the websites being in Spanish (note: Ocho y Medio sells French-language books as well). Casa del Libro is similar to Waterstones and Ocho y Medio is a specialist (Cinema) bookshop. The postage is pretty expensive but I’ve never had any problems with my orders, and again delivery is by courier. I have also ordered specific books direct from the publishers as well –I will add some of those to the links list on the right-hand side. It’s also worth noting that more and more Spanish bookstores seem to be listing Spanish books on the Amazon Marketplace on Amazon UK, which may be cheaper in terms of postage because Amazon set a standard rate. AbeBooks is kind of Marketplace for independent bookstores and offers price comparison and facilitates the orders and payments –there are a lot of Spanish bookstores on there.
      In terms of online content, the academic journals listed on the right-hand side usually have at least one (old) back issue that is available for download for free (that is at least true for the Intellect titles), and if you’re at university you may be able to get access to more recent issues through the university library (if they subscribe electronically). The other major resource that is out there is the website Film Studies for Free, which among other wonders has regularly-updated lists of online film and media studies journals, open access film e-books, and links to film and moving image studies PhD theses that are online.

I will continue to add links to the lists on the right-hand side, and if I come across something really interesting I’ll highlight it in a post.