Sunday, 24 May 2015

Iberodocs, Glasgow: N-VI Vanishing Roads and Humano

    My reviews of two films showing at the 2nd weekend of the 2015 edition of Iberodocs are now online:

  • N-VI Vanishing Roads (Pela del Álamo, 2012) - a portrait of the abandoned N-VI road between Madrid and Galicia, presented through the people who still live alongside it. My review is here.
  • Humano (Alan Stivelman, 2013) - 25-year-old Alan sets off on an existential journey in the Andean mountains, searching for answers to fundamental questions about what it is to be human. My review is here.

Pela del Álamo's film continues the festival's 'Focus on Galicia' strand and looks at what happened to the communities alongside the N-VI road when it was superseded by the A-6 motorway. The film accumulates a sense of loss and isolation as it progresses but also captures the stubborn endurance of those people left on the wayside - it's well worth catching if you get the chance. Humano is not really my cup of tea as films go, but if you're more open to adventures in spiritual enlightenment than I am, you may find something of interest in director Alan Stivelman's Andean quest.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Interview: Ion de Sosa and Chema García Ibarra

Sueñan los androides

    One slightly unexpected experience at D'A Festival was that I had the opportunity to interview people in person (I tried to interview someone at a film festival last year but wasn't insistent enough in following it up, and so the chance was lost). In this case, I had asked about the possibility of interviewing specific people before I headed to the festival but didn't find out whether or not I could until I arrived in Barcelona. The delay in me starting to write reviews while I was there was effectively the time I spent preparing questions (which had to wait until I had seen the relevant films as well).
    The first of these in-person interviews related to Sueñan los androides / Androids Dream and can be read over at Eye for Film - here. In fact, it was actually two interviews because I ended up interviewing director Ion de Sosa and co-writer Chema García Ibarra separately, but as I asked them the same questions - about Sueñan los androides and also Spanish cinema more generally - I've put their answers together in that piece. I will be returning to Sueñan los androides when I write something more detailed about the (Im)Possible Futures section - and I may expand that to be about Spanish sci-fi more generally, in which case I will also include Uranes (written and directed by Chema García Ibarra).
    Conducting interviews in person has been a learning experience, and one which will no doubt continue in the future. For example, in contrast to interviews conducted by email, I had the chance to respond to their answers with follow up questions, but in this instance I stuck to my original questions too rigidly. That was a confidence issue on my part given that we were speaking Spanish and it was the first time I'd ever interviewed anyone, in any language (yes, I decided to go for the full-blown baptism of fire). As I said to each of the people I interviewed in Barcelona (I still need to translate my interview with Crumbs director Miguel Llansó) - I can understand the majority of what is said to me in Spanish, but sometimes I can't find the right words when I want to express myself / respond. So that hindered me a bit - although they were all very patient when I did stray from the questions I had written down and had to grasp for the right words - but I think that I did the best I could, and I'm pleased that I went for it because I would have regretted it if I hadn't. Translating the interviews (I recorded them) has also been interesting from a language comprehension perspective because it's not enough to understand the gist if you're directly quoting someone (listening to myself speaking Spanish has also underlined that I should try to find some conversation classes again - I read or listen to Spanish on a daily basis but I don't have many opportunities to speak it), so I've had to work on both picking out their precise words (which is something I don't have to worry about when the interview is done via email because I receive the words in written form) and a more nuanced understanding of the specific words used.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Interview: Xurxo Chirro


    I contacted director Xurxo Chirro a couple of months ago when I was writing about 'Un impulso colectivo' and needed to track down a way of seeing Une histoire seule. So, when I realised that his film Vikingland (which I had already seen) was screening at Iberodocs, I contacted him again and asked whether he had the time to answer some questions about the film via email - he kindly agreed, and the resulting interview has been published over at Eye for Film (here).

