Thursday, 10 March 2011

Links roundup, 10th March -mainly about Ángel Sala

    The main story of the week is that of Ángel Sala, director of the Sitges Film Festival, who was reported to the Barcelona authorities and accused of exhibiting child pornography, on the basis that A Serbian Film (the ‘plot’ of which includes the rape of a baby and of a five-year-old child) was screened at the Sitges Film Festival last October. This has predictably caused uproar and prompted accusations of censorship, and expressions of disbelief that the judiciary cannot tell the difference between fiction and reality (although, as I understand it, Spanish law does not differentiate between ‘fiction’ and ‘reality’ in terms of images of this kind, and the specific article of the penal code (189.7, according to El País) covers the production, selling, distribution, exhibiting, or facilitating of such images).
     Leaving aside the issue of censorship for one moment, the main point of absurdity seems to be that the person who is facing a prison sentence of three to twelve months (and Sala was formally charged on Wednesday 9th March), is someone who was not directly involved in the making of the film –the letter of support signed by the directors of other Spanish film festivals notes their surprise (and, no doubt, alarm) that it is a cultural programmer who is being pursued, rather than anyone who can even theoretically be held responsible for the film’s content. I hold no brief for A Serbian Film –given what I have read about it (Empire's review –yes, it was released in the UK, although cut by the BBFC- is here), I have no desire to see it. But I am an adult and am capable of making that decision for myself. After Sala was charged on Wednesday, the Sitges Film Festival released a statement making clear: a) their continued support for their director, b) that the film is a work of fiction, and c) that strict precautions were taken to ensure that only adults attended the (one) screening of the film. We can only wait to see what happens next. In the meantime, an online petition in support of Ángel Sala has been started.

Other news-

The on-going story of who will take over from Álex de la Iglesia as President of the Spanish Academy of the Arts and Cinematographic Sciences: last week director Bigas Luna threw his hat into the ring. However the elections are for a team (President and two Vice-Presidents) rather than just a President, so Bigas Luna had been looking for two other people to serve with him. He had said that he wanted someone from the acting community and someone from the production side of filmmaking. Earlier this week it was announced that actress Leonor Watling (Hable con ella / Talk to Her (Almodóvar, 2002), and perhaps more pertinently, Son de mar / Sound of the Sea (Bigas Luna, 2001)) and production manager / line producer Yousaf Bokhari (Balada triste de trompeta (de la Iglesia, 2010)) will stand as the two Vice-Presidents in collaboration with Bigas Luna. As yet no other candidates / teams have announced that they intend to run.