Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Mini Project: Un impulso colectivo

    Since early 2014 I've been seeking out films that fall into the nebulous and ever-expanding category of 'el otro cine español' and thinking about how I might approach writing about them collectively. Documentary films within this category have been my main focus for more than six months now although I've also simultaneously drifted into looking at documentaries more broadly (i.e. outside of Spain and from a range of eras), which has made 'progress' slower than I'd intended. I have an idea of how to group a particular set of documentaries together in order to write about them, but I've still got a few more to track down and watch before I get started.
    I've also continued watching Spanish cinema generally (I will write something about La isla mínima, honest. No, really, I will) but also other 'otro cine español' films that don't fit within my current documentary focus (I'm hoping to get around to watching Magical Girl and Hermosa juventud in the next month). As I've said in previous posts, it's such a disparate and unwieldy collection of films and filmmakers that it's difficult to know where to begin (last July I explained why I've started with the documentaries) and how to break it down into more manageable sub-sections. But it recently occurred to me that the 'Un impulso colectivo' [A Collective Impulse] section at last year's D'A - Festival Internacional de Cinema D'Autor de Barcelona was precisely designed to give an overview of this cinema being made on the margins. So in the build-up to the D'A festival announcing their 2015 line-up (they have already said that there won't be a similar section this year but that homegrown films will feature across all sections of the programme), I thought I'd take a look back at the fourteen films programmed by Carlos Losilla (the section takes its name from his September 2013 article in Caimán Cuadernos de Cine) in 2014. Taken together the films stand as a panoramic snapshot of Spanish cinema(s) now on the move (collectively and as individual filmmakers). The fourteen films are [UPDATE 03/04/15 - I'm currently writing the overview piece but explaining what each film is about is cluttering it up. My solution is that I'm going to add a brief outline of each film below and include a link to this post at the start of the overview]:

  • Árboles / Trees (dir. Colectivo Los Hijos [Javier Fernández Vázquez, Luis López Carrasco, Natalia Marín Sancho]). An essay film combining the storytelling surrounding colonialism with an exploration of different architectural spaces and how they relate to their inhabitants.
  • Las aventuras de Lily ojos de gato / The Adventures of Cat-Eyed Lily (dir. Yonay Boix). Follows the eponymous Lily on a carousing night out with friends in Madrid as she tries to get herself together and resolve personal problems.
  • Cenizas / Ashes (dir. Carlos Balbuena). A stunningly photographed, black and white, and near wordless tale of a man returning to his home town in the aftermath of a family funeral and exploring the surrounding area.
  • Edificio España / The Building (dir. Víctor Moreno). A documentary recording the renovation of the monumental Edificio España, the international workforce carrying out the work, and the beginning of the economic crisis.
  • El Futuro / The Future (dir. Luis López Carrasco). A house party in the aftermath of the 1982 Socialist victory with the generation who mistook that election for an end in itself.
  • Une histoire seule (dir. Xurxo Chirro & Aguinaldo Fructuoso). Two friends join forces via Skype to make a film about Geneva inspired by Jean-Luc Godard.
  • Ilusión / Hope (dir. Daniel Castro). Intending to give some hope to his fellow countrymen in such trying times, a writer-director aims to make a musical (Los Pactos de la Moncloa) about the political pacts made during the Transition.
  • Paradiso (dir. Omar A. Razzak). A documentary about the day-to-day running of the Duque de Alba, the last Sala X (porn cinema) in Madrid, and the interactions between projectionist Rafael, soon-to-retire box-office operator Luisa, and the cinema's clientele.
  • Los primeros días / The First Days (dir. Juan Rayos). A documentary recording the rehearsals and performances of a play written for adults but here performed by four ten year olds - over the course of two years they grow up before our eyes.
  • Slimane (dir. José A. Alayón). When young immigrants come of age they're forced to leave the child care centres that have been their homes without any further assistance. Homeless, Slimane and his friends have to find safe places to sleep, money to get by on, and ways to kill time.
  • Sobre la marxa / The Creator of the Jungle (dir. Jordi Morató). A documentary telling the story of a man who built his own jungle by the side of a highway, and how he rebuilt and destroyed it three times.
  • El triste olor de la carne / The Sad Smell of Flesh (dir. Cristóbal Arteaga). Alfredo has been keeping up appearances since losing his job but over the course of one morning has to try to avert the repossession of his home and his family discovering the truth.
  • Uranes (dir. Chema García Ibarra). A deadpan tale of extraterrestrials, grandparents, and dark goings-on in the countryside.
  • Vidaextra / ExtraLife (dir. Ramiro Ledo). The September 2010 General Strike in Barcelona blends with Peter Weiss's The Aesthetics of Resistance to feed into an overnight discussion between five anonymous friends who are trying to oppose the state of things.

    I'm in the process of working my way through watching them (I actually saw four of them - El Futuro, Edificio España, Sobre la marxa, and Cenizas - last year). Some of them are available commercially (either as DVDs or VOD), but the majority aren't - in those cases, I've contacted the filmmakers or production companies in order to access them. At the moment I'm theoretically - one DVD has yet to arrive - able to (re)watch twelve of the fourteen (the missing two are among the ones I've seen previously). My intention is to write an overview of them as a group within the next couple of weeks, and then possibly write about individual films in more detail later on (it will depend on how they fit within the other things I'm researching). To be continued...