    Where I've had the opportunity to interview directors in the past month, besides asking about the specific film they're promoting, I've also asked about 'el otro cine español' (obviously a topic of ongoing interest for me). In this case, I also asked about a more regional phenomenon - New Galician Cinema (Novo Cinema Galego). I've seen a number of films pertaining to this group but they were presented in isolation, so I don't know very much about the group collectively or how it came into being - i.e. why has there been this cinematic flourishing in the region. So the interview was enlightening for me in that context. But Xurxo's comment about 'el otro cine español' being like an archipelago with filmmakers either working alone or in smaller clusters (rather than a collective movement) also chimes with what I observed in Barcelona, and some of what filmmakers there said in response to similar questions on the general topic (in essence, I think there was another collective cluster detectable among certain films at the D'A Festival this year, in terms of filmmakers who are actively collaborating with each other and who share perspectives and cinematic attitudes). 
    As I've said on here before, I find the overall shape of 'el otro cine español' (as it is written about in Spanish publications) difficult to approach in an analytical way because the range of filmmakers included is broad and unwieldy. My method of breaking it down into a manageable starting point has been to concentrate on the documentaries, but I'm now wondering whether it might be more useful to identify a few of the concentrated clusters of filmmakers and use them as a starting point. I don't think this particularly contradicts what I've written so far on the subject; it is a refinement of my perspective and methods. But I will ponder this some more while I write up things from Barcelona - and I also have a specific topic I want to explore in relation to documentaries by filmmakers such as Víctor Moreno and Pablo Llorca, among others - so this won't be an immediate change in focus, but I may start to change my approach.

Iberodocs, Edinburgh: Arraianos and Vikingland

    The first of my reviews relating to Iberodocs have now gone online. Both films are part of the festival's 'Focus on Galicia' strand drawing attention to both the phenomenon of New Galician Cinema and a particular trend for documentary fictions.

  • Arraianos (Eloy Enciso, 2012) - a poetic portrait of the borderlands between Galicia and Portugal. My review is here.
  • Vikingland (Xurxo Chirro, 2011) - footage filmed by a Galician sailor who was working on a ferry between Germany and Denmark in the early 1990s is arranged to echo Melville's Moby Dick. My review is here.

Neither is a straightforwardly conventional film and would be rich texts to explore if you were considering issues of identity (personal, regional, and national), work, metaphysics, the natural world (and our place in it), and emigration - they have enough going on that I could write another review of each, focussed on entirely different elements. Both are worth seeking out if you get the opportunity. Arraianos is available on DVD (with optional English subtitles) directly from the people who made it - here.
    My other Iberodocs reviews will be of films screening in Glasgow, so I will write a separate post for them next weekend. I'll also write another post later today, to link to the interview I did with Xurxo Chirro.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Iberodocs 2015

    My coverage of the D'A Festival is still ongoing (see my previous post), but the 2nd edition of Iberodocs starts this week in Scotland - it takes place in Edinburgh from this Thursday and moves to Glasgow the following weekend. I've written a preview for Eye for Film, which you can read here
    If you're able to go to either weekend, I can recommend Vikingland (dir. Xurxo Chirro), Arraianos (dir. Eloy Enciso), and La plaga / The Plague (dir. Neus Ballús) - plus, Arraianos is screening with Lois Patiño's short film Montaña en sombra, which I found breathtaking when I saw it in Bradford last year alongside Patiño's Costa da Morte (my favourite film last year, as if you need reminding). I'll be reviewing some of the films showing at Iberodocs over the coming fortnight, and I also have an interview with Xurxo Chirro about how Vikingland came to be and what New Galician Cinema is all about. I will post the links on here as and when they exist.

Interview: Adán Aliaga and David Valero

The first of my interviews relating to films I saw in Barcelona at the D'A Festival is now online. I interviewed Adán Aliaga and David Valero about their comedy El arca de Noé / Noah's Ark via email - you can read the result here.

Friday, 8 May 2015

D'A Festival: short films

Avant pétalos grillados

    The D'A Festival had a varied programme of short films as part of the (Im)Possible Futures strand. I actually only saw one of them while I was in Barcelona (Chigger Ale played before the screening of Crumbs), but I've found quite a few of them online - Velasco Broca's films, including the three screened at the festival, are available to view for free on PLAT (his page on the site is here), Ángel Santos's Camiños de Bardaos is on YouTube, and Christelle Lheureux's La maladie blanche is available to rent on Vimeo. Only the last of those is available with English subtitles.
I've reviewed three of the shorts for Eye for Film:

  • Avant pétalos grillados (Velasco Broca, 2007) - an atmospheric and experimental sci-fi tale of alien invasion.
  • Chigger Ale (Fanta Ananas, 2013) - a precursor for Crumbs, this comic sci-fi tale sees a pint-sized Hitler go for a night out in Addis Ababa.
  • La maladie blanche (Christelle Lheureux, 2011) - a tale of enchantment in the Pyrenees.

