Saturday, 20 July 2013

Resources Revisited: Where to buy / watch / read Spanish cinema

Way back when this blog began in February 2011, I wrote a resources post detailing where to find films, DVDs, books, journals related to Spanish cinema. I've updated that post multiple times since then but thought that the time had come to write a separate, updated version because (a) the original post has so many revisions that it's starting to look like a patchwork quilt, and (b) so much has changed online in the past two years, it seems simpler to start over. So, some of the information in this post is the same as the original (where things haven't changed), but I've tried to make sure that all of it is up to date.

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. Moviemail has good offers / sales on foreign language cinema and I like supporting an independent retailer when I can - they also have free postage within the UK. Prices on Amazon UK vary and they've changed how you can go about finding Spanish language films as they no longer bother to have a World Cinema genre category. To find them - Music, Games, Films & TV > Film & TV > Look at the sidebar on the left of the screen > Under 'Languages', you will see 'Spanish'. From there you can change the order of the search results by popularity, price, or release date, and you can also see more recent releases by looking at the 'New arrivals' category in the sidebar on the left (you can choose between 'Last 30 days', 'Last 90 days', and 'Next 90 days'). 
       However a lot of Spanish films that don’t get released over here 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. It used to be quite straightforward to find Spanish films on ebay (DVDs > Foreign Language > Spanish), but they've dropped 'Foreign Language' from the main genre menu - you can still find them as a category if you click 'More refinements' in the left-hand sidebar (when you've selected the general DVD category) but you have to go through several more menus and it becomes quite convoluted (with only a comparatively small number of DVDs listed under what become sub-genres within sub-genres). What I usually do is search for the title / director / actor in the main search engine, tick the box that says 'include description', and set the 'Item Location' as European Union - you will then start to see Spanish sellers / ebay shops –the prices sometimes seem a little high, 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. Amazon Spain opened in September 2011, 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 a standard 7€, which is far more reasonable than most of the other sites I have used. Fnac would seem the other 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 used most often before Amazon Spain opened 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 I've continued to use them in combination with Amazon because they have good sales and their postage rates are more reasonable than DVDgo) 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. 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). The prices currently break down into two streams: Premium and Premium+. In the Premium strand you can pay 8€/month or 70€/year and that allows you to watch an unlimited number of films from the main catalogue (more than 3700 films and rising). There are certain films (usually ones that are either unreleased in Spanish cinemas or that are shortly about to get a DVD release) that cost more, and that's where Premium+ comes in. In the Premium+ strand you pay 15€/month, 30€ for three months, 55€ for six months, or 110€ for a year - and each of those will also cover three of those more exclusive films per month (but you can't accumulate the tokens - you have three per month, they don't carry over to the next month). You can also buy bundles of these tokens (14€ for 5, 50€ for 20). Filmotech generally has older films than Filmin (although in the past year they have increased their number of contemporary releases), 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 a monthly subscription of 6,95€, with some premium titles available for an extra payment (all payable through paypal).

Books and articles–
      In terms of book recommendations, see my posts - Books on Spanish Cinema, Part One and Part Two - those posts are periodically updated as and when I get my hands on new books (which also receive standalone posts - click on 'Books' in the labels at the bottom of the blog and you will get to all of those posts). 2013 is shaping up to be a bumper year for new books on Spanish cinema - so standby for more! 
      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 –some of those are in the links list on the right-hand side. It’s also worth noting that since Amazon Spain started, Amazon UK have more Spanish-language film books listed on their site (and that are included within their Amazon Prime postage package), and more Spanish bookstores seem to be listing Spanish books on the Amazon Marketplace on the UK site. 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 and I've got some good deals from there in the past (including back issues of Spanish magazines).
      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). In the past year, Archivos de la Filmoteca, a Spanish-language journal, has made all of its back issues viewable online in PDF form, for free - all you have to do is register with their site. 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.