Those conclude the reviews I'll be writing in relation to the D'A Festival. I'm still transcribing the interviews I did, and have more to write about the festival in general and (Im)Possible Futures in particular. I'm back at work next week, so my pace may slow down a bit.

Monday, 4 May 2015

(Im)Possible Futures: Sueñan los androides, El arca de Noé, and Crumbs

The (Im)Possible Futures strand of the D'A Festival included six features and nine shorts. I am going to write something about the theme - I went to the festival's roundtable discussion on the subject - and the films as a collection, but in essence what they represent is 'low voltage' (or realist) sci-fi showing futures made plausible by their connections to our current realities. I'll be reviewing some of the shorts over the next few days, but these are my reviews of the three Spanish features in the section:

  • Sueñan los androides / Androids Dream (Ion de Sosa, 2014) - an experimental and dream-like take on Benidorm in 2052. My review is here. I interviewed Ion de Sosa and co-writer Chema García Ibarra (director of Uranes, which was part of last year's Un impulso colectivo strand) in Barcelona, so that interview should also appear later in the week (depending on how long it takes me to transcribe/translate Spanish).
  • El arca de Noé / Noah's Ark (Adán Aliaga and David Valero, 2014) - a sweet-natured comedy on inter-dimensional travel as a possible escape route from the economic crisis. My review is here.
  • Crumbs (Miguel Llansó, 2015) - a surreal quest across the epic Ethiopian landscape in search of Father Christmas and answers relating to a spaceship. It was my favourite film of the festival and my review is here. I also interviewed Miguel Llansó at the festival, and that should likewise appear later in the week (my transcribing/translation skills permitting).

I will create a separate post with links to the reviews of the short films once I've started writing them, and the same for the interviews. In the meantime, Eye for Film is now collating all of my coverage of D'A Festival on one page - here.

Obra, Favula, and more...

My reviews from D'A Festival are continuing to go up over at Eye for Film. The first handful are:

  • A misteriosa morte de Pérola / The Mysterious Death of Pérola (Guto Parente and Ticiana Augusto Lima, 2014), a Brazilian film that I almost walked out of - to find out why, read here.
  • Favula (Raúl Perrone, 2014), a genuine oddity and visual one-of-a-kind (review).
  • Obra (Gregorio Graziosi, 2014), another Brazilian film and one of my overall favourites of the festival - a visually and aurally distinctive film that I would like to see again. In the meantime, my review is here.

There are a couple more reviews already up, but because they're part of a group I'm waiting until they're all there before I link to them on here. I've got one more feature to review and then I'll take a look at a few of the shorts as well - the shorts were part of the (Im)Possible Futures strand, which I'm also going to write about as a collection.

Friday, 1 May 2015

D'A Festival - Getting Started

El Incendio / The Fire (dir. Juan Schnitman)

    My first review from D'A Festival - of Argentinian drama El Incendio / The Fire (dir. Juan Schnitman) - has gone up over at Eye for Film (here). I'm a bit behind with the reviews but I had the opportunity to interview some of the filmmakers in attendance, so I've prioritised that in the last couple of days. Those interviews - with Ion de Sosa, Chema García Ibarra, and Miguel Llansó - will (probably) appear next week.
    This is my last day in Barcelona and I still have two more films to see, but reviews are forthcoming for: Obra (dir. Gregorio Graziosi), No todo es vigilia / Not All Is Vigil (dir. Hermes Paralluelo), El arca de Noé / Noah's Ark (dir. Adán Aliaga and David Valero), Sueñan los androides / Androids Dream (dir. Ion de Sosa), Favula (dir. Raúl Perrone), Crumbs (dir. Miguel Llansó), A misteriosa morte de Pérola / The Mysterious Death of Pérola (dir. Guto Parente and Ticiana Augusto Lima), Chorus (dir. François Delisle), and Queen of Earth (dir. Alex Ross Perry). Most of them will be at Eye for Film (unless they already have a review for the film in question) but I will put up links here. I'll also be writing about the festival in general, and will look specifically at the Spanish films in the (Im)Possible Futures section.